"I Didn't Know Things Could Get Worse AFTER Leaving": The Use of Technology in the Aftermath of an Abusive Relationship
By An Anonymous Guest Blogger
Everyone has their breaking point and when mine came, I was at the point in my previous relationship with my abuser that I did not think things could get any worse. I had been strangled for the final time and so emotionally torn down that I seriously considered ending my own life just to escape the turmoil I had experienced for so long. At the time of our break-up, which almost involved me calling the police for the first time in our relationship in order to get him to leave my apartment for good, I believed my abuser “took the break-up well,” almost as if he truly understood that it was no longer a healthy relationship for either of us to be in.
Given our nearly 8-year history in the relationship, I knew that truly disconnecting from him would be a highly difficult task for both of us; however, I also knew that a “clean separation” involving little to no communication would be necessary for us both to move on with our lives. My abuser, however, had other plans in mind…plans to make my life even more of a living hell now that we were no longer together.
In short, the role that technology in the events that took place AFTER my relationship ended led to an even more dire set of events that I never could have imagined. In the months after our break-up, my abuser began a calculated plan of stalking behaviors via Facebook, which involved myself and my roommate at the time. His creation of fake profiles of other men on Facebook combined with my vulnerability at the time led to my abuser learning my whereabouts in another state, followed by in-person stalking. His stalking behavior ultimately led up to the final physical assault after the protective/restraining order was served. This was the first and only time I ever received medical attention as a result of a physically violent altercation and the last time I have seen or spoken to my abuser.
As I’ve learned more about abusive relationships in the nearly 5 years since that final attack, I agree 100% with what the research says - when it comes to abusive relationships, the most dangerous time is when the victim ends the relationship and leaves. That was certainly the case with me. Thus, it makes sense why victims can be so reluctant to leave and/or delay the process of leaving because it could literally mean risking their lives!
To this very day, I am extremely weary of my activity online. I don’t currently maintain any social media accounts and am constantly skeptical of others who may take pictures of me and post them online. While I don’t believe I am not in any immediate danger as it relates to my abuser given the time that has passed with no issues, other professionals have advised that I continue to minimize and/or discontinue my social media presence online.
I never thought things could get worse AFTER leaving my abuser. Leaving was supposed to be the hardest part, but as I reflect, life was even harder there for a while AFTER leaving. Fortunately, the help and support that victims need to survive the aftermath of the relationship is available.
To victims and survivors of intimate partner violence: Understand that the process of ending the relationship itself is NOT the end. In fact, it may just be the beginning to a whole new set of circumstances that will be difficult to face. However, at the end of the day, your life is worth saving despite some of sacrifices you may have to make to continue keeping yourself safe. DON’T EVER FORGET – YOU ARE WORTH IT!