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I started college at seventeen. It started out alright. Then I met my neighbor. He was 21 or 22 and the first real “man” I’d been around. He drank a lot, had a terrible temper, and was a master manipulator. And for some unknown reason that I still can’t figure out, I made it my goal to date this guy. 

Lucky me, he decided I was worth his time. From the get go it was awful. It was all awful. He was in my head and I was so absorbed in the s****y relationship, I wouldn’t let myself see how far I was falling. My sisters, my friends, everyone I knew could see me changing. Looking back, it was blatantly obvious. I stopped wearing makeup because he didn’t like me to wear it when I wasn’t with him. My every move revolved around what he was doing. For six months it was a dark, downward spiral. I was doing things I never wanted to do and sobbing every day on my way to work. I would cry because I knew this wasn’t what I wanted or deserved, but I had accepted that this was my life. I really and truly believed I loved him and he loved me. I have journals from that time and I wrote I was going to marry him. What a frightening thought.

I actually did try to get out of it. One time he came to my door at 2 a.m., drunk, screaming that he was going to kill himself if I didn’t come out and talk to him. It was this kind of stuff every day, for months. I was so scared of him. (A little side note: I’m talking mostly about the emotional abuse, but the physical abuse happened. It was terrible and I’m still working on getting over it, but it’s not what I want anyone reading this to take out of reading my story.) 

Isn’t it curious how there’s always some light that comes from the dark? It took something as drastic and terrible as a family member dying for things to start changing. Because of that event, something clicked in me. My body and brain shut down–I couldn’t take any more pain. My sweet Mother drove me home from Utah to Las Vegas and nursed my broken soul until I was almost Cassidy again. She was my angel. I talked to her about everything. She was there for me every step of the way. 

In all the years that have passed, I’ve never written about the emotional, physical, and mental abuse I endured for those months. I thought because I chose to be in the relationship that it wasn’t abuse. I thought that because I chose him, it was my fault- that I wasn’t taken advantage of because I chose to be with him. I downplayed the whole thing when I talked about it and whenever a thought would creep in. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t my fault . . . that what he did to me was and is definitely not okay. 

I’m writing now, because I want to help. I don’t want any person to ever have to go what I went through. And even if this story only rings true to one person, that is enough for me. I want whoever reading this to know, it gets better. There is still time to get out of that relationship and start again.

Four years ago, I would have never pictured my life as beautiful and as happy as it is now. I’m married to the most amazing and loving man, I am happy and strong, and I made it through those dark, dark months. There is always hope, there are always people who can help you, and who love you more than you can possibly imagine. Keep fighting, and always remember to love yourself. You are beautiful and so special.

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