Secret Week 3: I Was Kidnapped

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Secret Week posts are a part of a very personal blog event (hosted by After Nine to Five) where participants write about their mental health. The reason to do this is to lessen my identity crisis, help others with similar problems and inform society about potential misunderstandings in regards to labeling mental health issues. Please don't read if you are not honestly interested in this topic.

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My very first relationship

When I was 16, I met my first boyfriend. He was caring and romantic and I was happy that for the first time in my life, there was a boy who was interested in me. Because I always had a low self-esteem, I wasn't too picky. Inexperienced as I was, I also had no idea what love really was. I had not noticed anything unusual or suspicious for at least first six months of our relationship, although we spent a lot of time together. Then he began to show signs of serious jealousy and my life changed completely. 

I lost my freedom. If I wanted to do anything that didn't include him by my side, I had to ask him for permission. I wasn't allowed to have any male friends (he was constantly checking my phone and emails). He rarely allowed me to go out with girlfriends (because he thought I may be lying to him or they might have a bad impact on me). If he would let me though, he would call me constantly to check on me. Even if I was at home or with my family, I had to have my phone with me all the time - otherwise he would get suspicious if I wouldn't answer right away. When we were out together, he would get really angry if I even glanced at other guys. I wasn't allowed to wear clothes that were too sexy in his opinion (like skirts shorter than knee-length). We saw each other more or less daily. He would also get suspicious if I wouldn't tell him regularly that I loved or missed him. So I trained myself to say those words even after they lost any meaning to me.

So why didn't I leave him right away?

Ah, the obvious question. I would if it would be that simple. I was gathering courage for this step for a year and a half. I was trying to break-up with him at least weekly. We were fighting most of the time and when we weren't I was so happy that I thought that had to be real love. There were only ups and downs, nothing in between, which had completely exhausted me. So yes, I really wanted to finish it but there are a few reasons why I didn't.

First, he was a perfect match for my personality disorder. I was always a people pleaser and I felt guilty if anyone was unhappy. I was so unsure of myself that anyone (who was persistent enough) was able to smash my arguments and persuade me in believing something else. He was also filling my head with obsessive romantic ideas. Such understanding person as I was, I believed that he can't help himself because he was betrayed in the past and because he loves me so much.

Second, I was afraid of him. Whenever I brought up the break-up topic, he was threatening me. Anything from suicide, public humiliation to harming me or my friends and family. Once he forcefully took nude photos of me (after sex) and threatened to send them to the headmaster or publish them on the internet if I tried to leave him. Another time he lied to me about cutting his wrists in despair and he wore fake bandages after it to make it more believable. And so on ... he could get quite imaginative about those things.

Third, with regard to close relationship we had, I grew completely dependent on him. I thought I just couldn't make it on my own. We did everything together and I lost most of my relationships with other people. I was isolated from the outside world and I had zero self-esteem. He sure wasn't trying to help me with getting confidence in myself. 

But I did.

I did make the final move, but it wasn't over yet. He insisted on staying friends. Of course this didn't work out so he started to threaten me again. He even kidnapped me twice for several hours. The first time it was more "innocent". I was going to school early in the morning, before most of the students arrived. So he followed me, seized the opportunity when no one was around and sprayed me with pepper spray and forced into his car. I had to promise that I wouldn't try to escape or tell anyone about it (I couldn't know if he is going to complete his threats but I was really frightened). He inspected my mobile to see I'm not flirting with any guys yet and deleted all his messages with threats. Before he drove me to his apartment, we stopped in one specialized shop where he bought some poison for animals (he knew I was a cat lover so he threatened with killing nearby cats as a sign how serious he is). At his home, I had to log in my email so he could delete his problematic e-mails and change my password afterwards. Fortunately I printed those e-mails with the night before. He let me go and I didn't do anything about it, except telling my mom. 

Until he dropped a dead cat in front of my family's driveway, wrapped in my sleeping bag that I left in his apartment. Frightened that he might commit something more serious, I called the police. They came, but they didn't do anything. They said that those are empty threats and I shouldn't be worried. They even advised me to friendly talk with him over a drink! In the meantime he realized he didn't want to be "just" friends anymore. He called me once when I was going home from the cinema and he was acting pretty much normal. But he was waiting for me at the train station, with a knife in his hand. I felt too terrified and numb to make any noise. When I was in his car, he would go slowly with his knife over my body, describing in great detail what he is going to do with it if I don't cooperate. He beat me when he found some flirting messages on my mobile (although I was completely faithful when we were still together). So he was driving me around, severely threatening me (about killing me and crippling my significant others), stopping now and then for some physical punishment. I actually thought that I was going to die that night so I was prepared to do anything to survive. Finally he agreed to release me after I promised not to tell anyone about it and marry him the next day! 

And then?

Of course I went to the police station and testified. I was still in a shock and it was really hard to talk about it. I put him before a court but only to feel safer. If I wanted monetary compensation, I would have to go through the whole process again and I didn't have enough mental strength to do it. To slower my recovery during the trial (the judiciary in Slovenia is famous for its slowness BTW) and to make him feel better about himself, he kept busy with writing forum posts about his side of the story. Of course I was depicted as an evil bitch who came up with fabricated stories for her own amusement. He was describing himself as a true victim whose deep love had been betrayed. Many forum readers found his behavior to be very entertaining and threads about me became quite popular. The trial was also covered in the newspaper so they always had enough to talk about. Many were on his side. Many were making fun of it (they were joking about "dead cats" even years later). Students from my high school shared links of course, talking about it behind my back and I isolated myself from classmates even more.

I developed a post traumatic stress syndrome. I had horrible nightmares at night and I was highly anxious at day, afraid of leaving my house. I couldn't have normal relationships with men, avoiding any signs of romantic behavior. I didn't get any proper treatment, thinking that the time is going to heal the wounds.I was wrong as you could read in the earlier secret week post.

If you are (or were) in a similar position, please seek professional help as soon as possible! Ask around about good psychiatrists or other therapists (I "lost" a year of my life because my first psychiatrist only knew how to prescribe antidepressants that didn't help me anyway).

If you never had that kind of experience, please try to see it from a different side of view, even if you can't understand it first-hand. Is a woman who stays with a man who beats her really stupid? Ask yourself if it actually is that simple. And ask yourself how would you feel if other recklessly talked about your incident in the papers or online. 

In the next post I will try to describe how my dependent personality disorder developed ... in other words, I will write about my early childhood.

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