“My boyfriend is like that too.”

It may sound a bit weird when taking into account how much bullshit I’ve dealt with, but I’m a hardcore fatalist. I think things happen for a reason, even if the reason is not quite clear at the time. There are no accidents or coincidences. The red string of fate ties us together with the most unexpected people.

I’d like to tell a story about the red string.

The first person I ever told about being in an abusive relationship was a complete stranger. My abuser had broken up with me the previous month, conveniently the night before my classes started. I have never cried as much in my entire life. It wasn’t because I was sad I later realised, but because I was relieved. I don’t have to deal with him anymore. He’s not going to hurt me ever again.

That month was exhausting though. I would literally wake up crying, stop for long enough to attend classes and socialise with my friends, come back home and start again the moment I closed the door to my room. Like clockwork. I didn’t need to do anything. It went on and on, for hours on end.

There had been a time I had stopped crying during the relationship because my feelings didn’t matter. Whether my abuser would say or do something that made me angry or sad, it didn’t matter. He’d keep doing it anyway. So I think I just cried out the tears I held on to for however long. One day, it stopped as abruptly as it had begun.

As I have learning difficulties, I was allowed access to small, private learning space in the university’s grand library. I favoured working evenings and nights, and even though the room only had two computers, I rarely had company.

One girl I got to know though, at least by appearance. I’m sure we introduced ourselves but I can’t remember her name. She was a mature student, maybe in her late twenties. We looked a little alike, both of us pale and tall with short, blonde hair and dressed in hoodies and jeans.

I can’t remember how long we had sat working next to each other, but all of a sudden I started telling her.

Not everything of course. It was so incredibly raw at the time that even admitting he could be a ‘bit mean’ at times felt like I had bared the epidermis of my soul. Speaking the words that even came to close to ‘abusive’ made me feel like I was going to spontaneously burst into flames. It would take years before I could even understand myself the extent of everything that had gone on.

None of my friends knew, my family didn’t know, nobody else except me and him knew.

Nevertheless, I basically vomited this information to a complete stranger in the most awkward way possible. It had nothing to do with the previous conversation, we didn’t know each other well enough to share something this intimate and I hadn’t asked any kind of permission to share this with her.

No. I just literally blurted it like when you’re drunk and think what’s coming up is just a sour burp but you end up vomiting all over yourself. Spontaneous, disgusting, humiliating. It was something like a hiccup or a sneeze, something that just came up and had no control over.

I can’t remember what she said after, but I know it wasn’t much. She turned back to her screen. I did the same. As I walked home, the self-disgust was so strong that my knees almost buckled.

Why in the lord Buddha’s name did I do that?!!

Despite this spontaneous outburst, the floodgates stayed shut after this. I didn’t see the girl for a while.

These days I’m not easily embarrassed but the next time I entered the study space and she was there, my face scorched.

I sit down next to her. I say hi. She says hi. Both of us resume work in silence.

That lasts for a while. It probably feels longer than it ends up being.

Then she turns to me. The movement at the corner of my eye makes me take my headphones off.

“You know…,” she starts. “When you spoke about your ex.”

I nod.

“I think my boyfriend is like that too.”

When anyone asks me why I share such personal things online, I’d like to take them to what that exact moment felt like.

We talk for a long time, comparing experiences. I don’t see her for a while after that but the next time I see her, she tells me that she had left him and was moving out the following week.

Nobody can tell me I blurted out just enough of something I felt like I could never speak about to make the penny drop for that girl for no reason.

I only saw her once after that. She was carrying boxes to a car with who I assume is a friend.

I hope she’s happy.

This is why I tell.

This is why.

I am fundraising for the rape and sexual abuse charity that helped me. If you’d like to take a look, my page is here

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