My name is Brittany, and I don’t want to tell you my last name. I was a victim of a psychologically abusive relationship. I met a guy who idolized me. He showered me with affection. Made me feel great about myself. Made me feel powerful. A few months later, it started. The threats. The jealousy. The talking down to me. Threatening me and my belongings. At first, I hoped that this was just a bad month, and that he would go back to being the sweet, caring guy I knew from before. But I learned that it doesn’t work that way. Last week I stumbled across an article that explained the “cycle” of narcissistic relationships: Idealize, Devalue, Discard.

These words could not ring more true. Less than a year ago, I was a confident, ambitious, optimistic millennial, who loved leadership roles and speaking in front of crowds. I was outgoing, compassionate and tried my hardest to make everyone around me smile. Fast forward to today. I spent months being devalued by him publicly. When it didn’t seem like his words were making a dent in me privately, he turned to social media and the internet in hopes that other people would devalue me too. When you google my name, you can see my accomplishments. My name is tied to volunteer associations I’ve worked with. You may see some of my accomplishments at the jobs I have worked hard to succeed in. You’ll also see the things he has posted.

I get messages almost every day from friends and colleagues warning me about the negative comments they’ve found online associated with my name. I am also reminded by these friends and colleagues that I am a “wonderful person”, or “a really nice girl” and that they know without me telling them, that what he has written is untrue. But still, I hesitate when a colleague asks my name. I hesitate when I’m invited to speak at an event. I am fearful that the new contacts I make at work, in school, or in my volunteer jobs will Google my name. Because when they do, they’ll find what he posted about me. And that gives him power over me once again.

I am ashamed that I could be made to feel like a victim. I am ashamed that I gave him the power to make me scared of him. The strong, ambitious, and hard-working leader that I was always proud to be, became a victim. I hate that word. But I have learned from my experiences. And every day, I get a little bit stronger. Every day, I am a little bit less ashamed to tell people my name. The World Wide Web may not allow you to remove slanderous, defammatory, or untrue posts from the internet. But it will allow you to share your story. To help others understand that sometimes staying is worse than leaving, if you are involved in an unhealthy relationship. And that jealous behaviours, threats and extreme rage are not okay in any relationship.