Why I Stayed in an Abusive Relationship

His love was like a drug

Emma Austin
Jan 21, 2020 · 16 min read

“If you loved me, you’d swallow.”

I had no idea how we got to that point.

I never loved anyone as much as I loved James, and I felt like I had done everything to show that to him.

But it wasn’t enough.

If we didn’t have sex the way he wanted to, I’d risk losing him. And that’s a risk I wasn’t willing to take.

Things started off very differently. I met James at work, but I had already seen him around school.

He was hard to miss. He was one of the punk kids, with tattoos and a bit of a hipster look, but he somehow managed to cross over into the popular crowd. He stood out because he had so much presence. He seemed mature compared to all the guys his age. He was intimidatingly cool.

And he was really good looking, too.

He was the kind of guy I assumed wouldn’t even give me the time of day. But at work, we got close.

He often sat next to me so we could talk between calls. Then, we started taking our breaks together, going behind the office building so we could get high.

He seemed deep. He read a lot and listened to obscure music. Later, I’d realize he was just highly pretentious, but it was so refreshing to find someone like him in a town crawling with metalheads and party jocks.

I developed a crush almost immediately and it only got more intense every minute I spent with him. And then it got so intense that I could barely stand it.

I lusted after this guy. I thought I might even be in love with him. I had never felt so strongly about anyone before and the butterflies were getting to be too much.

I needed to know if he felt the same way about me. Did he just think of me as a friend, or could we be more?

So, I did something so stupid only a seventeen year old in love would even entertain the idea. I logged into MSN Messenger, clicked on his screen name, and sent him a message pretending to be my brother.

Hey man, do you like my sister? Because she’s always smiling when she chats with you. So, if you like her, you should make a move.

I’m cringing, too, believe me. But as silly and pathetic as it was, it worked. The next day, he asked me out. He called it a date, but it would be as casual as any date can get — watching a movie at his place.

I was in absolute shock. How could someone so intelligent, so mature, and so hot actually like a shy stoner like me?

I finished the rest of my shift and then he walked me to his place, with a stop at Blockbuster to rent a movie. I can’t remember what he picked, only that it was a very serious movie — a really pretentious one, like he was trying to show off how cultured he was.

It didn’t matter anyway. I couldn’t pay attention to any of it. All I could think of was the fact that I was lying in his bed with my head resting on his chest.

That was a momentous night. It seemed so ordinary to him, but it was all new to me. I had fucked other guys before. I had a few semi-serious boyfriends. But none of them had ever cuddled me. And here I was, on a first date with a guy who was more attractive to me than anyone I had ever known, and he was already giving me my first taste of real physical affection.

“This must be what love is like,” I thought to myself as I felt the soft pressure of his arm draped across my shoulder. “It’s kind of overwhelming.”

He kept looking down at me while the movie played. He looked like he wanted to kiss me, and I spent about ninety minutes wishing he would do it.

While the credits were rolling, he finally did. His lips met mine and I could feel my pulse racing as we made out. I had never experienced that much anticipation before a kiss, and I had never had a kiss with so much passion behind it.

It felt so amazing, it was like a drug.

I walked to my friend’s house and spent the night there. I thought about James the entire time. The feeling of intoxication only died down when I fell asleep.

The next day, I opened MSN Messenger (as myself this time) and saw a message from him. He wanted to be official and asked if I would be his girlfriend.

I couldn’t believe a guy like him — a guy I was convinced could have almost anyone he wanted — would choose me. I was elated and proud. But also grateful, like his love was something I didn’t deserve.

Being his girlfriend felt like getting everything I wanted. I had no idea I was walking into three months of hurt and anguish.

My First Taste of Bliss

The next day, we spent a lot of time online sending flirty messages to each other. We’d done kisses and cuddles. Now, we were laying the groundwork for the next step.

I managed to make it over to his house late in the evening. He greeted me at the door and we went straight to his bedroom.

He locked the door and I sat in his bed. I knew we were going to fuck, but what he did took me by surprise. Instead of pulling his pants down or trying to pull mine off, he kneeled behind me. I felt his hands run up and down my arms while he kissed my neck.

I couldn’t believe how good it was. He was the first person to touch me in such a tender and passionate way. I had never felt as much desire for someone as I had in that moment. I was his.

Our pants did eventually come off. The sex was just as affectionate as the foreplay that set it off. He touched me the same way throughout. The sex was good, but I remember his hands more because it was the first time someone made me feel wanted and cared for, not just fucked and used.

I couldn’t get over how great it was and he couldn’t get enough of it either. We fucked every time I went over, and often went for a second round before I left.

The physical affection would’ve been enough for me, but it was more than that. In between the sex, we did a lot of fun things that felt really intimate. He helped me make my studded coat. He introduced me to LSD and guided me through the high twice. He brought spray paint cans on a long walk and I painted his name surrounded by a heart.

He was great at conversation. I was no stranger to guys talking forever or giving me a little attention when they wanted to get laid, but James actually asked me questions. He didn’t just want to keep me around — he wanted to get to know me.

I was in a real relationship for once and I couldn’t be happier. I had found my little slice of bliss and I finally understood what it meant to be in love.

Everything felt right. Everything felt perfect.

But that feeling didn’t last.

A Love That Hurts

His abuse started small.

Sex got rougher and I couldn’t get him to stop.

He started using more fingers when fingering me. First three, then four. I complained that it hurt. I told him it was too much. When I realized he wanted to try fisting me, I whined that I didn’t want to do it.

It barely slowed him down. Instead of easing off, he would coach me through it while continuing.

You can do it.

It’ll feel good if you just relax.

Just enjoy it.

But there were two things I wouldn’t allow him to do at all. He really wanted to have anal sex and he wanted me to swallow.

I held firm and didn’t give in, but it became a constant theme. He would complain relentlessly about me not giving him the things he wanted. He would use almost any opportunity to bring up the fact that I wouldn’t let him fuck me in the ass.

Well, don’t you love me? Don’t you trust me?

If you really loved me, you’d let me do it.

My ex did it and she really liked it. She said it hurts for a minute and then it’s good.

He kept trying to find ways to ease me into it.

We can start with just one finger. I can even put a condom on the finger if that would make you more comfortable.

His constant complaints and cajoling put me in a strange place. I was torn. I didn’t want to do those things and I was uncomfortable with his pleading and pushing.

But at the same time, I was turned on by just how badly he wanted to do those things to me. I wanted nothing more than to please him and submitting to him was arousing to me.

So, I was confused. What’s a good girlfriend to do?

He was right about one thing, though. I loved him, but I knew I couldn’t trust him. As rose-colored as my glasses were, I could at least see that much.

Iced Out

When I stopped giving James everything he asked for, he got colder and colder.

The intimate time whittled down quickly. Instead of having fun together, I’d go to his place, we’d fuck, and then he’d ignore me.

I started resenting his computer. He would spend more time with it than with me. He could spend little eternities chatting with other people while I sat in his bed, looking at the posters on his wall, trying to think of a way to get more attention from him.

There was always music playing, but I could still feel the awkward silence. Our connection was broken and I wanted desperately to repair it.

I learned very quickly that the only way to get his attention was to give him whatever he wanted.

If I put up any resistance, he’d turn to his computer. But when I gave in to his requests, he would be sweet to me. He would kiss me, caress me, cuddle me, make me feel loved. And then he’d fuck me in a way that hurt but was less painful than having him ignore me.

It was always a temporary fix. Once we were done having sex, he would go right back to his computer, and I went right back to missing his affection.

And that’s how he tore my boundaries down.

He was still constantly asking about anal, but now I stopped saying no. I turned it into a maybe.

I was exhausted by his pestering and he was wearing me down. I tried to make myself okay with the idea. I didn’t have anything against anal sex but sex with him was painful enough as it was. And I knew I couldn’t stop it once it started.

One night, he iced me out even harder than usual. I went to his place and I sat in his bed but he didn’t join me. He skipped the sex and went right to my nemesis — his computer.

When I asked what was going on, he said he was just in a bad mood and didn’t feel like having sex.

I told him that was fine and asked what he wanted to do.

Nothing with me, apparently. He turned back to his computer and I kept finding little excuses to talk to him and try to get him to spend time with me.

“So, you don’t want to have sex tonight?” I prodded.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“I bet you’d want if we had anal,” I said cautiously.

He laughed. “Yeah, probably.”

I hesitated a few moments. “Well… Do you want to have anal?”

My offer came out of desperation, not desire. I was so upset by how distant he was. I hated feeling like my presence was bothering. I hated feeling like I had been rejected.

I just wanted some kind of confirmation that he still liked me. And if I had to give him my anal virginity to get it, that was a price I decided I was willing to pay.

I gave him what he wanted and he gave me what I was hoping for. He laid in bed with me and was excited to be by my side. He was loving and sweet. He touched me affectionately.

It felt great. Having him fuck my ass didn’t. There was no lube and it was a bit painful. It was too fast and too rough. His tenderness and gentleness were gone.

I wasn’t into it at all, but I loved what came after. He seemed so proud of me for going through it. I felt appreciated. I felt like I had won him back.

Giving Him Everything

We didn’t always do anal from that point on, but he always expected it.

For me, it became a way to get him back in bed with me. If he got bored with me, I always knew how to win him back. I could keep him interested as long as I let him have my ass.

So, he stopped pushing for anal because he was getting it and getting it regularly.

But it wasn’t good enough. He moved on to the other boundary I was still holding onto: swallowing.

I heard about it incessantly. It was the new thing I would do if I trusted him and the proof I didn’t truly love him.

I had been giving him head, but it was always part of our foreplay. We’d always stop and fuck. I never made him come with my mouth, so I never had to worry about what to do with his come.

But I knew I wasn’t interested in swallowing it. I didn’t think the idea of swallowing itself was terrible. I’m just highly sensitive to tastes and textures so I knew it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for me.

So, he’d pout. He’d give me the silent treatment. When I asked why he was so cold, he would give me his sob story.

I’m just not sure you love me.

Unless I let him come in my mouth, he wouldn’t believe any of the other signs that I thought everything of him and had a deep desire for him.

But I had worked my way up to anal. Maybe I could find a way to give him this, too.

So, one night, I took shrooms before going to his place.

I thought he’d appreciate it. He always wants to do things to me I wasn’t comfortable with. If I got really high, I’d be less inhibited and more pliable. He could have his way with me — the way he wanted to, not the way I did.

It didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. He wasn’t keen on my little gift at all. He got mad at me for being high and he said something that echoed in my head for months.

Sometimes, loving you makes me angry.

Those words were like a punch in the gut. I felt hurt by them, but they also made me feel guilty, like I had done something wrong. Was I really so hard to love that even trying to give him everything wasn’t good enough?

I asked him if he wanted me to leave. He did. So, I called my parents and asked them to come pick me up. I tried to keep my voice from trembling when I lied and told them he wasn’t feeling well.

He seemed so mad at me, but things went back to normal after I left. We went right back to flirting over Messenger again. Something about it was different, though. He wasn’t messaging me as often as he used to, and when he did message me, he seemed a little less interested.

But he was still telling me he loved me. He was probably just still angry at me for showing up to his place high.

This was my fault and I needed to fix it.

That’s the mindset I was in the next time I was with him. We went to an outdoor party. We clung to each other. We drank, we made out, and we got horny. I felt his erection through his pants and I told him I wanted to take care of it for him.

We walked away from the crowd and tried to find a more secluded place to fool around. But what he meant by fooling around wasn’t what I had in mind.

We found a small clearing by some trees and then his voice took on a commanding tone.

Get on your knees and blow me.

I set myself down on the rocky ground, feeling the hard pebbles and stones jabbing into my knees. He undid his pants and I sucked his cock.

I sucked it longer than I ever did. Instead of moving on to more, we went to the end.

I’m going to come.

And then, an order.


I didn’t have a lot of time to think, but a dozen thoughts still ran through my head.

I don’t want to do this.

But I need to win him back.

I want to prove I love him and I’m committed to him.

If I give him everything, he’ll know. There will be nothing left to prove.

If I do this, he’ll stop doubting my love.

I felt his cock twitch between my lips and I felt my mouth fill with come. I swallowed.

Maybe it’s because I was drunk, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. The taste and texture were weird but bearable.

I felt so proud of myself, proud of conquering my fear but mostly proud of doing something for him. There were few things I liked more than knowing I was a good girlfriend.

This time, though, he didn’t praise me. He didn’t give me more affection. He seemed proud, too, but not of me. He seemed proud of himself.

A Cruel Act of Mercy

Of course, I was wrong about swallowing. It didn’t change his mind. It didn’t intensify his love for me. It didn’t cement our relationship. It didn’t make him need me the way I needed him.

The next day, he dumped me.

I was devastated. I tried everything to keep him from pulling away from me and it didn’t work. It was a complicated, confusing pain that hurt on so many different levels. I had been through breakups, but nothing had hurt me quite like James ending things.

But I’m really thankful it happened.

I’m thankful because I was never going to leave him. The more abusive he got, the more it convinced me that I was the problem, not him. His manipulations, his withholding of affection, his sexual abuse, it all made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for him. I became addicted to the little displays of interest and affection he gave me because those were my only confirmation that I wasn’t as horrible, as undesirable, and as unlovable as he made me feel.

The more he hurt me, the more I craved him.

Him leaving was the kindest thing he’s ever done to me, because I stayed and would’ve stayed longer. I was ready to stay with him forever and to put up with as much abuse as I had to.

And it’s all because the abuse wasn’t always there.

I was never attracted to assholes. I wasn’t drawn to people who made me feel terrible.

But James wasn’t an asshole — at least, he didn’t act like one when I met him. He was just a guy with a long list of really appealing qualities.

He was sweet, he was kind, and he gave me something that was missing from my life. He gave me affection. He showed me what real intimacy could be. He taught me what it meant to feel wanted and valued.

James was the first person to teach me what it’s like to be loved.

He gave me everything. So, when he started taking it away, all I wanted to do was win it back.

The first time he kissed me, it felt like a drug. And that drug was still in my system when he started abusing me.

I couldn’t quit him and I didn’t want to quit him. All I wanted was for everything to be back to the way it used to be. Back to those first few weeks of blissful love.

I didn’t stay with him because the abuse felt right. I stayed with him because what we had before felt right and the thought of losing it terrified me.

I stayed because it didn’t start right away. By the time he started hurting me, we had spent some amazing weeks together where everything was just perfect. I was convinced I had found true love and that he was an incredibly sweet and caring guy by the time he gave me reasons to doubt it. When the abuse started, it seemed so out of character that I questioned myself instead of questioning him.

He gave me enough time to feel like I had found true love before he gave me reasons to question it. He gave me enough.

I stayed because the good times convinced me that I was a person who could be desired and appreciated. And once he started going cold, I needed confirmation that it wasn’t just a lie.

I stayed because I had hope even when everything became hopeless. I was convinced we could go back to what we had before. I just knew we could because he had convinced me that I was the problem. It was my fault I wasn’t getting the love and attention I wanted. It was my fault he was hurting me. It was my fault he was distant. All I had to do was figure out a way to fix it and I could feel loved again.

That’s also the reason I never told anyone. I kept the abuse hidden because I was embarrassed by it. Telling others would be like admitting I wasn’t good enough for him.

People often wonder why women stay with abusive men. There are a lot of different reasons, and I know some of them personally.

For victims, the abuse hurts, but so does the thought of losing someone you’re convinced truly loved you.

Leaving is the right thing to do and it will always feel better after you give it some distance. But in the moment, in the whirlwind of a chaotic relationship, leaving just feels like giving up. Giving up on them. Giving up yourself. Giving up all hope.

It’s not just like ripping off a band-aid. It feels more like tearing fresh stitches out of your flesh with your own teeth. You know the pain will be intense and even if you know you’ll heal, you can’t see that happening any time soon.

That’s why so many of us stay. It’s not a choice we make easily, but it’s the only one that feels right when we’re in the fog of an abusive relationship.

The women who are caught up in these things don’t deserve shame or condemnation. They deserve support. Instead of asking why they stay, we should be asking how we can be there for them. Because sometimes that’s the only way they’ll see that there’s hope on the other side.

Love, Emma

Articles about sex, love, and relationships by Emma Austin

Emma Austin

Written by

I write about sex, love and everything else that matters to me. Links to my podcast, social media, blog, and Patreon page: https://linktr.ee/EmmaAustin

Love, Emma

Articles about sex, love, and relationships by Emma Austin

Emma Austin

Written by

I write about sex, love and everything else that matters to me. Links to my podcast, social media, blog, and Patreon page: https://linktr.ee/EmmaAustin

Love, Emma

Articles about sex, love, and relationships by Emma Austin

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