Survivor Stories: RVAM 2021

Many victims and survivors of relationship violence feel that sharing their story, or even just portions of their story, has empowered them and has been a key part of their healing and activism.

The following stories were shared by survivors of relationship violence at Colorado State University. The rawness and vulnerability in these narratives speak to the courage of survivors on our campus, and beyond. May these words encourage all of us to remain steadfast in the fight to end relationship and domestic violence. 

2021 Stories

I met this guy at work. He was mysterious with a “bad-boy” appeal. I was so damn attracted to him. I flirted with him, and he was interested, so we started dating. He was a brooding type and seemed so… wounded. He told me all about how hard life had been for him. His mother left, his parents were divorced, he was abused and assaulted as a child… the works. He used alcohol and drugs to cope, but he didn’t want to be an addict. He had goals and dreams, but it was so hard to make it financially. He was so sweet and gentle with me, and life had been unfair to him. My bleeding heart felt so much compassion for this beautiful boy. He was sad, and obviously needed love. My love.  There were red flags. I see that now. He started staying at my apartment a lot.

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While my own experiences aren’t as severe as others, I still believe I have the right to tell my story. I am a victim of verbal abuse, gaslighting, manipulation, and was hit in the face once. This went on for 3 years and occurred with my ex. The relationship started my freshman year of high school and I was finally able to end it at the end of my senior year. He would start arguments over things 95% of the time I didn’t even know about and refuse to tell me about till I would beg him to help me understand what was wrong, he forced me to socially isolate myself especially among my male friends because of his intense feelings of jealousy and insecurity with himself, and the few male friends I had, he would consistently question them over their intentions with being friends with me which would consequentially cause my

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I got my first boyfriend when I was 13. He was my older brother’s best friend and my parents loved him. I didn’t really want a boyfriend, but all my friends kept pressuring me into it. We spent the summer hanging out with a big group of people. I didn’t really want to be in this group, either, but my older brother was in it. Everyone made me feel cool and accepted, which felt nice because I was self-harming and had low self esteem. In my heart, though, I was really just a nerd. I really just wanted to read and spend time with different people.   My friend group smoked cigarettes and weed and drank occasionally. I remember not really being into it at first, but peer pressure and acceptance were hard to turn down. My boyfriend was also really popular, so that made me feel… beautiful? Important? Maybe both of those. At some point I felt like

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My dad was always such a dick. He was so self centered and yelled all the fucking time. He would bend forward at the waist, scrunch his face up, and yell while spittle flew out his mouth. My mom called it werewolf face. She chuckled every time she said it. I don’t know if it was because she was making allowances for him or if she was trying to make us less scared. When we were toddlers and young kids my dad would pick us up and slam us against the wall eye level with him and scream in our faces. He often called us “you fucking dumb shit” while screaming. Werewolf face was less funny then.  He yelled at my mom a lot too. Once I saw him shove her on the bed and straddle her while holding her shoulders down and screaming in her face. She tried to back up by pushing her head back but it

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He’s charming and kind when you meet; of course he is. You’d never date anyone who wasn’t nice to you.   By the time he opens himself up enough for you to see the dark pit of anger he carries within, you are already inextricably linked. You live together. You have pets, a checking account. You have a life with him. And besides, it’s not that bad. He just has a temper – that’s all.   Sometimes his rage frightens you. When he sees that you’re scared, he laughs. You’re overreacting – you know this. Of course he would never hurt you. He’s allowed to be angry – especially when you’re so difficult to live with.   He starts destroying things that belong to you. He demands sex even when you aren’t in the mood – says it’s your job and the release will make him feel better, more relaxed. You tell him, once,

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On a bright warm day when I was about six years old, I met a drunken version of my mother that day. Which meant I had to behave or else she would curse at me and tell me that I was worthless. Though today my sister got her mad, to the point that it was going to be bad, and I knew I had to do something to get her to advert her attention to me. So I did something to get her even more mad at me though I do not remember what, and I told my sister to hide and not come out of her room. I ran away from my mother as long as I was able to avoid every lunge she made towards me. It wasn’t until I ran down the stairs that she was able to grab me. She sat on the daybed, confining me into her arms and squeezing me. I started to yell

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When I was 16 and a sophomore in high school, I got my first official job. I was nervous, and clueless about interacting with adults in that environment. I really only started working because my dad told me to, so it added to my nervousness because I didn’t really want to be there. My brother’s girlfriend got me the position, and it was fine, I guess. I didn’t have a car, so I regularly rode my bike a couple miles to work. I was a bit pissed because I didn’t see the point of spending all this time working when I wanted to focus on school and be around my friends.   Eventually, I got into the culture of the workplace. I started talking to and hanging out with the people there. There were at least 3 other women I went to high school with who worked there, all a year older than

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