The Marriage Is Over, but the Scars Are Forever
Samantha met Chris one February evening at an arcade. She was 15; he was 19.
"He complimented me and basically charmed my pants off."
After several meetings and a few weeks of phone calls, he told her he loved her and was going to marry her.
Chris showed every sign of being trouble. He was always drinking and would get angry if he didn't get his way.
"He was sweet and nice one moment, vicious the next. He'd get into fights and then blame me because some guy was looking at me. I'd try to calm him down, convince him I loved only him and that I'd never do it again. Then he'd be his old charming self."
When Samantha turned 16, Chris got an apartment and moved her out of her parents' house. "When my father asked him what he was doing, Chris said I was moving in with him because we were getting married soon. My parents never seemed to care what I did, and when my father said OK, it proved it."
Samantha started her junior year in August. "I had to come straight back to his apartment after school. It was never our apartment. He always referred to it as his because he paid the bills. When my friends would call, he would hang up on them.
"When they stopped by, he would tell them I didn't want to be friends with them anymore. I was only allowed to talk to those he deemed appropriate. I was only allowed to go out when he was with me. For my safety, he said."
Samantha says Chris never hit her. The abuse was all psychological. "He made me believe anything that went wrong was my fault. He would get mad at me and then make up. He was sweet as pie when he was nice."
They married nine months after they met. She was still 16.
Once they were married, the physical abuse started. "I had things thrown at me. I was slapped. Ice water was dumped on me while I was sleeping. I have scars on my legs where he put out cigarettes. I have a crooked nose because he slammed the door on my face and claimed it was an accident. I was called every name in the book and truly believed I was those things."
Samantha says they'd been married three and a half years when Chris came home one day and, out of the blue, told her he was divorcing her. "He told me I sucked in bed and was a terrible cook and a slob. He told me to get out. He 'allowed' me to take some of my clothes but nothing else. It felt like the weight of the world had just lifted off my shoulders. I walked out with basically nothing. No money, no car, nowhere to live and no friends to go to. But I didn't care. I felt free."
It took four months for the divorce to be final. During that time, Chris tried to get Samantha to come back. She refused. He would get mad and threaten her. "I called the cops on him a total of 16 times in those last months."
Samantha spent 10 years in therapy. She's now married to a "wonderful man" who respects and trusts her.
"The year after we were married, my therapist told me I no longer needed her."
Have you survived a horrendous relationship? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com. And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."