Have you ever been physically, verbally or emotionally abused by a man? Please specify which type of abuse?
-Yes, emotionally and sometimes verbally.

How did you know it was abuse?
-I knew because I had learned the signs many years before. He had a way of making me feel dependent on him as well as worthless - classic abusive combo.

Did he ever show signs in the beginning of your relationship that hinted that he was an abusive man?
-Yes. He would tell me how I was *supposed* to act, dress, etc. He was extremely judgemental of others who didn't support his ideology, but at the same time, he was hypocritical (ex. if I wore a sexier shirt, I was a slut, but if someone else wore it, she was "so hot.")

Did he ever try to control you? If so, how?
-Yes. He would let me go out with friends, but interrogate me when I returned. If I didn't answer my phone (pre cell), he assumed I was doing something wrong and would give me the silent treatment.

Did he shower you with gifts initially to gain your affection?
-Yes. He gave me a diamond ring after two months of dating, and gave me very extravagant gifts on birthdays, etc. He would bring flowers or my favorite food very often as a surprise.

Did he ever try to isolate you from friends and family?
-Yes. As stated before, he wouldn't let me go out with friends without giving me some kind of emotional bs afterwards. He didn't like my brothers very much because we are so close and they're not like him.

What attracted you to him? What attracted him to you?
-Beginning of college, new place. I found comfort in having someone there that put me first. It was a transition time for me, and having him there was very comforting. I'm not sure what made him attracted to me. I'm his type, I guess.

Briefly describe your relationship with your mother and father throughout your lifetime?
-My relationship with my mother was always great. We are exactly the same person, just 25 years apart. This was, of course, difficult (we had bad days and would get in each others way), but for the most part she is everything I strive to be. We can laugh, shop, eat together and time flies - we have a blast Since I'm the only girl, my father has a bit of difficulty relating to me. We don't really talk about ourselves to each other, but when we hug, we can know each other without even saying anything. My family is pretty close.

Were you going through a bad time emotionally when you attracted him?
-Yes. I had broken up with a high school sweetheart because of going away to college, and we met three months later. It was a hard time because of the transition of having to be with people my own age (most of my friends at home were much older) and feeling isolated.

How was your self esteem when you attracted him?
-Not very good.

Did you ever end the relationship?
-Yes. Three years later, I decided (seemingly out of the blue) that the relationship wasn't working for me.

What gave you the strength to get out?
-I spent the weekend in DC with my mom. She had a 25 year college reunion and I was checking out the doctorate program at that school and another one that was close by. While she went to do her thing, I spent the weekend taking the bus around, going shopping, walking, etc. I got two job offers when I was there and had a great time. Both the ride there and back were the most important and best conversations that I've ever had with my mom. Being there and getting info about the schools, jobs, internships, and my independence in general allowed me to see that I could grow and thrive on my own, and he was just holding me back.

Are you in a healthy relationship now?
-Yes. We are able to balance each other out, and talk about things that bother us. We crack jokes when we're upset with each other and it works out well. He is the least jealous person I've met (if people compliment me semi-hitting on me, he'll join in with them). He's protective, secure, and has lived a fun and interesting life so far. He's wonderful.

What did you learn about yourself from this relationship?
-I learned that I don't need anyone to complete me. I am a strong woman who can really do her *****. I know that being in no relationship is much better than being in a bad or unfulfilling one.

What did you learn from men based on this relationship?
-Nothing, other than some are good, some bad. You have to pick the one that's right for you.

How would you describe your self esteem now?
-Very high. As I said above, I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. I'm learning how to rebuild car and boat engines, I joined my first team (billiards), and I'm learning all about baseball (I'm an NFL and college basketball fan). These are things that I'm loving because I'm able to step outside of my box to do things I wouldn't normally do.

What would you want other young women to know about dating a man who has the potential to be abusive?
-Trust your instinct. You're probably right. The biggest sign is when someone tries to change you. You have to be yourself, and not let anyone tell you otherwise. Do not sever relationships with friends or family because of a romantic interest.

*The swear above can be replaced with "stuff"