Dumb little bastard.” That’s what my father used to call me, snarling through gritted teeth, every time he got red-in-the-face angry with no warning. He frequently became enraged, seemingly out of the blue, and would then sit in angry silence for about 3 days, only to emerge at the end of the episode with a smile, back to his intelligent, playful self with no acknowledgment of his disconcerting behavior.
As a child, I gravitated towards my mother because she seemed to be more loving and stable, always telling me how much she loved me and how she could never live without me. As I grew older, though, my mother’s emotional instability became more apparent; one minute she would tell me that I was the worst person and daughter in the world, and 5 minutes later she was adamant that she had never and would never say something like that to me.
I remember wishing that she would severely beat me so that I would have a tangible reason to feel so insane and angry. To this day, my mother’s frequent gaslighting still amazes me; she seems to honestly forget every abusive thing that she says or does within minutes of its occurrence, and she continues to berate and laud me interchangeably to this day.
It makes me laugh when my mother asks me how I have ended up in so many abusive relationships. When your primary role models for love and relationships are emotionally abusive, it is easy to subconsciously gravitate towards emotionally abusive partners.
In 8th grade, my boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend. In high school, my boyfriend used to tell me that I was fat or that he didn’t love me, and once forced himself on me as I pleaded for him to stop, because it was his supposed right as my boyfriend to have me whenever he wanted.
When I was 16, I fell in love with a 28 year old who got me hooked on drugs and once beat me when I regained consciousness after an overdose, demanding that I never scare him like that again. My ex-husband once threatened to put a bullet between my eyes because I decided to replace a light bulb on my own, and also once stormed out on my birthday saying that he was divorcing me because our cat had an accident on the floor.
There are so many more bad memories from all of my relationships, but you get the idea. After my marriage, I finally dated someone who seemed to genuinely love me, and when he broke up with me, my self-esteem took an especially significant hit. Feeling desperate for love and approval, I quickly ended up in a relationship with someone who seemed like a dream guy on paper, but who quickly became the most emotionally abusive partner I have ever had.
One minute I was the most amazing woman he had ever met and he was planning our wedding, talking about our future children, and designing our future home, and the next minute I was ugly and stupid and someone he would rather die than spend the rest of his life with. The emotional roller coaster and gaslighting have been unlike anything that I have ever known.
But as a single mom with few resources in an expensive city, I have been stuck for financial reasons in a relationship that has eaten away at my sanity and self-esteem. Because I am far too familiar with how difficult it can be to leave
an emotionally abusive relationship, I decided to create a photo series, “Invisible Fractures: The Enduring Trauma of Emotional Abuse”, to raise awareness and money to help other emotional abuse victims find empowerment and hopefully a safe escape.
So if you’ve ever been in an emotionally abusive relationship and want to be a part of this project, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are being emotionally abused or are still trying to recover from the resulting emotional scars, please surround yourself with positive people who love you, practice self-care, and remind yourself that anyone who intentionally breaks you down just to build you back up is a self-hating and emotionally weak person who will only continue to try to break you until you can find a way out.”
Written By: Guest Blogger, Rachel Tine
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