This Fall marked the start of my senior year at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. I’m a psychology major, and also a health and wellness educator at my school. My story is one that defies most people’s pre-conceived notions about relationship abuse – not only because of my gender but also because of my sexuality. My name is Taylor Anderson and I am the man with the One Love tattoo.
My first experience with One Love was an Escalation Workshop with fellow classmates in the health and wellness group. At the time, I knew that I wasn’t in the best relationship, but I had no idea how dangerous my situation really was. My partner at the time was an unpredictable and angry person, and going through the workshop really hit home hard. For the first time, I saw my own relationship played out on a screen and labeled as abuse. Like a lot of people in unhealthy relationships, I was hesitant to end things with my partner – the thought of it made me nervous, scared and, well, we lived together. Despite the barriers I saw to leaving my relationship, I finally drew the courage to leave. Little did I know that what would happen when I tried to end things.
For others who have been in relationships like mine, I want them to know that it’s okay. I want them to know that abuse can happen to anyone and that they shouldn’t be scared or ashamed to come forward. All it takes is one person to change a life and that is really all I can hope to do.
We were almost an hour away from our apartment when an argument started because I told him that I was ready to move on from our relationship. He disagreed, and in retaliation, my partner left me stranded in a distant town with no means of getting home. I asked a friend to pick me up, and I called my mother before I got back to the apartment because I knew something bad was going to happen when I saw him. By the time I made it home, I was really fed up. “This is it” I thought, “It’s over.” I had enough of my partner’s behavior, and planned to end things for good, whether or not he agreed with me. When I got to the apartment he was there waiting for me. I told him that he had to leave for good, and that’s when things took a very dark turn. He started to strangle me. I tried to grab a bottle on the table – it was a handle – and hit him in the knee to get him to back off. But before I could do that, he snatched the bottle from me. My struggle for self-defense enraged him even more, and he hit me on the head with the bottle then used it to slice me across the chest. He fled the scene, leaving me alone and in a horrible state. Concerned for my safety, my mother, who lived a state away in Connecticut, had driven to come get me. By the time she arrived, I was passed out on my bed and losing blood. She immediately took me to the hospital, where doctors gave me ample stitches and diagnosed a severe concussion.
In the aftermath, I never spoke to him again. He never reached out to see if I was okay; he simply walked out and never looked back. Things between us were finally over, and I was left with not only serious physical wounds, but also emotional trauma. In the midst of all this, I found the strength to move forward. This all happened at the same time I was learning about One Love – you find out who your true friends are after something like this. I found solace in One Love, and being involved with the foundation has helped me in my healing process. I have since used my experience to teach about the prevalence of relationship abuse and help others out of unhealthy situations.
After the incident, I took my involvement with One Love to a deeper level. I’ve helped push One Love to all resident halls, ensuring that each student sees Escalation at least once, and started sharing the Couplet campaigns on campus. Ultimately, I want people to open their eyes and start talking about relationship abuse. Once people get talking and find others that are passionate about it, that is how you start to change things. I also hope to find like-minded individuals who are willing to step up and speak out against abuse, particularly those in the LGBTQ community. A lot of times people look at relationship abuse as a straight issue and a women’s issue, but I want to change this. I want to not only break the mold of what people usually think when it comes to relationship abuse, but also prevent others from the dangers of intimate partner violence.
This past summer, I decided to get the One Love heart tattooed on my arm. For me, tattoos have always provided an outlet to heal from the past. Getting the tattoo helped me reconcile my past experience with relationship abuse and I chose the One Love heart because it is something deeply personal that helped me heal. Looking back on the incident, I am so grateful to have survived relationship violence. I hope that my experience helps others come forward about abuse. For others who have been in relationships like mine, I want them to know that it’s okay. I want them to know that abuse can happen to anyone and that they shouldn’t be scared or ashamed to come forward. All it takes is one person to change a life and that is really all I can hope to do.