“Looking back I would have never thought he would be what I learned him to be.”
Abuse is real and there are real people going through very real abusive experiences every day.
This especially moving story gives traction to what we already know to be true. Abuse can happen to anyone at any time, especially if they ignore the warning signs.
Nicole Lewis (names have been changed due to the sensitivity of the topic) was an early graduate from high school. After graduating she decided to move her church records from her Latter-day Saint home ward to her LDS singles ward.
She had intended on serving a mission and not dating at all. Her first week at church, her bishop told her there was a temple night. She went in hopes of meeting new people and making new friends in her new ward.
As she sat in the waiting room of the temple, she saw him. He was looking at her.
“Looking back I would have never thought he would be what I learned him to be. He looked clean cut, respectful, and generally kind,” Lewis said.
He introduced himself as Simon and didn’t hesitate to get to know her. At the conclusion of the temple session, he met her in the coatroom and talked with her for a few minutes, after which he asked her for a ride home.
“When we got to his house, he gave me his phone number. I was star struck. In that moment, I thought over my choice to want to serve a mission because I was sure that he was who I was suppose to be with,” Lewis said.
After a full night of text messages, they began to spend days together. After just a few days, Lewis felt as if she knew everything about him.
He seemed good enough. When they attended their first sacrament together, he passed it. He participated in class and loved the doctrine of the church.
After church, they attended the Munch and Mingle social with the rest of the ward. After dishing up, Lewis went to go sit by Simon.
Simon told her that the seat next to him was for his friend and that the rest of the table was being saved.
Lewis was completely confused.
After the event, Simon asked Lewis for a ride home. When she refused, he lashed out. He gossiped with his friend about the “poop-colored” dress she was wearing. He called her rude and said he wouldn’t waste his time on her anyway.
That night, he text messaged her apologizing and explained that he was just having a rough day. Lewis was quick to forgive him and they made plans to see each other.
When she arrived at his house, they planned to watch a movie but he only available television was in his bedroom.
She figured that would be okay. She could trust him and could trust herself, especially if the door remained open.
She woke up the next morning on his bed at around 11a.m. wearing nothing but socks. Simon stood over her. She quickly covered up but her head was pounding.
Her headache made it difficult for her to balance when she stood and she realized she couldn’t remember a thing about what had happened the night before.
When she searched for her phone, Simon explained that if she wanted it back, she would have to apologize for not doing as he asked the night before.
As she drove home, her head was spinning. She was still trying to fit the pieces together when she arrived home.
As her concerned and worried mother quizzed her on her whereabouts, they both discovered a large bruise on the back of Lewis’s neck.
“She excused me from the room, and I went downstairs to take a shower. As I was showering, I was trying to put the pieces together. I was interrupted by my phone, which seemed to be on full blast,” Lewis said.
She knew who it was.
He asked her how she was doing. He explained that she had felt sick the night before, so he had given her some Nyquil to make her feel better.
She didn’t believe it for a second.
She decided to go to the hospital where she discovered that he had, in fact, raped her.
She was devastated. She felt her value had been shattered. Someone she thought cared about her had violated her virtue.
The nightmare continued as she secluded herself from everyone. She called in sick to work for several days and became completely inactive in church.
After about a week, her best friend called.
When Lewis answered, she was crying.
Simon had raped her as well.
After deciding to involve others and expose Simon, Lewis received a voicemail from him.
He told her that if she told anyone, he would tell him or her that it was consensual and that she wanted it.
“Of course, he was not aware of the fact that I had gone to the hospital, and now my friend had too. But out of scare, we decided not to contact anyone,” Lewis said.
She told herself she would never be able to serve a mission, so her inactivity in the church continued and Simon remained unexposed.
Months later, she was invited by a friend to go to the ward campout. Her friend explained that though she would not be able to attend, her brother would give Lewis a ride to the campground.
Six months later, she married him. They’re little family was sealed in the temple and they lived happily ever after.
Unfortunately, not everyone receives such a happy ending.
Lewis advises people who start a relationship to keep an eye out for certain warning signs. “If you have a partner or boyfriend or even a girlfriend and they don’t do anything to try to win family over or to respect you in front of others then there is definitely a problem.
“One of the biggest warning signs to me looking back was the fact that he met my family for days in and he did absolutely nothing to impress them or make them feel like they could trust him around me,” Lewis said.
Recognizing respect is one of the best ways to detect whether someone will treat you the way you should be treated for the rest of your life.
“Things like respect are huge in a marriage. If he isn’t making an effort to show love to you or to make others feel comfortable around him then there is really a problem,” Lewis said.
Women and men around the globe suffer from abuse and it can begin anywhere and at any time. But the sharing of stories can help it become easier to detect and hopefully combat.