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  • Stephanie Rhealyn

I Had No Idea It Was "Abuse"

My abuse began when I was just 12 years old. However, I did not understand it as abuse until I was 33.

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Unlike many adolescents, my abuser wasn't an adult. Instead, my abuser was a 13 year old boyfriend. I spent the next 10 years of my life in a roller-coaster ride with this narcissistic sociopath manipulating me, sexually abusing me, using me, threatening to kill me, stealing from me, cheating on me, and beating up or threatening to beat up any other male I attempted to date after one of the MANY times I dumped him. Even in those pre-Facebook, pre-smartphone days, I was never out of my abuser's grips. He would always eventually find me, brainwash me again, and connive me back into the abuse-cycle; even if things in my life were finally getting GOOD without him - I'd go right back. And I'm only seeing the totality and reality of the situation NOW - many years later.

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Back in this first 10 years of abuse, even though so much abuse occurred "behind-the-scenes," SOOOOO many people could still see it. They could see me become emptier, more isolated, and hell, many of my classmates saw me crying nearly everyday throughout middle and high school.

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I met my abuser when he was just 13 years old. Nearly everyone else seemed to see clearly that my abuser was "bad news," a "loser," a "thug, "a deliquent," etc., and they FREQUENTLY tried to talk sense into me to leave him (which I did many times, but of course, I always got sucked back in). And even though so many people could see the truth of who this person was, there was no one to tell me, "Steph, he is a sociopath and that means ...XYZ." I KNEW he was no good for me, but as the vulnerable young girl that I was, coupled with his brainwashing and manipulations, I always seemed to believe that there was a good person somewhere inside of him.

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Even diagnostically, psycho-therapists cannot and will not diagnose a young person as a sociopath or with any kind of personality disorder. It's a "too early to tell" kind of thing. A person usually has to be at least 21 before a clinical diagnosis, such as Anti-Social Personality Disorder disorder can be ascertained. Why? Well, because it takes such a length of time to be able to determine if the person has a "pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, since age 15 years..." etc.

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So, until that time occurs (and that's IF the person even ends up in a situation to BE diagnosed, which is a rareity itself), everyone around the individual is left "unsure" of what the problem with the person is. Is it drugs? Is he being abused at home? Is it ADHD, hormones, or just heightened teenage angst? Everyone may be able to see that a guy is "bad news," but to a girl who has been lovebombed, abused, brainwashed, and manipulated by such an individual, who also has ZERO knowledge of sociopathy, it is quite a Catch 22 for her.

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It's basically a girl who is fighting to please her abuser so that she feels safe, but all the while never even CONSIDERING or having the IDEA that this person is literally defected at his core. She has NO IDEA that what she is experiencing is even "abuse!" She knows she isn't getting treated right. She knows she deserves better. She doesn't WANT to be with someone who treats her this way. She leaves him on those grounds often. But, the manipulative hoovering minus the knowledge of sociopathy, always gets her trapped back in.

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And that is why it is imperative that accurate information about personality disorders is more readily available, especially about the Cluster B disorders in my opinion. This is why it is imperative that we teach our youngsters about red flags in relationships and how to recognize signs of abuse. We, as adults, need to understand that ALL sociopaths at one time are CHILDREN and TEENS, living right there among our own.


Of course, no one wants to judge anyone too soon, however, the AWARENESS needs to be broader! I was 33 years old when I first heard the term Narcissist. I was 33 years old when I first understood EXACTLY what the terms "sociopath" and "psychopath" actually indicate. I was 33 years old when I learned what "abuse cycle" "trauma bonding" and "codependency" meant. And, that is FAR too late.

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I can't say what "would have happened" if I knew about these things earlier on in my life. However, I know that without ANY knowledge of ANY of these things, I was left to believe that what my abuser convinced me was "love" was actually true; I was left to believe in the fantasy (and often religious) ideas that "everyone can change" - "there's good in everyone" - "everyone deserves another chance," etc. And these ideas are what kept me blind; I had no idea it was abuse.

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#npd #narcissisticpersonalitydisorder #antisocialpersonalitydisorder #sociopathy #psychopathy #sociopath #narcissist #abusecycle #traumabond #traumabonding #codependency #narcissisticabuse

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