A Grim Discovery

That person you thought you knew, is an abuser, you too were fooled by their manipulation and brainwashing behaviour.

Every time you saw them you thought they were a caring partner and to the outside world, they were but if only there were as caring behind closed doors.

I often wished that the other side of him I so often saw when he was around others; he would smile and just be so nice to them.  I would often pray for the day when he would treat me that way.

Many people knew what he was like with me but no one really spoke of it.  I think many just thought it was my fault for staying, not his fault for abusing me.

The grim discovery for me was his parents knew and never did anything to stop it.  If I dated to leave, I was called and told how he was a good lad really and I should give him another chance – which I always did.  Whenever I threw him out or left him, I was the bad one.  They condoned his behaviour but not mine. I often think about how I might have reacted if my son was an abuser.  I think I would be mortified, embarrassed and upset – so many emotions would be running through my veins.  I don’t think I could take it all in my stride without having a stern word or two!

His mum seemed to be his back bone and the only woman he loved and respected.  She still treated him like a baby – mothering him far too much, not letting him fully let go of those apron strings and it often felt as though there were actually three of us in the relationship, she knew more than I did about what was happening in our relationship.

Through the 3 years we were together I barely had a proper conversation with any of his family.  Maybe they thought as long as he’s with someone, he’s not our problem.

A grim discovery is often when you find out that people know what you were going through, yet never did anything to help you and by that I don’t mean getting directly involved.  All it takes is one anonymous call, especially if you see an assault actually taking place.

Ignorance isn’t always bliss.

I often found myself making excuses for his behaviour, sort of brushing it off as if it didn’t matter, as if I didn’t matter but it was only I left the relationship, I realised I was worth something.

A grim discovery is when you aren’t believed but your abuser is.

 

And Still I Went Back

Looking back now, it is so easy for me to say the signs of him cheating on me were there but when you love someone you are completely blinded by their actions, no matter what they do to you.

Right at the beginning I should have walked away; when I was in the foyer of the flat, a woman walked in and asked around for him.  When I mentioned it o him later that evening the smile on his face and brightness in his eyes really told me all I needed to know.  He assured me she was just a friend and the she meant nothing to him, but whenever she turned up to the flat, there was always that sparkle in his eye and how I wished he would look at the way he looked at her.

The would be blatantly flirting right in front of me, mocking and laughing at me but even then, he would persuade me, he loved me.

I was 9 years younger than him and she was 9 years older than him and she was besotted with him.  Over the years I learned that he was abusive to her too when they were in a relationship together.

She really tried to cling onto him and really beg for his love and attention.  She really would have done anything for him – and probably did – but he just treated her like crap – the way he did with me.

Looking back, I was just naive to the whole relationship, her turning up on the doorstep and answering the phone whenever I called I called him when he stayed out for nights, they were clearly warning signs but he was so completely under my skin, I just believed everything he told me – every manipulative work that came out of his mouth, I believed.

I wonder how she saw me – I remember bumping into her when I was pregnant and her face just crumbling like her whole world had come crashing down around her when she asked if it was his baby and I said yes.  After, she kept telling me how many times they slept together whilst I was at work; how he loved her but hated me.  Obviously, I didn’t know if that was true or not but she seemed to revel in the pain she was causing.

Maybe she did see me as a threat and maybe she did love him – either way I knew they were sleeping together.

I remember the night they slept together whilst I was in the next bedroom.  I remember his fact in the morning after the night before, how literally remorse he seemed, he guilty and ashamed he looked but that didn’t stop him staying with her the whole day, not answering his phone when I called and then coming to the pub causing a scene and then blaming me for everything.

And still I went back

Even after moving into my cousins flat, trying hard to ignore his calls and texts, he would often sit outside the front door, declaring his undying love to me, leaving me half dead flowers and cassette tapes just for me, proving how much he really loved me.

Looking back now, it is utterly absurd that time after time I returned to his clutches.  I guess you could say that he was like my drug and I had to keep going back to him because in my mind I couldn’t cope or live without him and that is something he always made me believe.

He was just so powerful in everything he said and did to me and because he had crushed every ounce of me, I let him treat me that way.

Our whole relationship was based on a lie – he cheated on me more than once but would always justify his actions and I would accept them.  It was as though I had to fight for his affections and attentions because he revelled in the thought of two women fighting over him.  One night he told me how I wasn’t a proper woman because I refused to get out of bed and hurl verbal abuse at another one of his ex partners who turned up drunk early hours of the morning.

How the same said person turned up drunk and he let her into he flat just so she could verbally abuse me and how his friend stood up for me more than he did.

He must have made the same promises to all of us and we must have fallen for his lies.

In time and thanks to my daughter I became so much stronger and so thankful that I did leave because without my daughter, I would have stayed and wouldn’t be here today.

Tickboxes don’t always tick the right boxes

Through my own eyes, I could see how everyone was judging me, looking down their nose at me, drinking up every inch of me with their judgmental attitude.

They couldn’t see how psychologically beaten and wore down that I was.  Tired of living and too tired to keep fighting to live.

People asking me why didn’t I just leave, people saying have you thought about moving and others telling me I was stupid for leaving and moving over the road.

Called out to “yet another domestic”, out comes the paperwork again, asking the questions laid out on the paper in front of you, no empathy, passion or even compassion, clock watching as you write down a few things here and there.  Never once asking me how I was, just asking bog standard questions that were compulsory to ask in order for you to tick your tick boxes against the questions you had to ask me, another statistic in the system not a survivor surviving real life.  Just opening my eyes each morning meant that I had survived one more day.

Once the questions were asked and you had been and gone, this statistic was just another number that had paperwork attached to it.  Not one more thought would have been given about me but no matter how many tick boxes that had been ticked it wouldn’t stop the abuse or tell me how safe I was and that everything would be okay for me.  No understanding of how it wasn’t about me not wanting to leave the abusive relationship that I was in but more of a, I couldn’t leave.  It was just assumed that I was unwilling to engage so nothing more could be done for me.  No one asked, what’s stopping you from leaving or how can we make it easier for you to leave.

My support was an 8 week awareness course that made me relive every painful memory I had lived through and a support worker encouraging me to use my local Sure Start centre.  But after 5pm and 8 weeks were up, that was it and once my daughter was older than 5 I could no longer use the services.

Whether you have been a survivor for 5 years, 25 years or 55 years the traumatic experience you have survived is still a part of you.  There will be days where memories are triggered or days where you want to cry into the arms of someone who completely understands.  Nights where you can’t sleep because each time you close your eyes, you see your abusers face or at 2 in the morning when you want a chat, the tick boxes don’t help then.  A textbook knowledge or poor knowledge at all doesn’t help me whatsoever.  Your textbook tells me you see me as your job, not a survivor.  You have no idea the strength it takes to speak out, knowing the verbal threats my abuser has made, will become reality if I date to leave.

That one appointment I missed when you thought I didn’t want to engage was because I was being held hostage and threatened to be killed if I left the flat.

The call I missed was because I was sitting right next to my abuser and if I had spoken to you, my kids would have taken away from me and I would have been beaten all over again.

I keep changing my mobile phone number because whenever my phone is found on silent, it’s smashed and replaced with a warning not to every give my number out ever again.

I don’t always visit A & E with my injuries but when I do, I know how frustrating it is when I say I’ve fallen down the stairs but you just don’t understand, if I dare tell you the truth, the job will be finished off for good next time.

Your tick boxes don’t tell you how every single day of my life, a smiled is painted on my face and when you see this, you think all is ok; you don’t see the darkness of fear that lives right behind my eyes.  You don’t see me flinch with fear as my abuser makes out we are the perfect couple because I’ve had to learn the hard way, I must not flinch.

Tick boxes don’t show you how my mouth says one thing but my eyes are screaming out for you to help me.

The devil in disguise

 

That was the one song that you sang on the karaoke one night in the pub.  I remember it well.  You sang it to me – well, you made it look like you were but I know you had eyes for another woman in the pub that night, but you were using your manipulation skills to make it look like you were the caring partner, singing for his girlfriend in front of everyone in the pub.  You always did have this way of making me feel like utter crap, actually, you were really good at it.  More fool me for putting up with it for so long!

I think the name of that song is quite apt – the devil in disguise.  Perhaps that is who I lived with for three years – the devil.

Music played a big part in my childhood; I was brought up on the swinging 60s and the brilliant 80s with everything else in between.  I remember you telling me how my parents “must have locked me in my bedroom and made me listen to all these songs because there was no way someone of my eye could possibly know them otherwise”.

I loved my music, would always have it on extra loud and momma bear and dad would never once complain, even with all the thump, thump, thumping coming through the ceiling.  Music, for me, was just so powerful.  It could make you sad, happy, cry – all at once sometimes! It put rhythm in your soul and a beat at your feet, such a wonderful feeling.   A memory to go with each song.

You loved your music too but when you put your music on in the flat, my heart broke into thousands of pieces.  I knew what was coming next.  It meant you would tell me, all over again, what an amazing Father you were to your children and how the bitches of mothers (all different) wouldn’t let you see them, no matter how hard you tried.  Your story telling usually consumed of you sitting on the floor, back against the wall, bottle of cider in one hand and fake tears glistening in your eyes as the words poured from your mouth.

Obviously, the first time I heard it, I felt your pain, cuddled you, felt sorry for you but by the millionth time and hearing it at midnight o’clock, I must admit, did get quite tedious and I just went through the motions in the end because I was suddenly thinking, you were probably a right arsehole to them too which is the real reason they won’t let you see the children, but of course, I was never brave enough to say anything to your face.  I just sat and listened to you.  Again.

Those lyrics are just so powerful to me:-

You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise
You’re the devil in disguise
Oh yes you are
The devil in disguise

I think that describes you perfectly, doesn’t it?

You made out to everyone – apart from me – that you were an angel, and that nothing was ever your fault, always someone.

Even to this day, there are certain songs and singers I can’t stomach listening too, not because I dislike them but because you are attached to them and sometimes when I think of you I feel disgust and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

So much time has passed between us now that I just feel pity for you but saying that, it’s not very often I think about you or our relationship.  Even looking at our beautiful daughter, you are not at the forefront of my mind anymore, I guess you could say that time is a great healer.

Music is a creation, performance and significance – a lot like you – you were created, you gave a fantastic performance with those false tears and you really are of no significance whatsoever.  It can divide people too as to what era was the best, swinging 60s or the naughty 90s – again a lot like domestic abuse does – dividing people into judgmental attitudes and constant victim blaming.

However, the similarities stop where, music is an important part of people’s lives where as domestic abuse is not and, in fact, should not even exist but unfortunately it does.

For me, it’s made me the strong independent woman I have become and I only have the devil to thank for that.

 

 

 

A lost soul

Looking deep into your eyes broke my heart, they were so dark and empty.  Your face looked sad and weathered, as though you had the weight of the whole wide world on your shoulders.

I tried talking to you, hoping you would open up to me but it always felt as though you had a safety barrier all the way around you and you were frightened to let anyone in, including me.

Some days, you would stand in the living room, just staring out of the window, not saying a word.  I wanted to open the top of your head, climb inside and find out was going on.

Your image was that of a bad boy, but looking back that was just what youwanted people to see, you didn’t want them to know the real you.

We could never get very far down the street without someone stopping you to say hello or have a quick conversation with you.  You would always leave wih a huge grin on your face, like the cat who got the cream, saying things like, you must hate me knowing all these people – it was as though you were trying to prove a point, like you had more friends than me.

Thinking back, it was more about trying to fill on empty voice in your life.  Reality was, it was you who was lonely in life, not me, but you had to strip me of everything to make you feel better about your own life.

You manipulated and twisted my life, making out that you loved me, using my love for you as pure justificiation for your behaviour toward me.

I think you were a lost soul, I’d even go as far as saying a little boy in a mans body.  I’m not even sure you knew how to love, more of a, don’t know how to rather than I don’t want too.

Maybe you were frightened to show who you really were because you feared being rejected so you felt the need to be in control rather than being controlled.  You had to hurt others so they wouldn’t hurt you.

You would always use your own personal experiences of bad things that had happened to you in your life as an excuse to abuse, not just me but almost everyone in your life.  The sad reality is, if you had just spoken ou, talked to someone, opened up at the time instead of comforting alcohol as a substitute, things might have been very different.

Being an abuser for so long, it was easier to stay that way rather than changing.  You didn’t want to change because it was so much easier to blame everyone around you, rather than accepting and admitting responsibility for your actions.

There will never, ever be justification for what you did, not only to me but other partners too.  The past canot be changed and nor can a sorry make things better but as they say, time heals.

I have healed and my life has changed from when we were together but yours never did.  As I sit here writing this blog, I feel sad because reality is, you wasted so much of your life and the love I once had for you has turned into sorrow.  I just feel so very sorry for you.

People speaking to you because they really feared you not because they liked you.  Their love for you, turning into fear.  You missing ou on your children because of your bullying behaviour.  You lost out on so much when all you probably wanted was to be loved.

Maybe you didn’t know your behaviour was wrong, perhaps you mirrored the behaviour or you were brought up in a hostile environment in your own home, perhaps you didn’t know any different.

I could sit here and write excuse after excuse but that still wouldn’t make our three year relationship right.  Truth was, what you did was wrong – it was a crime that you made to look like and to feel as though it were love.

That’s the reality of domestic abuse, it’s masked and disguised as so many different things other that what it really is, it’s about power and control.  So charming at the beginning, so controlling at the end, with a mixture of both in between.

You made me feel as though I was living on a rollercoaster and I had no idea how to get off, and even if I did get off, it was still very bumpy.

You moulded me into someone you wanted me to be but now I am moulded into someone, I want to be.

The start of something new

No one will ever love you the way I do – just one powerful sentence that your abuser will say to you, usually around the time you feel brave enough to tell them you want to leave.  The imprint these words leave on you is also powerful, having an impact on decisions you make once you leave the arms of your abuser.

Your self confidence and worth have been completely crushed by brainwashing behaviour and manipulation grinding you down physically and psychologically.

As your abuser has been the most stable thing in your life since they completely isolated you from your friends, family and support network, you believe what they tell you.

You are at rock bottom and it feels as though there is no way to climb the top, often feeling like your life is over.  This is how your abuser makes you feel, knowing the impact it will have on your life.

Verbal threats, humiliation and constant put me downs often make you feel as though this is it now, this is how your life is going to be forever, often thinking you aren’t strong enough to ever start over and revuild your life, ever again.

Think of it as a second chance to relive your life exactly how you want too.  Proving to someone who makes you think you can’t live without them, wrong – you can and you will.  The start of something new is about taking one step at a time but walking in the direction you want too.

For me, I was made to feel as though I was a rubbish mum and because I had been trodden down to absolutely nothing, I believed him.  When the Solicitors letter landed on my mat, fear ripped through me with the feeling that my beautiful 10 year old daughter was going to be taken away from me.

He was in control of the situation and the timing of him dragging me through the Family Court was when I was at my lowest.

I was the one who was told to do a psychological test and if I refused, I would be charged.

It was so easy for him to instruct a Solicitor and for him to lie about me, yet so hard for me to possibly try and move forward in my life with the darkness of my daughter being taken away from me, hanging over me.

It felt as though he was still in complete control and he was using our daughter in the process.

In Court, and when he could be bothered to turn up, he presence was felt.  Although other people were in the room with us, he still frightened me.  I was intimidated by him.

However, I knew I had to be strong and that strength came from within – I had to protect my innocent child – even though I thought this was the end.

Reality was, it was the start of something new.

His voice was subconsciously living in my mind, but overtime I would learn to cope with this, in time, my own.

The taste of freedom is just absolutely fantastic and something that is achieveable, it’s the start of something new.

You caused my heart to bleed

I really did love you from the beginning but at the end I did nothing but fear you.

As our eyes met in the crowded room, I knew I wanted you and I couldn’t believe my luck when you showed an interest in me.

You could say it was a whirlwind romance when just twoo weeks later I moved into your flat with you.  Well, why wouldn’t I, you said all the right things and made me feel so special.

I couldn’t understand why so many people were telling me I shouldn’t be with you and what a mistake I was making.  I was usually such a good judge of character and if someone ever did something I didn’t like, I was never afraid to tell them what I thought.

Maybe I was a little besotted with you because whenever I was away from you, I couldn’t stop thinking about you, you were always in my mind.  In time, I would think about you and your needs more so than my own, often out shopping buying all the food you liked.  Well, they say, the way to mans heart is through his stomach and yu did like your food, but I am still unsure as to whether you had a heart or not.

I never really knew why you treated me the way you did, provoking was something I didn’t do, I would often sit childlike with my knees drawn up t my chest, sitting on the armchair looking straight through you, as if it wasn’t really happening.  Hot tears would sting my eyes as they streamed down my cheeks, never uttering a word.

You were so much stronger than me and the time you pushed your whole body weight down on my chest, I had no way of pushing you off.  I couldn’t even prize your hands away when you wrapped the kettle cord around my neck.

Sometimes these things finished as quickly as you started and with words like, I can’t remember, or, you know that’s not me, it’s the drink.

Your behaviour always shocked and upset me because I didn’t know why you were hurting me when you claimed to love me.  I loved you and did nothing more than try to make you happy.

I always though tomorrow would be better and always believed you when you said it would never happen again.  My heart would ache at night as I prayed to the Lord you wouldn’t hurt me again.  I didn’t deserve to be treated this way.

My heart became heavy as I would go to bed, hoping I wouldn’t wake up tomorrow and then waking up in the morning to the unknown of what would happen today.  Climbing out of bed, absolutely petrified of treading on eggshells beneath my feet.  Walking through the flat, trying to get through the goalposts you always put in my way.

Making those Police statements, I guess I just wanted someone to tell me everything was going to be ok and that it wasn’t my fault, but no one ever said that to me.  You wre the only stable thing in my life, so I always came back to you and for a while things were good but then the abuse started all over again, like a mad cycle that I just had no power to stop.

Looking back now, I’m not sure if I was hurt because you didn’t love me as over time I beame number to the pain of your abuse.

The physical abuse hurt, of course but the verbal abuse made my  heart bleed and crush my soul.

Cruel and unkind words you said to me day after day, live in my subconscious mind having a huge impact on me and who I am today.  Long gone are the days when I was bubbly and the life and soul of the party, however, I am much stronger than I ever was before, all thanks to you.

 

 

When the system fails

So when the system fails, who can people really turn to for the Justice they deserve, need and want?  With many encouraging words and probes to speak out about such horrific crimes, what actually is put into place to keep those people safe enough never to go back to the arms of their abuser or become a repeat victim again?

When isolation surrounds you as a person experiencing domestic abuse, how can a failed system provide anything else?  What other option can be given if domestic abuse has isolation to offer and so too does the Justice System?

Encouragement is often given to a person experiencing domestic abuse to leave the relationship but how can they be supported safely when they can’t rely on the ones supposedly protecting them that just feels like out of the fire, into the frying pan.

Power is what domestic abuse is all about, the perpetrator having power over their partner but also those IN power who are there to serve and protect abuse their trusting position, giving no hope or encouragement for anyone to seek help from.

More often than not, the Police are the first port of call a victim will reach out to for help.  They don’t make that call as soon as the abuse takes place; they incur many incidents of abuse before reaching out for help.  Police abuse of people in vulnerable situations is not only unfair but is also a system that is failing those who most need it.

The system exposes at best a failure to understand let alone support those affected by the traumatic experience of domestic abuse and if, those experiencing domestic abuse don’t have the Police to turn to for protection, then who else can they go to?

Cuts to Legal Aid, slashes in funding and the closure of much needed refuges are all safety networks being taken away from victims so there can be no transition from victim to survivor with no other alternative than staying in the relationship that they are in. Thus having a ripple effect of putting a stain on the NHS attending as a repeat patient, incurring costs through the Court procedure and taking up time of making statements and with drawing them.

It feels very much like two steps forward and three steps back where domestic abuse is concerned.  There isn’t anything strong and sturdy enough in place to reduce the number of victims and stop the abuse from taking place with early prevention.  There is far too much pressure on the victim to leave yet no safety net around them to help them do this.  It’s utterly undermining people and endangering them further.

We have got to see a positive change all round before we see a radical change in the number of people experiencing domestic abuse.  There are still 2 women each week killed by a partner or a former partner and the terrifying thing is that number has not changed for far too long.  Why not?  What needs to be done to decrease this number because whatever needs to be done isn’t being done?

Education is first and foremost, it’s about raising awareness of what is healthy and unhealthy in relationships so people can identify the early warning signs as soon as they start happening rather than being is so deep they can’t see a way out and when they can see a way out, it’s too late.  It’s about early prevention, not waiting for people to die so we can hear those famous words, “we will learn from this” but the question is, will we really?

If my partner ever hit me, I would just leave

If domestic abuse was as straight forward as a slap we wouldn’t be seeing 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experiencing it during their lifetime.  2 women each week wouldn’t be killed by a partner or a former partner and thousands of children would not be witnessing it at home or going on to becoming a perpetrator or victim in their own relationships.

In fact, if domestic abuse was “just about a slap” it would be a lot less painful than what the complex cycle actually is.

A clear lack of education shows that many people don’t even know they are in an abusive relationship because they ARE NOT physically hurt, they don’t believe or think that coercive control is abuse they see it as care and love because it’s done in such a subtle way.

Of course, not all relationships are a bed of roses, couples do have their ups and downs, no one is disputing that fact at all but people who say, if my partner ever hit me, I would just leave are wrong.

When you have an argument, disagreement or shout at each other, you don’t just end the relationship there and then, do you?  Your pride is hurt, your feelings are hurt, your heart hurts because the person you love has said something to hurt you.  You want to kiss and make up, say sorry, start again, put it behind you, pretend it never happened.  You don’t just leave.

Many people in abusive relationships are psychologically abused numerous times before they are hit, if they are hit at all.  Domestic abuse is about power and control whether that’s physically, psychologically, sexually or financially – it is not under any circumstances all about physical abuse, far from it.

You recoil in horror, you are hurt and shocked when the blow of the physical abuse happens, you think that is the first time you have been abused but you don’t think of the times, you were told what to wear, when you were told you couldn’t go to the family party, when you were told not to see your best friend tonight or any other night, when you were humiliated in public, when you were told you were fat, ugly and useless.  You don’t think about the times you text messages were read, your password change or the bombardment of calls as you went to the corner shop.  You don’t take into consideration the times you were accused of having affairs, when you made eye contact with someone of the opposite sex or when you were made to beg for your own money to buy sanitary products.

Being hit by someone you love, comes as a shock, just the instant reaction your perpetrator wants because you are so shocked by their actions, it gives them time to get into their own role play, into the character of the caring partner who is so very sorry by what they have just done and they profoundly promise never to do it ever again and because you are so in love with them you believe every single word they say and as they hold you tight, soothing you as you silently weep into their shoulder they secretly smile, knowing you have just given them the green light to carry on abusing you.

After that point, they might never raise a hand to you ever again but that does not mean the abuse has stopped, far from it.  It has increased but so subtly that you still don’t see it as abuse and if you do dare to question it, it is quickly swaddled with the victim blaming answer; it’s all your fault.

It never even enters your mind, to pack up, throw the relationship down the drain and just walk out, you don’t even think that at all.  Your partner is too busy covering their actions with the words you want to hear, they even cuddle and hug you in the process for added effects, how can you possible consider leaving now when they are clearly so very remorseful for what they have just done that it will never happen again anyway and after all, maybe it was your fault, for pressing those buttons.

You are still in complete shock because they have never done that to you before and the coercive control that you have more than likely been experiencing from day one is so subtle and seen as love that you don’t automatically connect the two together because after all, if you’re not being hit, then you aren’t being abused.

And if you did leave, what do you really think is going to happen, that your partner is going to disappear into the distance and never contact you ever again?  Come on, live in the real world.  They will cling onto you like there is no tomorrow, they will call you, text you and be at your front door, telling you how sorry they are and declaring their undying love for you, doing whatever they can in their power to get you to go back to the arms of your abuser.  They will succeed.

Without realisation, you are in a much more vulnerable position when you leave your perpetrator than if you stay with them.  You learn to work out there moves when you are with them, tell tale signs of a glare or a tapping foot can often be an indicator that something might erupt at any given moment but without them in your sight you have no other option but to keep looking over your shoulder wondering what’s going to happen next and it’s the not knowing that is so very dangerous.

You suddenly realise what your partner is actually capable of and those verbal threats do come to the forefront of your mind and you being to think it’s no longer a matter of will they but when will they; when will those threats become a reality.

If it were so easy to leave, do you really think people would stay in such a hostile environment for so long that they don’t know that any time soon they could be killed at the hands of their partner.  If leaving were easy people would leave a lot sooner, they wouldn’t wait until they were left for dead before doing so.

 

Fight flight or freeze

I don’t think he will ever know the impact he really had on me during our 3 year relationship.  He was a man who I thought I loved but toward the end of the relationship, that love turned into fear.  It came to a point where I couldn’t bear him near me, let alone to touch me, I would hold my breathe and cringe whenever he got close to me and if he did touch me I would feel repulsed by him.

I would feel numb whenever he was near, holding my breath as if the sound of it might anger him, my soul would always be filled with dread because sometimes I would never know what was coming or when.  My heart would pound so loudly through my chest it sounding like a beating drum.

At the beginning of our relationship, you could say it was the honeymoon period, where I thought he wanted to spend time with me because he loved me but the reality was he wanted to control and isolate me away from my family and friends.  I breathed every single second around him, couldn’t wait to snuggle on the sofa with him, had to have him near me all the time and could wait for bedtime.  Then things changed.  I changed.  He changed.  We changed.  Everything changed.

My sense of identity was lost, my friends, family and life had just disappeared before my very eyes and instead of living, I was just existing, for the sake of someone else.  I revolved around him, jumped up and cooked for him each time he came home from the pub, got him his beer whenever he was running low and gave him what he wanted in the hope he wouldn’t hurt me anymore.  Some days were good days, they were far and few between, and when they weren’t good days, they were very bad days.

I did everything I could in my power to make him happy, or should I say, what I was allowed to do because that gave me hope that if he was happy, he wouldn’t hurt me, the abuse would stop.  Sometimes that method worked and other times it did not.

Although he wore me down physically and psychologically, the fight that I did have in me were shown in tears, the fight in my eyes – he always knew how to make me cry!  He never saw the knotted feeling in my stomach that his very presence gave me and nor did he know about the suicidal thoughts and feelings I had, because of him and how he treated me.  All I wanted was for him to love me the way I loved him, but that wasn’t to be.  I never said a work to him nor did I stand up to him either, I wasn’t that brave.  He would have given me what for if I had.  I just meekly took everything he dished out to me, without saying a single word to him.  It felt as though it was easier for me to accept and tolerate his behaviour toward me rather than provoking him or screaming at him that would just have made the situation a whole lot worse, for me.

My 4 ft 9 inch frame would never ever match his and I knew what he was capable of and what he would actually do.  There was nothing at all stopping him from killing me, if he really wanted too.  I never spoke out about what was happening behind closed doors and no one ever asked what was going on, people knew, but never approached me to ask and I was never strong enough to tell them.

The flight that domestic abuse gave me lived within me for a long time after I left him, the anxiety never leaves you.  It stays with you and you learn how to cope and deal with it as best you can.  You take one day at a time, you have to, you have no choice sometimes.  It’s difficult talking to people who haven’t experienced the trauma of domestic abuse, they don’t understand.  You are make to feel everything is your fault, you are brainwashed into thinking they treat you this way because they love you.  They do everything they can to gain and maintain that power and control over you in every aspect of your life leaving you with nothing but flight, fight or freeze.