My story of abuse, and how people could have helped me leave him earlier.
A tense summer followed, with several more very heated arguments, one where he locked me in his house and wouldn't let me out even though I needed to go to hospital. There was even one argument which ended in what I know now was rape, but then didn't see it that way. I wanted to leave him but he was entrenched in my life. Everywhere I went he was there, everything I did he knew about it, so I gave in and just told myself that when I left for college things would be different as he wouldn't be able to get to me.
I left to go to college and for the most part I was lucky; he left me alone, mainly because I was in student accommodation, and even though he tried a few times he was never allowed in the block. There was one tense moment about ten months later when, without him having any idea where I was, he found me on the middle of Shepherds Bush Common, four hours away from where he lived. After two years of fending him off at college, I finally decided to leave the country, and I still remember his last words he said to me before I left. "Sarah, wherever you will go I will find you."
However, moving to the States was perhaps a move too far, and the next time I saw him was years later when we were both married to other people with children, and other than a curt "Hello" no real words were exchanged.
So how did I know that saying "Just be there" was the right response?
When you are going through this it doesn't matter what anyone says, you blame yourself. I still think that in some way I may have deserved it as I could be a right monster. I am sure if you asked him, his version of events would be very different.
When this is happening you know it is wrong, you know it shouldn't be, but you don't know how to get out. And coupled with the fact you still love them it is a real challenge, especially when you are so young and have no other real idea about what love is. You can only help someone when they are ready for help. And mainly, that help should involve making that person feel safe.
For me, I only felt able to break it off in an entirely new environment, where no one knew me as his girlfriend and where I knew he really couldn't get to me.
Here are five things that people could have said to me that would have made it easier to break away earlier.