Anyone who has never been in an abusive relationship may never understand why a victim stays with their abuser. I know this because I was the same way at a time. “Why won’t they just leave,” or “it must not be that bad if you stay.” Well, it’s much deeper than that and it is not as simple as it seems. Also, abuse is not always just physical, there is emotional, verbal, and mental abuse as well.

Let’s take it back a bit, about 6 years back to be exact. I was preparing for my 16th birthday and was about to finish up my sophomore year of high school, and it was then that I met Bryan. Bryan was the first person to catch and keep my interest since my breakup with George. I was very hesitant at first, but he was good friends with my cousin who convinced me to give him a chance.

It didn’t take long for Bryan and I to become a couple. He created an image of man in my mind that I never expected to have, in a good way. Bryan was a few years older than me, he had recently turned 19 and had already accomplished so much. A couple of weeks after we met, he helped me celebrate my 16th birthday in the most glamorous of ways. He made surprise dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant that required us to dress up in formalwear, and he even went as far as to buy me a beautiful dress and heels to wear there after paying for me to get my hair done as well.

That night set the tone for our relationship; very flashy, money spent like it was nothing, always surprising me with “just because” gifts, frequent trips, he even gave me the keys to his second car (a BMW) when I got my license, and eventually the BMW was upgraded to a Porsche. Needless to say, he spoiled me. Bryan made me feel like a woman, he made me feel loved, he made me feel like a princess.

I fell in love with Bryan, and I believe he fell in love with me too. He had become my best friend and showed me everything that life could be. I looked up to him and had so much respect for him as a person and as a boyfriend. After 8 months together, I was ready to take our relationship further, I was ready for intimacy. One evening, we went out to dinner and a movie, and I was already planning on spending the night at his house afterwards. Once we got home, we went to bed and began to cuddle. I started to kiss him and asked if he was ready to be my first. That night was amazing, I had given my virginity to a man whom I loved so much who treated me so well, and it was so much better than I thought it would be. Bryan made love to me, he made every inch of my body feel appreciated, he made me feel safe. After that, there was no doubt in my mind that I would spend my life with Bryan. On our 1 year anniversary he gave me a promise ring, his promise was to always love and take care of me, and I moved in with him. We were the couple that everyone aspired to be, all of my said that as long as we were together, they had hope that real love existed.

Unfortunately, I would soon learn that everything that glitters is not always gold.

A few months after our one year anniversary, I was shattered to learn that Bryan cheated on me. He had sex with another girl. I couldn’t believe it, how could the man that I thought loved me so much do this to me? When I talked to him about it I broke down, I had invested so much of myself into him and I wasn’t ready to throw that away. After days of him apologizing and showering me with gifts promising he’d never do it again, I decided to try to make things work. That was my first mistake, and little did I know, this was the beginning of a downhill battle.

The cheating continued and only got more frequent. It seemed like everyday I was finding out about another female he was texting and sometimes even more than that. But at the time, I was young and dumb, so I always stayed or went right back to him. One day, about 18 months into our relationship, things got really bad after finding out that he was texting another female that he had previously cheated with. We had never been in such a heated argument, so this time, I started to pack my clothes and I told him I was done and I was going to go back to my mothers house.

That didn’t sit well with him at all, so when I tried to leave out of the bedroom to head out the door, he threw me on to the floor and demanded that I stay. He stood over me with his fists balled up and I was terrified. I asked him to please let me leave, and as I tried to get up from the floor, he slapped me across my face knocking me back onto the floor. This was the first time that he had ever hit me. I laid there on the floor in shock with tears running down my face, and Bryan immediately picked me up, sat on the bed, pulled me on his lap, and hugged me very tight. It was like even he couldn’t believe what he had done. All that he kept saying was how sorry he was and that he loves me so much, over and over and over again, and he was crying with me. I sat on his lap frozen and in shock, I could not stop crying and as much as I wanted to run away from him, I couldn’t even make myself move.

“Taylor, I’m so sorry. I love you so much and I just couldn’t imagine losing you. Please don’t leave me.”

I was still crying, and as I lifted my hand to wipe the tears off my face, I caught myself staring at my promise ring. As I began fiddling with the ring, he grabbed my face, kissed the side that he hit, and then kissed me on the lips.

“I promised that you would always be taken care of and always be loved, haven’t I kept that promise? You do know I love you, right?”

Now, from the outside looking in, and even looking back now, I know that I still should have left him. But at the time, I had such a mix of emotions and thoughts running through my head. He was right, he did take care of me, I never wanted for anything because even before I had the chance to want or need something, he’d get it for me. And he had to love me if he was still with me after all this time and since he did so much for me. Either way, it was my fault that he hit me because I was trying to leave, I shouldn’t have went through his phone anyway, right?