My Lost Twenties by Hadassah S
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Many people consider the time in their twenties to be the golden age. You’re young and free, and the world is your oyster. They look back on those years with fondness. Those people are lucky. My experience of my twenties was a very different one.
Tom and I were in the same class together at school. I felt lonely and wanted my friends and family to love me. So when Tom began to show me attention I lapped it up with gusto. After my 18th birthday my grandmother, who had custody of me, passed away. This left me alone and homeless. I had my first real job and saved enough money to get my own apartment. He began staying the night with me in my apartment. At first, everything seemed fine. We were best friends. But something began to change.
He began to do things he knew made me feel good and relaxed like rubbing my back, my arms. He got me comfortable around him so when he first began to touch me in more private places, I never thought a thing of it. He told me this was normal. He talked me into taking my clothes off and promised we would not do anything we shouldn’t. He rubbed on me and got me feeling all good. I felt him getting his privates near mine. And I pulled away from him the first time and told him we were not married and that this was wrong. He still insisted that it was normal. He rubbed against me again except for this time he pushed himself inside me. I clawed at him and told him it hurt. He continued to do his business while I cried that he was hurting me and it felt wrong.
After he raped me, he escorted me to the shower to clean me up. He kept hugging me and kissing me, saying we were now officially boyfriend and girlfriend and that what we did was completely normal. This was the beginning of my hell.
A week or so later, he got angry at me for the first time. He punched me in the chest, threw me on the couch, and punched me in the face. He told me that if I told anyone he was going to cry that I raped him and have me thrown in jail. This initial cycle went on for a couple of months. During this time, he slowly threw away all my personal belongings because they made him angry. I came from work one night and he was already angry. He followed me to the bathroom where he pushed me to the floor and again put himself inside me. Later that month, my period never came. I was pregnant.
His mother enabled him. They used my pregnancy as an excuse to force me to marry him. They told me that if I didn’t comply they would go to the Police and tell them I had raped him. I had no idea this wasn’t actually something they could have done. I had nobody on my side so I felt force to go along. His Mother helped us get an apartment away from everyone I knew and left us alone. This is where the daily beating and abuse got worse.
For the next 4 months he used every opportunity to violently remind me that either I do what he says, or he’d take my baby from me. I was scared and just wanted for my baby to be safe. After our daughter was born the abuse got worse. He was jealous of her and when she turned 4 months old he forced me to give her up for adoption. He threatened to kill both of us if I didn’t. It felt like the best thing to do for her despite breaking my heart.
Once my daughter left us, the daily beatings resumed. He was now keeping me locked in the bedroom. He gave me an old ice cream bucket to use as a toilet. I was not allowed to eat without his permission. I was prohibited from taking a shower. He began forcing me to have sex with him three or more times a day. I was so sore and hurting so bad. I tried to get away from him but he grabbed me and dragged me back down the hallway to the bedroom. He strangled me and I lost consciousness.
From then on, every time I would try to fight him he would kick me, punch me, strangle me, until he got his way. He began playing mind games with me. He would force me to stand in one spot or he would slit my throat with the knife he held. He would also do this with a blow torch threatening to burn me alive. I became pregnant again. He tried his best to try and have me miscarry. I gave birth to my second daughter in October, 2009. The adoption occurred at the hospital. The day we got home, he raped me again.
He began forcing me to stay awake for days on end. I attempted to escape multiple times to no avail. In December 2009, I made my first escape. I was supposed to be taking the trash out but instead I dropped it and ran as hard as I could to the fire department down the road. I banged on their door and rang their bell frantically. I knew he would be coming for me. Two firemen opened the door and I pushed them out of the way, running in to the fire station screaming “He is going to kill me. He will kill you for helping me."
I was taken to hospital where scans revealed that I had a broken nose, dislocated jaw, cracked skull, broken ribs and broken wrist that had not healed properly. From there I was taken to a shelter. By the time I had to go to Court I was paralysed by fear. So much so that despite him being handcuffed and guarded by two armed police officers I couldn’t appear in the same room. The trauma overwhelmed my body so much that I ended up falling to the floor, paralysed by fear and unable to function. I had to appear via video link and seeing as he took the plea deal he was sentenced to only 6 months in jail. I was meant to be informed prior to his release but never received the call.
He was back the minute he was released. He kicked in my front door and was on top of me before I knew what was happening. He had gotten bigger and stronger in prison and dragged me to the bedroom. I tried to fight him and he strangled me until I lost consciousness and proceeded to rape me multiple times in a row.
I was his hostage once more. I was not just a physical prisoner, who was subject to frequent beatings and punishment, but also emotionally demeaned. If I showed any emotion other than fear or terror I would be punished. I continued to fall pregnant from being raped by him and he would hurt me until I miscarried.
He got me pregnant again, and allowed me to carry to term. Yet again, another adoption. When we got home, he raped me and ripped my stitches out. He actually seemed to enjoy the pain he caused when he pulled out the stitches so he could have sex.
Soon after this, I gave up. I prayed and begged God to let the next blow to the head or blow to the chest end it. I prayed that the next time he strangled me that I wouldn’t wake up. I found out that I was pregnant for the last time. I told him the only way he was taking this baby from me was to kill me. This time, his mom moved us in with her. The cycle continued at her house. After giving birth I saw an opportunity to escape with her in November 2013. I climbed out the window in the rain and ran to a neighbour’s house. I call emergency services and asked for help.
I was taken to the shelter. He was taken to the hospital for a mental health examination. Once at the shelter, they took me to the intake room. I spent the next two days on the floor of the intake room. I felt every emotion at once. I was terrified because I knew he would come for me. I was relieved because I was safe. I was angry. I was sad. I went back and forth between crying and vomiting. Finally after every emotion worked its way out, I got up and was ready to fight.
After a number of transfers I finally found a Domestic Violence Centre which could help the complex trauma I needed to heal from. This Centre had 24/7 support at hand from nurses and counsellors, and I finally got a point where I knew I could fight for my healing. Because this is the part that nobody tells you. Healing is work.
With time, I was able to get more support and find an apartment for my baby and I. We moved in with nothing but a blanket and some clothes to our name. But after all that I survived I was determined to build a life for us.
Despite the safety our apartment offered me, the trauma of the abuse meant that the recovery has been very challenging. I am in a constant state of fear. Fear of his return. Fear of others leading me to him or that they may abusing me. I get triggered by easily, especially when anything touches part of my body which he violated. I struggle to make friends and let knew people in. Breaking my trust in others was the greatest violation.
To this day I am still afraid of feeling trapped. I panic when anything is touching my throat. I get nervous if I think someone is following me. I get butterflies in my stomach if I think someone is angry. I can’t breathe through my nose fully so I have to breathe through my mouth which often causes my mouth to get dry. I have trouble swallowing from all the times he strangled me. My jaw does not fully open. I can’t stand my ribs to be touched. I have scars from where he stabbed me. I still shut down and put my walls up when I am around people I don’t know or groups of people.
My healing has taken many twists and turns. I am not entirely where I want to be, but I am already so much better than I was. I have not had a panic attack in 4 years. I have started trying to form actual friendships. I am finally ready to be in an actual relationship. I now crave to be held and cuddled. I want to be able to show my romantic side. Although I want real friends and relationships, my fear still creeps in and gets in the way. Sometimes in the quiet of the night, my thoughts wonder and my fears try to take over. But I am determined now to move beyond my fear, and finally heal for good.
I met my abuser when we were in school. I never realised he’d be the one to rob me of these magical years. He made my life a living hell for 7 years. It’s been 6 years since I managed to escape him. That’s the last 13 years of my life spent in the most abnormal and arbitrary circumstances. When others may have been going to College and starting their careers - I was held prisoner and abused in every possible way. I am determined to never let that happen to me again and hope that my story saves others from experiencing this.
It might not be finished yet, but I will not give up. I am worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for. There IS a way out.