THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT REGARDING SEXUAL ASSAULT, VIOLENCE, AND ANIMAL CRUELTY.
My story began when I was 18. I had just moved out of my parent’s house and felt a strong sense of independence. The world was at my fingertips and I was ready to take it. A few months into living on my own, was when I met the person that I would soon fall for. This person was confident and well-liked by their family and peers. They were sweet, funny, and charming. I was enamored with them. I didn’t see the red flags when they began presenting themselves. It wasn’t until a year into the relationship that it hit me—I am in danger and I don’t know how to get out.
Over the next three years, things got worse. This person found humor in humiliating me in public places and would swing their fist at my face just to watch me jump. At home, I was physically, sexually, and emotionally abused. Being raped was not uncommon for me. I learned that this person believed it was my duty as a girlfriend to get them off. Saying “no,” or “stop,” or “you’re hurting me,” made no difference. They would force me to urinate on myself and would occasionally abuse me so viciously that blood could be seen around the top part of my inner thighs when they were done.
I lost all of my friends being in this relationship and I lived 12 hours away from my family. My only friend was a small pet named Emily. One day, the person I was with decided that they no longer liked Emily. The first time they tried to hurt her was when they had their dog attack her. My abuser did this while I was at work, so I came home to my pet’s face ripped open so severely that I could her teeth. Her eyes were bulging out of her head because my abuser poured chemicals over her face. I was devastated. I rushed her to vet afraid that I was about to lose my beloved pet. I begged this vet to do whatever was needed to keep her alive.
A week later I came home to my abuser smiling from ear to ear. I still remember how excited they were when they told me those wretched words, “Emily is dead. I put her in the freezer for you to see.”
I took her body out of the freezer and asked how she died. The only response I got was “I don’t know.” I didn’t believe them. It was obvious. Every bone in her body was crushed. She died a horrific and intentional death.
My abuser made it clear that if I ever tried to leave, they would hunt me down and drag me back. I was afraid to leave and I was afraid to stay. There were several times that things got so bad that I grabbed by phone to call the police, but I would have my phone snatched out of my hand and I would be punished. The abuse got so severe that there are moments of it I still don’t remember. I have fragmented memories of the things they did to me, which in and of itself are horrifying.
I finally ended the relationship after we moved to Nashville. This person was about to go into the navy. I felt like it was my opportunity to get away, I just needed to find the right moment. My moment of breaking things off happened after they chased me into the bedroom. I locked them out because they were carrying a knife and I was afraid they were about to use it. As soon as they punched a hole through the door, I screamed out that it was over. I wasn’t going to take their abuse anymore.
We were still living with each other since they had just a few more weeks until they went to training. I was too afraid to say “no” to them, so they continued to use me to suit their sexual needs.
The night before they left for boot camp, we decided to go get dinner as a final goodbye. On the way there, this monster began to emotionally abuse me. I demanded to be taken home. I stood up for myself and said that I no longer accepted this kind of treatment. I remember how my abuser looked at me with almost a void in their eyes.
“I’m going to kill us both,” was the last words was said to me before they slammed on the accelerator and drove onto oncoming traffic.
“I screamed “Don’t kill me!” I grabbed the wheel away from them and the car spun out. As soon as the car stopped, they punched me in the chest so hard that I couldn’t breathe for a moment. I tried getting out of the car, but every time I did, they would either relock it or they would grab onto me. I knew my abuser was not going let me leave, so I let them drive me home. The entire time they threatened to tell everyone that I was crazy and I tried to kill us. I couldn’t stop shaking and crying. I kept repeating the words “But you were the one who tried to kill me.”
When I got home, I locked myself in my bedroom. I used my body as a physical barrier, afraid that this monster was going to snap again and finish the job. I stayed up until the morning sunlight drifted through my window and I heard them leave for bootcamp.
Though I escaped that relationship, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for me. I had to rebuild myself. My abuser didn’t just break me, they shattered me. By the time I escaped, the only thing I had left within was the broken remnants of who I was.
It took me years to heal. It took years for the nightmares to stop. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I felt like even though they were no longer in my life, the shockwaves of their terror, was still haunting me.
After years of living with my brokenness, I decided that I wasn’t going to let this abuser win anymore. I took the shattered pieces of who I was, and I began to glue myself back together. I did whatever it took to heal. I read books, meditated, went to therapy, and prayed. I found the most healing through writing fantasy and found it to be a passion I never realized I had. I figured out my purpose in life and slowly began to feel whole again.
It wasn’t an easy journey and I knew I would never be the same. What I didn’t realize, was that as I was gluing back together my broken pieces, I was creating a version of myself far more beautiful and resilient than I ever thought was possible. Yes, my past is painful, but I took that pain and created something with it. You can too.
Angelika Koch is an author born in San Francisco California. Growing up with a military father and a mother from Germany, allowed her to explore the world at a very young age.