I was 16 when I met “Adam.” He was the first gay male I had ever. Although he was 27, eleven years older than I, I didn’t think the age difference was a big deal. The first two weeks I knew him, we saw each other every day and he made me feel so special, he made me feel like a prince. I was an awkward 16 year old boy with oversized glasses that always seemed to be crooked, stringy hair that wouldn’t style, acne, and a goofy smile, yet somehow everything “Adam” said to me just made me feel attractive and important.
Two months after meeting “Adam” we moved in together. The first few months of living with him were rough. He was often verbally abusive, constantly yelling at me, insulting me, and threatening me. He would call me stupid and worthless and tell me I was ugly. He told me no one would ever want me if I left him. I felt like I was living with one of the bullies at school. Quite often, “Adam” would come home and drink until he passed out. Within two months of moving in with him, I can say that I didn’t even like the person that he was. But he was all I had.
I was 17 when “Adam” first hit me. When I came home from school one day he was angry that I had been hanging out with a male classmate after school. He walked right up to me and picked me up by the throat so that my feet literally dangled in the air. He then threw me into the corner of the room. He yelled and swore at me, telling me to never hang around with anyone that he didn’t know. He kicked me several times as I just curled my body in the corner of the room, crying, begging for him to stop. Eventually he did.
I left him after this incident and went back to my mother’s house. I also dropped out of high school and started to work odd jobs. I wasn’t at my mom’s house long before “Adam” charmed me into going back. However, after an initial honeymoon period, the verbal and physical abuse started up again and continued on and off over the next three years. I was constantly running back and forth between “Adam’s” and my mother’s houses.
When I was 19 years old, I left “Adam” and was away from him for over three months. I had gone to get my GED and I was even thinking of going to college. Then, I got a phone call from him. I heard his voice on the line and I almost hung up but something sounded different. He told me that he had been involved in AA and that he wanted me to give him “one more chance.” I honestly believed that it was going to be different.
I went back to “Adam” and over the course of the next five years I fell in love with him. He had stopped drinking and became a totally different man. He never laid a hand on me during that time. We also both became very successful. We opened up a small antique store, bought and renovated an 8-unit apartment building, and eventually we even bought a 10-acre farm together. I felt like I had everything I had ever dreamed of by the time I was 24 years old.
However, shortly after we moved to the farm, “Adam” started drinking again. His drinking started out harmless and then escalated to the old mean and violent “Adam”. Over the next two years I would do everything I could to try to help him get better but it was out of my control. The pressure of owning a business, maintaining a home, and coping with the non-stop verbal and physical abuse was mounting and I sank deeper and deeper into depression.
When I was 26, the final incident occurred on November 17th shortly after our 10th anniversary. I had spent the day helping out a neighbor, a women named Anne, who was battling cancer. When I got home, “Adam” was in the kitchen cooking. After ten years of living with him, all I had to do was look him in the eyes to know he was drunk. “Adam” suggested we invite Anne for dinner but I knew she was in no shape to come over so I told him that it wasn’t a good idea. Immediately, “Adam” verbally attacked me, calling me “selfish, “stupid,” and “worthless.”
I ignored him as best as I could and decided to take our dog for a walk to avoid an argument. I knew that between the pressure of keeping the house and the business together and his abuse, I had had enough. All my dreams were coming to an end and I would need to leave behind everything I had worked so hard to accomplish. I headed back to the house. No sooner did I enter, than “Adam” began yelling at me again. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told him that it was time to end the relationship.
Suddenly, I felt the strong grip of his hand around my neck and the force of his body knocked me to the floor. His grip was cutting off my airway, preventing me from breathing, and the pressure of his bodyweight on my chest sent me into a panic. I managed to bite his hand as hard as I possibly could. He yelled as my teeth bit into his flesh and I pulled away from his grasp. Before I could catch my breath, “Adam” began to punch me in the face and head. Too many times for me to even remember. I covered my face with my hands but he kept pulling them away and hitting me even harder. I was yelling and crying, begging him to stop, but he kept on punching me. Everything went black.
Later, I opened my eyes to a dark room. I had been beaten unconscious. I realized I had to escape. Rising to my knees, the bloodstains from my wounds remained on the floor. I crawled toward the front door and quietly pulled it open. As I reached for the screen door handle, “Adam” slammed the front door on my arm and pulled me back into the house. I continued to yell and run through the house, frantically trying to find a means of escape. “Adam” just laughed at me, mocking me, telling me to look in the mirror. He kept yelling “See what you did to yourself.” Finally “Adam” wandered into a different room, out of sight. I saw my opening, my only chance to escape. I opened the front door and ran out of the house into the cold November night, wearing only a T-shirt and a pair of shorts.
My bare feet pounded the hard ground as I ran towards the woods outside of our house. I could feel “Adam” running right behind me. As I ran into the woods, branches scratched my face and body like hands grabbing me and pulling me back from where I wanted to escape. I eluded Adam and I hid in the woods until I felt it was safe to go for help.
I made my way through the woods to a neighbor’s house. Once there, I gathered my courage to knock on the door. After looking in horror at what stood in front of her my neighbor quickly took me to the hospital.
At the hospital a doctor examined me. He asked what had happened. Though I initially hesitated, I eventually explained my relationship with “Adam” and his alcohol abuse. I told him this wasn’t the first time that he had hit me but that this was the worst. After being examined, having numerous x-rays, and a CAT scan, the doctor listed the damage. He told me that I had bleeding around my skull, a fractured arm, bruised ribs, possible damage to my eardrum, and numerous contusions that they would need to monitor to ensure that they would not form into a brain aneurysm. I didn’t even think twice about what he was telling me until he came to me with a mirror. He forced me to look at my bruised and bloody face in the mirror and asked me if I liked what I saw. I pushed the mirror away and tears started to roll down my face. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at myself. That face in the mirror was not me.
The doctor also told me that a few more punches could have resulted in brain damage or even death. I felt numb. How could “Adam” have done this to me? I thought about the man I fell in love with ten years ago and realized I could never go back. I would have to leave my home, my business, my pets, my money, ten years of personal possessions, and “Adam”. The same man who had once made a 16-year-old boy with no self-confidence and a goofy smile feel like a prince. The same man that just hours before had been within a few punches of causing me brain damage or even death. How could I have let this get so far? How could I allow someone I thought loved me hurt me so badly, both physically and emotionally? How did it get to this?
That night, the doctor at the hospital gave me some money and told me to get away, to start a new life, to go somewhere safe. The next afternoon, I went to the bus station and purchased a one-way ticket to Boston.
When I arrived in Boston, I darted across the street in the driving rain to a pay phone, but I didn’t have anyone to call. I couldn’t call my mother; I knew had to do this on my own. Even if I did call her and she told me that I could stay with her, I could never let her see me like this. With my hand in my pocket fumbling the money the doctor had given me, I thought of staying at a hotel overnight. But I knew I would need to save the money for food and clothes. It looked like I would be sleeping outside in the cold and rain; I was homeless.
After spending the next three weeks on the streets, I was cold and hungry. I finally reached the point where I felt like I was going to die if I didn’t get help. I could either swallow my pride and call my mother and ask for help or go back to “Adam”. I dialed “Adam’s” number first but hung up before the phone ever rang. Then I dialed my mom and after talking to her, explaining where I was and what had happened, she invited me to stay with her.
Over the next year, I struggled to find work. With no education and no credible work experience, I had to start at the bottom. I was 27 years old and working dead end jobs with no real future. Looking for a better job, I posted my resume online. One day, I received a call from one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, asking me if I would accept a job catering for the agency.
I worked in the catering department for almost two years. During that time, several people took note of my creative skills, drive, and determination. I was eventually offered a job working in the core advertising business. I jumped at the opportunity although I knew very little about advertising. I enjoy my job very much and I was recently promoted to manager of my department.
After making the decision to leave the situation I was in, the past four years of my life have often been a struggle. But I didn’t want to just survive my experience, I wanted to succeed on my own terms. Today, I have a new lease on life. I maintain a happy and constructive lifestyle, which consists of my family, friends and a new healthy relationship. I have set high goals for myself and hope to someday be the head of the advertising agency for which I work.