The Proposal

As my abuser and I were friends on social media prior to our first date, I was aware that he came from a religious family (I saw photos and postings on his social media page implying so). His religion was not one that I was very familiar with; all I knew was that people of his faith seemed to be pretty tight-knit.

On our second date, while we were eating dinner in his apartment, I inquired about his religion. I noticed that evening when I arrived that he was wearing a necklace that represented the religion that his family believed in. When I asked if he was practicing that religion and if it was important to him, he told me that he didn’t actually practice the religion, and that it was just his family that did. He told me that his parents had purchased the religious pendant from the country that they were from, and that they would be upset with him if he didn’t wear it. He said that he didn’t want to hear them complain about it. He also said that his family was very religious and that they went to church at least once a week, but that he didn’t go to church. He informed me that he would tell them that he was too busy with college and with working to commute to their church. I let my abuser know at that moment that I was Christian, and that although I didn’t attend church on a regular basis (or at all during that time), that practicing the religion and having good morals was important to me. He voiced that he didn’t care that I was Christian.

Although he didn’t care that I was Christian, his family sure did- especially his mother. Women from his family’s religion were held to an incredibly high standard. Their beliefs refrained them from wearing anything other than long dresses, and their hair couldn’t even show. In fact, they technically weren’t even supposed to cut or color their hair. That’s just a few things. Anyways, my abuser had warned me that his mother would be hard to win over. She was very “old-schooled” and he was honest in that she would prefer that he date someone from the same religion and ethnicity as he.

My abuser was not wrong in that his mother would be hard to win over. One evening after class, my abuser drove me to his hometown in order to be introduced to some of his cousins (we were not living together yet, and I hadn’t met any of his family at this point). On our way there, he pulled into a driveway and turned off the car. I thought that we had arrived to his cousins’ house, but he then said, “I have to get some eggs first. Let’s go.” I confusedly got out of the car and followed him to the house.

Upon knocking, a woman in her mid-to-late forties answered the door. She appeared both confused and shocked, and I could feel her dissecting my appearance with her eyes as she looked me over. I looked her over as well, noticing that her hair was covered entirely and that she was wearing a floor-length dress with long sleeves. She mustered out a “hello”. My abuser’s response?: “Hi mom.” This was the first of countless times that my abuser would put me on the spot in an uncomfortable situation in order to get a rise out of my reaction. He thrived off of making me uncomfortable and also by making me squirm.

Another time that he enjoyed seeing me squirm was when he told his parents that we had moved in together. When he purchased the house, we weren’t even engaged yet, and it was seen as unacceptable by his family’s religion to live together before marriage. Not only were we not married, but I still did not believe in or practice their religion. We both knew that they were not going to take this news lightly. When my abuser informed me that his parents were coming over to see the house and to have dinner with us for the first time after he purchased it, I assumed that they already knew that I had moved in. I was wrong. The way that he informed his parents that we had moved in together was by giving them a tour and concluding that tour with the master bedroom, where my clothes hanging in the closet were visible for them to see. Once his parents saw my clothes, his mother raised her voice and started speaking in her primary language, which is not English. I knew at that moment that my abuser hadn’t even told his parents that we were living together, and I was furious inside. Furious and anxious beyond belief. The squirming inside was unreal; he must have been so proud of himself to know that he had made me so uncomfortable.

It gets worse. A lot worse. I consider myself to be more of an introvert than an extravert, and therefore I’ve never been big on the idea of having birthday parties or other celebrations for myself. Let’s be honest, sometimes the thought of a big crowd gives me some social anxiety, even if I know everyone. This is why I had no interest in having a graduation party after nursing school. However, my abuser insisted that I have one, and he even hosted the party. He made sure to invite all of his friends and family, and he invited some of mine.

He had been acting weird all day up until the party, and even then he was acting off. It was the first time in our entire relationship that I had ever seen him appear nervous. He eventually made an announcement for everyone to gather around the living room, where he proceeded to make a speech. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the speech was actually a proposal. I was so upset that this was happening, and in front of a large group of people (IN MY HOUSE), that I apparently completely forgot to say “yes” (although in the proposal video I can be seen nodding.) In the crowd, of course, was my parents and his. I knew that my parents would not be happy that we were engaged, as we were from different cultural backgrounds and believed in different religions, but I also knew that they would be supportive as long as I was happy. They thought that I was happy- I did too. Although my parents wore smiles during the proposal, I couldn’t help but notice the look on my abuser’s mother’s face: it was the look of complete shock. After the party, I learned that my abuser had showed his dad the ring prior to the proposal, but that his mom had no idea that we would be getting engaged that day.

Within a few days after the graduation party/proposal, my abuser asked me to marry him in his family’s church. His family’s belief is that you must marry in their church, and that once married in the church, divorce is unheard of. He was asking me to join their religion. After telling my abuser countless times that I did not want to join his family’s religion, and after he admitted that he did not believe in or practice the religion, he yet again was asking me to join a religion that I didn’t believe in and so that it could convenience him and make his family happy. With my parents support, I was able to stand my ground and reaffirm that I would not be joining his family’s church, or getting married in it.

After being adament about not joining the church, my abuser reported that he had discussed the dilemma with his parents, but that they wanted to discuss the issue with both of us together. I invited my mom to come with us, and the three of us arrived at my future in-laws house. Upon sitting down at the table, my abuser’s parents proceeded to tell me that ever since my abuser had met me, he wasn’t committed to his religion or his family. They insisted that he stopped coming to church because of me, that I had changed him. I explained to them that my abuser had chosen not to go to church on his own account, and that he had informed me years prior that he did not practice the religion. His parents didn’t believe me, and instead of standing up for me or putting in some feedback, my abuser sat there watching and not saying one word. He didn’t even intervene when his mother stood up and starting yelling at me and screaming, saying that people from her country had died for their religion and that I didn’t care. Her screaming was so ridiculous that I got up and left the room before I felt that my eardrums would burst. My mother was quick behind me (she had stood up for me, by the way). When I later confronted my abuser about not standing up for me, his response was: “what did you expect? I told you I already talked to them. It was your turn. I didn’t have anything to say.”

As you can see, my abuser’s family and their differences in religious beliefs than I’s made this relationship even harder to get through. I very quickly learned to despise wedding planning, and it’s mostly because my opinion and my desires didn’t matter to my abuser. The wedding was all about him and how he wanted it to be. Most of my suggestions seemed to be ridiculous to him. I eventually suggested postponing the wedding for another year or so (in my mind I was thinking indefinitely), but my abuser did not grant me that option. He was appalled by that suggestion, and he made sure to let me know that.

In my next entry I will be sure to write about the engagement experience, which was not a warm and fuzzy experience, as I’m sure you guessed.

Working with my Abuser

When we first moved in together, I was working as a Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) at a local hospital. I was working just part-time since I was required to be at school five days out of the week (until the last term of the program, when we were there much less). Due to my limited income at the time, I agreed to pay for the groceries for both of us. My abuser was heavy into lifting weights at the time, and it seemed like I was constantly buying groceries to keep up with his calorie intake demands. He agreed to pay the mortgage each month until I started working as a Registered Nurse (RN). It was clear that once I started working as a RN I was expected to pay half of the mortgage.

Upon graduating and passing my state boards for nursing, I immediately began working as a RN at the same hospital that I had worked at as a CNA. My abuser actually worked at the same hospital as a RN, but he worked in a different department than I did. My abuser had previously worked on my unit before I started working there, though, so he knew almost all of my coworkers. He had worked with most of them for several years. My abuser was confident, competent, outgoing, humorous, and attractive. These attributes made him very well known throughout the entire hospital. People would joke sometimes that he was like the “Ken doll” of the hospital. I would be told how lucky I was, and that we were “so cute together”.

My abuser “persuaded” me to match my schedule to his as best as I could and so that, although we were in different departments, we would always work on the same days. You often hear of abusers isolating their victims and restricting them from maintaining an occupation, but mine encouraged me to work and to make as much money as I could for “us”. He never tried to keep me from working, as he was almost always at work on the same days, and at the same times as I was. In fact, if I was sick and needed to call in to work, or if the staffing office placed me on-call for the day last minute because the hospital was over-staffed with RNs, my abuser would make comments that I needed to work to make money and that I wasn’t going to have any PTO for when we (he) decided to take a vacation. However, if he was placed on-call, it was great because he had a day off to “get so much done” (we both only worked three days a week).

Although he encouraged me to work a full-time job, my abuser would distract me on the days that I worked. He would call me every shift on my work phone around the time that he wanted to take a lunch break, and he would expect me to be able to drop everything I was doing at that moment to be able to join him on his lunch. With nursing, it’s impossible to just drop everything that you are doing; someone could be dying at that moment. With my abuser, he didn’t care. He expected me to be able to ask my nurse “buddy” (the nurse who had agreed to keep an eye on my patients while I took my breaks that day) to be able to take over for my patients at any moment and so that I could go eat. If my nurse buddy was on break, he would suggest I ask the charge nurse, or really any other nurse for that matter, if they could watch/care for my patients while I was off of the unit. It was all about him, all the time, so he was used to either bullying or charming his coworkers into letting him take his breaks whenever he wanted. He expected me to also bully or guilt-trip my coworkers (if needed) into feeling like they had to watch my patients for me whenever I wanted them to (which just isn’t in my nature). If I wasn’t able to get someone to watch my patients for me, then he would say that I just hadn’t tried hard enough.

I soon found work to be even more stressful, as I was worried about making it to lunch on time with my abuser every shift. It was as if my abuser expected to be priority over the well-being of my patients. Bottom line, I couldn’t focus. I was too stressed over my own consequences (if I missed lunch) and my own-well being to be able to focus on all nursing tasks at hand. I began to find almost all patient assignments from that point on to be very challenging and stressful, and that wasn’t like me. I began to feel incompetent for the first time in my nursing career. After my stressful shifts and being made to feel incompitent, instead of relaxing, I would have to ride passenger with my abuser on our way to hell (aka home).

I forgot to mention that my abuser proposed to me just after I graduated from nursing school (he actually proposed at my graduation party, just before I began working as a RN). Keep in mind that the obstacles that he was creating for me at work were happening once we were already engaged to be married.

I apologize for jumping around with some of the content in my blog entries (I especially apologize in advance as I know it will likely get worse). I am mainly using this blog as a coping tool for myself to use, and I’ve found that at times, memories will come back to me that I haven’t remembered or thought of in a very long time once I start to type. I also have a lot to my story that I would like to share, and those thoughts and memories can be very overwhelming at times.

In my next entry I will talk more about the proposal, and I also want to share how my abuser and I’s religious/cultural backgrounds contributed to our relationship.

Moving in with my abuser

I grew up in a very strict household, where understanding to obey and respect the law was the expectation. When I first met my abuser, I was just shy of turning 21. Only once did I drink before the legal drinking age, and at the time I was just being a stupid 17-year-old girl. I had never experimented with marijuana before this abusive relationship, and I had no desire to. I was known for being “a good girl”, and I just wanted to get through nursing school and start my career.

Nursing school has a reputation for being difficult, and let me tell you, it is. What makes it even more difficult is being in an abusive relationship while trying to navigate through it. I began having migraines towards the end of my first year in the nursing program, and I even had a MRI performed to make sure that I didn’t have a brain tumor. It was harder to focus on lectures in class, my memory was slipping, and I was finding it difficult to critically think on my clinical days. I even remember one of my instructors at clinical asking me, “what is going on with you?”, when I could not answer a simple question that she had asked me. At the time, even I didn’t know what was going on with me.

Things got even harder when we moved in together. I was in my second year of nursing school when my abuser made the decision to move to another city and to buy a house. He invited me to live with him, but didn’t seem to care if I moved in or not. I was afraid that I would never see him if he moved without me, and that we would therefore break up. I ended up moving in with him and commuting to school and to work. My parents told me their concerns and asked me not to move before finishing the nursing program, but I moved anyways. I wish that I would have listened to them, but I also know that there was no way of knowing that this was going to happen to me. It’s taken me a long time to voice that I know that I should not feel shame for not doing what they asked of me.

Upon moving in together, the abuse became more frequent and more intense over time. The first evening that I moved in, he messaged me from work to ask what I would be preparing him for dinner. I had very little experience with cooking, and I was so worried that I would mess something up somehow. I had never lived anywhere other than with my parents before. After spending hours in the kitchen that night preparing a nice meal, he ate dinner and voiced what I could have done better. While cohabiting, if I didn’t start washing dishes before he did, I was lazy and I wasn’t doing my chores; Same with the laundry. Once while recovering from one of my surgeries, he even suggested making a chores list, because I just wasn’t “holding up my end” and it wasn’t fair to him. Keep in mind that I couldn’t walk while recovering from surgery (for several months), yet I was expected to split the chores with him… that should tell you a lot.

He also was jealous, and would project that on to me. If a man messaged me via text or social media, no matter how harmless the context of the message, he acted as if it were unacceptable and as if I were his territory. As if I were is object. He once told someone important to me to “fuck off” from my phone because he didn’t want him to try to talk to me ever again. All that person had told me was to have a “Happy Thanksgiving”…

I caught him looking through my phone while we were dating a couple of times, and he would assume that any males in my life besides my family were trying to sleep with me basically. I would try to be understanding, but he then made me feel like it was unacceptable to have any male connections at all. He would act as if it would be cheating if I responded to a male’s message politely. Meanwhile, he would be telling me about how he was texting his female coworkers late at night, and he would come home telling me stories of how he had been making sexual, but joking comments to his female coworkers during his shift that day. It was clear that he was trying to rile me up. In response to those comments of his, I would react frustrated and angrily because of the double standards that he had implemented. He would then make me feel like I was crazy for being upset with him for “communicating” with his coworkers. He could talk to whoever he wanted, however he wanted to, yet I was verbally and emotionally abused if I so much as responded to a purposeful, yet harmless message from another man? Makes sense. NOT. Although I was a very loyal partner, my abuser eventually made it clear what he would do to me if I ever did cheat on him. In fact, he specifically told me: he would stab me in the chest with a knife. He would kill me.

Still wondering why some women “stay”?…. In my posts to come, I will share many more instances of the abuse that I endured while in this previous relationship.

How I met my abuser

Due to my safety, I am not going to be disclosing my identity to you (unless you already know me personally and I have invited you to follow along). I may decide to disclose who I am with time, but for now I would like to remain unidentified.

My story begins just over six years ago, as I was just beginning nursing school at a community college. I didn’t exactly grow up wanting to be a nurse, but I did care about people, and the job stability with nursing is always good, so I decided to give it a try.

One day after skills lab, I recognized a second year nursing student (whom I found very attractive) in passing outside. He stopped, we exchanged introductions, and then we parted ways. I couldn’t get his charming personality or his beautiful, ocean-like blue eyes out of my head. Later that night I decided to request him as a friend on social media, and he asked me out on a date later that week. On our date, I quickly discovered that he was outgoing, funny, charismatic, intelligent, and just overall easy to be around. I knew that I was going to have to see him again.

For our second date, he invited me over for dinner, which was actually quite good. After dinner, we proceeded to watch a movie and sip on a glass of wine. Just as the movie ended, he proceeded to kiss me and shove his hands down my pants. It was very sudden and aggressive, and it took me off guard; Before this we hadn’t even kissed yet. You can also say that I was naive and I didn’t see it coming. I hadn’t dated or been serious with someone in a long time, and I wasn’t planning on or wanting to have sex for awhile. I just wasn’t the casual dating type at the time. I ended up letting him touch me and undress me partially, and when he proceeded to take his underwear off, I asked him to stop and told him that it had been a very long time since I’d been intimate with a partner. He then proceeded to push my panties to the side, give me what I can only think to describe as a “wicked, sick grin”, and then penetrated me with his penis. I remember bawling, him looking confused, and then him stopping after I began to cry loudly and hysterically. He then awkwardly just sat there staring at me, scanning my eyes with his, as if he were trying to register why I would be upset over the situation.

I was very upset, and I remember trying to rationalize his actions. I was thinking to myself, “well, maybe this is how dating is now. Maybe guys are just more aggressive”, and “maybe he didn’t hear me when I asked him to stop”. After I took a moment to collect myself and to stop crying, he then broke the silence by saying, “wow, you have an amazing ass”. Can you believe that? My date, who turned into my rapist/abuser, thought it would be a good time to comment on MY body after he just violated it (several months later, when I asked him why he continued to penetrate me and not say anything to me when I asked him to stop, he told me that he didn’t believe that I hadn’t been sexually active in so long, and that I had lied about it because I thought it was what he would want to hear.)Wow.

Looking back, I still become frustrated with myself for seeing him again after that night. I am religious, and at the time I felt shame for what had transpired, even though it was not my fault. I almost felt like I needed to make a relationship work out of what had happened because we had sex, whether at the time I knew it was nonconsensual or not. I figured that since we already had sex that we may as well continue to do so from that point on. This was the first time that he raped me, but it unfortunately was not the last time. My journey includes many forms of abuse: mental, financial, physical and sexual. By the end of our second date, I had already endured both mental and sexual abuse by him. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of what was to come.