What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous.

It was my university’s annual exhibition for graduating students and I was one of the models for the fashion graduates who were to walk down the ramp in their final creations. Although I didn’t have great self-esteem I did this anyway because of the small but impactful little stipend that my university provided to the student models. My boyfriend of 2 years had chosen not to come because he was never really happy with the fact that I participated in this bi-annual university event as a model and looked attractive to the watching audiences which included guys from our campus.

However, that day something made him change his mind and he decided to show up suddenly before the show started. I was all dressed up standing outside the fitting room talking to one of my lecturers who was working in the event’s management while waiting for the time to pass as there was almost an hour left for the show to start. We talked about my lecturer’s wife who was pregnant which I was so happy to hear and congratulated him on that. Once we parted, my boyfriend just appeared from the side where he was leaning against the wall looking at me and immediately got mad at me. He demanded me to tell him what was I talking about with my lecturer but he didn’t believe me when I told him the truth. Instead, he said that I am lying and that I was flirting with my lecturer because I was smiling so much while talking. Then he created a scene calling me hateful names like “bitch” and “shameless slut”. This event was one of the countless examples of the [accusations of trying to cheat ] on him that I constantly had to go through whether I worked with male classmates or went out with the girls.

My boyfriend didn’t actually look anything like the controlling narcissist that he really was. To those who knew him from afar or to his own friends he was a sweet, kind, generous and a polite guy always willing to help people and entertain people. However, from the inside, he was a manipulative and damaged person who judged those around him as either worthy or unworthy people, although I had no idea that in his heart he applied the same judgment to me too.

I had gone through a lot of emotional and physical trauma at home before I left for college so my boyfriend’s behavior, although seemingly wrong to me, did not entirely make me take action against it right away and whenever I did try to break up he always came up with very convincing ways to make me change my mind. I always thought I could give him another chance and let it work out this time but he never changed. Our relationship was becoming more pain than pleasure with every passing day as I felt extremely restricted and helpless and even when my close friends were a problem to him.

Once, while we were away on the beach during semester break he got so mad at me for leaving the room without him in the morning to explore the surroundings, although I had tried hard to wake him up but he had refused, that when I came back in half an hour with wildflowers for him, he threw my stuff outside on the streets. I cried and tried to stop him but nothing would make him stop and he finally left me with my things on the floor and called me back an hour later to pick me up and apologize.

His insecurity and controlling behavior grew each passing day and it was taking a huge toll on my academic and social life as I was always depressed and my going out with friends always resulted in a huge fight with him. He regularly [wanted to have sex but I had no desire or attraction towards him. One day he taunted and mocked me for dressing up nicely while I was going to school although all I wore was a simple purple t-shirt, black jeans, a necklace and some makeup. Nothing sexy or fancy. Those taunts and mocks broke my heart so much and that was the last straw. I had had enough. I turned around went to my door and asked him to leave right away and broke up with him. He didn’t say anything for a few days but started apologizing by messaging and calling me. He left flowers at my door and messages of love and remorse but I had seen that before and I knew it was not true. He even brought a dog, a little toy poodle and just left it at my house. I called him and told him to take it away immediately but he just simply said no, “not until you get back together with me”. I took the dog in and thought really hard about how to stop him.

To avoid him I went to live with my friend for a while and he started coming there every day, literally stalking me and leaving chocolates and flowers there. My friend didn’t know much about how our relationship was because I had distanced and closed myself so much from everyone, so she actually tried to sit me down and make me rethink my decision because all she saw was the dog and the gifts.

One day he turned up at her house again and literally begged her to let him in. She asked me and because I wanted this whole drama which had been going on for weeks to just stop, I agreed. We talked for a while and he kept asking me to take him back. However, when I pointed out his violent behavior and his actions, instead of understanding it, he just accused me of being useless and shameless which made him do those things. Our talk turned into a huge argument again and upon calling him immature he slapped me so hard across my face that I screamed with pain and fell on the sofa in the living room.

My friend finally understood what was really going on with this guy and she forced him out of her house and warned him to leave me alone. Even though that relationship is over and those days are old, the scars I carry still hurt. It will be almost two years now and I am only just beginning to recover. Although the relationship was void of any joy or real love, its extreme highs and lows were addictive. I spiraled into addiction. I had given him all of me and he kept taking more and more until I was left hollow. So once it ended I was left without any sense of self or identity. That relationship was my sole survival in a cold world which I had experienced in my father’s behavior.

I want people to know that a mean and controlling person will not always be bad on the surface. Such people look and behave more sweetly with others than normal people because they want people to never see who they really are. I want you to look out for your friends and loved when they tell you about the issues they are facing from their partners, be it something big like violence or everyday emotional abuse. From my experience, I can say that emotional scars are much worse than real ones, but its signs are not very hard to spot. If your loved one or friend is not behaving like themselves, if they are closing themselves off to meeting you and doing things they loved doing, it could all be a sign of an abusive relationship and your love and support can greatly help them through such times.