By Lulu Al-Khalili
He didn’t hit me until the end of the second year of being with him.
We went swimming one summer day in 2018, and had a great time. I was on my period though, so when we were done I had to use the restroom.
We stopped at a local McDonald’s, and he accompanied me inside to get food. I was in the restroom for about five minutes, and when I got out he was investigating me about what I had been doing.
I told him I was just using the bathroom, but he would always get angry at stories he made up in his head—that I was texting other boys in there, trying to make plans with them. Arguing over something I never did was frustrating. Eventually it escalated to me screaming back at him, telling him I didn’t do anything and was just changing my tampon.
As soon as we were back in the car, he grabbed me by my hair, bending my neck at an uncomfortable angle for the car ride back to his house. He was ripping out my hair, hurting my neck and to top it off spilled his whole drink over my head as I was sitting in the car. I was livid.
But sadly, what happened that day was my least abusive encounter with him.
I was depressed before I met him. During my sophomore year of high school, my childhood friends were drifting away from me because of their new friends, and I was left by myself feeling so alone. When the bell rang I walked straight to class because I never felt comfortable talking to any people in highschool, who were cliquey and exclusive. I hated my life. I hated school with a passion.
Seeing everyone laughing and having fun while I was experiencing none of that took a huge toll on my mental health. I didn’t know many people, so it felt nearly impossible to make new friends. When I would start to get close to people, I began enjoying my life again, but unnecessary drama would end my friendships. It crushed me to have genuine people slip out of my life over stupid bullshit. I was always alone and angry at the world.
The only thing I enjoyed was my ceramics class. It was therapeutic, and I could take my mind off of everything. One day in class, I got a Snapchat notification from a mutual follower on Twitter, and from there we started messaging each other frequently. It was the only attention I was getting from anybody, and I liked it.
He was well known and popular, so I was intrigued. The friends I had urged me to meet up with him, but everytime he asked, I’d be too nervous. I finally got one of my friends to go with me, and we met up at one of his friends’ house. I was super shy and barely spoke, so when we left I thought he was done trying to talk to me. But when he opened the car door for me when I was leaving, I thought there was a little bit of hope.
He still asked me to hang out—every day, at any hour. I would be so excited after school knowing I had plans to see him and wouldn’t be bored at home by myself. Everyone knows how the honeymoon phase goes—two love birds just enjoying themselves; everything feels magical and special.
Little did I know that I was trapping myself, and selling my soul to someone evil. It was beautiful at first, having company everyday. I felt cared for. I was starting to become happy again. We would do fun things and spend all day together. We would go to far places and hold hands. He would always sweep me off my feet if there were sprinklers in the grass, or a puddle.
Some people from my highschool warned me about his abusive behavior, and I thought ‘Well, he would never put a finger on me. He’s way too sweet to ever hurt me.’ I was only 17 years old, and deceived by him. It only took a couple of months for him to throw the first red flag, by screaming and cussing at me.
He would say terrible things to me. He would get riled up over the smallest, stupidest things someone could get mad at. One time he had put a lego Spiderman keychain on my car keys when we were hanging out. It was a cute gesture, and I had the impression that he was giving it to me to keep. A couple days later he gets mad at me for not being able to hang with him, and demands that I drop the keychain off at his front porch.
He would attack my appearance and facial features, and tell me how ugly he thought I was, just so he can get the keychain back. He told me I was boring, and that he could be with someone better and prettier.
I had no idea where this anger was coming from. At that point I knew he had a problem, but as a lonely teenager in highschool I dealt with it because I’d rather be with him than at home by myself, sad and alone.
When he saw that I would shrug his verbal abuse off and not argue back he felt powerful. I allowed this toxic cycle to continue for a little over 3 years. It never got better. The relationship was deteriorating as the days went by.
The abuse just got worse. It took him giving me a black eye for me to finally put him in jail, a year later after the abuse at McDonald’s. We were at the movies, and he was being really sweet that day. He bought my ticket and food, and I really thought we were going to have a good time.
Mid-movie he asked to use my phone to check his Twitter because he had no service. I handed it to him innocently, not thinking he was going to open all my socials, camera roll and messages, searching for something to make him upset.
On July 4th 2019, he didn’t want to hang out with me. I was pretty upset, we spent the day together before, and had a great time. But his friends were more important, though they ended up ditching him to go to the beach.
After they left him, he tried to demand me to meet with him, but I was already enjoying the holiday with a close group of friends. The Arab community has always been loving and supportive to me. They didn’t know my story, and never pressured me by asking. It’s a part of my life that I’m able to hide.
My friends have brothers that are younger than them. We’d hang out at their house, smoke hookah and vibe. When he saw one of their brothers in a Snapchat video from the 4th of July, he lost it.
He grabbed me by the hair inside the movie theater, and slapped me multiple times. I had just gotten my double helix pierced, so my ears were in excruciating pain. I was trying to scream as loud as I could, but nobody in the theater could hear me. I was fed up. I walked out and left him there, since I drove.
I was tempted to call the police but didn’t want to make a scene. I just left and blocked him. Of course, he was still in the back of my mind. When the movie ended he called me off a random number and told me to come back, that he was going to be nice. I told him to ask the girls he was always threatening me with to pick him up instead, but he ended up guilt tripping me into picking him up.
I snuck out my house to get him, but planned to just drop him off and leave. As soon as he got into the car he was livid, and I was terrified. I begged him not to hit me while I was driving but he didnt care. He was ranting about how wrong I was for what I did, and was severely beating me as I drove on the freeway. It was the most terrifying experience of my life.
Whenever I would slow down he would get even angrier and more violent. He was punching my face with rings on. I ended up with a black eye. I couldn’t open up my eye, and that was when I knew that seeing him was seriously dangerous.
Realizing what he did to my eye didn’t stop him from beating me. He started crying because he knew what the consequences would be, and continued to punch me in the face. He was back and forth, contemplating killing the both of us so that he wouldn’t go to jail.
After an hour of trying to calm him down and promising not to call the police, he let me drop him off. I immediately parked around the corner and did what I had to do: filed a report.
After every beating before, I would act like it never happened, just to keep myself from going crazy. The life that I had with him was something I didn’t want anyone to know about. It’s something that I just swept under the rug because it’s so hard to talk about and I never knew where to start.
But he is seriously psychotic. He hopped on Twitter that night, posting his beats that he made just minutes after the incident. I never got an apology.
They arrested him the next morning. I hid my black eye from my family for a week. When he was in jail, it was a pretty low point in my life. I was reminiscing about our old times, when we would just have fun and chill. I didn’t talk to him for the 2 months he was gone because I believed he deserved to be in jail longer.
But the day he got out we met up. I was happy because he was being really sweet. But it never lasts. After 3 weeks of him being free, he started hitting me again. He got a new girlfriend and would rub it in my face to make me jealous.
He would leave so many dark bruises around my whole body. My body would ache for weeks as the old bruises would heal and the new ones would come in. I was starting to realize that I was actually happier when he was in jail then the torment that came with him being out.
It’s really frustrating to warn the new girls in his life (who will be his next victim) about his manipulative and abusive ways. They immediately side with him and block me. When they refuse to acknowledge it and continue hanging out with him because they find him mysterious or entertaining, it invalidates my trauma.
I was like that before, too. I didn’t understand the extent and danger of his abuse, despite the warnings friends of his previous girlfriends had given me. I look back now and know how they felt, being in the same position as them today. They couldn’t do any more to help me than to advise me about what I was getting myself into. Now after suffering from that experience for so long, I’m scared for these women’s safety because I wouldn’t want them to endure what I went through.
He would always say that I was the only girl he would severely beat or ever get him that angry. I knew that was false because there are stories online of women who have been victims of this man. His excuses don’t matter— he is a dangerous person roaming the streets of Elk Grove, looking for his next victim of abuse.
Now, he has stooped low to grooming a teenager. It made me sick when I found out that he was having sex with an 18 year old when he is about to be 22. I was one of the youngest girls he was with, we had a 1 year and 5 month age gap, but him being with a younger girl now just shows me that he’s not capable of handling a woman his own age.
I’ve never had a strong support system or close friends I could get help from, so it meant alot to me when people I barely knew would reach out to see if I’m doing okay. It wasn’t just the physical abuse that took a toll on my mentality— the emotional abuse was worse because it stayed in my mind longer.
From black mailing me with leaking videos and pictures of me to my parents, to the verbal language he would use interacting with me. It stayed in my mind forever. I realized there was no hope of him returning to the guy he’d been at the beginning of our relationship. I realized he is not a good guy going through a bad time, but instead a bad guy looking for a good time.
In Winter 2019, I was still getting treated like shit by him. My mom saw I was getting sick from how depressed I was. I would go days without eating anything but scraps just to get by. I lost 15 pounds in a matter of 2 weeks. During this time, I’d constantly have bruises all over my body, even though he had another girlfriend.
What made our relationship so difficult was he never expressed his feelings. Anytime he would get mad at something I did, he would immediately resort to brutality. He never wanted to claim me as his girlfriend, but couldn’t stand seeing me get attention from another man. It always triggered him and there was no way to soothe him—instead he beat me up in the heat of the moment.
November 28th, 2019, we went to a local art show together. This was one of the only public events where he let me come along. I really enjoyed the show and everything about it, except his tantrum towards the end of the night. He saw me chatting with a guy friend, making small talk, and was instantly full of rage. Embarrassingly, he dragged me out of that conservation saying we had to leave. Hauling me by my neck on the walk to the car, he was cursing at me for disrespecting him by talking to another man.
My car was right outside the house where the show was held, and it was pouring rain during this time. When we reached the car he was strangling me for a long time and punching me in the face. Someone I met inside walked by and saw what was happening. I hysterically pleaded for him to help me or get help for me.
He shook his head and kept walking—said it was none of his business. He could have saved me that night, but instead let me suffer.
My abuser flipped me around and put my arms behind my back, making my elbows go as high as possible in an extremely painful position. Then he banged my head against the roof of the car very harshly. It hurt so much, I believe I got a concussion.
I was able to run away from him and get close to the house, but was panicking because he was right behind me. He caught me and continued to abuse me. He wasn’t able to get me inside the car. I ran over to his close friends nearby that we met at the show, and begged them to take him home so he didn’t ride with me. He still had my car keys and wouldn’t surrender them.
He kept demanding me to get inside the car, but with my whole life on the line, I wouldn’t. I knew the car ride back was going to be hell all over again, and I refused to let that happen. I couldn’t take another beatdown. I was worn out and exhausted. One of the girls close to him wanted the situation to be over, so she rode in my car with my abuser and me.
Everyone seemed irritated, and I felt so hopeless. I made her sit in the passenger seat while I was in the back and my abuser drove. I knew he wouldn’t care if she was in the back seat—he would still beat me as he was driving if I was in the front, regardless of his promises that he wouldn’t. I felt safest in the back.
I found the courage one day to finally make a report and send him back to jail. The day the police came to my house and took the report was when I disclosed to my parents all the past trauma and abuse he had put me through. They were very saddened to know about my previous black eye, and that I kept that information from them for so long. Now they are super protective of my safety, and ensure that I don’t have contact with him.
His sentence was longer because he broke my jaw. I didn’t realize my jaw was broken until a couple weeks of him being in jail. My jaw hurt so much, and I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to eat, or at the dentist. I never got the proper help to fix my jaw because of problems with insurance, and also the coronavirus. I lost all hope of fixing it, and decided to leave it broken to see if it would heal on its own. Till this day it still hurts a little, but I think it almost shifted back in position.
He recently got out of jail in June after being incarcerated 6 months. Nobody wanted to be friends with him because he didn’t learn his lesson. My vulnerability allowed me to see him again. We spent a lot of time together, and I thought I was starting to see a little bit of change. That was only during the few good days unfortunately.
The last assault happened July 25th. He wouldn’t let me leave hanging out with him to have a movie night with my girlfriends. He started throwing the biggest fit banging on his dashboard, crying and screaming about how I threw away his social life by putting him in jail.
He was blaming me for him not having any friends, or people to hang with anymore. He never takes accountability for his wrongdoings. According to him, everything is always my fault and he is just this perfect person.
When he gets loud with me it makes me extremely anxious as this behavior always leads to him hitting me. He had already thrown my car keys into some trees and bushes when I mentioned leaving, so I was furious and trying to remove myself from the situation before it got worse. I started panicking and ran out of his car as far as I could, but wasn’t fast enough as he caught me and began the beating.
He was choking me with both hands and sunk his dirty fingernails deep into my neck, scraping and leaving blood on my neck. He immediately dragged me into the bushes and forced me to search for my own keys, even though I had no idea where they could be. It was very stressful as he was screaming in my face the whole time for making him mad in the first place. It took me about an hour to finally find the keys.
My neck was sore for 2 weeks. I took pictures but I couldn’t get myself to call the cops because he bought a car that day, and I felt guilty taking something else away from him. I let it slide and soon he started prying on a younger woman, and left me for good. He was just using me until he found someone else that interests him. He cut me out of his life, and I’m upset I didn’t get to leave him before he left me.
He knew how important the movie night was for me, because I’d already been so distant from my friends and making more time for him instead. He made me lose several friendships. He didn’t want me to have any friends, and if he were to find out I was talking to a boy he would immediately ruin it. He isolated me from the world then left. He still tries to control my life. But I won’t let him any longer.
He reaches out every once in a while when his plans fall through because he knows I’m not doing anything, but I’m not going to answer anymore. If he’s not in jail then I have to act like he’s dead to me.
The story of my broken jaw isn’t any different than the others. Some days the beatings and torture would last for hours and some days they’d just be a couple quick strikes to the face. I’d always have an injury: neck pains, back pains, headaches, huge purple bruises.
It wasn’t just a couple times that he would hit me, it was constant—about once a week. He probably beat me more times than we ever kissed. What we had wasn’t love, but I still don’t understand why I let him torture me for so long.
His bipolarness is unbearable. But I too must be mentally ill for keeping the cycle going instead of leaving. I hope to heal someday, even though that seems impossible right now. I can’t get myself to talk to my friends about this because I know they care for me deeply, but I feel annoying and ashamed that this is something I even have to talk about. Reddit is a helpful tool I use to talk to strangers that understand this.
I know I never did anything to deserve this treatment from him. I was too generous and did so much to help him in life, overall making me far out of his league. I can only reflect from the past and learn from myself to never be vulnerable enough to repeat these situations in the future. I have to be strong and know my worth from now on. I can no longer forgive him when he comes back to me.
My mental health has been the lowest it’s ever been lately, but honestly writing this helped me survive the day. This is just a glimpse of my story. There’s so many other malicious scenarios he has put me through that I’m probably going to see a therapist for, but for now I’m trying to focus on my healing journey.
There’s more to life than being sad about him. As the days go by and we don’t talk it’s hard, but I need to remember that it’s for the better. I need to become healthy. I want to fall in love with my life and be genuinely happy. I need to permanently break free so that I can be happy again, without him.