A letter for you, because you matter

By: Julia Nguyen

This is an open letter to anyone in abusive relationships

If you’re interested contributing to our project in any capacity, email join.ifme@gmail.com!

Content Warning: emotional abuse, gaslighting, self-harm, harassment

Dear Friend,

I don’t know you, but I would like to offer my friendship to you. You don’t need to take it, but here is my unconditional support and compassion. Your experiences matter. I believe you. You deserve love.

I felt stuck like you before. I didn’t want to lose love. I didn’t want to be alone.

But is love being lied to on a daily basis? Is it being cheated on? Is it being told you aren’t good enough? Is it knowing deep down that you’re fetishized and expendable to them? Is it being gaslighted and having your mental illness used as a scapegoat? Is it somehow apologizing for all this?

That’s not love. You’re being manipulated. That is not a sustainable relationship. There are multiple sides to a story, but regardless, you’re going through abuse.

I tried so hard to ignore the red flags. I stopped telling the people close to me about them because I didn’t want to hear that the relationship needed to end. I clung to savoury memories to distract from the problematic ones.

I hoped that one day this person would wake up and realize what I wanted them to realize. That’s never going to happen, even if you tell the people in their lives about it. They’ll ignore you. Or they will convince you that you’re misinterpreting the situation. Or worse, they will say, “oh aren’t men the worst?” and leave it at that.

Don’t do that, please. It’s not going to change anything. If you already did, don’t sweat it. We all want validation.

What you should do is tell your loved ones, because they love you. They will call out the bullshit when you are too fragile to call it out yourself. They will throw away any triggers and reminders. They will pick you up when your heart has been broken and humiliated outside of a shoddy nightclub. They will check in with you every day until your heart has healed.

You can leave this relationship. You deserve to be treated with dignity. You deserve trust. You deserve safety. You are not alone, there are people who already love you.

Months later, they will try to win you back, insisting they’ve changed. They will send you dreary flowers and memories, most of it sexual. They will use all of the clichés in their playbook, from “you’re my dream girl” to “I want to see you in a wedding dress”. Block those creepy messages. Delete them all. You don’t need them in your life. Protect yourself and your data. If they do apologize, remember you don’t owe them your forgiveness.

You can do this. One day, you’ll look back and feel embarrassed for having tolerated everything. The thing is, breaking the cycle of abuse when you’re in it is hard.

You don’t realize how messed up things were until that bubble is popped and the dust has settled. It’s not your fault, you’re not stupid. You can now pay it forward to the next person who needs a friend.

You are a survivor. You are resilient. You will come out stronger. It does take a lot of time and money, I’m sorry to say. Therapy helps. Talking it out with people you trust too. Take time for yourself and do your favourite things. Try new things.

It will be hard. You will feel vulnerable. You might want to hurt yourself. You may feel pathetic for wanting to do that because of someone so undeserving. It’s okay to feel that way. But promise me, you’ll tell someone. Life has a way of moving on. You deserve a happy life.

Always know that you are loved, appreciated, and respected. I believe everything you’re going through, and I also believe you can get through this.

A friend,

Julia

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