My phone buzzed as Brandon, 16, sent me a message.
Please let me take you to dinner? it read.
My heart fluttered.
I'd met Brandon through mutual friends and we'd been chatting on Facebook for the past few weeks.
You're beautiful, he messaged, making me swoon.
My parents were strict Christians and said I couldn't date until I was 18, so I kept Brandon a secret.
"Just going to a friend's," I told Mum, before sneaking off to meet Brandon.
Brandon was charming and treated me like a princess.
Soon enough, we became a couple.
Eventually I told Mum and Dad, but they weren't happy.
"You're too young for boys," Mum said.
But nothing was going to stop me from being with Brandon.
We were in love.
One night, around two months into our relationship, I had a fight with Mum.
Furious, I packed a bag of clothes and ran to Brandon's.
He lived with his parents and three siblings.
I planned to stay just a few nights, but ended up moving in permanently.
In time, I started to notice how short Brandon's temper was.
He'd fly off the handle at the smallest things.
He also controlled who I could see, getting angry if I saw my parents or mates.
He got into a huge fight with his parents on our six-month anniversary.
I hung out with his sister Natasha in the living room, trying to ignore the shouting.
Suddenly, Brandon came storming through the door and his fist went flying at my face.
"Why would you hit her?!" screamed Natasha.
Brandon promptly burst into tears. "I'm sorry, please forgive me," he cried.
Seeing him so upset made me feel like the guilty one.
"It's okay, don't worry," I said.
I thought it was a one-off but it only got worse.
Whenever he was in a mood, he'd take it out on me.
I tried to leave him but was scared and felt trapped.
And the controlling got worse.
Brandon forced me to leave my school and go to his instead.
"I don't want you speaking to other boys," he snapped.
He constantly pressured me to have sex, but I was a virgin and didn't feel ready.
One night, about a year into our relationship, I turned him down once again.
He punched me in the face, pushed me to the floor and got on top of me.
Then he placed a hand over my mouth. "We're doing it anyway," he spat.
I tried to scratch at Brandon to get him off me, but he just punched me and ripped my shorts and bra apart.
I winced in pain as he forced himself in me.
"If you loved me, you wouldn't do this," I sobbed.
Eventually I said I needed to go to the bathroom.
I ran to the spare room, wedging a crutch under the door handle so he couldn't get in.
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The next day, he followed me around the house, apologising.
"Leave me alone," I said.
He started punching the wall, saying, "You're going to leave me, aren't you?"
I was scared so I said I'd give him another chance.
But he continued to control my life.
He checked my phone constantly.
If I got up in the middle of the night to get a drink, he'd be up too, following me to the kitchen.
I started messaging Mum and deleting the messages before Brandon saw them.
Together we came up with an escape plan.
I told Brandon I missed my mum and wanted to spend a few days with her.
"It's only two nights and I'll be back after," I lied.
He reluctantly agreed to it.
The night before I planned to go, I woke up to find him on top of me, holding me down.
He had one hand held tightly around my neck and the other pulling my pants down.
He raped me again.
The next morning he apologised. "I'm sorry, it was a one-off. I was horny," he said.
I couldn't wait for Mum to get me. When I got home, I sent him a message.
I'm breaking up with you, I never want to see you again.
He flooded my phone with calls and texts, but I turned it off.
At times he would beg for me back, writing he "pinky promised" to never rape me again and that he'd do anything to win me back.
Other times he sent nasty messages, calling me a "rape doll" and "fat useless piece of s**t".
I took screenshots of every message and went to the police, who opened a case against him.
Meanwhile, I met a new guy called Adam. It was great for a while but when things got a bit rocky, I reached out to Natasha.
She told me to come over to chat. Brandon was in the house when I arrived but left for a mate's house shortly afterwards.
Natasha and I chatted for ages and I ended up staying in the spare room.
The next day, I hung out with her all day again.
We'd been close once so it was great to catch up with her.
That night, I went back to the spare room to sleep.
But in the middle of the night I woke to find Brandon on top of me, raping me.
Screaming Natasha's name, I pushed Brandon off me and got out of the bed.
She ran in.
"Leave her alone!" she shouted as I sobbed.
He went crazy, punching the walls and shouting.
I went straight to the police.
They asked me to call Brandon and get him to admit to what he'd done so they could record it.
"I want to know why you raped me?" I asked him.
"I was horny… I shouldn't have done it," he replied. "I just got overwhelmed and really wanted to have sex."
It was enough for police to charge him with sexual intercourse without consent.
He pleaded not guilty but on the day of the trial he changed it to guilty.
My 'perfect' boyfriend was jailed for a maximum of three years with a non-parole period of 18 months.
From prison, he wrote me a letter apologising for his actions, but I didn't believe a word of it.
I'm now back with Adam and it feels so good to be in a normal, happy relationship.
I'm glad Brandon's in prison but his sentence isn't long enough.
I'm certain when he's released he will re-offend.
I'm telling my story because I want girls to beware of Brandon, and others like him.
It's never okay for your boyfriend to control you or hit you. And it's never okay for them to rape you.
Be strong and get help.
Don't suffer like I did.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) for help and guidance.
If you'd like to find out more about domestic violence head to White Ribbon Australia.
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