Domestic violence awareness: Abuse comes in all different forms

_April Federico_, _Herald Contributor_

There’s no doubt that a lot of people don’t believe in the #metoo movement. In fact, when it resurfaced in Fall 2017, I didn’t want to believe that my personal story was a part of it. Two years ago, I transferred to Roger Williams University from Saint Anselm College. Emotional abuse happens at Catholic schools too, contrary to popular belief.

It was the night of October 15, 2016. My then-boyfriend, “John Doe,” gaslighted me after a night together, saying he “didn’t want to talk about” why he had a bad night with me. Gaslighting, by definition, is when someone intentionally warps your perception of reality for their own personal gain. It didn’t quite help that I was intoxicated, which made me want to cry more that night, and wake up the next morning with the same amount of uncertainty. That morning in the dining hall, I wouldn’t let myself be gaslighted once more, so I pleaded to know what was wrong. As it turned out, he wasted my time, treated me badly and was an overall jerk to me because he never found me “sexually attractive.”

For weeks leading up to the event, he compared me to other girls and talked about talking to another girl whom he wound up dating very shortly after he and I broke up after a year of dating, because he thought she was “interesting.” There were other signs that I recognized. For example, that July we got dinner at Harry’s Burger Bar in Providence before a WaterFire event. He randomly brought up, “I get those ‘aha!’ moments when talking to other people [intellectually], but I don’t get that with you.” In other words, he called me unintelligent. He even yelled at me for playing Pokémon Go, when he was doing the exact same thing.

Two weeks after, in August, we were about to go to church in his hometown. He told me after I was left crying during the service because of his abnormal behavior, that he just wanted to lose weight after a disappointing doctor’s appointment. I told him I’d help him and he said, “good thing that worked out because we both need to lose weight.” Even on our one-year anniversary, he said he’d be watching how many chocolates I ate. He regulated everything I ate and didn’t trust me when I went to the coffee shop on campus. I often lied about what I ate and he often called my bluff. It’s almost comical because in May, I was writing for the Odyssey Online about my struggle with body image, and “John” assured me that he “loved me for who I am.”

Did he love me, though, or did he just want a butt to grab? More importantly, did he just want someone he could control like a Barbie doll? For a whole year, I thought he could be someone I relied on. However, his passive-aggressive mind games, him taking me for granted, causing anxiety (in me, someone who already has chronic anxiety) and his constant jealousy that I was doing something to benefit me made me realize that I couldn’t rely on him. Keep in mind, he was two years older than me, so he had plenty of time to get involved and better his own resume.

On October 20, 2016 I was released from the emotionally abusive relationship. Since then, I’ve endured post-traumatic stress, but I’ve also realized that I have more potential to find someone better than to be with someone who never saw my worth as a woman or a human being.

My name is April Federico, and this is my story.

If you or anyone you know is facing any type of emotional or physical abuse, here are some important resources:



National Domestic Violence Hotline (available 24/7): 1-800-799-7233 

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) crisis hotline: 800-656-HOPE (queer and trans affirming sexual assault hotline)



  • Bristol Police Department: (401) 253-6900 (24/7)
  • Day One Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center: (401) 421-4100


RWU Title IX Coordinator

Dr. Jen Stanley, Title IX Coordinator and Associate Dean | Contact: [email protected] or (401) 254-3123

Health Services: (401) 254-3156 | Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Counseling Center: (401) 254-3124 | Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Public Safety: (401) 254-3333 (24/7