In Which I Talk About Some Extremely Private Parts of Myself that I Guess are Pretty Public Now

Dear Reader,

It’s about to get personal…

I was sexually abused in my last relationship.

My boyfriend coerced me into sex on a regular basis for over a year. I let him. The thing was, I was so attached to him, so obsessed with him that I didn’t even realize he was abusing me. He never forced himself on me; I don’t think he ever would have done that. What he did do was make me feel terrible because I couldn’t perform well (as if sex is some kind of show to be put on by one partner for the benefit of the other…but really, that’s what it felt like). He would make me feel like I was doing something wrong if we tried and it didn’t work out well. He would start to cry and tell me I didn’t love him enough…but I did. I loved him so much I was willing to put my mental health in jeopardy for his sake. In the last couple months of our relationship, it got to the point where he wouldn’t even say anything afterwards. His silence said more than any words ever could, the look of disappointment spread across his face plainly asking, why can’t you be good enough? I felt used and unloved but I was so invested in the relationship I had with him that I didn’t see anything wrong with what he was doing to me. I thought was the problem.

You may wonder how I allowed this to happen to myself. Well, let me explain: he was my first boyfriend. I had never even kissed anyone before him. I came to college feeling sorry for myself because of my lack of experience in dating. It didn’t matter that two of my best friends had never had boyfriends either; in fact, I actually thought there was something wrong with me. I was a quiet little introvert who so desperately wanted to be an extrovert in this extroverted world we live in. I watched so many other people my age go through boyfriends and I wondered why I couldn’t get one. So, upon arriving at Morris in the Fall of 2011, I latched on to the first guy I found attractive. This guy happened to be in my orientation group and in a matter of days, I had decided to pursue him. I did this so I didn’t have to be a lonely little introvert anymore.  So I could know what it felt like to feel physically loved.

I didn’t know what love actually meant. I probably still don’t, but that’s a different story. With this guy from my orientation group, who ended up being my boyfriend for almost two years, I found that physical side rather quickly and thought it was intriguing and exciting. In fact, we spent more time in those first few months of our relationship making out and reveling in the fact that we could get away with all this stuff because we were in college that we didn’t even start having real conversations until approximately four months in. That should have been a major red flag, but it wasn’t. I was too caught up in the fact that someone actually wanted me in that way to notice.

We didn’t have sex until six months in. He would have had it earlier, but I refused. I wanted to make sure I actually loved him before sex. I did really love him, mind you. I didn’t love him for the right reasons, though. It was a selfish love, a love that had a sole purpose of making me feel better about myself. Looking back, I recognize how ill prepared I was for a serious sexual relationship. Neither of us at any idea of what we were doing at first (as you can imagine might happen when two people who have never had sex decide to do it together). It was awkward, uncomfortable, and it hurt. Plus, I spent weeks obsessing over the fact that I didn’t reach orgasm and that, of course, there must be something wrong with me because of that (only later did I find out that many woman never orgasm during sex).

There were so many problems with our relationship, and many of them revolved around sex. Part of the problem was how uncomfortable I actually was with sex. All throughout my education, I had been taught that sex was a bad thing. Abstinence has been ingrained into our society in many ways. The quote that comes to my mind right now is from Mean Girls: “If you have sex you’ll get pregnant and die.” To eleven year old Britta, this became another mantra in a long line of mantras about the dangers of sex. In high school, my friends and I would gossip about girls who we knew were having sex and we’d judge them for that. Sex was bad in my mind. To top that off, many of the girls on my freshman floor had spoken openly about their decision to wait until marriage. While I respected their decisions, I knew that was never something I had intended to do (in fact, I recall my mom advising me not to wait when she told me once quite frankly, “How are you gonna know if he’s good or not?” If I recall this scenario correctly, this made me uncomfortable and I quickly told her to stop being so embarrassing, as was frequent for my teenage self to do). I was so worried that my floor mates would find out that I was having sex and judge me. I didn’t stop to think that, if they were worth my time in the least bit, they wouldn’t care. Needless to say, I didn’t tell them.

I was uncomfortable with sex. To top that off, my libido was incredibly low, a result of the birth control pills I was on at the time (I have since gone off my birth control for a plethora of reasons that I wont get into right now). Of course, at the time I was having sex with my ex I didn’t know my low libido was a result of my birth control and I, of course, thought there was something wrong with me (hm, I sense a theme here).

At first my boyfriend was patient with me. He tried to comfort me and he did everything he could to help me get into the mood. He even bought me a vibrator, which I thought was super weird at the time and still find to be incredibly perplexing.

However, he started getting restless. The more restless he got about sex, the more anxious I got. The more he cried and told me I was hurting him, the more I felt there was something wrong with me. The more I felt degraded. The more I felt dirty. Part of me knew that everything about our sexual relationship was wrong. I just didn’t know what to do about it so I repressed it. I was too afraid to be alone again to even think about getting out of it. At the lowest point of my relationship, I was convinced I would marry him, while at the very same time the very idea of marrying him made me exceptionally uncomfortable. It’s difficult to explain my though process at this time because I was too wrapped up in him to think rationally about anything.

When we broke up in August 2013, I don’t think either of us realized what we had done to each other. He broke me in many ways. At the same time, I was a pretty crappy girlfriend; I was incredibly selfish. I know now that I was in that relationship entirely for myself.

Last semester, I saw him as I was walking out of the library one day; by this point, I had recognized that he had abused me and at that time, I really truly hated him for that. I tried to avoid him and scurried out the door, but he caught up to me (dammit ran through my mind a few times). He awkwardly congratulated me on my recent promotion to Hall Director for the coming academic year and since I felt I should say something nice too, I plastered on a very fake smile, thanked him, and congratulated him on a recent accomplishment of his own (the things we  can learn about people from Facebook). It was a short-lived, awkward conversation and I was unbelievably glad when I could scurry off to class. I couldn’t figure out why he was being so nice to me, especially since all of our encounters since our break up had been incredibly awkward.

Near the end of the semester, I ran into him again. This time I was with friends whom I was chatting and laughing with. When I passed by him, I smiled politely; in return, he grimaced slightly and appeared quite uncomfortable. He barely made eye contact with me. When I put these this occurrence and the library occurrence together, I began to wonder…had he realized what he’d done to me? I think it’s important to state that I don’t believe my ex-boyfriend is a bad person. I believe he was caught up in his sexual desires a little too much to consider that perhaps he wasn’t going about the best way to actually get sex by consistently coercing me. I’m not trying to excuse him for his actions; he still hurt me incredibly. I went through a time period where I was terrified to even consider having sex with anyone ever again. But I also spent almost two years with him. In the end, there were a lot of things wrong with out relationship, not just the sexual part. We barely knew each other when we started dating and ended up being a little too different to make it work; it would have fallen a part eventually, regardless of the sex part of it. Despite that, we did have our good times. We did have a lot of laughs together. I saw many moments where the good in him shined so bright.

When we started dating, we were two kids who had no idea what we were getting into. Both of us were hurt to a certain extent by the end of it.

I came out of that relationship as a stronger individual. I don’t like to spend a whole lot of time mourning the past because what happened happened. My ex-boyfriend abused me and it hurt me and messed me up in more ways than one. Instead of hating him forever, I have moved on. I have become stronger. I am independent. The next time I enter into a relationship with someone else, it will be for the right reasons; because we complement each other, not out of some deep need to feel loved. More importantly, I will never so blindly let anyone else do what he did to me. I know I am better than that. I have an integrity and respect for myself that didn’t exist within me two years ago. I also don’t fault my younger self for her blindness. I needed to learn how to value my  emotional independence on my own. In that process, I came out a better person. The pain and unhappiness I felt near the end of that failing relationship will stay with me forever and it serves as a constant reminder of how far I’ve come.

I don’t know if I will ever fully forgive my ex-boyfriend for the way he treated me. He did abuse me. I did hurt a lot. In fleshing out my relationship and my own faults as well as his, I have no intention of acquitting him of the way he treated me. Sexual abuse should never be treated lightly. It is an all too real occurrence that happens all too often to all too many people. In fleshing out this relationship, I hope to allow you as readers to understand the person I was at that time and how far I’ve come since then. Looking back at that time, I’m so glad I made it out as a stronger individual. Furthermore, I am incredibly thankful that I am now able to tell this story with so much confidence.

To those of you who read my posts regularly, you’ll know that I have talked about personal topics before (like that one time I told you all I was in love with someone I couldn’t have, which by the way I’ve managed to move on from since posting in late October). In many ways I’m an open book–writing is really a release for me and there are very few things I don’t feel comfortable sharing through writing. However, you’ll also know that I’ve never shared something like this before.

Why now then?

Well,  earlier today, I read a post by a fellow blogger about her own experience being sexually assaulted and it got me thinking about my own story, despite how different our stories are.

I haven’t told a whole lot of people about my sexual abuse before this. It’s something I’ve guarded closely out of fear of judgement and mistrust. I was in counseling all of last semester for severe anxiety that bordered on depression; I didn’t even tell my counselor about this, though I did allude to it on multiple occasions. She did know I had recently gotten out of a bad relationship; I never explicitly told her I had been sexually abused, though. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve only told this story to four people. One of those times I was drunk and so was the friend I was talking to.

I ultimately decided to tell this story because it is an important part of my life. I was so dependent on this one person, my ex-boyfriend, for so long, yet I was still so afraid and alone. I allowed my boyfriend to continually abuse me because I didn’t realize he was abusing me. I didn’t realize he was abusing me because I was so attached to him. I was so attached to him because I was so afraid to be alone. At that time, what I didn’t realize was how my fear of loneliness was only causing me to become lonelier. In those moments when his lack of words said more than words ever could; when that look of disappointed in his face became an all-too common occurrence. My lack of self-worth was overpowering any sense of self.

I never ever want to become that girl again. I will never ever let myself become that girl again.

And so, I share this with you. Because it is my story to share. and it needs to be shared. For myself and, I hope, for you, too.

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31 thoughts on “In Which I Talk About Some Extremely Private Parts of Myself that I Guess are Pretty Public Now

  1. Britta, I truly admire your courage for putting all this out there for the world to see. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I really appreciate this post. There are so many girls who struggle with these things. I myself am 22 and have never dated or been kissed, and there are times when that is depressing. But your story is extremely encouraging, and I know it will make a difference in the lives of other girls who have similar dating desires or go through similar experiences. This post shows that no matter how bad your situation was, you truly have become stronger. Which is inspiring. Thank you again for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Amelia! I’m glad you took something positive away from this post.I didn’t realize how much I needed to tell this story until I started writing it, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who benefited from that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oppss…I think I am the only guy here to comment..(Perhaps for now).

    First, I have to say that you are so strong and courageous to tell your story in front of many.

    I am sorry about your experienced. I am glad that you move on already. Yes truly, their are some guys out there who are after for “sex”. You will call me a liar if I am not after for sex of my first relationship. Basically, I think for us guys that was our goal, honesty speaking.

    But in a long run of the relationship, development of feelings, understanding between differences, exchanging sweet emotions and a lot more..should took place.

    If you will allow me to tell about our story. My wife and I were lovers since senior high school. She was my girl friend for more than 13 years before we got married.

    My point here, you are perfectly right. You did nothing wrong with your relationship. Man should captain the entire love affair because it is a must. It is a must if we wanted to create a longer romance.

    Women are so sensitive and must be take good care because they use mostly of their emotions compared to man.

    Your post will give a great lesson to many, not because of your bad experienced but because of your courage.

    take care…

    Like

    1. Thank you for sharing your story; I’m glad you took something positive away from my story.

      However, I do take issue with your claim that men should take charge in relationships because of the sensitivity of women. I personally believe that that notion you described is based on an outdated patriarchal concept that should no longer be relevant in today’s society. I believe that women can be just as strong, if not stronger, than men.

      That being said, I do appreciate your perspective and perhaps we will have to agree to disagree.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I read with great admiration for you. It is unbelievably courageous of you to post such a personal story with the world, yet very scary and good. It can encourage so many people to do the same and know they are not alone in these horrible experiences that may occur.
    Thank you for sharing. Many can learn from this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Britta! I kinda sensed there was something in your past… You are so admirable and inspiring for putting it out there for the world to read. By letting yourself be vulnerable to others, you are in a way freeing yourself from this horrible experience. Romantic relationships are already complicated as it is, add to that the sexual and emotional abuse and the pressure of youth and school at the same time was too much for you to handle. I hope and pray for continued healing and peace of mind for you! Thank you for sharing! *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Introvert intuition never fails, I’m quite positive (not to say extroverts can’t be intuitive too…from my experience, it seems to seems to be more common in introverts, though). 🙂
      Thank you so much for your kind words, Belle. I have grown so much stronger since ending the relationship and since writing this, in fact. It’s still a part of my past and one that I will never forget, but I consider myself an optimist and try to look at all the good that came out of the situation (i.e. my strength and emotional independence) rather than dwelling on the bad. Writing has been a lifesaver…for this situation and others. I am so appreciative of your kindness and I’m glad you took something positive away from this post. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Katy, and thank you for your kind words. Surprisingly, this is actually one of the easiest posts I’ve ever written. I didn’t know how much I needed to write about this until I started writing, and the words just spilled out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally understand. I’ve had a couple posts where I didn’t realize how much i needed to get out until after I was done. Btw you have inspired me to reblog my first blog post this week since i gained more of a following today.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Powerful story. Thank you for having courage to speak about your experience; must have been hard, but just know that we’re here supporting you. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you took something positive away from this post. Actually, the was one of the easiest posts I’ve ever written as a blogger. Pressing “publish” was a bit of a task (though I’ve spent longer debating whether to press send on e-mails, quite honestly), but writing it was a piece of cake, really. I didn’t know how much I needed to write this all out until I started…and then the words came.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad you were able to come out of this stronger! Getting stories like this out there could help people who aren’t so willing to let go of the false belief that they deserve the emotional or physical abuse from a relationship.

    And, I certainly can’t speak for everyone’s preferences, but having a connection with someone and learning and growing together really helps the physical relationship. (Sex with my husband gets better and better. We did not start out pros at all!)

    Very inspiring! Glad to have read your story of strength and renewal, thanks for re-posting!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much, Alyssa. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post and took something positive away from it. And I completely agree–I think having a connection with someone is sooo important, and something I didn’t have with this relationship.
      I would be so thrilled if someone who was in a similar situation found this and read it. That’s part of the reason I reposted it. I hope by telling my story, others can find strength from it, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing this Britta. We, as women, often make poor decisions (even if at the time, being decisive about sex or a relationship is irrelevant), and desire experiences or companionship or both. I think this is a very inspiring post for women of all ages. After my divorce at age 35, I entered into stupid relationships for the sex and the thrill. It’s all overrated. Sex for men is so much different. For women, we tend to want the whole package–the sex, the relationship, the resulting family–we are hard-wired that way (but we can override the wiring). Sex is so romanticized (50 Shades) and we fall for it. Very brave post and again, as others have commented, the writing of this will be very healing for you and perhaps others.

    Like

    1. You’re welcome, Terri. I’m so glad you took something positive away from this post. I sure hope someone who needs to read this stumbles across it. That’s part of the reason I reblogged it. I put so much work into this post back in December and it would mean so much to me if someone who needed to read this found it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. All your comments went through, Lia! Thank you so much for commenting THREE times to make sure! That in itself is meaningful to me.
      I’m so glad to hear this post had such a profound (and, I hope, positive) impact on you. I’m so incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to share this part of my life with others through my words and I do hope it will make a difference in someone else’s life. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Britta, I am amazed at your maturity in evaluating your past relationship and how much you have grown since. Personally I wish I had the same healthy sense of self in my 20s and so very dearly desire the same for my teenage niece. Thank you for sharing this very personal part of your life, a truly inspiring post for young, self conscious girls.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to share this story with others and I’m glad to here so many people have taken something positive away from it. I do hope this makes a difference in someone’s life. Thank you for your comment.

      Like

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