Stockholm syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which victims express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their abuser. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their abuser for an act of kindness. Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which describes strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.

Humiliation, degradation, mind control, harassment, stalking, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, drug facilitated sexual assault, rape. 

This is my story.

I was 18 yrs old, in love with a man who didn't want me. Severely depressed. Battling Bulimia. Spending every minute of every day in anxiety over my appearance, as I did everyday since I was a young girl. Completely consumed by obsessive thoughts. I wanted to be loved more than anything. I wanted people to like me. I wanted people to notice me, men to notice me. I wanted to be beautiful. I believed that by attaining these things, I'd finally achieve happiness. My abuser came into my life at the perfect time. I was utterly broken, young, vulnerable, naive. Desperate to feel loved and wanted. He was the first man to show interest after my recent heartbreak, the first to really pursue me. That was all it took. There wasn't anything about him in particular that intrigued me, he wasn't kind or charming. I remember being disgusted by things he would say, he was cruel and disrespectful. That was my first impression. Regardless, I still felt a strong pull towards him in which I had no control.. I knew that he wanted me, in some way. That's all that mattered. 

Our relationship began just a couple weeks after meeting, the abuse was immediate but I wouldn't come to that realization for another 12 yrs. I didn't know what a healthy relationship looked like, what love from a man felt like. I watched my mother get abused by more than one man. I didn’t know love. On our third night together, I lost my virginity. I was ashamed, shocked that he so easily took it from me. It’s not what I wanted or what I intended but it happened. I cried and I told him I wanted to go home. He was quiet while we walked out to the car, once inside he started asking me why I was crying, I told him. I’ll never forget the look in his eye. Like something snapped. He didn’t believe me. He thought I lied about being a virgin and he was never going to let it go. He slammed on the gas pedal and we sped out of the driveway in a way that scared me more than I’ve ever been scared before. He started calling me a liar and a whore, he yelled at me the entire drive until he dumped me on the curb in front of my house. It was about 3 am. I sat on my porch alone for hours, frozen. 

Over the next three years there would be an array of events that I’m now struggling to gather. The complexities and the level of psychological and sexual trauma that ensued is even too much for me to wrap my head around. How can I put voice to this crazy story? How can words alone describe this man? I know that to some people my story will raise many questions.. Why would you ever get involved with someone like this? Why did you stay? Why would you go back? Why didn’t you get help?? The answers to these questions are painful, and the thought of judgment is even more painful. Some things are near impossible to see unless you’re the one standing there. 

He simply terrified me. He was powerful, relentless. Would buy me flowers to make it all better, buy me the puppy I always wanted, tell me he loved me and used other false words and tactics to lure me back each time I tried to run. I was his. He drove a friend of his and I into the woods to build a fire one evening. At the time, I had never had a drop of alcohol, nor did I have any interest. He kept pressuring me to drink all through the night. I remember lying on my back as he literally poured alcohol down my throat while he laughed, I could tell his friend wasn’t okay with what he was doing, could sense that he was too intimated to interfere. It was humiliating. Terrifying. Surreal. I felt powerless with no fight left. What is happening?? Why am I letting this happen? I was completely paralyzed. 

During that time he shared a house with two other roommates, he had the large room in the basement. Anytime I stayed the night and he left for work he told me to stay in the basement until he got home for whatever reason, then years later explained it was because he was embarrassed of me. He once found laxatives in my purse, I’d been addicted for almost a year. Instead of helping me or showing sorrow for my illness he laughed and said that I stink and told his friends. 

My mother fell very ill and left to live with her parents, my sister and I were left with very little options and didn’t feel like I had anywhere else to go. After a few months we moved in together. The thoughts of leaving him were immediate, but it never seemed like a reality that I could grasp. You’re not going to leave, you’re not strong enough, you’ll be all alone, where will you go? He won’t let you leave. I was trapped.

He was a broken man himself, of course. His story about his mother abandoning him as a baby left an ache in my heart that somehow made it easier for me to see passed the darkness. He absolutely hated women. He believed them all to be liars and whores. He often told disgusting misogynistic jokes, sick racist jokes. Said the word nigger often. He hated homosexuals and the fact that I had friends who were. He joked about pedophilia, "joked" about putting his penis in a baby’s mouth. He called me a sperm receptacle, a cum dumpster. Regularly insulted and degraded my body and genitals. He showed me pornographic images one night to punish me, while he pointed out everything that he liked better. Regularly told me there were things that I could do to make myself more attractive. Said I was only friends with people that made me feel better about myself. He talked about how ridiculous it is for a woman to claim they’ve been raped by their husband or boyfriend, that it's just not possible. Proposing the idea that once you’re in a relationship, the man owns the woman’s body and can do whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases.

I remember I wanted to go for a walk after a disagreement, he locked the door and held my hands behind my back and wouldn’t let me leave. Another night, I remember crying, him yelling at me to relax while he forced anal sex on me. I remember him using objects and his fists. I remember him forcing me to perform oral sex for over an hour. I remember when I thought he was going to drown me in the lake. A monster. I knew he was a monster but I couldn’t escape. The process of traumatic bonding had taken a strong hold. 

He was incredibly paranoid, questioned my every word and action. I rarely saw my friends and family, he didn’t like me to be out without him and when I was out I made sure I returned on time. I remember getting out of bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, he shot up and snapped at me, “Where are you going?!!”, “What are you doing??!” On another occasion, I went to visit my mother, to ensure that I was being truthful he made me take his tape recorder and record our conversation. He never trusted me, he never gave me a chance. 

Drinking became a big part of our relationship, we did it very regularly. I was completely ignorant in regards to the effect alcohol had on me or the effect it had on the majority of people. I had no idea of normal. One morning he woke me up to play an audio clip from his tape recorder of me, sobbing in the bathtub, pleading for help. It absolutely terrified me. I had no recollection of any of it. What is this?? What is he doing? Why is he recording me like this?? How often are these things happening? What else do I not remember??? Blacking out from drinking was common, the norm, happened on almost every occasion that I would drink. How was I to know if that was normal? I remember finding a large sex toy hidden in the closet that I had never seen before, a horrible feeling washed over me. Something was very wrong.

In every way imaginable he tried to convince me that I was crazy, called me a sociopath. Constantly gaslighted me. He was smart and extremely manipulative. He knew exactly what he was doing and he knew that I wanted out. He was trying to instill self doubt so that I would never leave, never question, so nobody would ever believe me and nobody else could have me. I remember when I was able to get away, my family came to help me move out while he was at work. Little did I know the years to come would be filled with relentless stalking and harassment. I remember walking out to my car on campus after class one evening, he jumped out from behind a vehicle and forced me into his truck. He wouldn’t let me out and he just kept driving. I was terrified and sobbing. This was his time to gaslight me even more, he just kept talking and yelling at me until the long night was over. On another occasion he followed me all the way to my house and chased me to the door. On another, he made me walk all night with him on the streets, more yelling and ridiculing, shoving and pushing me along as I cried begging him to stop. The messages, emails and phone calls didn’t stop. It became very clear that he was trying to destroy me.