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My Friend with Stockholm Syndrome

Trigger Warning: Abuse

Kids. Kids are all we were. What would a child know about love? What could a child know about love after feeling nothing but resentment all her caged up life? She didn't know, and she had no one to guide her and that's how she ended up in the hands of a 15-year-old monster.

I met this young girl (one year older than me—just about 16) our freshman year of high school in a history class that no longer means anything to me. She was both quiet and well reserved before you got to know her, sat at least two seats behind me with the man she claimed she "loved" in between.

She was so full of creativity and hope for a successful future, she would draw mini books with construction paper with highlighters and markers, she baked red, green, orange cookies; cupcakes with special filling on the inside and laughed with a smile that made you want to do the same.

How could an ambitious, young woman fall into the hands of an abuser for the next four years of her life? What did her parents think? What did they say? What if I told you her parents didn't know? That she lived an entirely different life to her parents in fear of repercussions, that young women suffered in silence for four years with a minimum amount of help she could receive from friends before she isolated herself.

As most people say, the beginning stages of a relationship are called, "The Cupcake" Stages. Everything is soft and sweet, just like their relationship, until the first day they called it off. Her loneliness got the better of her, she wanted him, convinced herself she needed him to be happy, she never felt anything like it. Being with him made her feel safe, even if she wasn't.

On and off for two years, the poor girl never realized that she needed him and all he needed was someone to take care of him. Like a sly dog, he sneaked into places behind and her and whispered sweet nothings into other girls ears. Girls she never knew, girls she thought she couldn't compare, girls she once called 'friend' including myself.

"I love you," he told me, "Your eyes glow like a sky engulfed with stars."

"I need you, I love you. I love you."

That's when I realized he had a type, the vulnerable. The girl that never had a chance to feel love at home. The girl who would believe that she needed someone, anyone to be happy with herself.

But for me, I couldn't be tricked into believing the same lies he told my friend. Side by side we'd hold the letters he wrote us both, written the same, no new meanings, no new feelings, just some old empty promises.

As for the third and fourth time as a couple, the cupcake stages where long gone and we were met with the bitter taste of an apple left to rot in the summer's sun. She had begun to trap herself in a perpetual state of sorrow, completely shutting herself out from the ones who cared for her the most. She didn't bake anymore, she couldn't bring herself to laugh, and for the first time in my time here on earth, I watched someone else's life fall apart.

Do you know how much pain one has to be in her someone else to see their life crashing?

I pleaded with her to leave, I begged her to speak with an adult she trusted but she never did, and the cord of the apple was more than visible the day he finally snapped. The day he put his hands on her.

I had been bedridden the day it happened, I was greeted by many text messages stating that he had placed his hands on her in the middle of the café for everyone to see. Laid out on the floor she woke up completely unaware of what happened. I called, I texted, and was held up for hours before I had actually gotten a response.

"I'm alright," she said, but it wasn't the first time this had happened. She breaks down and explains to me that she is horrified of him, but at the same time, she couldn't be without him. She felt as if, in some way, this was her fault. That she wasn't good enough to be 'loved' any other way. She accepted the love she thought she deserved.

And after so many years of self-doubt, I made sure I was there for her. To rebuild her strength, confidence, and self-love. There will be days where your loved one who has suffered greatly will relapse and fall through the slim cracks but patience is everything and it's worth to see what they grow into years later.

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