Ellie’s story as told by Keli MacDonald & Kaytlyn Bell
Things changed when I snuck into his mom’s private office.
My boyfriend had always told me to steer clear of it. I never knew why and I didn’t ask—his mom worked as a prosecutor, so I just assumed she had private files in there. But I’m a naturally snoopy person, so I was bound to take a peek.
I was especially curious after I was over at his house talking to him about a stalker I had—she was some online profile that kept harassing me through all my social media, saying creepy things and even going so far as to post on my boyfriend’s and sister’s profiles.
As I was telling him about all this, he mentioned an email his mother had gotten along the same lines as what I was receiving, but something didn’t add up in his story, and I became very suspicious, very quickly.
So, I didn’t just peek. I full-on went in the office to look around while he was in the shower. I could hear the water running as my heart pounded adrenaline through me with every step. Family pictures lined the walls, and a medium-sized black box caught my eye. It sat near the fancy desk. I went over to it and took the lid off it and—files. Of course, it was just files. I flipped through them nonchalantly until I saw a flash of familiarity. My face. There was a file… on me?
The squeak of a nozzle. The water sounds disappeared.
I put the lid back on the box and slipped out of the room, closing the door behind me gently, quietly. The knob felt heavy in my hand.
I turned around from closing the door, and standing there, in shorts and a t-shirt, hair still dripping, is my boyfriend. His face is red. His fists are balled.
I remember a lot of screaming and anger. Then, he came at me, picked me up, and knocked my head against something. Probably the wall.
When I woke up, I was tied to the bed. The things that he did to me after that are hard to speak about, but today I have a huge burn scar down my chest along with chronic back pain and other spine issues due to his continuous beatings throughout the relationship.
It had all started in the summer. He and I were working together on the same play. We saw each other almost every day, and we talked all the time. Things happened so quickly but so naturally; we fell for each other hard. Dating was great at first. He was always so sweet and attentive.
Looking back on it, I can see all the red flags I missed.
If he got to the theater before I did, he would be waiting for me outside. When I would go to the bathroom, he would come with me and stand outside the door. At the time I thought he was just being a gentleman, but now I realize it was him trying to possess me, to control everything I did. I think it was that same compulsion that made him do what he did next.
He created a fake account to scare me—the stalker that caused me to become curious enough to go into his mom’s office.
This girl’s account started popping up on all of mine, my Facebook, my Instagram, even my Ask.fm, leaving comments like: “Can’t wait ‘til I come to Kokomo to get you.” This absolutely terrified me because nowhere on any of my accounts did I mention that I live in Kokomo. I took pictures of these posts, then just blocked her and ignored her and hoped she’d go away.
I had told my boyfriend about all of this, of course, and one day he called me telling me that we needed to talk. When I went over to his house he told me that his mother had gotten an email from an account with the same name. He told me his mom then had someone track the email. Since she’s a prosecutor, I believed him.
According to him, this girl’s sister went to my high school. His mom wanted to press charges, but I wasn’t sure how far we could get with the little evidence we had. I told him I would need some time to think about it. This is when he went to shower, when I went into his mom’s office, and when it all started going downhill.
To this day I bear the physical and mental scars of what he did to me, but I haven’t let them stop me. I volunteer to talk at girls’ groups and middle school health classes, sharing my story and trying to help other people avoid my situation, or help them get out of it if they’re already in it. If I can’t reach a victim in a small group or school setting, they can read about my story and gain advice from the blog I run. I just don’t want anyone else to feel as helpless as I did.
My counselor couldn’t help, the police couldn’t help: I had to get through it on my own, and I want to do what I can to make sure no one else ends up in that position.
This story originally appeared in Facing Teen Dating Violence, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by A Better Way in Muncie, Indiana.