What’s an abusive relationship?
QUIZ: Is your relationship healthy?

By Author's name withheld
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Illustration by Joshua Ventura, 17, University HS

Two summers ago, I started hanging around with one of the guys at church camp. He seemed nice enough. On the bus on the way home, he told me that he liked me and we exchanged phone numbers.

As soon as I got home, he started calling. I was attracted to his persistence at first—it was flattering when he called two and three times a day. He would come over and play games on the computer with my brother. Sometimes we’d get a ride to the mall and watch a movie. We’d talk on the phone for six or seven hours at a time about anything and everything. There we were—him 15 and me 14—head-over-heels in love. He often assured me that our love was magical and that it would last forever. Being so young and naïve, I believed every word he said.

In October 2001 I invited him to my Homecoming dance. We got all dressed up and had a wonderful time. Once he got a car, we started going to the Santa Monica Pier, the movies, the beach, the mall, and we also went to Disneyland. I loved how he would call to make sure that I was OK and he always showed so much interest in me.

After a year, he was ready to go further. We were both still very young and immature, so I told him that I wasn’t ready. I knew he was disappointed, but I didn’t think that his entire personality would change.

We started fighting constantly, back and forth it went from typical arguments to name-calling. He was always accusing me of being with other guys. He wanted me to change my hairstyles and spend less time with my family and friends.

On our anniversary night we went out to eat. During dinner he gave me a teddy bear, some money and a card. We had a good time, but after we left, he insisted that I hang out with him all night. I said no—it was a school night. He freaked out and told me that he didn’t want to be with me anymore. "OK, whatever," I thought. He came over the next day to pick up all the stuff that he had given me the night before. A few weeks later, he changed his mind and we started dating again.

Friends and family told me that he was crazy and that I should leave him alone, but I joked with them that they were just jealous because they didn’t have boyfriends with cars.

But eventually all the drama started to get to me. My grades dropped to a 2.0, I barely saw my friends and I didn’t feel like a regular teenager anymore. I was tired of making excuses for his behavior. This kind of love didn’t feel right to me, so I told him I was through.

But he kept calling. At first I would hang up on him. Eventually I came around after he kept apologizing and saying he would change. We started talking again. Sometimes when he called I noticed that he sounded different. So I confronted him: "Why do you sound weird?"

"I don’t sound weird."

"Yes, you do, don’t lie to me," I said.

"Well, I started smoking weed with some of my friends."

"Are you serious? You told me that you would never smoke."

"Well, I had to get my mind off of you. I don’t know why you’re trippin’, it’s your fault."

"It’s not my fault that you smoke. I don’t smoke, so don’t blame me."

"I don’t have time for this. I love you. Bye."

I was really starting to regret getting back with him. I thought that everything would be fine but now he was smoking weed—what next? We kept seeing each other, but things didn’t feel right.

The end was near

After a few more months, I was at the movies one night with my friends when I saw him with another girl. When he noticed me, he started hugging all over her the same way he used to do with me. My heart just dropped. He didn’t say anything and neither did I, but my friends could see the pain written all over my face. He walked into the movies with her, leaving me there too shocked even to be angry. I examined the situation over and over again in my head trying to figure out why he would do this to me. I called my mom and asked her to pick me up. That night I played Mariah Carey’s "Breakdown" and cried myself to sleep.

At first I felt a major sense of rejection. I never wanted to be at home, going through my mental suitcase of memories and hurt feelings. I went out with every friend I had and talked about it all the time. Whenever I would get quiet, my friends already knew what was on my mind. They knew that any minute I would burst out saying, "Can you believe he did that to me?" It’s taken me a long time to get over the way he hurt me.

I still don’t know why he decided that he wanted to be with her instead of me, after all the things he told me and all the time we spent together. Maybe it was because they went to school together and we didn’t, or maybe it was because she was the kind of girl that was willing to do anything he wanted, or maybe… I don’t know but whatever it was, I don’t deserve that type of treatment. I don’t deserve to be lied to, cheated on or abused. I deserve to be told the truth, respected, cared for and loved.