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Paris and my mind..


reves

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I'm not sure why I decided to talk about this now more than a year later, I guess I just need some advice since I've never had to deal with anything remotely like this before, anyways here goes:

 

So the summer before last my family hosted an exchange student from Paris for a month with the idea being that he would work on improving his English, for this I'll call him Theo. We're the same age and we became good friends, unfortunately he was extremely attractive in a sort of chic-European way and I had a total crush on him. This was not helped by his behavior; he claimed to love me like a sister but was always hug-grabbing me from behind and would sleep with his head in my lap on car rides, and I was never sure if this was just a culture difference etc..

 

He left and everything was fine and dandy, I moved on and had a wonderful relationship that ended mutually, and then last summer it was agreed that I would spend a month in Paris with Theo and his family to improve my French. When I got there it was great to see him again, apart from the crush thing we had gotten along really well and he seemed happy to see me too. Of course it was just my luck that he had become even more attractive in the year since I last saw him, so while I no longer had a "crush" I was most definitely attracted to him. I was with his family for a week before going to stay with my mother's friend in Italy; after that i would spend the last 2.5 weeks with his family again in Paris.

 

It was when I got back from Italy that things started getting weird. A few days after I returned the mother had left for Spain for business so it was just me, Theo's dad, Theo, and Theo's older sister at home. I was the only one up, and then Theo's dad came into the kitchen. He told me that he and his wife were separating, and that he was wondering if there was some way I could try to talk to Theo about it since he wasn't sure how Theo was taking it.

 

I was first of all shocked, everything had seemed fine when I left so presumably everything had collapsed soon after I left for Italy. Secondly I felt uncomfortable with what he was asking me to do, what was I supposed to tell Theo? "hey by the way you didn't know I knew but your dad told me him and your mom are splitting up, how are you feeling?"

 

I was also honestly afraid of how Theo would react…the day after I got back from Italy, he started getting abusive. Before I had left for Italy he would jokingly shove me sometimes so that I nearly walked into things and then give me a hard time for not watching where I was going, stuff like that that originally just seemed sort of rough-housey silly.

 

After I got back though he started up again but with more force, sometimes suddenly yanking on my arm so that I nearly walked into these waist-high metal poles placed to keep cars off the sidewalk and then telling me that I needed to be more aware of where I was going. One day soon after I got back, we were in a museum and he grabbed me by the nose and started pulling me by the nose from room to room. Then as we were descending the stairs in that same museum he asked if he could hit me. I said no of course he couldn't, and he started begging me saying "please I just really want to hit you". I asked him why he wanted to hurt me so much and he said "I don't know, I just look at you and I want to hurt you". All of this was said in a sort of put-on voice, so I couldn't tell how much was real and how much was..I don't know.. an act?

 

Over the following weeks his treatment of me was constantly changing, some days he would be better, others he would constantly touch my face and grab my nose, making me absolutely furious when he wouldn't stop when I asked. He said he was trying to make me angry, to help me learn how to stand up for myself since I'm always so unconfrontational. One day he had made me irritated and he said, "when you are are angry, it is sort of sexy". The rest of the time he was always giving me a hard time saying how I was ugly and I always had my eyes on the ground and how sometimes it was fun to be with me and sometimes it was difficult because I never started any conversations. Most of this was apparently intended not sincerely but instead to anger me into standing up for myself.

 

The whole him trying to make me angry thing was weird in itself, we were on the metro when I finally realized that it was all a game to him, he wasn't really angry he was just trying to make me angry. He said something about how great our "arguments" were, and after that it became a thing that he would ask me constantly, "let's get angry now", and then he would start pawing my face again or trying to push me into things and I would get absolutely furious and sometimes start crying because I got so frustrated.

 

That was the other problem, there was at least one occasion where I ended up just crying in the apartment, but when he asked I couldn't explain because the problem was I was angry with myself for still feeling attracted to him despite his terrible treatment of me. How do you say, "you're an a**hole but I'm incredibly attracted to you"?

 

Things progressed to him grabbing me by the jaw sometimes during our bouts, to the point where I began to get facial bruises. No one in the apartment ever asked me about them though, despite the fact that the bottom half of my face was beginning to look like it was constantly smudged with dirt. He always said that physicality was the only way he could "get me angry" since whenever I started getting angry I would break into English and he couldn't keep up.

 

Around the house he would antagonize me whenever there was no one in the room or whoever it was had their back turned. Sometimes he would grab my arm so that I had to either try to lower myself to the floor or lean painfully backwards, and then once I was on the floor he would scold me for "always falling down on the dirty floor". If I left the apartment to do an errand or some shopping I always did a lot of finger crossing that he would not be the one to unlock the door when I returned, since if he was it would inevitably turn into half an hour of me trying to persuade him to unlock the door as well as undoing the deadbolt so that I could come inside the apartment.

 

The most frustrating part was how he acted in front of his other friends. With them he was courteous, charming, sort of the clown of the group. We were hanging out with a few of his friends in a park one night, and he made a comment to me that was mildly insulting so I insulted him right back, and he raised his hand as if threatening to slap me. One of his friends saw and did sort of the French equivalent of "whoaa", like “whoa dude take it down a notch she's a girl”. So clearly his behavior towards me when we were alone was not something typically condoned. As we left that group that night, he again begged me with "let's get angry for a bit" and started pawing at my face as I tried to shove him away. We got into the courtyard surrounded by apartments including his family's, and he wouldn't knock it off and I kept saying don't touch me and suddenly I had said it too loud for his liking and he grabbed my face really hard with his hand and growl/yelled at me to shut up. He sounded more legitimately angry than I had ever seen him and I burst into tears and exhaustedly tried to explain that I wasn't a doll, he couldn't keep messing with me, there was only so much I could take. He just calmly looked at me as I talked, and when I was done he asked if I was alright, and when I sort of nodded he said soothingly that we should get back to the apartment and go to bed. And that was it.

 

The entire second half of my stay progressed like this, up until the last weekend. On the last weekend of my stay he suddenly decided that the best way to get me to shut up whenever I argued back with him was to kiss me. And the thing is, as embarrassing as it is to admit it, I let him because I was still attracted to him despite everything. The last few days of my stay involved some pretty intense makeout sessions, despite the fact that he would always reiterate how he “didn’t like me,” I “was like a sister”. The last was the night before I left for the states, he called it "our secret".

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Once i came back to the U.S., i was at least a tad mixed/messed up, in my mother's words, "you didn't really come back for at least two months". Since then I've thought about it sometimes and other times forgotten about it, but either way it's still there. I apologize for the sheer length of this, for those of you who actually read the whole thing I applaud you wholeheartedly!

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I'm so sorry you went through this. The thing you need to realize is that Theo is an abuser and he will only progress to far worse. He was testing just how far he could go with you, he wasn't playing around. The fact that he actually said he wanted to hit you tells me that this man has some serious mental and emotional problems. The fact that he's physically charming and attractive doesn't mean anything except that he might get away with abusive behaviors longer than others would. For instance, would you have accepted his treatment of you if he'd been unattractive or would you have said something to his parents and then flown home? You were attracted to his looks, but that's a superficial thing and it's not something that should be the sole basis for how you let someone else treat you.

 

I would stay very far awar as in forever and stop all contact. Tell your parents what happened and tell them you need help coming to grips with it. They'll make sure he never comes near you and maybe even say something to his parents although I'm not sure they would or could do much to change his mindset. I say that because from what you describe Theo is very dangerous and you're lucky he didn't do worse than the physical abuse he already was doing to you. I used to work at a women's shelter helping women and men and families who'd been abused. Everything you say about Theo rings a very dark bell and more than one person told me that in the beginning the physical abuses started as "games" or "roughhousing" or "jokes". The fact that Theo actually voiced a desire to hurt you is a bit shocking though, because even abusers usually know better than to say those things out loud and he was obviously very confident at that point that you'd never turn him in. And I find that perhaps the most disturbing thing of all.

 

I would urge you to get some counseling or therapy and to educate yourself on acceptable touch versus abusive touch. When someone shoves you into something, grabs you and in any way hurts you and then expresses a desire to hurt you further--it's not normal. It's not acceptable. It's not gosh he's just playing or a bit weird. It's dangerous and frankly I think Theo is looking at a future behind bars and someone else sadly will likely be very badly hurt or worse by him. Please tell your parents everything that happened if they don't know and make sure Theo never comes near you again. Cut off contact from him and his family, get yourself some help, and go live a happy normal life.

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So...what are you hoping to get from the board? Do you want advice? Just to vent? Random opinions?

 

anything I suppose, I've never told anyone about this besides my parents and I think I just needed to get it out of my system

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Glad to help. One more piece of advice I can give you, and it's an important one, is this: if a person hits you or otherwise physically hurts you once they will do it again. Walk away and cut them out of your life immediately regardless of what they say or do, a thousand tears and sorries from an abuser mean nothing except that he/she is luring you into a next time. And there will be a next time, there always is. Yes, it's harsh advice. Yes, you may well have to turn your back on someone you had very high hopes for. Yes, others may accuse you of being too unyielding or unreasonable. It still beats the heck out of being wheeled into an ER or worse, mortuary. And that is where these cases nearly always end up.

 

There may be exceptions to that rule out there somewhere, but in nearly 40 years of life experience including work at a women's shelter and sexual assault hotline as well as just personal experience with myself, family and friends I've never seen it. Make that your number one boundary and never let anyone cross it. No matter who they are, what they say, or what they do. Not if you want to live and live well. ALso learn about emotional and verbal abuse and apply the same standard there. A very good book to read is Why Does He Do That? link removed

 

Of course, that book and this advice also are equally true for any man who is being abused by a woman. Anyways I hope I've at least given you a place to start healing, good luck.

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It was abuse. It was progressive, disrespectful, confusing, and sounds like it left you feeling powerless. You may have felt obligated to stay and put up with it, not understanding it, or seeing his positive qualities and characteristics, blaming yourself for some reason, not wanting to disappoint your parents or his...I don't know. I'm not blaming you, and understand how it can be perplexing. It's not your job to keep it a secret, though. Talk to your parents about it, or a therapist.

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@journeynow and @ParisPaulette-thank you for the advice and honest words. I did tell my parents, and Friday I actually have an appointment scheduled through the counseling services offered at my university. I think that at the time I didn't say anything because I was afraid that if I told someone back in the states they would make me come home ASAP, which I did not want to do at all since when I wasn't dealing with Theo I was absolutely enfatuated with Paris. I know it sounds dumb, it was dumb, to me at the time though it didn't see dumb. But what's done is done, all that's left for me is to properly move forward.

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That's good news, hon. Don't worry about the past and what you did or didn't do. Too many of us, myself included have found ourselves involved with someone who is abusive, because they have other qualities that make it seem worth it at the time. It's only when one is free of the situation and looking back that you realize just how wacked the situation became. But you live and love and learn and as you said you move forward. Hugs and good luck to you in the future. We are here to listen and give a bit of advice if you need some.

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