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Two months into their relationship, Chris's boyfriend José pushed him to the ground in a fit of anger and ripped the clothes off his body."We had gone out dancing, and when we got home, I was changing in front of him," said Chris, 34."I had on my favorite pair of underwear; it was the pair I had worn the first time we went out.
He loomed above Chris on the floor as he tore the underwear away.That was the first time things had ever turned violent between the two."I was in such a state of shock," Chris recounted seven years later, his fingers tapping at a wine glass stem and his brown eyes drifting."I thought, 'Oh, he's just jealous; it's the drinking,' and I let it go. No drugs, but lots of drinking."The second time was worse."He was angry at something—I can't remember what—and I was laughing," said Chris.José again became incensed, strode into the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife."He pulled me by my hair, had me on my knees and had the butcher knife at my neck."Chris says he didn't react.
At the time, his sister was pregnant, and he wanted to live to see his niece. I put my hand on his, and we put the knife back in place together," said Chris, demonstrating by holding his two hands together.
That night, José locked their bedroom door for fear that Chris would escape and tell someone.
The next morning, he told Chris, "You know I didn't mean it, right?
""That was his way of apologizing to me," Chris scoffed.
The relationship lasted nine months, but continued to affect Chris for years after it ended.***Sam, 25, describes himself as having been "naive and impressionable," during the time he was dating David.
"He's not a stupid person," Sam told me over Skype.