Why did my husband hit me

My boyfriend hit me - why I stayed with him anyway

Mayla (name changed by the editor) was 18 when she met her boyfriend. She explains why she didn't leave him until six years later, even though he hurt her, terrorized her and forced her to have sex that she never wanted to have.

I'm Mayla, in my mid-30s, I have two children, a lovely husband, a dog and I live in a pretty row house at the end of town. If you meet me on the street, you will not believe what I experienced. Because I am not quiet, not sad, but self-confident and funny. At least, most of the time. Sixteen years ago, when I met my ex-boyfriend, it was probably this cheerful lightness that attracted him. I also found Timo, whom I got to know through a friend, immediately exciting. He looked mysterious, was very friendly to me and we were already talking about profound topics at the first party, while everyone around us danced in the flickering light.

He was weaker than me and I knew that

We met again and again and little by little he told me his story. His parents, two ambitious academics, used to leave him alone or with friends. One of these acquaintances regularly got hold of Timo. "I was too small to understand that it wasn't a good secret between us," said Timo with a fixed look and told me about the feelings of guilt that he didn't want to let go of. "You know, this guy has a little boy of his own now. I ought to do something, but I can't." This "I want to, but I can't" ran through Timo's life like a red thread. The better I knew him, the closer I felt, the deeper I sank with him in his pain, in his lethargy and in his feelings of guilt. I tried to laugh even louder, to be even more light-footed for him, and mostly I succeeded. Outwardly.

There wasn't one day it started

I can't say that there was that one moment of shock when I realized that Timo had a dark side that didn't do me any good. It started slowly. First there were warning looks when I said something in front of our friends that Timo didn't like, then more and more clear sexual desires came along. I shouldn't wear underpants to the party. I should dominate him. I should wear very specific socks. Sometimes I said I didn't want that, sometimes I did what he said. To be honest, I just lacked the experience to know how things went between "normal" couples. Timo became more and more obsessed with his fantasies and he became more and more surly when I didn't want to. Until one day he ignored my no. When I yelled at him, he struck, then let go of me and collapsed crying. That evening it was I who comforted him, even if that sounds strange. He lay trembling on the floor, calling himself a monster and begging me to leave him so that at least I would be happy. But I couldn't. I saw the little boy in him who had always been abandoned and I promised him: I will stay. Forever.

So many years of my life

And I stayed. I was with Timo for over five years of my life. We lived in a small apartment in Berlin, far from home. While Timo's freaks and special requests became more and more frequent and abstruse, I felt more and more lonely. I lied to my friends to have a happy life, sometimes I managed to convince myself that. As stupid as it sounds, only Timo could ever alleviate my loneliness. When he went too far again, I would go for a walk. I calmed down and kept coming back. In those moments when he would apologize to me, when he cried, when he was disgusted with himself, in those moments I always saw him as an ally. I once heard in a film: "We all need a witness to our life". Perhaps it was the longing for this one witness that tied me to him. Who but he could have been this witness of my life when nobody knew what was happening at home?

How I made the jump

At some point I drove away with a couple of fellow students for a week. At that point I was really just insecure, but I was too numb to even notice it. Timo had successfully convinced me that my perception had a kink, so I didn't give much thought to my own thoughts. In any case, after a few days on the road, I was sitting on a climbing frame with a guy from my course in the evening. We had drunk a lot and became more open. We started talking about sex and relationships. Well, actually, it was mainly he who opened up, I wasn't telling the truth - of course not. But just by listening, a new world opened up for me. A tender, gentle and mindful world in which two people and their desires appear during sex and not just one. And suddenly it fell like scales from my eyes: I had to go. To keep this thought in mind and to prove to myself that this was an important moment, I kissed him. I knew exactly that a kiss between me and another guy would be the end of the world for Timo if he found out about it.

Another person who left him

When I got home, I briefly considered simply hiding it and still staying with Timo. I can't remember exactly how I managed to turn down this easy option. I told him what had happened and that I would go. I will never forget his face. Now I was the one to leave him, even though I had promised never to. Even if that sounds totally sick, I found it hard to see him suffer like that. Was I also afraid of retribution? Yes, I was and rightly so. As we drove a couple of moving boxes into my new apartment together, he suddenly grabbed my steering wheel and jerked it around. "If we can't be together, then just like that!" He shouted with tears. It was a half-hearted action, otherwise I would not have been able to save her. But I knew it would happen again and decided: I must definitely not have any more contact with him. Never, never, ever again. Fortunately, I succeeded. Nothing happened to the guy on the jungle gym and me either. He is now a radio presenter and sometimes, when I hear his voice on the radio, I have to smile, send a silent THANK YOU into the universe and hope that it somehow gets across to him.

Why I don't regret the relationship

It would be easy to feel sorry for myself and ascribe every failure in my life to this one person. But I generally don't believe in quarreling. Who would I be today if none of this had happened? Would I have ever met my husband? Would I have these children exactly? Would I be so careful in my judgment about people? Would i be me There is no answer to any of these questions that would make me struggle with my past. She was what she was. At the time, I decided as I could because I just didn't know any better at the time. Sometimes memory catches up with me. Then I feel sick for a moment from a smell or I have to go to the door and take a deep breath. Maybe in these moments my body just wants to remind me again: I am worthy to be loved, to be respected and to set my own limits. If I could make a wish, it would be that all the women out there who live the way I did, finally realize that they too are worth it. And that there is no point in sacrificing yourself for a weak person. We can't save anyone if we can't even save ourselves. So take your legs and run! A happy life could be waiting out there.