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Changing My Adjectives This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Brentwood, TN
When eyes scan over me as I pass, certain descriptions probably come to mind, drawn from the self-assured swing of my relaxed arms and my secure stride. Confident, curvy, carefree. As I pass by, head upright and posture poised, no one would ever suspect other adjectives, words I despise, could apply to me. Terrible words, frightened words I attempted to hide from the public, words that would shatter any facade of dignity I had built. Vulnerable, violable, victimized – words hidden in a grimace masked by a smile, concealed within a tear, cloaked by a giggle.

One in six women will be in an abusive relationship at some point in her life, and half of those abused will hide it, with long sleeves pulled down, even as others strip down to skimpy tank tops in the boiling summer months. With layers of makeup on the face and neck, obscuring every mark, applied with a shaky hand. With elaborate excuses for the rare occasion a glimpse of purple and blue are sighted. With convoluted stories to explain ER visits and detailed lies to derail the cops.

Somehow, I always went back when the bruises faded and the flowers arrived. When he'd call, saying, “I'm so sorry.” When he reminded me of our connection, a bond worthy of forever interlocked fingers. When he told me I was beautiful, the first person to ever compliment me in that way. When he explained his love, the passion and tenderness he felt only for me. When he detailed his confusion, why sometimes he gave in to his temper and left himself behind. When he made excuses that I believed, promising this would be the last time.

It took two years of black eyes and fractured ribs, of concerned inquiries from well-meaning friends, of confused excuses and evasive lies, until a 2 a.m. phone call to a rape hotline finally convinced me that he wasn't going to stop.

Since I realized that fists only fly on purpose, leading me to the complete denunciation of my abusive ex-boyfriend, my understanding of life and its primary component – love – has grown from an anthill into a mountain. I've learned that love is not tears, salty on the porcelain as I lie hunched on a bathroom floor. Love is not shouted slurs with a slap as punctuation. I've discovered that I don't need his love if it means I get his fists.

Through these realizations, both unconsciously and through in-depth personal study, I've become a new person. Yes, I've been beaten down and told I was trash by the person I loved the most, but that time spent scraping the bottom of love's soggy barrel taught far me more about the world than I ever learned in math class. By cleansing my body and my mind of the years of abuse, I have finally started to stand up for myself and live my own life without fear or confusion. Through my ex-boyfriend's exertions of dominance, I learned the power of control, whether in a workplace or in the government. Through my friends' constant concern for my welfare, I have discovered true amity and the strength that comes from knowing that someone loves you no matter what. Through my abuser's use of manipulation, I now understand the power of words and the sway they hold upon emotion.

The freedom I feel now, away from that overbearing negative influence, has renewed me, allowing me to spread my wings and fly unburdened, with no worries tying me down. Now, my description contains different adjectives. No longer am I vulnerable, violable, and victimized. I am secure, smiling, soaring.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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kate12345meThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 22, 2012 at 2:30 am:
This was truly epic. I was horrified at first when I realized it was about abuse, but then I also realized that this was from the heart and it was deep. I'm so happy for you, but good on you for keeping strong through it all. You survived and you came out with the upper hand. You've inspired me! Please please please check out my work!! I really need someone to just look through it. But honestly, this was pure gold. x
 
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