‘He always watched porn because ‘he wasn’t getting any.’ He started pressuring me for sex, belittling me in front of his friends.’: Woman raises sex trafficking awareness after suffering in her own abusive relationship

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“Everyone has a chapter in their lives they don’t read out loud. Bitter truths are hard to believe, hard to accept and very hard to share.

I am a full-time worker who aims to help and impact children and young women who suffer in the worst imaginable ways – those who no one loves, no one knows exists, who find human love, care and comfort foreign, strange and unknown. I volunteer overseas at least once a year with the marginalized, the vulnerable. Children who have been abused, abandoned and left to die.

I often get asked why I do what I do; raise funds and awareness for poverty and sex trafficking.

My standard answer was sex trafficking is a genuine fear for the young girls I volunteer with. But the other reason was I had been in an unhealthy relationship many years ago.

Courtesy of Mellissa P. Lim

I was never physically abused but many times I thought I would be.

We met in 2014 and bonded over a mutual desire to establish a safe house for vulnerable women and children. He was a single father with a very young daughter. The first month was great.

Very soon after, I began to realize how opinionated he can be. Alarm bells started to go off when he would raise his voice at me when I had a different opinion, or if I caught him at a bad time. He would always tell me, ‘I AM ALWAYS RIGHT. PROVE ME WRONG.’

I noticed he would always describe women in a very derogatory manner. I can’t even repeat most of the things he has said because it still makes me very sick and very angry.

For the next few months, I was frequently yelled at for not using my ‘common sense.’

I was often told the way I acted caused him to react and yell at me. I started it. It was always my fault. And I was lucky I was never hit.

He wanted credit for having self-control and not hitting me. He demanded respect from me for the way I spoke to him. It was always a one-way street.

Courtesy of Mellissa P. Lim

He would belittle me in front of his friends. He would be quick to tell them how immature I was when I had views that were different from his.

I was told to make an effort to look better, dress in a sexy manner so he would look good in front of his friends.

Not long after, he would start pressuring me for sex. He would always be watching pornography and told me he would get it elsewhere because he ‘wasn’t getting any.’ He would proceed to show me the kind of pornography he enjoys. It makes me so sick because some of the women in those videos could have been trafficked.

Many times I felt so numb, I had no strength to react. I found so many suggestive messages he sent to women he claimed were his ‘friends.’ When I would confront him about it, he laughed it off and accused me of being over-reactive.

It wasn’t even 8 months into the relationship, and I had to be put on anti-depressants. The degradation, accusations, guilt, blame and manipulation were unbearable. How did I let this relationship go on for as long as it did? He would sometimes attempt to apologize and I would make excuses on his behalf.

This was a man who calls himself a Christian. I spent many months processing the anger, hurt and disappointment, and eventually forgave him.

I am very grateful for a close-knit group of friends I got to lean on. They prayed for me, cried with me and sometimes, just sat with me. My faith in God was crucial in getting me through this difficult period.

For the longest time, I only shared this part of my life with closest friends. I was embarrassed telling people I was in such a relationship. I was mostly embarrassed because I was not a weak woman. Abuse comes in many forms, not all of which are physical. When someone repeatedly uses words to demean, frighten, or control someone, it’s considered verbal abuse.

Abuse happens to anyone. Any kind of abuse is never ok.

Courtesy of Mellissa P. Lim

So why do I do what I do? Why do I speak up about poverty and sex trafficking? It is a genuine fear of the young girls I have volunteered with in South-East Asia.

I understand what it feels like to have zero self-worth.

I know what it’s like to be fearful of someone, never knowing when they will lash out verbally or physically.

I know what it is like to feel trapped.

I know what depression feels like; crying myself to sleep, wishing I was dead and bawling my eyes out the moment I wake, simply because I was still alive.

It has been a wonderful privilege to speak for the vulnerable; those who have no voice. But I am grateful for the journey that gave me the extra push I needed to speak up.”

Courtesy of Mellissa P. Lim

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mellissa P. Lim of Melbourne, Australia. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more powerful stories from young women who overcame abuse:

‘I BEGGED my mom to get my stepfather out of my bed. He would just ‘fall asleep’ there. How convenient for him. I started thinking my mother knew, and just didn’t care.’

‘A well-dressed man approached me. He offered to take me to eat. I got in his car and he drove me to a wooded area. He raped me all night.’

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