Abuse Isn’t Part of My Love Journey–For Me It Was the Exit

Abuse Isn’t Part of My Love Journey–For Me It Was the Exit

By Annie Apple

Even as a bright young woman with confidence and a strong personality, I found myself falling for a man who emotionally and physically abused me. How did that happen—and to me? As I look back, I see where I went wrong. And I can’t reiterate this enough: a woman is never the cause of a man hitting or abusing her. I say this because through past and recent choices in relationships I had to reevaluate my definition of love.

To accept abusive behavior is to believe you’re not worthy of anything else. And let’s be perfectly clear: abuse is never the victim’s fault. If you’ve accepted this to be true, you probably resigned yourself to a false perspective of what love is—you believed you were not worthy of respect and adoration because an abusive partner told you so.

When it comes to domestic violence, much of the attention is focused on physical violence, but equally as deadly are emotional and verbal abuse which almost always precede physical violence.

There’s a certain predatory manipulation that happens to make us accept cruel and violent treatment. Victims are first isolated, slowly but methodically separated from family and friends or anyone who truly cares about us and our wellbeing. Victims are made to believe that our abuser is the only one who cares about us, and we falsely think that’s love. But that’s not love; that’s control. We interpret rage-filled jealousy as passion, but that’s not passion—that’s possessiveness. And possessiveness is not about love. It’s about control. You’re not a possession. You’re a person worthy of love!

So, how do we know what love is and what it is not?

As a child, I never had a front-row seat to healthy marriages and relationships. No matter how bright and happy of a childhood I had, love was on a completely different stratosphere. Every song and movie depicted love as a battlefield or a challenge you have to suffer through. So, logically, I started to believe that love is supposed to be hard. I believed the lie that relationships go through good times and bad times and that verbal and physical abuse are simply part of the love journey. I accepted the bad days because I believed the good ones were around the corner. But I soon recognized that the good days were no longer visible because no matter how happy I found myself, I knew a violent trigger was coming. And I accepted it because I had a flawed perspective on love.

As a woman, I was taught to be the one that holds the man up, and if I did what I was told, I wouldn’t get hit. But the biggest lesson I learned (and recently relearned) is that when a man loves you he protects you, your heart and your reputation. He doesn’t harm you emotionally or physically. And if he’s harming you, that is not love. No matter how charming and nice he may seem, if he’s being verbally or physically abusive, you should consider that perhaps he’s not the right person for you.

Love is not violent. Love is kind. And to me, abuse provided an exit out of a relationship that was not meant for me. Abuse in my case, was the exit I needed to understand what love was really about.

About Annie Apple:

Annie Apple is the founder and president of Raising A Pro, a 501c3 organization. She is a mother of four, including Eli Apple of the New York Giants and joined ESPN as a contributor to Sunday NFL Countdown in 2016. Annie manages and contributes to her lifestyle blog, SurvivinAmerica.com.




Comment section

6 replies
  1. [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]
    I sure wish I would have read this when I was charged with two assaults against two men at the same time. I bit the guy who was living with me. He was cutting my air off with one finger, somehow I bit the one shoulder. I was able to run for my door. About the time I made it there I felt my head go back cuz he grabbed my hair. Got out the door ran to my neighbors. They called the sheriff office. They asked me; I told what happened to me and what I did. They took pictures of me and said there were no marks on me but since I told them I bit him I was charged with family violence with the intent to do bodily harm. Both were misdemeanor charges but if I took it to court they could have been felonies. I could have got 2-5 or 2-10. Also, we didn’t get the discovery until right at the moment we had to stand in front of the judge. They offered me an $800 fine plus both courts cost $2500. How could I think 2 again I would come out on top hell I didn’t ever think they could justify charging me? I was still stupid; here we are 5 or 6 yrs later I can’t get a job to support my self due to everything being filled out on computers. I don’t even get a call or an interview. So in a way, my abuser still has a hold of me. I need help getting those charges taken off. I’m broke, but a family inheritance saved me from being homeless. Is there anything I can do to change any of this? Back when it happened I had my own business. I need to know if there’s anything that can get me back to work? Because the older I get the less I will get some jobs.

  2. Hi Anonymous,
    I just wanted to let you know that there is nothing you have done to deserve the mistreatment and abuse you have endured. I can hear the sadness and hopelessness in your voice and I am so sorry you had to go through all of this. I’d love for you to get in touch with our advocates here at The Hotline, so they can help you with some next steps and legal resources if available. Please know we are one call or chat away! Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing) to talk to one of our advocates. Help is free, confidential and 24/7. You can also chat Click the “Chat Online Now” button to begin a chat. I hope this helps!
    The Hotline Admin.

  3. Hello Annie,
    I have given the subject of Intimate Partner Violence a lot of thought. Women are slowly learning to speak out, to say, ‘no more’, to say why me? We are no longer invisible, we are learning the ways of making Intimate Partner Violence visible; by writing about it and photographing it.
    Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse are two titles that shut people down, turn people off, it happens behind closed doors within the ‘so-called’ covenant of marriage (with all its preconceived notions!)

    I suspect that love comes in many shapes and ‘love’ being misconstrued as ‘approval’ by someone, can lead to the abuse of power over that person. Love, ‘just because’- they are a great person, is a whole different ballgame. There is no approval agenda attached so that when a partner steps out of line, you are not going to lose anything by saying, “Hey Buddy, that sucked, don’t do it again.” Sex is not a reward, it is fun, mutually enjoyable, all things shared but not because it is his right or for forgiveness. Anyone has the absolute right to say, ‘nope, had a bad day, just want to read a book.’

    I believe I got caught up in an abusive relationship because I was so vulnerable at the time.I was seeking approval, unconsciously I needed something from someone to put a wrong to rights. No, it does not give anyone the right to abuse, deprive, demand, isolate, diminish and bash but it is what happened, as is all too common. A woman can fall into the trap as seeing herself as a reflection in her partners eyes-only.

    Women do not need a partners approval and once we can embrace, and totally believe this we won’t be silent or invisible when we sense that we need to try harder(and harder) for our partner’s benevolence.Love is about seeing our-self positively, not trying to avoid the consequence of a partner’s negative concept.

  4. This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines.

    Thank you for your story. I knew but I played a role in the world and believed that I was lucky to have someone care for me and my daughter. As of yesterday, I have reviewed the camera we installed in the house about 43 times. I asked God, “if it is your will, then it is my way.” I was answered immediately with confirmation that he was a fraud and I’m a puppet. I have no one in this entire world to even talk to because I wasn’t allowed to and I’m scared but safe, uneasy but relieved that I have just one more night ALONE but tomorrow he will return and I’m so screwed up in the head. Bits of reality make themselves aware but his reality keeps bossing my thoughts and emotions of compassion for him. This is the first time I ever say a word to any living breathing or computer search through five years. Please, can someone just talk to me and give me some guidance with love? Is there someone I can just talk about it so I can breathe. I feel like I’m suffocating and I don’t believe in myself anymore. Thank you and sorry.

  5. Dear Red Riding Hood,
    Thank you for your very candid and honest words and for sharing your experience with us! We are here if you ever need to talk things though!
    The Hotline Admin

  6. Dear B,
    Thank you for your message The Hotline. It seems like you have gone through so much! I’d love for you to get in touch with our advocates so you can talk things through and find ways in which we can support you! You are also welcome to call or chat with us anytime – we’d be happy to help you come up with some options for you, yes, with love and compassion. You deserve that and so much more! Our number is 1-800-799-7233 and our website http://www.thehotline.org Our chat is also available 24/7/365. I hope this helps! Please take good care of yourself!
    The Hotline Admin

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