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A young woman’s story of surviving grooming, abuse and addiction

Hi, I’m Katie, and I’m going to tell you a bit about my story. I grew up in a big family and had a really normal childhood. It was great really.

When I started high school, I got diagnosed with bipolar, at 12 years old. The main symptoms for bipolar is manias, so you’ll be super-excited, feel on top from the world, have all the energy. I would go days without sleeping, my appetite would be suppressed. I was really creative, I’d pull my whole room apart, I’d paint everything. I’d send all my furniture back and start again every single time. And then it would turn to the depression. That was so crippling. The hardest part was that I was feeling so suicidal and depressed at such a young age, and trying to comprehend it, yet there was no reason for me to feel that way.

When I turned 18 and finished high school, I met this guy who soon became my boyfriend. I thought that we he was absolutely amazing. He was so confident and absolutely adored me. I thought that was such an amazing thing, and especially with having such low self-esteem from my bipolar. I thought that I was hopeless. I merely even managed to get to school yet he thought that I was so smart.

When it was about three months in, I thought he was just super-protective and that he adored me so much, he was worried. The little things like getting jealous, I didn’t see it as a big sign, and it all just turned into something so drastic so quickly. Instead of just being normal in a typical relationship, it ended up that he wouldn’t let me talk to my friends. He thought that I was going to leave him. Even any of my friends if they sent me a message, he thought I was cheating on him, whether it was ‘hi’, ‘hello’, anything. Over time, I gradually started cutting off all my connections. I stopped talking to my friends because I didn’t want to upset him. I stopped talking to my family because he thought that they were against me and he was the one who knew what was right, and I believed him.

Everything escalated before I even realized it, and he finally came clean to me about him having a drug addiction to Ice. Because of everything he’d said to me and done to me and accepted my bipolar, all I wanted to do was help him now. I thought he deserved it. I said, “Okay, I’ll help you. I’ll get you clean, I’ll be there every step of the way. I’m not going to judge you, it’s going to be okay.” Before I knew it, his manipulative side won me over. I thought it would be one try, but it never is.

The first time he eventually talked me into it, it took hours. He kept saying like, “Okay, before you get rid of it, why don’t you try it? Why won’t you try it for me? I’ll protect you, I know what it’s like. I won’t let anything happen to you.” The way he eventually won me over was saying, “Well, if you try it, you can know what I’m going through.” I thought it would be harmless, one time, that’s it. That was the first time I tried Ice.

At first, I felt no difference whatsoever. I think the main part of that was my bipolar. I have such high highs and it just felt like a maniac episode. And then it got more intense and I felt so in control of everything in my life. It’s like I’d realized everything that had ever gone wrong and I’d fixed it.

But then the downside was, the come-down. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t think it would be that bad. I ended up doing the same motions over and over again, and it was just like a depression hit all at once. It was unbearable.

As he became more controlling, the anger and jealousy turned into rage. I was scared that if I didn’t do what he said, that he’d hit me or he’d choke me, so I kept doing it. Even though it wasn’t a choice that I wanted, that chemical addiction is stronger than anything. At this stage, I was isolated from my friends, my family. Even though he was hurting me, I still thought that it wasn’t his fault, maybe it was just the drugs, and I went along with it. I felt there was no way out.

Eventually, he ended up taking me to the drug dealer’s house. I felt really uncomfortable at first, but the deeper you get in, the more you can relate to your surroundings. He’d taken my phone, he had passwords to my Facebook account, all my social media accounts, he even had the password to my bank account. So I would go to work and every payday, it was straight to the ATM, take all my money out. I had no control over it.

When I didn’t have the money to pay for things, he used to get me to manipulate my friends to give me money saying it was for my bipolar. It was for my medication, it was for doctors’ appointments. I had moved to Liverpool to do my study but because of everything I was going through, I ended up moving back home. When I started at my new job, he was so possessive that all my lunch breaks I had to come out to the car park and sit with him in his car so he knew I wasn’t up to things.

One day, I was at work, and he didn’t want me to go, but work was the only time that I wasn’t with drug dealers, or I wasn’t with him. He was so angry about me going, so he rang my boss and he told him that my mom had been in a really bad accident. He said that I needed to leave work right now and go to the hospital, and that he was picking me up. Obviously, my first reaction, I was devastated not only because I thought my mom was in danger, but because I’d lost that connection, I hadn’t spoken to her. He picked me up and drove me back to the drug dealer’s house and told me he just didn’t want me at work.

Once I was in the house, I was the only female ever. When you walked in the front door, the usual umbrella arch, but instead of umbrellas, it was crowbars and weapons because there was a rivalry between them and another drug dealer.

As I got to know these guys, I saw the other side of them not just the addict. I thought, being the person that I am, that I could help them. I tried and talked to them around, and tried and talked them down from these fights. When I thought I was helping, which I may have deescalated some moods, it ended up bringing me down. There were cameras hidden around the house, recording devices. I didn’t pick up on it because I thought that only happened in movies. They didn’t like me leaving and I knew how they would react if I said no, so I’d stay.

I tried to come up with excuses to get out, but they tracked me, stand at the door, and I didn’t want to push it. I didn’t want to see that side of them. Sometimes they’d get me in the kitchen and they’d say, “You can’t leave unless you eat this. You can’t leave unless you drink this.” There were a lot of times where it was just blank, I couldn’t remember anything. One day I woke up and I could feel them moving my body, trying to wake me up. I could think, but I couldn’t move. They put a pop in my mouth just so that I could get up and move again.

I started realizing, when you’re on drugs, your care for yourself gets neglected. So I wasn’t picking up on things as much. I remember finally having a shower and looking at my body, and there were bruises everywhere. I didn’t know how I got them. I remember one day I started panicking and I started seeing images in my head of things that had happened to me but I didn’t remember them happening. I asked him about it, and all of a sudden he got so angry, and he’s like, “Don’t think about that. That’s not real, that hasn’t happened.” The drug dealers pulled me aside one day and said, “He told me that he was going to sell you for drugs if you couldn’t come back with money.”

There was one guy in the house who did protect me whenever he saw my boyfriend getting aggressive. He’d tell him to cut it out otherwise he’d cut him off. One day, it was just him and I and he pulled me aside and said, “What are you doing? This isn’t you, you’re better than this. You need to get out.” But I felt so helpless. I didn’t know how to get anywhere. I didn’t have a car, a license, no contact with anyone. I was so scared to go to the police because I didn’t want to get in trouble and I didn’t want to get him in trouble because I thought it would come back onto me.

I woke up one morning, and at this stage we were living in his car and I had an allergic reaction to something. My eyes were swollen nearly to the point where I couldn’t see. I asked him to take me to the doctor’s and somehow convinced him. When we got there, I had my phone, and I got a phone call from my cousin. I remember, the only words I remember was, “What are you doing? I want to see you again and I don’t want it to be at your funeral.” I realized that was a possibility, and it felt closer than ever.

I wanted to get out, and I told my cousin that if she could find a way to get me out, that I would go. It turns out my sister had been looking for me for about a month, and I thought that no one was. I thought that they didn’t care. Within the hour, my sister was at the doctor’s and I pretended that I was just going to the car for something. I grabbed a box and my birth certificate, my nursing certificates, and that was literally the only possessions I had because he burnt everything else because he was paranoid.

When my sister arrived, he got so angry he’s like, “You can’t take her,” and she threatened to call the police, which wouldn’t have been the first time.

We got in the car and we drove for hours until we got at the country. At my cousin’s house, I thought I might scare my little cousins because my eyes were still swollen and I was so skinny my bones were practically sticking out. I hadn’t been eating and I didn’t want them to see that. I stayed at my cousin’s for a month while I got back on my feet.

She fed me, and she dressed me, and she washed me till I could actually function as a human being again. When I was stable enough, I ended up getting my own house that I was renting. My house was next to a church, and I still didn’t have anything. I had a mattress on the floor in my room and a few things for the kitchen.

One Sunday, the church came over, a few of them, and introduced themselves and asked me why I was sitting on my kitchen bench to have breakfast. I told them that I didn’t have any furniture yet. They asked me what I was doing that afternoon. Before I knew it, they brought over a trailer worth of furniture. They brought a dining room table, a lounge, chairs, and just bits and pieces to make it more of a home.

After everything that had happened to me, I went to the police and I had a sexual assault case taken, and I told them everything that happened. They took photographs of my body, of all the hand marks, the bruises. I asked them what I could do, they told me because there was substance abuse involved, they couldn’t take that on.

They told me that I most likely wouldn’t win, it’d be just too hard for me, that it would be just a whole lot of trouble and it would upset me. Of course, after this has happened, the last thing you want to do is talk about it. I was still scared, just feel like Stockholm Syndrome where even though they hurt you and they’ve got you captured, you just love them. You still want to do everything for them. I didn’t want to hurt him or change his life.

He didn’t have any repercussions. He moved away for a while, got clean, supposedly, and is still living at my hometown, makes it real hard to go home. Originally when I had moved and started getting my life back together, he came looking for me. He even got into the town where I was, and I had to tell my workplace, “If anyone asks for me, tell them no.” I didn’t tell them why, I just said, “I’d had a bad experience and they couldn’t know where I was.”

After everything that’s happened and a lot of moving, I’ve found a great job back in a nursing home, and I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. I’ve got stability. It took me a while to get over the circumstances that I went through, and it took me years to accept my diagnoses, but now that I’m on medication, I live a stable life, I go to work, I have fun with friends, I see my family, and I support myself, which is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

I’ve learned that even though something is really hard and you feel like you’re never going to get through it, eventually you’ll find that part of you that’s willing to fight. It started off with me as being excited that I’ve lived in a house again, and now it’s the fact that I can run a normal life. No matter who you come across, no matter how they look or act, you honestly don’t know. People never suspect what I’ve been through. I think you should just take everyone as how they treat you, not on what you think of them.

 

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