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When I started this semester, I intended to write weekly for the Student Voice section because I feel like I have a lot to say, and well, let’s just say that life had a different path for me. It has been almost two weeks since I got out of my abusive relationship for the final time. The relationship started off normal enough. Nick (not his real name), and I had attended the same high school, had lost contact for a while, and then began talking again at the start of this school year. It was part way though the school year that she asked me out. She, you say? Why is she named Nick? Well, this is where it starts to get hairy, so stay with me. When I started going out with this person, he was female, and since I am also female, it was a same-sex relationship. Mind-blowing, I know. A few weeks into our relationship, Nick told me that she was transgender and felt male inside. I have other friends that are transgender, so it wasn’t a problem for me. I began using male pronouns for Nick and would refer to him as my boyfriend. I was as supportive as I could be.
As time went on, things started getting stranger and stranger. Over Christmas break, Nick came down to visit me. It was at this time he also decided to lie to me about beginning hormone replacement therapy, via taking testosterone, or “T” as it’s sometimes called. Lying is not right in any relationship, and this was a big thing to lie about. He “forgot” to mention that he didn’t want to go through the proper, legal channels to start transitioning, so he bought some testosterone pills from his cousin. That is not only shady, but also dangerous and illegal. For someone to start the transition from Female to Male (FTM), he or she needs to undergo several months of therapy to get a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder (GID), (soon to be called Gender Dysphoria, instead), and he or she needs to talk to a doctor to get a medical sign off, and begin “T”.
I was really hurt that he didn’t trust enough to tell me, and that I wasn’t important enough to know, especially since he told me over and over that I was the only one supportive of his transitioning. Despite this, I still loved and cared about him, and urged him to still go through the proper channels, just to be safe. In the months that followed, my life got progressively worse. I had no time for myself because Nick began controlling every single aspect of it. I couldn’t hang out with my friends, because I had to take care of him. If he was feeling dysphoric and upset that he was female-born, I got yelled at for it. I was blamed for everything that ever happened, even if I had nothing to do with it.
It took a long time for me to see that he didn’t love me, he loved controlling me – I was a mere plaything to him. All of the threats to hurt me, my family and pets; all of the accusations, all of the check-ins to monitor my whereabouts, all of the isolation from my family and friends, it was all part of his manipulation. I had to walk on eggshells, I had to watch what I said 24/7 and could be punished over nothing or anything. I couldn’t say no, I had to be there for him 24/7 (or else) and if I had money, it was his. In fact, my stuff, my time, my life – it was all his. He was powerful and in control of me. I was a strong person, but he reduced me down to almost nothing. I would break down a lot – most of the time I would sob uncontrollably and have random panic attacks. I hated what I had become and wanted to end it all. It took my counselor at Ohio State’s Counseling and Consultation Services, mainly located in the Younkin Success Center, and the urging of several concerned friends and family members to notice that it was not only a destructive relationship, but an abusive one too.
Domestic violence isn’t just physical, it can be mental, emotional, verbal and sexual too. Just because you can’t see bruises on someone or a broken arm, doesn’t mean that the abuse isn’t there and that it’s not happening. It’s very real and it’s very destructive. There is no excuse for it, either. Nick would tell me that he was abused by his ex, and that he would never hurt me because he knew how it felt to be abused. Wrong. He abused me; mentally, emotionally, verbally and sexually and it was escalating toward a much more physical means, and I thankfully got out before it came to that.
If you recognize any of these warning signs, (in you or any of your friends), I urge you to try to get help and get out. It’s hard but worth it, and once you are out, don’t go back. I broke up with Nick several times, and he just didn’t get the memo. He would play mind games with me and threaten suicide if I even thought the words “break up.” It finally hit home for him when I told OSU Police that I was worried about what he might do to both me and himself. And then they informed him that it was over and that he wasn’t to see me or talk to me ever again. The amount of safety and sanity that I have gained from that incident is paramount. University Police basically gave me my life back, and for that, I am very thankful.
If you recognize any of these red flags in your friends’ relationships, please say something to them, and be willing to listen if they need it. Reach out to friends and family you might have not connected with in a while, they might be feeling isolated and alone. Recognize that they are going through a rough time and be supportive. Abuse is about control and power.
To my fellow Buckeyes experiencing an abusive relationship, I just want you to know that the abuse you are experiencing is not your fault, and you deserve to be treated better. Abuse is different for everyone, and it crosses all race, gender and sexual orientation lines, but no matter what, keep the faith because you are not alone. I got help from resources I didn’t really know existed when I needed them. The OSU CCS, and University Police were both huge in helping support me, and can help you too. Aside from the school, (and my friends and family), I also contacted the LGBT Trevor Project’s helpline, which is a contact point where high school and college-aged members of the LGTB community can turn to for help.
I urge you to talk; to family, friends, your roommate or resident adviser. If you need to get a hold of any of these resources, call the OSU CCS at 614-292-5766, the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-221-5445, University Police at 614-292-2121, the Columbus Division of Police at the usual 911, or the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. You can also check out the websites for It’s Abuse, OSU’s CCS, the Wexner Medical, Choices (the 24-hour crisis and information hotline), the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
The Lantern granted this columnist’s requests for anonymity.