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Things Are Not Always as They Appear

For many, graduation is a time of mixed emotions. We’re saying goodbye to classmates and something familiar. We may go in different directions or to different schools than our friends. We’re excited about the future, but there’s also uncertainty.

For me, there was another layer. My school had many celebrations leading up to graduation. I don’t remember most of them – only that I couldn’t go. Brock, the boy I had been dating for two years, was jealous and abusive. He didn’t want me in social situations or talking with my classmates. There was a pool party, and he didn’t want me in a bathing suit in front of the other guys. So, I skipped all the parties and said I had to work or babysit instead.

I look happy in the picture above. And I was excited for graduation. I also had a lot of conflict going on inside. I made plans with a friend from work, who went to another high school, to go out to dinner after the graduation ceremony. We were meeting two of my best friends from school. I don’t remember where we went for dinner, only that it ended too soon.

Brock had instructed me not to go to any parties that night. I wanted to. I wanted to celebrate with my friends. For once, I wanted to do something that seemed normal. But I knew better than to disobey Brock. By this point in our relationship, he’d previously threatened to kill me twice for times I hadn’t listened. I knew better than to go and suffer the consequences.

So, when dinner ended at about 8:00, I didn’t know what to do. My friends wanted to go to the party. We were in two cars, and I drove by the party with them, then I made up an excuse as to why I didn’t want to go and drove my other friend home.

I had lied to my parents and told them I was spending the night with a friend. Instead, I would pick Brock up from the party at 10:00 pm and spend the night at his house. After taking my friend home, I didn’t know what to do until 10:00, so I went to Brock’s house and waited with his parents until it was time to pick him up.

At 9:45 pm, I left their house and drove about a mile to the house where the party was. I knew not to go inside, so I parked across the street and waited. It took a long time for Brock to come outside. When he did, he was running across the lawn funny, and I was laughing as he opened the passenger door and got in the car.

Instead of the kiss I was expecting, he immediately started yelling at and punching me. I was terrified and confused. I didn’t understand what was happening. After a few minutes, the punches and yelling slowed. He accused me of being late and wanted to know where I’d been and who I’d been with. Eventually, I got him to understand I was on time and learned that someone inside the party had misread their watch and thought it was 1:00 am instead of 10:00 pm. Brock was hitting me because he thought I was three hours late.

He apologized and told me to drive to his house. My nose was bleeding, I was shaking and terrified, but I started to drive.

On my way to the party, I passed a police car as the officer pulled someone over. It was only a few blocks away, and I would pass the spot again. Over and over, I thought of pulling over when I saw the police and jumping from the car to get away from Brock. But I knew he would grab me before I could do anything. As we turned onto that street, we saw the lights of the police car before we got to the car. Brock was on alert, telling me to drive carefully and go the speed limit so I wouldn’t get pulled over. I did as he said, another part of me dying inside as I drove past someone who might have been able to help me.

When we got to Brock’s house, I didn’t want to go inside but didn’t know what else to do, so I trailed a few steps behind Brock. His mom was shocked when she saw my face swollen and bloody. Brock was drunk (this was the only time I ever saw him drunk). He alternated between arguing with his parents and crying when he saw my face. He finally agreed to go to bed, but only if I laid down with him. Terrified, I lay down, and he put his arm across me and, thankfully, passed out.

When I was sure Brock was asleep, I got up and went to the family room. His mom gave me a pack of frozen vegetables to put on my eye that was bruised from a punch. I stayed up the rest of the night.

I was scheduled to work the next morning, so I left and went home early. My parents were shocked to see my face and asked me about it. I lied and told them I’d gone to the party. There was a girl in my class who looked similar to me and was often in the middle of drama. I told my parents, and later work, that someone at the party thought I was the other girl and punched me before they realized their mistake. I don’t think they believed me, but after asking a few questions, they let it drop. They had tried for a while to get me out of the relationship, and because I was always defensive, they had learned not to push the conversation.

I wish I could say that was the end of our relationship. Unfortunately, it took over a year before I was ready to break up with Brock. I’m thankful I eventually found the strength and courage to leave that relationship.

This isn’t just my story. It’s the story of thousands of others. Studies have found that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced physical violence in their lifetime and the majority of abuse start between and ages of 11 – 24.

Learn more: The abuse started subtly. To learn more about the warning signs, please read our post on Healthy and Unhealthy Dating Relationships

The posts about why the victim stays or how to help are also beneficial.  

The book, It Doesn’t Start with a Punch: My Journey through an Abusive Teen Dating Relationship, provides more detail on how the abuse started, grew, why I stayed, and how I finally found the courage to walk away.


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