It was June of 2010, when I came to the U.S.
At first, I stayed at my grandma’s house, in a small city near San Francisco. This were to only last for two months, though, until I was kicked out.
My grandma’s traditional, conservative Filipino values clashed with the more liberal, westernized principles I was raised with.
I suddenly found myself alone in a foreign country, with no relatives or friends and a new adventure lying ahead of me.
Stubborn by nature and determined to not give up on my plan, I made a choice: I would stay in the U.S. and work my way to my independence.
I was 19, scared, with no work experience or any sort of real life skills.
A kind Filipino guy, from my short circle of acquaintances, offered me to stay with him and his mom until I get a place of my own and in the meantime I got a job to pay my bills.
We ended up dating; a love choice that would prove to be even worse than the one that brought me to the U.S. in the first place.
Not very long into the relationship, I started noticing patterns.
It begun with him trying to change my wardrobe or drive me anywhere I wanted to go. But, soon after, it escalated to actual bullying.
He would have me followed when I was by myself and scare me with stories about how dangerous the city was and how I needed his constant protection.
For nine months I lived in fear, in a relationship which, on top of everything else, was verbally abusive. It took a while but I eventually found the courage to leave…and never looked back.
With the help of friends, I slowly got up on my own feet and started moving forward.
When I was ready to date again, I tried online dating.
My past experience had taught me I had to be more careful with my choices so this time I was trying to keep a safe distance before I jump into anything new.