My previous romantic relationship gradually turned very bad. In the end, all that actually kept me there - besides the obvious physical things (sex, and getting to hold him in the few nights he would still agree to spend together) - were the memories of "what it used to be like once" and the fantasies about "what it could be like, if only [...]".

Two excerpts from my diary make up this comic. I only made slight changes for abbreviation and clarification in the original diary entries.

The pages are kind of big, so you might want to hit the F11 key when you start to read. (Hit F11 again when you want to exit the 'full screen' mode.)

I originally made it in oder to exorcise my irrational feelings of longing for those few things that had made me stay, but working with this comic also made me see much more clearly all the things that had been very, very wrong in that relationship.

This basic "Respect Checklist" was an eye-opener to me once.

And here is a checklist of signs that your partner might be abusive. For my previous relationship, 39 of the 43 statements in the first list were true. :oD In the 'critical' list, 13 of the 14 statements were true! (But I was never 'afraid' of him, not even when he was 'joking' and 'pretended' to choke me ...)
For comparison, I know I probably did 11 of the 43 things in the first list to my ex. Of the 'critical' things definitely one (I hurt him physically) and very likely a couple more were true for him, though it's hard for me to guess, since he wouldn't really talk about his feelings.

Dr. Irene Matiatos also has a very interesting in-depth article about "the verbally abusive partner". (Here is a mirror, if you can't stand ComicSans and find animated kittens frightening.)

If you find yourself a victim of abuse, the hardest part to realise could be your own responsibility - there never seems to be any "black and white" abuser/victim pattern, but the victim often becomes abusing towards the abuser, as well.

The responsibility you have is actually to respect yourself and your partner enough to draw the line and walk away when you realise you are being abused.

To stay in a relationship where you are abused will send the wrong signals - it tells the abuser that his/her behaviour is okay, so he/she will never learn that he/she is doing something wrong. If you love your partner and want to help him/her, the only way is to make it clear that you won't accept any abuse from him/her, and the only way to make it clear might often be to leave.

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My ex probably has a lot of issues that make him afraid of getting 'too close' to people. (In the sense of: "Emotional closeness is dangerous. A woman will [inevitably] let you down and [hurt you immensely]. I will do everything in my power to push my partner away [so she can't get close enough to hurt me]. Then I will convince everyone, including myself, that it is her fault", as Dr. Irene puts it in this article about a man who successfully overcame this problem.)

But that's his problem, not mine ... because each person can only fix him/herself.

I have a different problem. It's the fact that I stayed with him so long even though he wasn't treating me very well and I was very unhappy during most of the relationship.

The US Americans, who love defining everything as 'syndromes', even have a name for that - "codependency".

As the previously mentioned Dr. Irene describes it,

"The central concept is that the codependent individual 'takes it' and 'understands,' despite feeling hurt. Waiting for brownie points in heaven, or for a loved one to be magically healed through their persistent love and care taking, they accept disrespect from others. It does not occur to the codependent person that it is not OK to 'take it' and 'put up' no matter what!"

This "codependent" behaviour is said to be a form of "coping behaviour" that can appear in children of abusive parents, or in children of parents who themselves were once children of abusive parents and learned to become "codependent". The "codependent" person has never learned that he or she has every right to NOT put up with any form of abuse, and thinks it's 'okay' to keep giving love one-sidedly without receiving anything back, and readily takes any blame for all kinds of problems on him/herself. The "codependent" person might also never have learned what a truly respectful and loving relationship can be like.

In my own case, there has been a lot of that in my family history, so it doesn't surprise me that I could become so, too. My mother has always tried to tell me and my sister that we must not let ourselves go through what she did in her 26 years with my dad. But it hasn't always been so easy when I didn't know what was wrong with ... myself!

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All in all, I stayed two and a half years in my previous relationship. It happened twice that I made up my mind to leave, but each time I ended up feeling so sorry for him that I just couldn't do it. (The second time - which was prompted by this incident - the critical moment was when I for some reason came to think of the Tapio Rautavaara song "Päivänsäde ja menninkäinen", which made me cry, so I lost control ... (>_<); Argh ...)

When we eventually broke up, in early June this year, it was right after I had been away on a two-month internship abroad. In those two months I had experienced something completely new compared to what I had gotten used to - that all my knowledge, interests and skills were actually very useful and greatly appreciated!

Gradually, I started to realise how badly my boyfriend was treating me, and made up my mind that it *definitely* had to end, no matter what. When I came back, I was happily surprised to hear that he had made up his mind to break up, as well. So, everything went quite smoothly. (I honestly don't know how it might have gone if he would have begged me to stay again ... *shudder*)

When he left for work after we'd formally broken up, I kept hysterically laughing and crying all at once for several minutes. I was so relieved ...

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Tinet Elmgren, November 2006

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Plenty more Black Pig Comics!