How do you go from being a victim to a survivor? From a victim to a fighter? How do you turn fear into something useful, like the motivation to help others in similar situations? How do you turn pain into strength? It’s something I struggled with for months, and still struggle with today. Seven months ago I abandoned life as I knew it for an intangible fantasy; a false hope. I was naive and didn’t--or couldn’t--see the evils of the world, what people would do in order to take advantage of others, just how manipulative people will become. I left my sheltered life in Utah on the morning of March 8th, 2012, and took a Greyhound bus 900 miles to a town only 20 miles south of Canada: Bellingham, Washington. Even from the first day I arrived, pieces of the perfect fantasy began to fall away, slowly revealing a far different picture than one that the man I thought I knew had painted for me. And yet I held on, hoping for something I could never have: a delusional fantasy. To this day I regret being so gullible, so easy to mislead. I dated not only a master manipulator, but a liar and a sex addict. I dated a man whose brain had been mercilessly warped by prolonged drug use, to the point where he was incapable of having a normal relationship with anyone. This man, Theo Keyes, led me to believe I was his incorruptible angel, his one and only celestial being to be set up on a pedestal for all to admire, but slowly that facade fell away and all I became was a sex toy for him to dress up and show off to not only men but women. I was an object of lust for him. He treated me as his possession: isolated me from the world, making me wear sunglasses both inside and outside to mask my eyes in case I should give or receive some subliminal message of love to or from anyone else. I was forbidden to speak to anyone he thought would corrupt me: especially the female population of Bellingham, who he stereotyped as dykes, fearing they were ready to turn me into a man-hating feminist. I was also expected to be silent in public, in case anyone should hear my voice, hear how naive I was, and rape me.
This is only scratching the surface of Theo’s possessive tendencies. It was something I didn’t realize until he started behaving this way frequently enough to develop a pattern. The first week or week and a half, he masked his behavior. It wasn’t until after that when his true colors bled through the disguise.
I subjected myself to hell for two months, not only praying (sometimes many times a day) that it would “work out”, but lying to myself, my family and friends that my situation was acceptable. Theo and I lived off his Social Security income (he claims to be disabled), which was roughly $800 a month, supplemented only by food stamps. We were kicked out of two apartments within the span of three weeks and were left living, homeless, in a tent for all but the last week of our relationship. No one should have to live their life constantly under the thumb of another, fearing every action could earn them a reprimand or lecture from their partner. This is why I’m choosing to tell my story: both to help others avoid the same situation and to tear down the world Theo Keyes has so carefully constructed.