There are so many parts to this story.

My ex boyfriend is an asshole. That’s basically the truth of it. He cheated on me, manipulated, and controlled me. He went out of his way to make me feel like an unworthy person.

I didn’t tell my ex boyfriend about my rape until a few months into the relationship. He almost broke up with me, and I wish he would have. Instead of feeling compassion and gratitude for the trust I thought we had built, he lashed out at me, telling me that I should have been up front about my past and that I had tricked him into loving me. He made me feel worthless and that I was lucky to be with him and that if I hadn’t tricked him into loving me, he would have left already. He took advantage of my vulnerability after my rape, using it to make me feel like I had no other option besides living miserably alongside him for the rest of my life. He may have told me he loved me, but he also told me nobody else ever could. We fought about everything. If I said that I wanted to have lunch somewhere, he would yell at me for being difficult. If he had an opinion and I disagreed, it was because I was a bitch and refused to ever agree with him.

The sex was miserable. I would occasionally have flashbacks about my rape and whenever this happened I would want to stop. My boyfriend would yell at me for this, telling me that I must not be attracted to him, that I wasn’t normal, that this wasn’t fair to him. He would say things like, “You could hook up with all those guys last year but you can’t even have sex with your boyfriend?” He knew this was triggering for me. After I was raped, I was so lost. Physical intimacy meant nothing to me. I meant nothing anymore and I drank a lot and fooled around a lot to try to feel normal. Intimacy had been stolen from me and it no longer held any meaning.

We broke up almost two years ago. When I broke up with him, I knew the relationship was unhealthy, but I thought I still loved him, and I didn’t understand why everything felt so fucked up. Over time I’ve come to realize that it was an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship, and even kind of physically aggressive in ways I don’t want to go into detail about. Although the physical aggression never escalated, I suspect it would have eventually.

After I broke up with him, he hounded me from months, constantly calling me, leaving me text messages. One day he would be pleading with me, saying he loved me and that he missed me. The next he would be angry, leaving threatening messages calling me a bitch and a whore and useless and saying that I didn’t have the right to break up with him.

It took a long time for me to cut him off completely. I was so anxious I could barely sleep, and the longer I was away from him the more and more I understood how fucked up everything had been. I was so ashamed. It was hard for me to keep going to classes and doing work and studying and going to parties and doing normal things when I felt so abnormal. I didn’t know anybody else at college who had been through what I had and I could have sworn that I was cursed. How else could you explain my luck?

Slowly, and with the help of a therapist and the support of friends, I found the will to keep going. It’s been a struggle at times, but I’ve been discovering myself. My sense of style, my humor, my empathy.

I fantasized about telling him off for months. What I would say to him, picking out the right place to do it. I would finally get my chance to tell him that I knew what kind of sick bastard he was. I would get to call him out for being the insecure mean bully he is. I never did it. I worried about talking to him again, bringing him into my life again for even just five minutes. What would he say? How would it affect me? What if I believed him again? I wasn’t strong enough.

And then, somehow, in a life-altering, what the fuck, crazy awesome turn of events, I’M IN LOVE. What the fuck. Seriously, I’m not even kidding. Right when I was doing okay, finally feeling myself (whatever that means, I’m figuring it out), after rape, abuse, heartbreak, etc, I find someone. And he’s great. He is the most considerate man I’ve ever met. He is respectful of my culture. He’s supportive. He’s adorable. He’s a sensitive, kind, compassionate human being and he doesn’t give a fuck about who I’ve been with. I’m not magically all better. But there’s progress, and there’s hope. And there’s love.