My personal experience with Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

My personal experience with Bad Romance by Heather DemetriosBad Romance June 13, 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 369
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

This is probably going to get really personal and very emotional for me, please bear with me.

Bad Romance is a book every young girl should read. Bad Romance is a book every mother of a young girl should read. Hell, every mother of a young boy should read it. It should be read as a cautionary tale of what so, so many young couples go through and we should all be aware of the signs.

It would be easy to say that Bad Romance is the story of Grace, a high school student with a hard home life who falls into a destructive relationship and is emotionally abused by her boyfriend. It is that story. But it’s more. It’s also the story of Gavin. An emotionally troubled teen who charms and manipulates his way through life, avoiding the professional care he desperately needs.  That part of this story was very hard for me to come to terms with. Here’s why.

This is not a subject I’ve ever easily broached. Especially not publicly. Why? Because 25 years later, I’m still ashamed of the girl I was.

I was Grace.

At sixteen I entered into a relationship with a shy, quirky skater boy. He was beloved by his friends, he had great parents who showed me nothing but adoration and kindness and by all accounts…he was a great guy. He started out as a great guy.

I grew up in a somewhat strict home life, I didn’t have the freedom so many of my friends did. But my parents trusted this guy. Trusted him to take care of me, to look out for me, to care for me and they allowed me more freedom because of it. Which only made me love him more.

As time went on though, the great guy became more and more jealous. Possessive. Controlling. Slowly I lost most of my friends. I was only ‘allowed’ certain ones. I was a drama girl, like Grace, preferring roles behind the scenes. That role eventually dwindled as well because he wasn’t part of that life and why would I want to do an activity, any activity, without him?

My life became another set of rules, only this time they weren’t my parents rules, they were his. If I didn’t comply he became morose, depressed, and would lay on a heavy guilt trip about me not loving him as much as he loved me.

About half way into our relationship I received a phone call from an ex boyfriend. Someone who had played a pivotal role in my life. He called to tell me his little brother had committed suicide. His girlfriend had broken up with him and he was so emotionally unstable over it that he went to her house and shot himself in her front yard.

I should have been there for him. He had just lost his brother in a horrific way and he called me. But, this was someone I was not ‘allowed’ to talk to. I wasn’t there for this person. I was too scared to be there for him. Years later, he forgave me for that. I still have not forgiven myself. I don’t think I ever can.

Things between me and my boyfriend escalated after that. His depression every time we fought, which was a lot, became tainted with talk of suicide. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “I’ll kill myself if you leave me”. It was his trump card. The one sure thing he had to keep me in line. And it worked for another year and a half. It worked through the emotional abuse and manipulation. It worked when that all changed to physical violence. And yet, I stayed. I knew the toll suicide took on loved ones. I wouldn’t be responsible for that. His life was in my hands. You couldn’t convince me it wasn’t.

He even had a way of charming our friends. Every fight was my fault, in their eyes. Even they would guilt me into staying for fear of his self-harm. He was the king of mind games.

Until one day, that guy I wasn’t allowed to talk to called again. Just to check in, as it had been so long since we last talked. While chatting he asked me something that I’ll never forget. “Who the fuck are you?” That question changed my life. This was someone I had not seen in years. Had barely spoken to in years. Yet he knew. He knew my life was wrong.

By this time, I was 19 and had been living in this Hell for three years. I was a husk of a person. I wasn’t Ali. I was just his girlfriend. I was the girl that did what he wanted, listened to only the music he liked, only liked the food he liked, only liked the people he liked.

But I couldn’t let that question go. “Who the fuck are you?”

So I made a plan. I broke up with him on a Friday, over the phone, right before I left work and I ran to a friend’s house for the weekend. She lived a few towns away and he didn’t know where or how to contact her. I called my parents and asked them not to tell him anything. I knew he’d call them, show up at my house, beg them…he did. They had no idea what was happening. I never let on. His abuse was my secret shame.

Leaving him was not easy and his abuse didn’t end after that weekend. There were still phone calls and attempts to see me. And there was still one more attempt at his sure fire ‘suicide’ tactic. I ended up at his house to make sure he was really okay. He was. Of course, he was. I still ended up with a fist to the face for my efforts.

It was over, though. For good. I left. It was so hard and scary but I did it. Not knowing who I was, what my future held anymore…I had given up any dream I had before him.

I hated him for years. Some part of me still does, for the girl he turned me into. I somehow can’t let go of all of that hate, for her sake. However, Bad Romance changed my outlook. Gavin is so much like this guy was and makes you realize that there are so many in the world like that. It’s a disease. He needed help just as much as I did and nobody ever even tried to get that for him. It was never MY responsibility to keep him alive though. That was his job. 

I guess I feel a little like I’ve come full circle from reading this book. It’s made me see things about myself that I never wanted to look at. It’s made me see things about him that I never wanted to see. It’s let me forgive myself a little more. All these years later and I didn’t even know I still needed it.

So. Thank you Heather Demetrios for writing a story that needed to be written. For all the people who have been there, are there or are about to be there. I hope it enlightens some readers. Helps them see the signs of abuse, as sometimes it’s very quiet and well hidden. Also, I hope it helps others heal, as it did me. 

 


  • Tiffany Johnson

    Wow. Thank you for the review and your story. This one definitely just went on my list. Stay strong, stay brave.

  • <3 Thanks for sharing the strong impact Bad Romance had on you personally, and how it allowed you to come full circle, Ali. I hope you have forgiven YOURSELF. *hugs*


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