I started to document everything.

Elena's story

We knew each other from childhood. At the beginning of our relationship, it felt like he would do anything for me. He was so loving and attentive, telling me that I was the love of his life. I thought, «This is the man of my dreams.» After a few months, however, his behavior started to change. He became increasingly jealous and secretly checked the messages on my cell phone. At first, I considered his jealousy to be a sign of love and felt flattered, I thought it was cute. In hindsight, I came to understand that this was the first major red flag.

It only got worse from there. He became aggressive, regularly insulted and threatened me. The first time he became physically violent was when he grabbed me by the neck, pressed me against the wall and threw me on the floor. I was in a lot of pain. The doctor at the hospital told me that my collarbone was broken. Suddenly his attitude changed, he became very caring and sweet. Not only did he not leave my side but kept saying «I didn't hurt you on purpose, I love you. Let’s start a new chapter.»

I wanted to leave him but couldn't break free. He promised me time and time again that he would change and get help. I wanted to believe him so badly and kept hoping for a change, but it was just empty promises. One night he woke me up and wanted more. I had to go to work early the next day and asked him to stop. He didn’t accept my no, it felt like he was completely out of control. «Suddenly, I had this monster in front of me.» When he finished, I just wanted to leave. Somehow, I was afraid he might come after me. I ran but kept looking back.

The next day I was covered in bruises. I took photos because I wanted to document what he had done to me. He was remorseful, bombarded me with messages and pleaded «I don't want our relationship to end like this. I never want it to end.» I knew that I had to act now, it couldn't go on like this. When I pressed charges, he denied everything. He told the police that I always blamed him for everything and that I was mentally disturbed.

That’s when I started to meticulously document everything: Photos of injuries, screenshots of chat histories. One time, he called and threatened to kill me. If he can’t have me, no one should. I told him that I would record the call. He didn't care, he felt he was above the law and that his actions would not have any consequences.

When I went to the police, I had a lot of evidence. Nevertheless, the interrogation was emotionally difficult for me. However, I was glad to finally be able to tell my story and what I’ve been through. I wanted him to be held accountable. I felt more empowered, I started therapy, did a lot of sport, and met up with supportive friends. Slowly but surely, I regained my strength and energy.

After a tedious criminal trial, he was finally convicted. Since then, it hasn’t been easy though: I come from a small village, so word gets around quickly. Every now and then, I bump into his friends. They accuse me of lying and sometimes they become aggressive. I won’t let them get me down and I won’t be silent anymore. I know I am on the right path.