This is one woman's story of being in an abusive relationship. It can be extremely difficult to talk about, and, here, she uses drawings and imagery to illustrate her personal journey:
"I had just started college in Chicago, I was so fun, carefree and feisty. ...I felt like I was invincible and ready to take over the world. I was fearless."
"And then I met him. Our first date was a walk in in the park, I remember he pointed out I had a booger in my nose and I was super embarassed.. He asked me to be his girlfriend a few months later and of course, I said yes."
"I slowly stopped hanging out with my friends. It was always just me and him."
"It went as far as him creating a rift and ruining the trust between my best friend and I – we didn’t speak for almost two years."
"He would get upset at me and break my cellphones so I couldn’t talk to anyone."
"He would get upset at me for saying hi to my guy friends on the street, but that should've been a sign right there."
"He was emotionally abusive and he made me feel like every decision I made was wrong."
"The first time he hit me, I was convinced that it was my fault and that my attitude made him upset and maybe if I didn’t talk back, things would get better between us."
"The moment that I knew that I had to get out of the relationship was when he knocked me down, and I fell and hit my head. It wasn’t the first time he hit me, but it was the first time I felt really scared."
"While I was packing, he came home early and was livid when he saw I was leaving. I didn’t realize that the situation got out of hand until he pulled a kitchen knife out on me. "
"He told me, “if you leave me, you’re going to kill me, so you may as well kill me now,” and only then did my brain register danger."
"My best friend came, she called the cops, and that’s when he slit his wrists. The cops came and took him to the hospital. I felt SO guilty, I was an empty shell of myself."
"I was apologizing for my very existence. I had no voice, I had no identity. I was seeking approval from everyone except myself."
"It was a tug of war between my loneliness, depression, and vulnerability."
"I always thought how could this happen to someone like me? I was a good girl. I wasn’t raised in a household with domestic abuse. All of my friends had normal relationships. What was wrong with me? Why did he feel he had to hit me?"
"Once he was gone for good, I rediscovered the things that made me happy again. I threw myself into my career, I had new friends and love interests, I had a therapist who I saw once a week and she helped me build myself back together again."
"If you’re going through this, I want you to know to pay attention to the signs. It’s hard because your emotions are clouded and you’re in love, but love is supposed to make you feel good. It should always lift you up."
"Don't forget that you are still a good person, because you deserve all the happiness in the world, and you're worth it."