I Escaped My Abusive Relationship by Cheating

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We previously spoke to a reader who used cheating as a way to escape her abusive relationship. Turns out, she’s not the only one. While cheating is usually viewed in a negative light, both of these stories show that there are certain circumstances where cheating is used as a way out of a relationship that is unhealthy, or even dangerous.

Here is her story, as told to Ashley Uzer.

I met my boyfriend the second week of my freshman year of college at one of his fraternity parties, our connection from the first time we met was instant. He was older, and I was drawn to his great personality, good looks, and book smarts. If you were look at him from a résumé standpoint, he was close to perfect. He was exactly the type of man you wanted to bring home to mom and dad. I think it was safe to say we both fell pretty hard for each other early on into the relationship.

We never had a solid friendship established before jumping in to the physical aspect of our relationship. I think this was one of the first flaws in our relationship, but I was completely blind to this. I was caught up in how happy I was to have found someone like him.

As we got to know each other, we realized we had a lot of similarities, but with that came the discovery of a lot more differences in each other. That eventually led to a lot of arguments, which then led to physical fights.

The abuse didn’t start until our one year anniversary. He was drunk and we had an all-out argument that turned physical in my sorority house. As embarrassing as this sounds, he locked me in my room and that’s when the physical abuse started. I remember him throwing things across the room and hitting me. My roommates at the time described the sounds as if we were wrestling each other. There was definitely a struggle between us. 

Then, I found out that he had cheated on me with a girl who was a mutual friend of ours, someone who resembled me very closely in her looks and personality. In my mind, I viewed her as being a better version of me. This was the turning point in our relationship. Looking back, I should have walked away at that point and never looked back. I had the opportunity to leave, but I couldn’t. I already felt like he had a mental and emotional hold me. Instead of apologizing, he made me feel guilty for turning him to cheat. I felt responsible. I felt like I needed him. I felt like if I were to have let go of him and our relationship, I couldn’t have physically functioned.

Oddly enough, he felt the same. The moment I tried to leave, he reeled me back in. He was so dependent on me to the point where he needed me too. He begged me to stay, so I did. I believed he could change and that we would rebuild this relationship. Looking back, I realized this was probably the lowest moment in my life. I lost myself entirely. This is where I lost my identity. This is where our relationship became toxic.

The abuse wasn’t just physical abuse. It was mental, emotional, and verbal. I was reduced to thinking that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, or intelligent enough. There was a lot of distrust between us which led to endless arguments and physical fights. The longest we went without verbally fighting was no more than two to three weeks at most. The physical abuse wasn’t every time, but the verbal abuse was constant. Each time it got worse and worse. I vividly remember a time when he slammed my head into the floor and I nearly blacked out.

Fast forward a few years later, months before our official break up, I ended up making a trip home for Spring Break. I saw a good friend of mine that I happen to have a lot of history with. We hadn’t spoken in five years, and we began to catch up with one another. As I explained to him about what I’ve been doing for the past five years and the relationship I’d been involved in, I realized that I truly didn’t deserve to be treated the way that I was. It was the first time I ever told someone about the truth behind my relationship. As my friend and I continued to hang out over Spring Break, he began to subtly treat me like his girlfriend. Mind you, he was in a five-year relationship as well.

His relationship situation was quite similar to mine in that it was mentally and emotionally abusive, so we were able to relate. We ended up hooking up and therefore cheating on our significant others. I definitely do not normally condone cheating. As a matter of fact, I was against cheating and vowed never to cheat on my boyfriend up until this point. I clearly knew what I was getting into and I knew what I had done, and I knew the consequences. But, after spending Spring Break with him, I had no regrets in my actions. In fact, cheating made me realize how much better I deserved to be treated, and it ultimately empowered me to leave my abusive relationship.

Post-spring break, I returned back to school and my boyfriend had found a place that he wanted us to move into. He thought it was a picture perfect place for us, a place where we could finally start the next chapter of our lives (i.e. engagement and then marriage). Inside, I was freaking out, and I thought to myself, “There is no way I can stay in this relationship and continue being abused, and to think of adding an engagement, marriage, and later on kids.” I couldn’t imagine bringing in children into this relationship, let alone procreating with a man who thought it was okay to lay a hand on a woman. I immediately ended our relationship right then and there. I told him that the abuse was the deciding factor in ending this relationship. 

My ex and I reconnected five months later and briefly tried to make things work again, I thought things would be different. He cheated on me that March and I broke off all communication for good. At that moment, I left and never looked back.

I strongly believe that if I hadn’t cheated, I would still be in that abusive relationship, because in that moment, I realized I had enough. Cheating was the moment when I knew no one else could get me out of this situation, and that I had to make that decision on my own, and it became the best decision I ever made for myself.

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