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It wasn’t the fact that he hit me that hurt the most, it was the way he cried afterwards. Real tears followed by promises of change that only lasted a few days, if I was lucky enough. Really the whole thing was painful both physically and emotionally. I thought I was in love. I threw everything away just to be with him. I was only 18 at the time. I craved his affection and on some level I thought I deserved everything that happened.  I now know that I didn’t.

I was staying at my good friend Leah’s, at the time, due to family problems. I had just come back to Salinas California from staying with a relative in Portland Oregon after being kicked out of my parents house.  I had just dropped out of high school and it was supposed to be my senior year so my parents were upset with me.

Perry lived down the street from Leah and we both went to high school with him, so we thought we knew him. He always seemed so sweet and mellow. And he had a rebellious charm that made him seem a bit edgy and dangerous. With his dirty blonde hair and deep brown eyes he was undeniably attractive. The few times he was actually at school we talked but he was mostly just known to ditch and show up when he wanted. It wasn’t until after I dropped out of high school that Leah and I both started to hang out with him regularly and it soon became obvious he had a crush on me. He was also a dropout; he actually had been expelled and put on house arrest. Leah was still in school but it was almost out for the summer. While she was in class I would just chill and we would hang out when she got out. Sometimes we would go visit Perry and keep him company at his place since he wasn’t allowed to leave.  It was mostly my idea to go see him but she would come and we would all watch a movie or listen to music in his living room. He lived with his Mom but she was never home so sometimes he would have small parties. It was almost summer vacation.

Leah was working hard at school and senior projects. She always was the studious one out of the two of us. On her graduation day I helped her get ready and we took selfies outside of her house. She looked beautiful and was wearing a brand new outfit she had picked out for her special day. She left earlier than me to get her gown and practice for the diploma ceremony.  Her mom, sister and step dad and I all drove together to the high school later in the day. It was a nice ceremony but it made me sad that I wasn’t graduating with her. I was so proud of her, but I was a little bit upset with myself.  Afterwards we celebrated. It was such a beautiful day to see her so happy.

One evening we were all three watching movies at his house, after spending a long and fun day at the beach. Leah drove so she was pretty tired by the time we got back so she fell asleep watching TV on his couch. Perry and I started to talk and ended up staying up all night together. I was starting to become infatuated. After that night we started to hangout more and more until we officially became a couple and we spent every day we could together. I eventually moved in. It was great at first, but something started to seem off about him. He would get in weird moods and sometimes he wouldn’t talk and wanted to go off by himself. After awhile he started to get angry over little things and then it all started. We were walking back to the house one afternoon from hanging out with Leah and I must have said something wrong because the next thing I knew he was angry with me and by the time we got into his front door he was pinning me against the wall trying to intimidate me and telling me I was a slut and a bitch. I didn’t even know what I had said. I didn’t care I just wanted him to calm down, and after some coaxing  he eventually did. He said he felt bad afterwards and I gave him some space. We made up later.

I didn’t put the pieces together right away, I didn’t want to see it, I suppose, but he was showing his first signs of abuse. One day when I was talking to Leah it came up in a conversation. She didn’t believe me she took his side and said he was way too nice and mellow to act that way so I dropped it. But the longer I stayed with him and the closer me and him became, the worse it got. He was extremely insecure and was jealous and possessive and I could never do anything right. He seemed to hit me to dominate his power over me, like it was a control thing so sometimes their didn’t have to be a known a reason but he would always feel terrible afterwards and would come up with the sweetest, most heartfelt  apologies and we would talk it out. He always pin it on me and say how I just needed to work on changing somethings about myself. I always forgave him because I believed it was my fault and it was true that I could do better and try harder for him. I couldn’t help but make mistakes so I believed I needed to change. I honestly thought I was in love. I had never felt such intense emotions before.

Meanwhile, my  friendship with Leah was suffering since I was always with him. She was starting to see signs I think. And when she finally came to her senses and believed what I told her about Perry, she just couldn’t seem to support my decision to stay with him and told my Mom everything that was going on. This led to Leah and Myra (my brothers girlfriend at the time; who was a very good friend to me) coming to Perry’s house and dragging me to a family intervention that the two of them had arranged. It should have showed me how much they cared for me me it didn’t. It just made me angry. I didn’t like feeling singled out and ganged up on by my family. Knowing that no one wanted me with him only made me want him more. They just didn’t understand. I ended up going back to him that night.  And due to the terrible outcome I felt like he was all I had left.

That was it for Leah for awhile. It changed our relationship. But Myra still tried to knock some sense into me. She worked at Starbucks and one evening Perry and I saw her she got upset and started trying to talk to me and I ignored her. I basically told her to fuck off but she couldn’t. She ended up at his house that night with her car ready to take me away but I didn’t go. I think she cried a little and left. I was pushing everyone away. I thought they were causing unnecessary problems for me.

Things with him weren’t always bad. We could be really happy together for weeks at times. We laughed a lot and talked about everything. He was in many ways my best friend as well as lover. I felt completely comfortable around him during those good streaks. Some mornings he would even cook me breakfast and pamper me all day. But as much I hoped and wished, it never lasted. It was becoming an ugly pattern. We would fight make up and things would be great and then we would fight again. I held onto the good times more than the bad though and made up excuses for him in my head. After awhile of me proving to everyone that I wasn’t leaving him my Mom started to reach out to me. On one particular occasion she took me to lunch and we had a pretty good talk, but when I got home Perry was waiting for me. I think he felt threatened because  we started to fight. He hit me and I decided this one time to fight back and ended up regretting it. So I went home finally with broken teeth and damaged pride. During the time I was home I started talking to a friend named Cody who I felt I could talk to about things. We became close.

Leah and I started to talk again as well. She had taken some time away from me and went to Northern California to see her childhood friend Tabitha. She was happy because she was dating a guy named Josh who was Tabitha’s cousin and she finally got to see them both. She came to see me and brought Josh along. She was concerned and skeptical about my wounds. Asking me why I stayed with him and if I was going to go back to him. At that time I still wasn’t sure but I didn’t tell her that. I told her no and  that I didn’t want to see him again. I don’t think she believed me, but she was trying. That was what mattered more to me. I eventually did go back to Perry but this time things were different because I had Cody. That however caused some new issues in my relationship.

Cody had said to me while I was at my parents house that I could call him for anything I needed. So I took him up on the offer one day after a bad fight with Perry in which I walked out on him and he followed me. I called Cody. I was afraid and desperate for another break from Perry. Cody showed up while Perry and I were outside and Perry grabbed my arm pretty hard trying to make me stay. Some confrontation arose between the two of them and Cody tried to scare Perry by roaring his engine and driving towards him. He didn’t run him over but I think he thought about it. I jumped in the car and Cody sped off leaving Perry standing there.  He drove me to my parents house. I had been going back and forth a lot at that time. But somehow I always ended up back with Perry. One night after another bad fight I tried to run away and he chased me all the way to Cody’s house. Along the way he pushed me while I was running and I slid on the pavement and got scraped up pretty badly.  He took me home and bandaged me apologizing the whole time. Telling me to ‘Just behave and things like this wont need to happen.’

I think my parents were getting really tired of the back and forth because one of the times when I was back at my parents house I experienced a total lock down situation. It was like they had put me in jail. They took away my cell phone and my house privileges and hid the phone from me and they set the alarm on the house so they would know if I attempted to leave. I hated it and it made me want to escape even more.  Despite their desperate attempts to keep me away from him I eventually got away from my parents and I walked all the way to his house, which wasn’t a close walk by the way, with my mom following closely behind me in her car. My younger brother was with her and I saw them stopping at every corner watching me.  It was an overdone attempt to take me back home because I refused. It never occurred to me how much I was hurting everyone around me. This all went on for a good full year. Within that year my family at one point tried with Perry and even invited us places with them. He wasn’t very comfortable around them and put in no real effort what so ever. Not even for me. He wasn’t making a very good case for himself by not talking to them. But I was convinced that I was in love and had found my soul mate so my family did try. They even invited us to dinners and barbecues and took us to a free beach concert. None of it made much of difference they still hated him, but it meant a lot to me.

My brothers were quiet about the whole situation, but I knew they cared about me still and just didn’t know how to be around me. I was up until that point somewhat close with my older brother but since I had hurt Myra they were both keeping a distance between us. It bothered me.  It began to bother me more and more. I was getting lonelier and lonelier each day. Perry had a neighbor named Kevin who he would talk to in his garage and who drove a motorcycle. He was also a raging alcoholic. Sometimes I would go over there and talk for a bit with them. Once or twice Kevin would drive us in his truck to go eat at Denny’s which was nice. I enjoyed Kevin’s company. He was really funny. One night though things went really bad. He got too drunk and Perry had a very bad idea while Kevin was showing off on his bike. He picked me up and put me on the back of it before I knew it, Kevin took off and we were cruising around at high speeds around town. I was so scared I was going to die, especially when he got onto the highway. I held on for dear life. He lost control of the bike on the exit of the highway and we crashed onto the gravel. Perry had at least put a helmet on me before Kevin took off but I did get scratched up. Kevin was okay though and almost immediately got up and onto the bike and just left me there. I got picked up by two guys in a jeep who had seen what happened and they drove me back to Perry’s.

Perry knew a lot of girls. I trusted him though because I loved him and we lived together. But he would leave sometimes to the store and wouldn’t come back for awhile. He always seemed to have a believable reason though. He also had this friend of his named Stevie that we would both go visit. One night he got really jealous of me talking to Stevie and he stormed off. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid so I waited a few minutes before I followed him. When I caught up to him he was shaking with jealousy but he  didn’t hit me for some reason. He was just upset and wanted me to be aware of it. I thought it was a good sign that he was jealous it meant he cared for me. He was just possessive though.

I started to suspect that he was cheating when he told me he had a really good friend named Tanya that he missed and never got to see anymore. But when I mentioned us both hanging out with her he dropped the issue. I thought that was strange. One day we both saw her, she was in a car and waved at him but told me who it was. She was pretty which didn’t help my suspicions and it was bothering me enough that I brought up my concern when we got back home. He took it the wrong way and he started hitting me harder than usual in his room. For a long time he just hit me, it felt like hours. I rolled up into a ball and my body went into shock. He stopped then and realizing what he had done he panicked and put me in the shower.The deal breaker should have been me getting tired of being treated like shit but it ended up being my worst fear. He was cheating on me. I finally realized that when after another fight he ran off to Tanya’s house and didn’t come back for hours and hours. I cried so much that his mom came in his room to comfort me. His mom and me had talked before and she was a very good person. I really liked her. She always was there for me when I needed her but we never actually talked about how Perry treated me. That changed.

I told her I wanted to leave him for good. At first she seemed like she didn’t think I really would because of how I always came back. But we kept talking about it and finally she told me if I was serious about leaving him I COULDN’T come back. She wouldn’t allow it. So I started to make a getaway plan. I called my Dad and told him the plan. It went like this: While Perry was out my Dad would bring the truck and help me to quickly pack my stuff up and I would leave before he got back. It didn’t exactly happen that way. Perry must have suspected something because he wasn’t gone very long and he got back before my dad got there. His face dropped when he saw me packing and started crying and begging me to stay promising me he would change. He was hysterical and sad. It broke my heart. I stuck to my plan and in the end I was glad to be home.

When I got home I went straight to my room and cried. It was honestly going to be hard to move on. I didn’t know what to do with myself at all. I had burned a lot of bridges. Some that only time could mend. But I also grew from the experience and although I had tough times ahead of me still…I can proudly say that no man will ever hit me again. I’m stronger because of what I went through with him. I just wasn’t the same after him. It’s hard to admit but I went through a phase of treating men like shit and being wilder than ever. I still have issues with my dating and have back flashes and I hate being yelled at. But all in all I’m glad. I’m glad for my experience it has made me stronger.