When I decided to write this blog, I knew I wanted to be open about certain experiences. I am going to share with you some of my experience as a survivor of an abusive relationship. I hope it will be cathartic but also maybe someone reading this with similar demons can invite hope over for a couple of gin and tonics and a box set. It was a long time ago. I’ve had alot of therapy. I’m ok with it.
I met him in a nightclub. It was a spontaneous decision to go. Last minute and one I will always regret. He was tall and dark and in some lights quite good looking. When he held me I felt protected and cared for. Feelings I craved. The lighting was dim. The music loud. I was drunk and he was liberal with the compliments. He told me I was ‘one of a kind’.
One thing people always ask is ‘why would you stay?’. This is why:
An abusive relationship is like a capsule of slow release power and control which is administered by the perpetrator with a glass of soul destroying, tragic loss of the person you were. The person I was at the start of this relationship was a polar opposite of the person who left 5 years later. You are never the same.
Nobody goes into a relationship thinking it will turn into one of the worst experiences of your life. It took months and months of him chipping away at my layers of self confidence for him to get me where he needed me to be.
I remember like it was minutes ago, the first sign: I worked behind a bar and he met me after work and took me aside and told me that the clothes I wore were too tarty and I would draw attention from other men. I thought he was joking. This kind of attitude was alien to me. I had always been who I wanted to be and wore what I liked. When he drank he was like a different person. He had a short fuse and was quick to use his fists. The first time he hit me was because I did his head in. I saw stars. You know like you see in cartoons, when Tom hits Jerry with a frying pan? I remember thinking at the time’its not just in cartoons, its an actual thing’. I was in such a state of disbelief. We had been together for a few months and up til that point he had really been good to me. As the old cliche goes, after the act came the remorse: The I love you’s. It wont happen again because I love you and I’m so sorry and its just the drink…..slowly I was isolated from friends and family because ‘we didn’t need anyone else’.
Do you ever have those dreams where you are shouting for help but nothing comes out? That’s abit what it’s like. Normality goes on around you. Your friends drift further away, exasperated by the rejected invitations and how much you’ve changed since you got a boyfriend. Inside I was pleading for someone to come and rescue me but I did not dare to make that reality.
He told my I was fat, I was disgusting, and I was put on a diet, told when and what to eat. I hid chocolate biscuits in the bathroom and binge ate when I could. An act of defiance. He forced me to eat meat even though I had been vegetarian since I was 8 years old. He made me wear clothes I detested: Short skirts, high heels, trashy jewellery. I was a trophy. I was expected to behave in certain ways. I remember one new years eve I was standing by the bar in a nightclub we were in. He told me I looked miserable and I needed to look like I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t. He hit me and I stumbled over. People were staring at me, someone helped me up. He marched me out clutching my hair. I was at a low that I cant explain. I had become the person I always said I never would. I was controlled; every move and every word and financially, because he took my money.
I was in this relationship for five years. It took me nearly a year of that time to break away. He had just about moved into my flat and I was pretty much a prisoner. He took my money, he had isolated me from everyone and everything that was precious to me. I had no self esteem, no confidence, no-one. All I had was him. Him and a perpetual cycle of fear. Fear as to what mood he would be in when he got home. The final straw came when I found him in bed with his sisters’ best friend at a party and he told me it was my fault. I ran and ran but he caught up with me and assaulted me in the street Something woke up inside my head and went in and dragged out that last bit of fight I had. I moved out and left him in my flat.
I was plagued with phone calls. Drunken late night threats. He said he would always find me . I locked myself in the new house for three weeks with the curtains shut, terrified he would try and get in. I truly felt like my life was over. But then I got up one day and went out and enrolled for an access course. It truly saved me. I will never know where I got that inner strength from but it was truly sink or swim and I chose some serious synchronised moves!
Eventually I had to get an injunction to stop the harassment, I was so programmed, he had got into my psyche so deeply that I actually felt sorry for him.
Weirdly I never saw or heard from him again until a few years ago when I saw him walking near where I live. For a moment I froze and my memory told me that he had said he would find me and he had. My more rational mind told me that he couldn’t hurt me anymore. A battle ensued between logic and the scared me inside.
A few weeks later I was driving and he was pulling out of a side road. ‘Stupid bitch’ he shouted. He didn’t know it was me but I knew it was him and the coincidence of that situation freaked me out! I felt like I was going mad for a while. Why would he be living nearby? Has he come to find me?
I’ve not seen him since. A very strange blip in reality! Maybe it was my guardian angel saying ‘see?It’s ok hun..’
I went onto work as a support worker for a domestic violence project and put my experiences to good use. For a year I trained probationary police officers in responding to domestic violence. Very healing and very humbling. It took so much strength and bloody mindedness to get back to me again. Not the same carefree and fun seeking me I was before, but not a bad version and I am very proud of how far I have come. Residual effects stick but I have also ended up being a very empathic person, I care deeply about people, animals, insects, polar bears, elephants….. and as they say, what doesnt kill you makes you stronger. Ok, I’m in two minds if to post this. Its a big deal for me, but i’m going to do it ……now….
dedicated to all the amazing women i met as a result of my own journey. I hope you went onto find the happiness you deservedxx