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Waiting on Love

Scarlet de Lemeny

I've always been the girl that friends came to for help with their relationships. Pointing out red flags and holding my friends' hands through their breakups, I was like a human record player that only spouted out "You deserve better!" "It's his loss!" "Take time to love yourself." I was a walking billboard for women's empowerment and self-love. So why didn't I see the signs when I, myself, was in an abusive relationship?

Growing up, I always had a strong sense of self. I was born in London, England and moved to Boston, Massachusetts with my family as a child. Early on I realized my love for music, writing, and fashion. Music became a great outlet for me to express myself. I started writing poetry as soon as I could write, and began setting some of my poems to music, sparking my love of songwriting. Fashion had become yet another outlet of self-expression and a fascination of mine, and like music, it was original and exciting.

During high school, I immersed myself in my passions. I was writing songs almost every day, working on writing a book of poetry and essays, and styling my friends and working in retail stores after school. By my junior year I decided to pursue song writing further and go to Berklee College of Music. Fast forward, and I get into Berklee. I recognized that I was at a vulnerable time in my life. I had graduated high school, my parents had recently divorced, I had moved out of my childhood home, and had gone off to college. Pretty soon into my freshman year, I met a guy. We had gone on a few dates, and I was starting to really like him. He was good looking, confident, smart, and more importantly: he really liked me. As a freshman in college, feeling a little alone, the attention felt good. To be totally honest, there were some red flags at first. After only a few dates, he told me we were an exclusive couple, and that we shouldn't be seeing other people. I wasn't seeing other people, so I didn't think much of it and I brushed it aside. As I hadn't really had a serious boyfriend in the past, I read his controlling tendencies as passion. It seems so obviously wrong now, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

Photo of article author

I grew up watching LifeTime TV movies about abusive relationships, and I didn't see myself as one of their stereotypical 'victims'; usually a shy girl wearing a sweater-vest who never spoke up. With that image in my head, and seeing myself as this strong, empowered young woman, any time my boyfriend would say or do something that seemed like a red flag, I brushed it aside and thought 'This couldn't happen to me.' That facade faded pretty quickly when after only a few months of dating he was asking to read my texts, to prove to him where I was and who I was with, and wanted a 'final say' on my outfit choices. It became clear that this was the beginning of a truly abusive relationship with the potential to get much worse. With the support of my friends and family, I ended it. It was overwhelming. Not the breakup, strangely enough. To me, what overwhelmed me was the fact that I, someone who helped her friends in their relationships, had missed the warning signs in her own relationship. Maybe I just didn't want to see it. Who knows? But what I did know was I was not someone who was going to be a victim, or stay a victim.

I began educating myself on the topic and educating my friends on the warning signs of abusive relationships. That is when I found the incredible organization Break the Cycle. Break The Cycle supports young people ages 12-24 to build healthy relationships, and create a culture without abuse. They provide teen-specific violence prevention training and education.

Photo of a group from Break the Cycle

Immediately I reached out, wanting to learn more and get involved. With the support of BTC, and inspired by so many young people's stories of their relationships, I wrote "That's Not Love": a song and video project raising awareness about teen dating abuse.

Now, 2 years out of college, I am still writing music and working in fashion, now running the Boston branch for a prominent women-founded fashion startup from New York City. I am still very much (maybe even more now) a promoter of women's empowerment, confidence and self-love, while also educating young people on healthy relationships. My relationship status you might ask? Well, I am currently building a pretty cool girl-power life for myself, so to share that with someone, they need to be pretty awesome. So call me picky, but I'm waiting for something great.