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But the terrifying tipping point came when Courtney discovered Noll's emails and confronted him. "I had about her, like I'd told tales out of school or something.
This was an atom bomb in our relationship." Noll adds that he felt guilty for hurting her so deeply. Talking about these awful experiences was breaking the code of silence around the relationship, so in the logic of this relationship, she had the right to be broken and devastated." It wasn't until his parents intervened that Noll articulated he was being abused.
You're dumb, you're a dunce, and she just knows more [about feelings]," he admits.
It's easy for Noll to look back now and see the trajectory of emotional and verbal abuse that led to physical battering, but at the time, Courtney's behavior and words convinced him that the problem was his alone.
He felt compelled to help Courtney with her emotional instability.
"I believed if I could be good enough, that I could help put things together and help manage this very unmanageable person," he says.
She continued the verbal and emotional abuse, and the physical violence persisted.
"A relationship like that warps your thinking," he says. One of the first episodes of battering occurred as the couple was preparing their wedding invitations."She could go and go and go and beat you down until you're suddenly on your knees, crying and apologizing, and you don't even know why." Noll's social ties were effectively cut, and he was alone.He knew his marriage wasn't healthy, but he continued to feel the weight of responsibility: "I was very focused on being an upright, 'good guy.'" Increasingly, however, Noll couldn't write off Courtney's attacks.When Jacob Noll* was growing up in the Midwest, he could never have imagined he would experience domestic violence. There were no big family problems that would have given me some kind of a window into how dark the world can be." Yet Noll spent several years in such darkness after falling in love with Courtney, a woman he met online."I was a straight, white guy in a normal, small town that kind of catered to people like me," he says wryly. Courtney was a year older than Noll, and from the start, he was enchanted by her presence online.