Internet Time Machine

How Twitter Helped Me Realize I Was in an Abusive Marriage

My ex had made my world smaller, but my online friends still got through

Audrey Zetta
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readFeb 11, 2019

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Photo: Sohl/E+/Getty Images

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

ItIt was 2008, and I had just joined Twitter. Although I’d joined to promote my retail business, I soon realized the social media platform could also connect me to other people. At the time, I was living in a rural area in a tiny Midwest town and had many acquaintances, but few true friends. On Twitter, fast friendships could be formed with people from all over the world. In fact, one of these Twitter friendships changed the course of my life.

Although it was over 10 years ago, I remember it vividly. My husband and I were in a hotel room during a weekend getaway. He was watching TV, and I was discussing weekend plans with my Twitter friends. One of my friends in California was going to a swingers event to cover it for a local online publication. She didn’t plan on participating; she was just going to interview people and soak up the ambiance of this adult party.

“Wow, your husband will let you do that?” I asked.

My friend replied: “LOL, what do you mean ‘let’?”

A series of disjointed tweets followed (this was back in the days of 140-character limits) as she and I discussed further, with other friends chiming in with their own perspectives.

I explained my confusion. Wasn’t marriage supposed to be a partnership? And in a good partnership, wouldn’t you ask your husband before going to a party where you could potentially see people interacting sexually? Just a few months prior, my husband hadn’t even let me go to a bar with women from my tap-dancing class.

I started realizing that I didn’t have real-life friends because my husband subtly, and not-so-subtly, discouraged it.

My friend Kerri explained that she always told her husband her plans, and if he had any issues, they would discuss it. But he couldn’t prohibit her from going anywhere.

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Audrey Zetta
Human Parts

Feminist, dirty liberal, thoughtful absurdist. I store miracles in words.