That's Why I Call It Crazy Love

Content warning: Physical and emotional abuse

Leslie Morgan SteinerWhen I was 22, a few weeks before I met the man who physically abused me, I told my roommate I'd never be stupid enough to let a man beat me.

I wish I'd known that abusers never hit you on the first date.

I wish someone had told me that at first, you feel like he's the best thing that ever happened to you. He's the sweetest, kindest, most romantic man in the world. But then he quickly, often without you noticing, gets possessive and controlling. He wants to know where you are and who you are with and what you are wearing — every second of the day. He smiles and kisses you and says he just wants to know because he's never loved anyone so much, because he was hurt in the past by another girlfriend, or because he needs to know you are safe in order to sleep at night.

I wish I'd known that girls 18–24 experience some of the highest rates of abuse by past or current partners.

Even though I'd graduated from Harvard University and lived in Spain, I was so naïve. I didn't understand that relationships can turn violent no matter how smart you are, where you live, what your family is like, or what religion you practice.

Quote by Leslie Morgan SteinerI wish I'd known that abuse usually first happens when you feel most in love and most vulnerable — when you move in together, get pregnant, or get engaged. He knows it's harder for you to leave then. My abuser first beat me five days before our wedding. I married him anyway. Isn't that crazy? That's why I call it "crazy love."

I know now that no one has the right to scare you or hurt you. No one has the right to force you to stay when you don't want to. Today, I know that true love is never crazy.

I was lucky. I left my abuser after four years of small indignities: Him telling me how much makeup I could wear, who I could call on the phone, and how short my skirts could be. Plus bigger problems like having him hold a gun to my head, pushing me down stairs, and punching me in the face.

I learned my lesson the hard way. I'm telling you because I hope you can learn the same lesson without being abused. Try to recognize and avoid partners who control you and disguise manipulation as true love. We all deserve to be loved, and no one deserves to be hurt in the name of love.

To learn more about how to recognize and avoid teenage dating abuse, please visit www.joinonelove.org or The Crazy Love Project on Facebook.

The statements and opinions in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health.