I just read Jennifer’s story about “Ron”. Even though I am not a victim of sexual abuse, I have been a victim of verbal abuse. Not the same degree or the same scars, but scarred none-the-less. Jennifer’s gut feeling about boundaries are very real. It’s not a man thing solely or a woman thing, it’s a people thing-and it’s real. Some people feel they should have access or “permission” to do, act or say as they will, not thinking of anyone else but their own selfish motives or intentions. Even though Jennifer recognized that in “Ron’s” boundaries, there are many people who give people the benefit of the doubt with their trust. Unfortunately, trusting everyone and disregarding a gut feeling creates victims. It is NOT the fault of the victim, it is fault of the person who has disregard of boundaries and acts of personal conduct.
I had an ex boyfriend named Rob. Ironically close in name to Jennifer’s “Ron”. I dated him for 3 years. I never thought in my wildest dreams that someone I cared so much about could take such advantage of me the way that he had. The verbal abuse was relentless. I fell victim to his ‘sorry” and “I won’t do it again” circular jargon. After he toke my phone one evening after I didn’t want to engage in intimacy that he was wanting to have with me, I felt like for the first time in my relationship I was in serious trouble.
As sick as it sounds, I knew my relationship with Rob was bad. However, my self-esteem was so low, I never thought I was capable of finding someone who didn’t treat me poorly. As a young single mom who had a daughter out of wedlock previously, I thought Rob would be the only guy who would accept me single and accept that I lived with my parents and also had a child.
On this night of fear, Rob took the battery out of my phone so I could not call for help. He locked his doors inside and baracaded himself in front of his door so I would not leave. Before he took my phone, I realized the keys to my car were also missing before he got verbally abusive with me. No phone to call for help, no keys to escape, no way I could physically get past a 350 lbs huge man with such strength, I was cornered.
I sat there and listened to him threaten me, belittle me and tell me he was going to do things to me if I tried to leave. He lived in a garden apartment. In fear if I screamed, I stayed quiet and let him yell in my face. Let him say what he wanted. I feared he would hurt me.
After he said and yelled what he did, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was mentally drained, cried all the tears I found to cry. It was then, I heard someone outside Rob’s door. I risked, what I thought was my life, to scream for help, to call 911. I was being held against my will. I screamed like I’d never screamed before. Rob lunched towards me. Not knowing if that was going to be my end, the person outside of the door knew Rob. Not only did he know Rob, the man was a police officer doing a welfare check on someone else in the building and happened to be right outside Rob’s door. As soon as the police officer hollered “Police, open the door, open the door!” Rob knew he was done for. He unlocked his door and let the officer in.
Rob gave me back my keys, gave me back the battery to my cell phone and the officer asked for back up, thinking I had been sexually assaulted as I wouldn’t stop crying and screaming in fear.
Boundaries. Rob had been crossing boundaries for a long time in our relationship. My gut said it was wrong, but my mind said ‘he wouldn’t”. He did. Time and again. I was in a boundary in that apartment that I couldn’t escape. I’d blamed myself for years. Telling myself this was my own fault for knowing it was bad with him, but “allowing” that abuse to happen.
Even though Rob never hit me in the relationship or never sexually abused me, he played sick games. He messed with my mind and my esteem was so very low. That night, when I was trapped, it took that situation to realize I didn’t have to go through this ever again. No more sorry or I love you’s would I ever have to hear. No more flowers of ‘sorry” for something I knew he’d just do again..and again…and again.
Boundaries. We have to teach people we have them. We need them. No one has the right to tell anyone that they “are over reacting.” I’d heard that more times than a broken record. For our own safety, sanity, self worth, and serenity, we need boundaries. We have the right to set them. We have a right to say no. I no longer feel it’s all my fault after years of therapy. He had no right to do what he did, say what he said and laugh at me the whole time I was trapped. He did this to ME. I may have been too trusting, but I also learned that my gut feeling was right. I just had to learn from this. It could’ve been worse. That police officer could’ve been someone just passing by and walking out the main door. Then what? What would’ve happened if he wasn’t a police officer? Well, I let all those fears go away. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I realize what happened. I survived. That’s what matters.
Boundaries. They keep the ugly out…and protect the most important within.
(Please note: This story was originally shared on the Story Wall. It is still there, complete with comments submitted. We have placed it here as well so it is easier to find and because each story submitted truly deserves its own place, linked together with other stories of bravery.)