By Ezgi Toplu Demirtaş, See the Triumph International Ambassador
As a form of dating violence, psychological violence, is least known and visible, but most prevalent. To illustrate the dynamics of dating violence in Turkey, what follows is a story of love that turned into a story of violence in less than a year. This story one Turkish dating violence survivors’ illustrates some unique local factors in dealing with dating violence. The words of this survivor, who is a female college student in her early 20s, are as follows:
“The relationship was exciting, passionate, fascinating…to begin with. He told me what to wear or not. I thought he was raised in a more conservative region, and he was jealous of me. He then interfered with the way I talk to the other people and controlled my social media accounts, such as ‘Who’s this guy, and where do you know him from? I am deleting him on FB.’
“We were constantly arguing the jealousy issues. He made me think that I should be a better partner. It was all about me, not him. I was his first partner, but he was not mine. This was another problematic issue. He continuously was talking about my previous relationships, which made me further feel guilty. Why wasn’t I his first? If I had been his first, then we would have a great, problem-free relationship. I and my previous relationships were to blame.
“I still had some self esteem before he criticized my appearance and belittled me in front of others. I thought he was just kidding, but it hurt. I now know that I am beautiful, tall, and with looks that are very rare in this country. But it was not enough to him.
“Then, I realized that I was so alone with no friends, because he had all of my time. We were doing everything together, and he tried to stop me from seeing my friends. I had no one to share except him. I had no choice to go to social events, because there were men there, and he thought they were all potential partners. He then went further and forced me to wear a hijab because his family was conservative and religious, and they wouldn’t accept me without it, even he does. He was from conservative city, and I was from a more liberal city.
“Furthermore, he wanted me to appreciate him because he was spending all his time with me. I was becoming more and more unhappy, fragile, and less tolerant. We were arguing all the time. He was swearing, insulting, and ridiculing me. He slapped me a few times, but I told nobody because they would tell me to leave. He always was saying that he had a hard life and needed me. I felt guilty when I thought about leaving the relationship. I was cruel, according to him. I stopped wearing makeup and being stylish.
“Then I read an article about dating violence. I became aware that I was a victim of dating violence. I cried a lot. I cried a lot that moment. The reason was not the violence. I asked myself why I allowed him to do all these things to me. I tried to leave a few times, but every time, he promised me to change and fix himself, and I turned back.
“Now I think that he turned back because I was alone. At the time, I thought, ‘He made me like I am, an ugly, alone women. I can do nothing without him. Nobody would love me like him.’ My first efforts to leave were unsuccessful, but I did not give up.
“I talked to one of my instructors and old friends and family, and I asked for their help and support. I still do not feel I have completely left him behind, because he still tries. But I know what I want, not an abusive relationship. He has not changed and won’t change.
“Sometimes I question if I can call myself survivor? But, as a survivor, I want to say something to the victims of dating violence. You deserve a healthier, better, and happier relationship, and you do not even need a relationship to be happy. You are all strong and beautiful. You are a woman, you are a unique person. Accept yourself, accept who you are. Do not accept the woman he tries to change into that you don’t want to be. An abusive relationship is not love. Jealousy is not love. It is violence.”