How Gaslighting Tricked Me to Stay in an Abusive Relationship

Wednesday, 18 October 2017 - 12:31:46 WIB
By : Aulia Ardista | Category: Family & Relationship - 2136 hits
From the beginning of my past relationship, my intuition told me that he was not the one for me. Nevertheless, it took five years of emotional roller coaster with my ex-boyfriend before I freed myself from him – enough time to make me see emotional abuse as normal and worried that looking for help would defame his character.

So, how did I get in this relationship? It started with social pressure from my friends. My ex was a popular guy, so everyone wanted me to accept him as my boyfriend. One friend scolded me for being arrogant and another said that I was not worthy of being pursued by him if I played hard-to-get, since I was not that beautiful or fun. As far as I remember, nobody assured me that it was okay to say no if I did not want to be with him. Everyone was on his team. That was how I decided to be with him, with the hope that my intuition was nothing but poor judgment.

In the first year the relationship went well, but after that things began to change. Even as I was still struggling to love him, he expected a lot from me and  he would make me feel guilty for not fulfilling his expectations and for not loving him as much as he loved me. When I told him of my psychological problems, he accused me of making them up. That was how my self-esteem grew weaker and weaker.

I did not like myself when I was with him. Instead of becoming the best version of myself, I became the worst. I isolated myself and I felt like I was owned by him. He told me bad things about people and as an introverted person, I believed him. I believed that he was the only one that I could trust. I believed that I should not tell anyone that he threatened to do “something stupid” if I ever left him.

At some point, I met a friend and started an affair with him. I was confused with my feelings, but I saw a savior in him. From this guy, I became aware of the lies I had been fed by my boyfriend: that I was hard to love, that I would never find a better man, and that every relationship is the same. I had believed him that it was best to stay with him despite our problems instead of starting a new one, because it would not be any different.

I began to think what my friends had said too, and realized what they thought should not matter. They contributed in trapping me in this situation, and I would not miss my chance to “run away” from my boyfriend just to do what they thought was right. So I broke up with my boyfriend for good when I started my study abroad. I also did not continue my affair with the other guy, because he also had a girlfriend then.

Still, I had not realized that all the time I was in an abusive relationship until I talked my close friend about this a year ago. How strange that the idea that I was abused had never crossed my mind before. How could I be so blind? Maybe it is because I did not have a model of a healthy relationship. Maybe it is because I was stuck in the comfort zone – even if there was nothing comforting about it. Whatever the reason is, it explained my unconscious desire to run away from him and start a new life.

When my ex began to bully me again, this time online, my friend said: “Ignore him. He just tries to be a hero once again. He blames you but in the end, he will make you ask him to get back together with you. Of course, he will accept you. After that, he may tell everyone how forgiving he is and how ungrateful you are to hurt a boyfriend like him.”

Another advice was, “It is none of your business if he vowed not to have another girlfriend after you. He is a fully-grown man who should know what is best for him. I bet that he just tried to convince you that he is a remarkably faithful person.” It hit me hard and urged me to re-evaluate everything and gathered the courage to move on.

Now, even with my new boyfriend, who is also my best friend, I still feel uneasy sometimes. My trust issue makes me wonder often if I have made a wrong decision. I also read that women who previously had an abusive relationship tend to fall into the same loop. However, my psychologist said that it is unlikely for me because I am fully aware of my past issue. I do not deny it, I’ve learned from it, and I know what makes a relationship abusive or not.

I openly discussed this matter with my boyfriend and he said, “If you or your psychologist ever find me abusive, you can leave me.” Deep in my heart, I know that I will not leave him, but I find his words comforting. After all, I know that I stay with him because I want to. not because of the fear that I do not have any choice.

Aulia Ardista studied Cultural Policy in Scotland. Currently she is volunteering in farms/kennels across the UK, living her dream of a minimalist lifestyle in nature. She owes her life to Zen philosophy, animals, and Game of Thrones.

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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Ayu | 18 October 2017 | 16:56:18 WIB
Hello Aulia! I'm sorry to hear about your abusive relationship but I'm glad you already found someone new who respect you. I also experienced abusive relationship for 2 years and I'm still trying to recover my self esteem. I also didn't recognized that my relationship is abusive until after it ended. Hope you'll get a fast recovery and be happy again <3
Ruby - Astari | 19 October 2017 | 05:40:50 WIB
You have been so strong and brave. Remembet that.
Hanif | 19 October 2017 | 14:18:03 WIB
Hi Aulia,
I'm proud to befriend with you for the last year. You have been so strong and brave to share your personal experiences. Keep sharing and inspiring!
Regisda Fuadhy | 21 October 2017 | 17:15:38 WIB
Thank you for being so brave. You won't know how many girls out there whom you might save by sharing your story!
ruthayue | 23 January 2018 | 19:04:08 WIB
sis, I feel you! I am glad we both finally are free from such relationship, and I'm proud of you for speaking out instead of being ashamed of the abuse. I too, first realized that it was an abusive relationship after 2 years of breaking up (including 1 year of being on and off because he tried really hard to keep controlling me) and I was shock and terrified, knowing how much damage it has done to me. I want to let you and every women who experience similar things to know that it is not our fault and we can always start again and become a better person. Much love, xx

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