Updated: January 4, 2013 6:17AM
Melissa met Denny one February evening at an arcade. She was 15. He was 19.
“He complimented me and basically charmed my pants off,” she said.
After several meetings and a few weeks of phone calls, he told her he loved her and was going to marry her.
Denny showed every sign of being trouble. He was always drinking and would get angry if he didn’t get his way.
“He’d get into fights and then blame me because some guy was looking at me. I’d try to calm him down, convince him I loved only him and that I’d never do it again. Then he’d be his old charming self.”
When Melissa turned 16. he got an apartment and moved her out of her parents’ house. “When my father asked what he was doing, Denny said I was moving in with him since we were marrying soon. My parents never seemed to care what I did, and when my father said OK, it just proved it.”
Melissa started her junior year in August. “When my friends would call, he would hang up on them. When they stopped by, he would tell them I didn’t want to be friends with them anymore. I was only allowed to talk to those he deemed appropriate. I was only allowed to go out when he was with me. For my safety, he said.”
Melissa says Denny never hit her.
The abuse was all psychological. “He made me believe anything that went wrong was my fault.”
They married in November, nine months after they met. She was still 16.
Once they were married, the physical abuse started. “I had things thrown at me. I was slapped. Ice water was dumped on me while I was sleeping. I have scars on my legs where he put out cigarettes. I have a crooked nose because he slammed the door on my face and claimed it was an accident. I was called every name in the book and truly believed I was those things.”
Melissa says they’d been married 31/2 years when Denny came home one day and, out of the blue, told her he was divorcing her. “He told me I sucked in bed, was a terrible cook and a slob. He told me to get out. He ‘allowed’ me to take some of my clothes but nothing else. It felt like the weight of the world had just lifted off my shoulders. I walked out with basically nothing. No money, no car, nowhere to live and no friends to go to. But I didn’t care. I felt free.”
It took four months for the divorce to be final. During that time, Denny tried to get Melissa to come back. She refused. He would get mad and threaten her. “I called the cops on him a total of 16 times in those last months.”
Melissa spent 10 years in therapy. She’s now married to a “wonderful man” who respects and trusts her.
“The year after we were married, my therapist told me I no longer needed her.”
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