Sexual harassment: Clean slate
Carol spent five years with a boyfriend who bludgeoned her self-esteem with verbal abuse and taunts about her weight. She left him and is not looking back.
‘It’s a miracle that I can look back at this and laugh. Back then I was so ruined. Eric took almost everything I had out of me. I loved that man. He was my first boyfriend and my entry into the world of sexual exploits. He was my everything.
‘We met in college. He was a cool guy, really chilled out. He never seemed to have much drama with the people around him. I liked that. He seemed like a man of his own making. To be honest, I never had any career ambition. I was fine with being ‘barefoot and pregnant’, so to say. Yeah, I have a degree in business administration. Big deal! I believe in getting an education but it’s not everything.
‘By the time we graduated from uni, our relationship had grown and Eric didn’t seem to mind taking care of me. We moved in together. He worked. I cooked and cleaned. We would hang out on weekends and have great sex. Everything was great. Or so I thought. And the changes began very subtly.’
‘I remember when we would go shopping he would say, “You see that chick over there? Do you see how well her clothes fit her? You should lose weight and make your clothes fit you like hers. No flab.” I wondered where this had come from. And my biggest mistake was not saying anything back. So the taunting continued.
He began beating more and more at my image: my weight, hair and face. Nothing ever seemed good enough for him. My self-esteem plunged.
‘Then came: “You know, you should start doing other stuff on your own. You shouldn’t rely on me for everything. Make something of your degree.” What in the world was going on? Why was this a point of concern all of a sudden?
‘Then he’d start coming home late. Our dates and hanging out slowed down. Eventually, they stopped altogether.’
‘One day, I had gone out to catch up with some old friends. I came home and walked in on Eric with another woman in our bed.
‘That was it! I had had enough of being told what I should look like from a man who was as fat as I was. And most of all: this was clearly an unfaithful man who was not in love with me. I was done!
‘After five long years of investment, I packed my bags and moved back into my mother’s house. I felt confused, betrayed and hurt.
‘Plus, I needed a job. I hadn’t worked since graduation and the gap in my resume was detrimental. I spent the next 18 months job hunting. Not even a regular customer service job came my way.’
‘I eventually gave up and opened my own business, and now a year down the road it’s thriving. Meanwhile, I also went through the rebound sex phase and finally took a break from sex and relationships so I could take some time to reflect.
‘I love who I am now. I am more confident. I know what I want for myself. I have a growing business and I’m not looking back.’
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