Dial-Up By Jane
I never had a great relationship with my dad. So I was constantly seeking someone to love me because
to be honest, I never felt like he did. We didn’t have a great relationship, and by the time I was 13, we
weren’t speaking and it went on for years. I was already abused physically, mentally, and verbally by my
older sister, so when I first got into an online relationship with George, it was really easy to convince me
to do or believe anything he wanted. He was a year older than me (13 years old).
He used to tell me that I didn't need to go to college or focus on school because we would get married
and I'd stay at home. By this point I was starting to show major signs of depression and self-harm. He
would tell me if I loved him, I would do (send photos, speak to him in sexual ways, stay at home to talk
to him) what he asked. There was one night, he was messaging me online, saying he wanted to die. I
tried to talk him down, and his response was to say if I wasn't around he would kill himself. He said that
he needs me or he would die. “Send me a photo of you crying”, “you look beautiful when you cry”,
“don’t talk to other guys, I’m a jealous type”, “no one understands us but each other”. I was like sheep
to the slaughter.
I believed everything and anything he told me. “You’re mine,” he told me constantly, like he needed to
make sure I knew someone had a hold on me. He told me I need to stay with him forever. I believed him.
He asked me to send a photo of myself because it would help him. This photo was different than the
others, no clothes etc. I was 13, I didn't really have an interest in sex, sexuality, and nudity freaked me
out. But he said it would make everything better. I cried so hard after I sent it, because I didn't really
understand what that photo meant, but it made me sick. I hated myself. He said he deleted it, never
looked at it because it upset me so much. That picture and it's idea still haunts me.
He used to tell me what his "friends" said about me. That I'm a whore, and a slut. That they tried getting
into his phone to look at the photos he had me send him. But it was all fine he said, because he hid
them. That he didn't listen to his friends because I was "his pure angel". I constantly got told this. I
started to make sure I was perfect, because I shouldn't be a whore, I should be the model girlfriend.
Because he loved me, because he was the only guy to love me since my dad didn't.
I remember the last words he ever said to me. Whenever I start to feel confident, these words suddenly
burn in my brain. “Whore must run in the family”. I felt the shame of a whole year come crashing down
onto me. I wasn’t the one who “cheated”, but I was the whore. And I believed it. Sometimes, I still do.
There are so many more details I can get into on him, but he is not the end, only the beginning. It's
where I crumbled. No one really knew about him. I tried to keep a lot of it a secret. Every day I hear his
words in my head rolling around and slamming me into that little girl. Was it abuse? Was I really that
stupid, like he made me feel? No it’s all your fault you stupid whore.
My fault, my fault, my fault, this mantra plays in my head as he circles me like a vulture and I scream at
myself it's all my fault. I let him, I allowed it all. I can barely understand all the circumstances. I feel like I
don't get to use that word, because he didn't touch me, because it was all in my head. I was made to
believe that I couldn’t be anything other than his, a housewife, and a whore.
He dated our other online friend, I was crushed and tried to block it out. I pretended like it never
happened. My grades went back up, but inside I felt like I was full of acid. My fault, I told myself,
because he was my age.
There’s black holes in my brain where there was more of him. I blank on the things I forced myself to
Then in high school my depression got worse. Sophomore year, I decided to make another online friend.
I was self-harming, and very numb. I only had one good friend and she didn't even know. I was lost
inside my own head, drowning in a sea without a life jacket. I was carrying around this weighted secret
of a boy, along with more abuse from my sister and my depression.
So I made online friends with Ethan, two years older than I, a college guy. I told myself I wouldn't be that
stupid silly girl again. I would just make a friend, I wouldn't trust him. I hated men by this point. I just
associated them all with pain. He had a way about him, that on the first day we skyped I just laughed
and talked for hours. He got me to open up to him, and trust him. It was like a floodgate, everything
came pouring out of me. I told him of my sister's abuse, my father's neglect, everything that happened
with George. In my darkest hours, he made me feel like I had a life preserver.
He told me he hacked into George's computer and deleted the photos. He became my best friend my
world. And we were close. So he started asking me for help, so he could masturbate. I hate that word,
because he is the first thing that pops into my head at that word. I didn't want to, I still couldn't care less
about sex, masturbating, and had no sex drive. I had never dated anyone in person, never kissed, and
was too shy to even try flirting. But he needed help he said, and so I pretended to enjoy it. And after
every time, I said how I felt dirty. He would tell me how I will enjoy it more in college, that I will want sex
then. That I'll change my mind on so many things. He would badger me when he wanted help until I said
yes, to make him stop asking.
Please, No, Please, NO, Please, I couldn’t make the begging stop. He’d be angry and upset if I didn’t cave.
I felt dirty, disgusted with myself, I told him that. He didn’t listen. I asked him to stop asking, he still
persisted. His begging sounds like howls in my ears, banging against my skull and tears pour down my
cheeks. How I wish I could have kept saying no.
This went on for a while, but I never called him my boyfriend and he just said we were best friends. I just
felt so numb all the time, and he was always there whenever I cried. I felt like I owed him something.
The relationship was just getting more toxic. Finally on my birthday a year later, he called me early in the
morning telling me he was going to date his friend Allison. I said that's fine but if he makes the choice,
he can't go back. I won't be the other women, allow him to cheat and enable it. We didn't talk for a
while. I loathed myself even more. He repeatedly still asked and begged me, told me how before I liked
it. I refused, too ashamed to say that I only pretended, just curled into myself. I almost went to an out of
state college because he went there and told me to apply. Badgered me into applying.
He used to tell me how a girl at school made up a story that he assaulted her and told the principal. He
explained how his parents defended him and that she just hated him because he was dating her friend. I
still can’t blame him, because I feel like that girl. Even now as I write this, I imagine him reading it and
feeling the blame. Him crying saying it was my fault, and everyone blaming me for his pain.
I never used the words abuse when I thought of George and Ethan. I didn't tell anyone what I did, what
happened in the relationships. I still can't use that word out loud. I feel like a sham, a liar when I put
myself in the category of abuse victim, because I still blame myself. I wake up and it takes everything in
me not to hate the reflection in the mirror. I can't stand people whispering in my ear, because it reminds
me of what was too much and I get sick. I decided to send this email, because a friend from ISU finally
got me to open up. She was the first person to say "it's not your fault", maybe because she is the first
and only person who knows my whole story.
It's hard for me to organize my story, and put everything to words. There are blanks where there should
be story, and long sentences because I keep puking out my words in a rush to get them out. I block out
so much, but remember even more. I've taken steps to tell my story, but it's hard when you don't have
the words to explain or describe it.
Every day, I wake up, look in the mirror and blame myself. I hate the reflection I see, the damage I can’t
undo. Sometimes I hate her so much I have to stop myself from breaking the mirror. I tell everyone I
have photos, because I don’t want to see myself in them. I just see
I don't call it abuse most days because I am still disgusted with who I am. I can tell any other girl in the
world it isn’t her fault, but not the one that looks back at me every day. I don’t know what I wanted the
end result of this letter to be. I only had two ways in which it could go; either someone would make me
feel validated about calling my story abuse, or someone would make me feel that I was the guilty one
and the fault is my own.
I’ve edited this letter more times than I can count. I have so many other letters, poems, lyrics to
unfinished songs, like this one. But all of these still don’t help the pain, still don’t stop tears from falling
down my face every time I think of the past. This letter is almost 2,000 words, but how many more
words until l stop feeling guilty, stop blaming myself?