I feel like I'm in an impossible situation. My gf of 17 months has been hitting me. The first time was 4 months ago, but things have been bad for the better part of a year. She started getting jealous of my friends, male and female, checking up on me all the time, and I've caught her going through my phone. Then she started breaking things, throwing things.
She has threatened to out me to my parents if I leave her. They already know I'm attracted to women but we are Baptist and I made a vow in church not to act on it. They think it comes from the devil. I know they could forgive me for breaking that vow but they also think abuse only happens in ungodly relationships so if they found out about everything it would only add fuel to their belief that being gay is wrong. And I know my church leaders would never leave me alone after that. I've been to with people caught in sin and the thought makes me sick. I don't know what to do.
Welcome to the forum. I'm so sorry you're in a situation where you feel stuck. I am also a gay woman and five years ago, I was in a similar place. Knowing what was happening wasn't right, knowing I needed to leave, but frozen with fear. My partner also threatened to out me to my parents if I ever left. My parents were both raised Baptist. They aren't anymore, but they are Christian--and although they'd given me no reason to think they wouldn't accept me, I feared they wouldn't. That's how deeply these abusers get into our heads. My partner told me her parents had disowned her for being gay--which turned out to be a complete lie--and she'd tell me how she'd sure hate for that that to happen to me. She was extremely controlling, manipulative, and violent on more occasions than I can count. We were just over a year into our relationship when she shoved me, hard, against a wall. It scared me more than it hurt me, but I started crying, then she started crying, I forgave her, and 2 months later, I moved in with her. I was 17 at that time and nearly 200 miles away from my parents, working a summer job before starting college. 10 days after we moved in together she hit me for the first time. As I was packing up my bags to leave, she cried again and she told me she understood. She said she didn't expect to be forgiven a second time. She even offered to give me a ride to the train station. On the way there, she wrapped the passenger side of her car around a tree, with me in the seat. I was in the hospital for nearly 2 weeks. During that time, she was there nearly 24/7, promising me the world if I just wouldn't leave her. She said she couldn't live without me, said she'd kill herself. I believed her and I forgave her again. 2 days after I got home, she told me if I ever left, she'd go to my parents and tell them everything. And I thought, that's it, I'm stuck. Not a week later, she hit me again, and over the next 15 months it escalated very very quickly. She knew she could do whatever she wanted because she had me right where she needed me--afraid, full of doubt and not knowing who I could trust. That's what these abusers do. All of that attentiveness and "concern" they show in the beginning, that's their way of getting to know our secrets, our weaknesses and our innermost fears so that they can use them against us. I have a large, very close-knit family who are EVERYTHING to me. My partner knew it and she used it.
Your partner sounds very similar to mine. She sounds dangerous and potentially deadly. I know you probably don't want to believe that, I know I didn't, but please do not underestimate what she might do or what she is capable of. My ex-partner put me in the hospital not once but twice, and she is in prison right now for beating her girlfriend--the one after me--almost to death. I don't tell you that just to scare you--I tell you that because I know that when you are in the thick of it, and kept by your partner in a constant state of confusion and uncertainty, it's not always easy to see what is happening. You are in a fight for your life right now.
You didn't say how old you are, but as far as your church leaders go, if you are over 18, they have no right to call, harass, or intimidate you in any way. You have the right to set boundaries. You can walk out and tell them never to contact you again and by law, they have to abide by your wishes. I know it's scary and I know that the fundamentalist Baptist church--including the one my mom grew up in--will tell you that walking away from their church is the same as walking away from God, but it's not. It's walking away from TOXIC religion. Those types of churches use the same tactics abusers use. Control, manipulation and fear, sprinkled with promises of eternal bliss if you'll just believe and obey.
As for your parents, I don't know what kind of relationship you have with them, but I have relatives who I know love me, and have been nothing but kind to me, but who cannot accept my sexuality. It hurts and it used to make me angry, but I realize now that they are also caught up in a toxic relationship--they believe what the church is telling them, and they are afraid. So I keep on loving them and I hope that the day comes where they see a way out. I have others, like my maternal grandparents, who are just plain manipulative and abusive, and they don't get, or deserve, a place in my life. At the end of the day, we have to live for OURSELVES, not for anyone else. I decided I'd rather risk losing everyone than to deny who I really am or to live in fear and in pain. Hiding is soul-crushing. Being free--it's beyond words.
If you don't feel ready, or don't feel comfortable going to your parents, do you perhaps have another relative you can go to? You don't have to tell them everything but maybe just enough to get a feel for their reaction? Your family may surprise you. I have many friends whose parents were staunchly anti-gay, until they learned that someone they deeply loved was gay. If going to a relative doesn't feel like an option, perhaps a friend? You can also call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233. It is free and confidential, and they have trained counselors who understand the dynamics of abuse in LGBT relationships. They are there to listen and to help you understand your options, and they will not judge you.
If you choose to call the hotline, please make sure you use a safe phone, especially since you've said your partner checks yours, and call when she isn't around. And if you are worried about her checking your computer, be sure to clear your internet history of any websites related to domestic violence or abuse.
It might also be helpful to start documenting any physical injuries your partner inflicts on you, if you do choose to leave and press charges. Be sure to hide any photos in a place where they won't be found.
Reaching out for the first time is the hardest part and you've done that here. Please continue to reach out. Call the hotline, call a friend or relative, and post here as often as you'd like. There is also I great book which I have read a few times called "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. You can just replace the word "he" with "she". Again, please only do so if you can do it safely and keep the book in a place where your partner will not find it.
You are stronger than you think you are, and you deserve to be loved and cared for, to be heard, and to be safe and free. You can do this.
Hi Ava. Thank you for responding to my post. I might not be able write much right now because she just stepped out and I don't know how long she'll be gone. I have had very little down time since I last posted. She keeps me very busy, you know. Checks on me all the time. We live together too.
She went after me today, for embarrassing her. I came home from work yesterday and changed clothes because I had spilled something on my shirt. Her came over for dinner, and two hours later. I changed into a nightgown for bed. This morning I put on the same shirt because I had only worn it for 2 hours, it was perfectly clean, and it is one of my favorites. So we ran into her mom this morning, unexpectedly, and her mom said, weren't you wearing that shirt yesterday? Her mom is very image-conscious, and would NEVER commit such a terrible fashion faux pas. When we got home, my partner accused me of intentionally embarrassing her. I said, how would I know we'd run into your mother? Even I know that doesn't make sense. I said I was sorry because I could sense it was about to get physical if I kept arguing. It makes me sick that I keep letting her win. I don't know how much more I can take.
I'm 23, will be 24 this year. My parents think we are just roommates. Even so, they were very much against me moving out. In our church, you're supposed to live with your parents until you get married. But they seem to accept it. I think it helps that I still attend services most weeks, even though listening to the sermons can be painful as hell. I am glad you have accepting family members. I'm not so sure I'll be as lucky. My parents believe you can change your sexual orientation if you have enough faith. I have challenged them on this which made my father very angry. I was 18 the first time and he slapped my face and told me to spend the day in my room praying until I was ready to repent. He apologized later for hitting me but has refused to discuss it since. My mother is more willing to talk but there seems to be no changing her mind either. I'm afraid if they find out, they'll force me into church counseling and if I refuse, I'll be disowned. I have a part-time job but it doesn't pay enough for me to support myself. Everyone I know outside of my coworkers and people I've met through my partner, are in the church. I was even homeschooled.
I've been secretly reading books, secular ones. About history, science, archeology. If my parents found out, they would lose their minds. There is so much I was never taught because they said it came from the devil, as a way to try and deceive us. I want to go to college more than anything. My parents said they will pay only for a fundamentalist Christian college and only if I move back home. But I know I can't do that. And I wouldn't want to.
If your desire is to go to college, by all means, do so. In the US there are grants, loans, and financial aid packages that can be awarded to students. Maybe contact a college's admissions or financial aid department and explain your age, your parents refusal to support you if it's not a fundamentalist Christian college, your part-time job, and see what they say. They can put things together for you, via scholarships, grants, loans, etc.
At your age, you have so much available to you. The world is your oyster. And the last thing you need is to be ruined by an abuser. Your abuser sounds awful and she will never change for the better and things will only get worse for you.
Just the fact that your abuser threatened to out you to your parents tells me that she is an abuser and is controlling you, you are entrapped and you are her prey, her captive. I'm sorry. And to me, abusers are from the devil. They are the devil's children.
2nd Cor. 6:14
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
Abuse is also murder. It's like having an IV dripping poison into your veins on the regular. It changes you. It fundamentally changes you -- and never for the better, always for the worse. You are being damaged and slowly killed. You are a frog in a pot of water that is being slowly heated up -- by the time the frog realizes the water is hot, it's cooked. Incremental abuse is terrible. She has hit you more than once. That means she does not love you, never will, never did. You are her prey. And she is of the devil.
And abuse happens in ungodly relationships... in that, abusers are ungodly and they don't have relationships. There is no such thing as a relationship with an abuser. There is only predation. You are her prey. You are her target. You are her victim. She doesn't want anything mutual with you. She doesn't respect you -- never has and never will. Abusers are snake charmers, they are con artists, they are liars. She deceived and entrapped you into a 'relationship' with her. She knows she is an abuser. She knows you are her prey.
Her latest tirade about your shirt and her mom and the fashion faux pas is BS. It's BS and she knows it. Besides, her mom sounds like she'd be a terrible MIL. Who cares if shirts are repeated? There are some people who only own one outfit. Sounds shallow and superficial. Again, not anywhere healthy you want to be.
Okay, so you know you need to get out, but her trump card is that she'll out you to your family. That's a big trump card. Which college do you want to attend? What do you want to study? Anything in particular? Nurture that dream and desire of yours. It's your life and you deserve it. What if the college has a financial aid package that would make it possible? Is there a far away school you'd like to attend? I ask because sometimes it's necessary to get the heck out of town in order to ensure you escape your abuser. And enrolling in a college way far away would be a wonderful break for you. Up and leave and set about doing something dramatically different.
And the hitting. Did you ever expect or foresee your abuser hitting you? No? Not many do. And yet she is hitting you. And so, what I want you to think about is what happens if things escalate and instead of marking up your arm or body, she goes for your head from now on. What if she is super tactical and starts inflicting brain injuries on you? Or strangles you? Or smothers you? Once those brain injuries are inflicted, there is no undoing such. And it seems you have a healthy brain right now. And extreme stress, especially unrelenting levels of toxic stress, damages your brain. Then there is PTSD, which is cause for concern. Being abused causes PTSD. DV victims often have PTSD and the longer you are abused, the worse it gets, and the more damage is inflicted, and the more severe the PTSD will be.
But your abuser will want to keep you entrapped. They want their prey to remain their prey. So, she'll sabotage your efforts to go to some far away college. She'll cause chaos for you. She'll keep upping the temperature of the water to continue cooking you until your boiled alive. So, perhaps you can sneak away to your local DV shelter and explain that you are a victim of DV and you'd like help with plotting your escape. You can run through these things with them, brainstorm plans as to what to do about the threat to out you to your parents, get information about colleges (possibly) and maybe there is a DV shelter nearby the college you want to attend and you can pack up your clothes and stuff and go stay at a DV shelter, get help with enrolling in school and then live in a dorm (or alternate student housing) or with financial aid you can pay to live in a BR (usually with a private bathroom) in someone's house, some people rent out a room for cheap, as a way to help pay their mortgage (but be careful, you want a family or a woman, not some guy who will likely prey on you).
But the point of this all is this: you are entrapped and I get that. And you are also being slowly murdered. Even if you don't end up being shot to death by her, abuse is murder. It kills your spirit, kills your self-esteem, kills your brain, kills your soul. It's poison and at any age, it's hard to go it alone, but you're young yet and you're still interested in things and managing to hold a PT job and function...… so, I cannot emphasize this enough, it's crucial that you plot your exit. Don't tell her anything. She'll sabotage your efforts or otherwise just ruin you (a la, 'if I can't have her, nobody can' or 'if I she won't be with me, then i'll ruin her for good') and either make sure to remain entrapped and perpetually her prey/target/victim or she'll seek to destroy you and sadistically enjoy damaging you into either disability or death.
I don't know why you don't want to move back home, but if college is your top dream and your parents will house you and pay for a Christian college, that may be an option you might want to explore. Despite everything, it's way better than being with an abuser. Seriously. Who can say what next week will bring? Again, did you foresee her ever hitting you? I'd bet not. And abuse always gets worse. It always escalates. I don't know of an abuse situation that didn't escalate and worsen. Maybe there are exceptions, but they are rare and even if your situation doesn't escalate, do you want to be indefinitely hit? Or indefinitely controlled and forced into submitting/losing arguments due to threat of being hit again (or other violence). It erodes your self-esteem. It damages you. It will only get worse for you as the harms are cumulative. They add up. You'll become more and more of a shell of who you once were (and won't ever be again). It's poison being slow-dripped into your veins.
So, my thoughts are to secretly call some colleges and see about attending. Find out whatever you can find out. If the more selective ones don't accept students for the fall due to a passed deadline, then maybe you can start at a less selective one and transfer over. Or maybe you can just pick up and leave with whatever stuff you can shove into your car (or carry, if no car) and go to a DV shelter in some other town and disappear (as far as your abuser is concerned).
If she is going to out you to your parents and your church, then she is going to do it no matter what. It'd be better to get out now, while you are still intact and interested in things and able to hold a PT job, than later, when stress, trauma, abuse, etc. has left you so depressed nothing matters anymore and you can no longer get out of bed and you think of suicide on a near constant basis. Your water has yet to reach boiling point, and for that, I am tremendously happy for you, Anonymous, as you still have a good chance at life, but the need for you to escape sooner than later is something I really emphasize. Exposure to trauma and abuse is cumulative and the deleterious effects of such has the ability to derail you for good, for life. You are not at that point of no return, yet. YET. So, I say get on that phone (and maybe use another's phone as your abuser may have put spyware on your phone and will listen to your calls, get a copy of your texts sent to her email, etc.) and call those colleges and get that big dream in the works. It's worth it. You are worth it. Your abuser doesn't want anything good for you, isn't going to nurture this in you, as your abuser wants her entrapped prey to remain entrapped. And if you stay with her, even if you do go to school, pretty soon she'll be making sure you fail your classes, causing chaos for you right as you have a project or an exam, and it'll be yet another thing ruined by your abuser and then she'll throw it in your face that you didn't do well in college and on and on it will go. When there is career fairs, recruiting events going on, she'll sabotage you with those, all the same.
College is your ticket. You are your ticket. And with college, maybe there's one you can pick that is far, far away, so your abuser cannot easily follow you there. And you'll get your big break and escape her. Hopefully. Maybe you can secretly get a PO Box and have your college stuff sent to that address. Then your abuser won't know.
But, there's always DV shelters and you may be afraid to go to one or you might think others are more deserving of you to be there, but such is not the case and if you call one and the staff isn't nice to you, then call another one, as you deserve to be supported.
And maybe it would be another possibility to return to your parents' house. Might not be ideal, but at least there you won't be further abused and when you have your college plans all lined up you can move out all over again. Because being with an abuser is like drinking poison. Maybe you don't die right away, but the poison is taking effect and the more you drink, the more toxic and damaging and eventually lethal it will be.
Hi Anonymous too. Thank you for your reply. I only have a minute tonight, but understand what you're saying about it being like poison. I feel like I'm dying a little everyday and I don't know how to make it stop. But the honest truth is I was feeling that when I lived back home, only worse. Hiding who I was, every single day, sitting in those church pews 3 times a week being told I am an abomination, and having to say Amen to that. Being told what to do not only by one person but by my mother, my father, my older brother. Couldn't go out after dark alone and when I did go out they had to know my whereabouts and when I'd be back. There were prayer meetings at my parents' house, where people I hardly knew would put their hands on me and praise God for giving me the faith to keep my vow not to give in to the temptation of my homosexual urges, and pray that I might find a husband soon. It made me physically sick. That's why I can't move back. I can't move back but I still love my parents, my mom especially, and I don't know what I'd do if I lost her.
The Christian college. It's fundamentalist, and I had that kind of education growing up. That's why I want to go to college so much. A secular one. Because I feel like I missed out on so much. I had so many questions that they couldn't answer or wouldn't answer. Study the bible harder, they'd tell me. All I needed to know was in there, in plain English.
I'm scared. i feel no matter what I do I'm never going to be free.
I apologize, I have to stop now but will finish replying tomorrow if I can.
Post by Anonymous too on Jun 10, 2019 12:20:37 GMT
I'm thinking going to a DV shelter might be a good idea. I don't know if the particular DV shelter you go to will be that great, but there are great ones out there. Just to be fair and to give you an accurate picture, there are some that have abusive staff and treat you as though you are a prisoner or a slave and you'll feel very controlled. There are power and control dynamics that can be repeated in bad DV shelters (with abusive staff), so I am just being realistic. However, if you go to a good battered women's shelter, with great staff, it's life-giving, and will be life-changing and a life-saver for you. When you call, you can inquire about how long you can stay there, and whether you get your own room, and things like that. Find one that works for you, in a location you can get to, and is staffed by people who are nice and supportive and helpful to you. If you call one, you can make up a name, if you are worried your abuser might have ties to them. You can pick one that is located hundreds of miles away and take a bus, drive there, or get there via plane. It's up to you, dependent on their availability (if there is an open bed), and your means of transportation.
But the poison effect is real and it's serious. There was this 'survival' show on tv once and the guy was telling the viewers that in order to live, to give yourself the best chance of making it out alive, you must get going right away. When you are first lost/shipwrecked/alternate situation, that first day/hour, you are feeling your best, you've eaten, you have the most energy that you are going to have, so it's important to capitalize on that and GET GOING IMMEDIATELY. If you wait, and bum around for a day or so, the longer you delay, the less likely you will survive and be found, as you'll feel that much worse on Day 2 or Day 3 and your energy levels will be super low, you'll be fighting the effects of the elements, you'll be dehydrated, sleep deprived, etc.
Consider that you are right now in your best shape -- emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, and physically. You may not feel it, as abuse is life-wrecking, but with every day that passes that you are exposed to more abuse, you're body, mind, spirit are being more and more damaged and eventually, you'll have suffered more severe injuries, and then your entrapment will be complete. You are not entirely dependent yet. You can still hold a PT job. You still have dreams. You haven't been raped or beaten unconscious or strangled YET. This is good! And we don't know how dangerous your abuser is, but all abusers have the potential to be lethal and the slow-drip poison ones are HORRIBLE because others might not take you as seriously as they would if you showed up with a gunshot wound, for example. But it's slow-drip poison, all the same. And whereas society seems to take physical violence a bit more seriously, it's the mental/verbal/mindf#&^ery that really erodes a person's spirit, damages them long-term and can take years or even decades to recover and heal from -- and some never do recover or heal. So, take this seriously, which I think you do, as you posted on this board and that's FABULOUS! Many women never do escape. Many women don't reach out or post on a board or call a shelter.
So, are you in a lease with your abuser? IF so, contacting a battered women's shelter for ideas and advice about that would be good because they most likely know the area's laws and whether or not you can get out of the lease or not.
Also, what is good about contacting a local shelter (or a far away one) is that the advocates have likely dealt with these issues (like if you can break a lease, as a victim of DV, and if it requires a police report versus a signed statement from you) and how you are able to escape. It is overwhelming and the shelters deal with poor women on the regular. So they know about local programs. And if the shelter you call doesn't then by all means, hang up that phone, and call a different one as this is going to be your big break and you want to make it out on the first time (although leaving is, on average, a process, where many women return to their abusers due to overwhelming fear, finances, kids, pets, or trauma bonding, threats of death from the abuser, etc.)
Advocates also, depending on which shelter you go to, and this is why your shelter choice is important, can help you get assistance, help you apply for school, help you get housing (but housing is a big issue, especially affordable housing, as there are waiting lists) but really I'm seeing a regular college as being your ticket. Live on campus, or get financial assistance and use some loan money to locate and secure some place cheap (yes, have roommates, or stay in a dive apartment, or rent a tiny studio). It's probably best to put your efforts into going to school. And if nothing else, if you want to attend a particular college, than moving to that town, via staying at a battered women's shelter in that town, would allow you to explore the area, find a place, and get help finding another PT job, familiarize yourself with public transportation, and be around others who have been abused and be supported in your life and your great escape.
But all the above is dependent on all sorts of variables and I don't know all the complexities of your situation. I am simply trying to help and you know yourself best, you know your situation and all the many particulars best. You're the expert on your life. You're in the driver's seat and you're driving the bus (as you should be, since it's YOUR life!)
It's normal for you to be scared. You are in a bad situation and have a lot of stress because of such. Things are tentative for you and you're pretty alone. Isolation is the abuser's potting soil. Pretty hard to abuse someone if you haven't already started to isolate them (and you can be very much alone in a crowd of people, due to the secrecy of DV and the censorship/silencing/shaming/guilt-tripping/controlling the abuser subjects you to).
And you don't need to reply, Anonymous, and my questions don't need to be answered. I don't expect you to answer them. It's all dependent on you and how much you want to share and be mindful of your safety and anonymity.
And this last paragraph of mine may not be popular and will likely get criticism from others, but as far as the gay thing goes, I don't know what to say. I'm Christian and I don't know that it is as innate as others claim, but then again, that's a very unpopular view to have. I just know that in the Bible it is not talked about favorably. You know this. You likely know that it also says sexual relations outside of marriage is also sin. But even if I say all of this, it doesn't mean I don't see you as a person worthy of respect, worthy of a life free of abuse. I'm sure others, like Ava, will comment. And when it comes to your abuser's threats of 'outing you' to your parents, that is either going to happen when you leave your abuser today or two years from now when you're really mangled. If she is going to make good on your threat, she is going to do it when you leave her, so leaving her now, when you are in your best shape, is probably your best bet. And you are basically deceiving your parents and your church, so how you navigate that is on you. I don't know it you can stop being gay. I don't know if it is innate. Your in your early 20s yet and your brain isn't even fully developed yet (they say 25yo for that) and you're living away from your parents and doing your 'adulting' for the first time. You've yet to go to college. You're very young and things are not set in stone. So much can change for you.
Or, your abuser may 'out' you to your parents so you are even more entrapped and isolated. So, she might out you before you leave her, in a grab for more power and more control and to sever your last ties to outsiders, your last alternate means of support. So, you may be outed even if you stay. There are no guarantees there. So, the risk isn't mitigated by you staying. She might not, but then again, abusers really like it when their prey are isolated, estranged from family, and totally dependent. She might start to sabotage your job.
Perhaps call a shelter. Have a list of questions and a list of things that are keeping you there, a list of important problems you need help solving. There are many, many barriers to getting out and escaping abusers and general society acts like such don't exist, but they do. Nothing is simple in DV. See what they say and what resources they know about and what contacts or ideas or knowledge they have. Then erase your call. Who pays your phone bill? Does it come to you in the mail with a printout of your calls? Maybe call from somewhere else. Maybe a library. Here in the US, there are libraries that have phones for local calls that you will have to ask for, but for homeless people that are without phones, the libraries will let you make local calls with their phones.
And think about the PO Box. You may not be able to afford it. It depends. But then you could have your phone bill sent there, your college admissions stuff sent there. And you'll be able to keep that stuff from being readily discovered by your abuser.
And leaving isn't always easily accomplished and perhaps you might take a bit to design your escape plan and save a bit of money, but the longer you are there, the more risk you have of sustaining a serious injury, especially if your abuser starts sensing your are plotting your escape. The time of leaving is very dangerous because abusers are losing control and they like to keep their prey trapped and they also worry about their victims being believed and their 'secret' getting out -- that they are abusers. So, don't think that I only see one way out, which is you leaving this very instant. But remember the slow death and know that such is a big risk.
I'm so sorry you don't feel like you can return to your parents, and I can understand why. The last thing you need right now is to go from one toxic environment to another. You need a peaceful place where you can rest, recuperate and think about where to go from here. I do agree a shelter might be your best option if and when you decide to leave. Shelters have security, free counseling, hot meals, and they may be able to get you connected with free legal aid, should you decide to go that route. If you aren't ready to leave yet, I'd suggest calling a local domestic violence center in your area, or calling the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They are available 24/7. It is free, 100% confidential, and they are there to listen and not judge you. They can also help you put together a safety plan for both while you're still living with your partner and for when and if you decide to leave as well as the time after. They even have a chat option, if you don't feel you can talk over the phone.
Anonymous too gave you some good advice and I don’t have much else to add to it, except to say that I know you don't need to be reminded what the Bible says (or more accurately, what most Christians interpret the Bible as saying) about homosexuality. I'm sure that's been pounded into your head most of your life, and it only adds to the toxic shame that we as LGBT people feel when we find ourselves in an abusive relationship. After I got out of mine, I actually had a relative say to me, "Do you think maybe that was God trying to tell you something?" As if the abuse should serve as proof that being in a same-sex relationship is a sin. Because if I'd been in a straight relationship, the abuse wouldn't have happened?
Furthermore, please know that not all people, and not even all Christians, agree with the view that it is a sin, or something that you can change. I certainly don't believe it. I know it's what you've probably been told all your life and it's a hard thing to get past. I was raised in the Methodist church, which I know isn't the same as Baptist, and homosexuality wasn't talked about often, but the underlying view was the same, that engaging in homosexual behavior was a sin. I took that in at a very young age, probably before I could even tie my shoes. I remember having a crush on my first grade teacher. Every time she sat next to me, or gave me attention, I had butterflies in my stomach. I didn't understand it at the time, I just knew I liked being close to her. I would ask lots of questions, or pretend to be struggling with an assignment so she would have to come and help me. I was about 8 when I put two and two together and I remember feeling deeply ashamed about it. I decided right there I could never ever let anyone know. And there began a decade of hiding, lying and pretending. Faking crushes on boys, putting on make up, wearing dresses. I was sure if I didn't look feminine enough, people would find out my secret. It wasn't just other people I was lying too, I was also lying to myself I dated 3 boys in high school, lost my virginity to the first one at the age of 14, and when that didn't work out, moved on to the next, trying desperately to feel something, anything, to convince myself that I wasn't actually gay, or that I could, at least, be happy and satisfied in a relationship with a man, and not live in sin. Needless to say, it didn't work. I'm not proud of everything I did when I was hiding, but I was so afraid that if my efforts didn’t pan out, or if anyone found out my secret, I would lose everything. For me it was a matter of self-preservation. I won't say too much more about that, but my point is, I knew at a very young age, and I tried desperately to change it. Even throughout my relationship with my ex-partner-abuser, and for several months after I got out, if I could have snapped my fingers and made myself straight, I would have done it in a heartbeat. I just wanted a "normal" life. It took a lot of time, work and counseling for me to finally accept and love myself just as I am, and now? I wouldn't change it for anything. Now, that's my story. Yours may be different, but it is yours, and yours alone. Where it goes from here is up to YOU, and no one else. Don't let anyone tell you who you are or who you are supposed to be.
I think enrolling in college is a wonderful idea. It would give you the opportunity not only to study and learn, but to experience life outside the control of your family, church, and partner. To see the world through a new set of lenses. There is so much more to life than what you've been given and what you've been taught. So much more. Financial aid including grants and scholarships is available, and I believe you are reaching the age (24) now where you wouldn't be considered a dependent of your parents in terms of qualifying for grants. You may be able to get most of it paid for. There are also jobs available on most campuses, as well as housing. Finding roommates is also an option a lot of students take.
I know this is probably all very overwhelming and it's a lot to think about it. Just know you don't have to do ANYTHING right now. You don't have to make any big decisions today, tomorrow, or even next week. The only thing I would suggest is to start putting together an emergency bag, in case you have to leave in a hurry. Birth certificate, social security card, medical records, passport, health insurance information, any cash you are able to save, a change of clothes and any physical evidence of abuse, such as pictures, that you are able to get. I would also suggest including anything of sentimental value, just in case your partner might decide to hurt you by destroying things that are meaningful to you after you leave. Just make sure it is somewhere that she won't find it. Do you have your own car? If so, that may be a good place to keep it.
Please keep us posted if you feel comfortable and safe doing so. We care about you and are here for you. You sound like a very strong, intelligent and caring person, and you have done nothing, NOTHING to deserve being abused or manipulated. You deserve ALL of the good that life has to offer, including happiness and unconditional love. Please never forget that.
Thank you again for your responses. I don't have long, but I wanted to thank you both for your encouragement about college. I took a small step today. I signed up for a new email account and I requested information from the local public university to be sent there. I know it isn't much but it's a start. I'm kind of excited but I'm also really worried I won't be able to keep up, that I'll be way behind the other students because of the education I had growing up. I probably should start at a community college but they don't have housing. Any way, this all depends on me leaving my girlfriend which I'm still so afraid to face. I know I need to but I'm so scared.
Ava, thank you for sharing your story. It means a lot to hear from someone who truly understands. Your story is a lot like mine, except I wasn't allowed to have boyfriends of course. My parents tried setting me up with guys, which would consist of him coming to our house for dinner and followed by 100% supervised conversation after. Two of them were interested in pursuing a relationship and I turned down the first, but went along with the 2nd one because I was tired of being hassled and I wanted everyone to think I was towing the line. It lasted about 10 months. It helped that it wasn't allowed to get physical, nothing beyond holding hands or a quick peck. He was a very nice guy and I felt guilty for leading him on but it didn't feel like I had any other choice. I felt like all eyes were on me and I had to do what was expected of me. And at the same time, I truly hoped and prayed that I'd fall in love with him, that I really could change. But I couldn't, as hard as I tried. I had to tell him and I think it broke his heart but I couldn't go on like that. He's married now and has a baby and another one on the way. And I wish I were her, his wife. I wish I could have loved him the way I was supposed to. I know this is who I am, and I want to love myself like you do but I just don't know how. How do you do it? How did you get there? I think sometimes that I'm getting what I deserve for all the lying I've done, like this is my penance.
My girlfriend reminds me of it all the time. She says my family isn't going to want anything to do with me when they find out how many lies I've told. She says I'm a coward and weak and sometimes she makes me say it too. She will grab me by the chin and she won't let me go until I do.
We had a fight yesterday because she came home from work and I wasn't there and I didn't answer when she called me. I was out with a friend and she accused me of having something going on with them. I told her no and she grabbed me by the neck and held me down on our bed. She kept screaming at me that I am a pathetic liar and she slapped me over and over. I had to call in sick today and tomorrow because I can't let anyone see.
I know she could have hurt me worse. I don't want to end up in the hospital. I know I need to get out of here. I'm going to call the hotline tomorrow while she is at work. Please pray for me to have the courage to go through with it.
Hi Anonymous, how are you? I'm sorry I haven't been able to check in in a while. I was in a bike accident last Friday and had to have surgery. It's nothing that won't heal. I'll just be typing one-handed for a few weeks.
Anyway, I hope you are ok and that you are safe right now. I am very concerned for your safety, especially since your last post. What your girlfriend did, by grabbing you by your neck and holding you down on the bed, is extremely serious and potentially life threatening. Strangulation injuries, including stroke and brain damage, are a real danger, and unfortunately, not always apparent until days or even weeks later. I would encourage you, if you can, to get in to see a doctor, just to get checked out. And,I know you may not want to hear this, but women who are strangled by their partners are 10 times more likely to be killed by them. I don't tell you that to scare you, but rather to make you aware of how serious this is. Please do not underestimate her. Is keeping your secret worth risking your life? Because your life is in danger right now.
I hope you had a chance to call the hotline and get connected with some local resources. Please continue to reach out. There are people willing and able to help you through this. You don't have to live like this.
Check in if you feel safe and comfortable doing so, and let us know how you are doing. We are all here for you.