“No” Wasn’t an Option

TW: Physical abuse, sexual assault.

I remember the first time I met him.

I was so impressed with his confidence, his talent, his tiny fancy sports car. He walked around like he just didn’t care about anything, but was extremely shy and reserved.

Our first dates were amazing. I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach as I waited for him to arrive for our first sushi dinner. I had spent so much time making sure that each strand of hair was perfectly straight.

I remember that I liked how he took control of situations. He was such a man.

He paid for everything. Every date, every ticket. He began paying for my gas, metro card, and even once in a while deposited money into my account. I would beg, and beg for him to let me pay for at least my half of the meal, or my ticket.

I was so touched that he was taking care of me. I loved the idea of being taken care of. He decided where we ate, where we went, and at what time.

It didn’t take long to start feeling his tight grip on me. He would ask me why I “liked” that guy’s picture on Facebook or Instagram. The first time I went out with friends and didn’t tell him, it sparked one of his first screaming outbursts.

The outbursts became almost normal at one point. Dinner, movie, he would drive me home, park outside of my house, and scream at me for something I had done wrong to make him angry that day.

That summer, he asked me for my Gmail and Facebook passwords, and in return gave me his. I remember the rage that flew through him when he saw that I had flirted with a guy over Facebook in one conversation, or “poked” a guy friend on social media. I remember him screaming in my face that he would kill himself.

I felt so horrible. Like I didn’t deserve him. In the next year, he would repeat the line, “Most guys would have left after what you did, but I didn’t.”

What I didn’t know at the time, was that he had been sleeping with a mutual friend for the full 2 years of our relationship.

The following year was quite a blur.

I remember sending him screenshots of my Instagram followers to prove I wasn’t following any guys. I remember him screaming at me. There was so, so much screaming. I often wondered if his temper would ever drive him to hit me. It eventually did. He had done things like grab my shoulders, and shake my body, yelling,

“What is wrong with you?!”

I would brush it off.

The day that I found out that he had been cheating on me was the day he pushed me into a shelf. I should’ve reported it then, when the neighbors called the police. I didn’t.

But what was by far the worst was his inability to understand the concept of “No.”

It took me some time to realize that, because he grew up in the type of home where “no” wasn’t really said much. He just literally could not understand or seem to grasp this concept of not getting something that he wanted. My “no” meant nothing. EVER.

It was my birthday weekend when it all happened. He was drunk to the point where he was falling asleep. It was me, my friend Cody, and him.

I told him and Cody that I was going to the bathroom. I didn’t realize until he was in the bathroom that he had followed me right in.

I won’t get into the details of this situation that consumes me everyday, but you get the point. “No” wasn’t an option.

Never, in a million years, would I have thought I would be a “survivor of abuse.”

Never would I have thought he was “that type of guy.”

I remember thinking back on the situation months later and saying to myself,

“That would have been considered rape if he wasn’t my boyfriend.”

Written by Karima El-Khatib