I would eat, sleep and breathe my perpetrator. constantly walking everyday on a tightrope, feeling fear surge through my whole body if I dared to put one foot out-of-place. My mind was always ringing out and echoing with the words, don’t do anything wrong in the hope today wouldn’t be the day I did something wrong to set off the ticking time bomb that lived deep inside my perpetrator.
I quickly learned, after being sacked from job as a legal secretary, that when it was my payday it would be “my day”, a good day. Well most of the time anyway.
I always knew I was safest when I was sleeping. It was strange really because now, thinking back, I loved bed-time, it was my favourite time of the day. It sounds absolutely crazy but lying next to him in bed made me feel safe, safe from him I guess, from hurting and abusing me. I always thought if I had sex with him, it would keep him happy and that was all I ever wanted to do; make him happy, keep him happy and be the one who made him happy.
The sad thing was, I don’t think he knew how to be happy but looking back now, I am not sure if this was just part of his abusive perpetrator characteristic. I remember him telling me “sob stories” about his childhood and past and how I would never understand what he had been through because no-one had ever suffered the way he had.
He knew I was head over heels in love with him and if he had told me that the sky was green and the grass blue, I would have believed him.
My vulnerability and need to be loved by him, allowed him to feed me with his power and control, together with his ability to manipulate me, made me putty in his hands.
Throughout the relationship, my behaviour clearly changed. I would go to bed each night praying to the Lord to help me and wake up each morning and immediately start to clean the flat. I had to be doing something to prove to him that I was real woman but I also had to keep busy just to try to stop myself from walking and cracking those eggshells.
I would go into the bathroom 4 or 5 times a day just o brush my teeth or have a bath to try to be on my own but it got to the point where he would be standing outside the bathroom door, looking at his watch, timing me and demanding to know who I had been texting. Then in time, we would have a bath together.
Anything could crack that eggshell and set off that egg timer. Something as simple as taking something out of the freezer, dropping onto the floor and it making “too much noise” resulted in me being picked up in the kitchen doorway and being thrown like a rag doll and ending up like a heap of rubbish in the living room.
I left him on numerous occasions but he always knew I would be back and he always left the kitchen in such a mess, telling me how he couldn’t cope without me and how much he needed me. Of course, he only wanted and needed me to be his skivvy and to clean his mess up.
Sometimes he would show me off like a prized possession, telling people how he would marry me and then in the next breath his actions told a very different story like flirting with women right before my eyes and acting as if his behaviour was totally acceptable, until I looked at someone of the opposite sex and I knew it was wrong, very wrong.
I quickly learned how it was acceptable for him to invite his ex partner back to the flat but it was equally unacceptable for me to even look at anyone of the opposite sex, let alone speak to them. I didn’t even need to look at another man, why did I, when I’d got a boyfriend like him. I guess at first I found this quiet flattering but in reality it became smothering, frightening, controlling.
How he must have hated me, not loved, how can you treat the one you love so cruelly?
He just wanted to use his power to control and manipulate me. He seemed to revel and rejoice in inflicting pain on others and I innocently mistook his control for care, his abuse for love. I had never even heard of the term domestic abuse but I learned the hard way. I had first hand experience of it. I accepted it for three years simply because I thought it was normal behaviour and that it happened in all relationships. I thought when people I had grown up with, family and friends started ignoring me it was because they were jealous of who I was with and that they didn’t want to see me happy. I had no idea this actually gave him more power because I had no one else to turn to other than him. My isolation gave him so much more freedom to control me.
Whenever I did find the courage to leave with just the clothes on my back, my clothes and belongings were sold, ripped up or thrown down the chute.
Domestic abuse stripped me of being me, crushed my heart and soul. It took away my life and left me just existing. The thing with domestic abuse is you don’t know it’s happening to you, until its too late. You feel the web of lies closing in around you but you don’t see them as lies you feel it as love, just how the perpetrator wants you to.
A victims mind seems to spiral out of control with so many emotions, lack of understanding and a lot of what ifs. It’s a confusing and lonely cycle of crime to suffer with no-one understanding how or what it feels like, how you are scared but in love with someone who abuses you but yu don’t see it as abuse because you think it’s love. You want it to be love. You constantly question yourself, blame yourself and do nothing but protect your perpetrator. You even find yourself making excuses for them and blaming yourself. You want to leave but you want to stay at the same time, too scared to leave and too scared to stay but your perpetrator is like a drug running through every vein in your body. Only it’s not actually a drug, it’s fear; fear of doing the wrong thing, the right thing – anything.
You don’t have anyone to turn to because no one understands why you don’t just leave. You feel torn and pulled from pillar to post with emotions and feelings; guilt, shame, fear, embarrassment, denial but you don’t want to leve your perpetrator because you love them. Well you think you do. They say there is thin line between love and hate, so to for love and fear.
The butterflies that lived in the pit of my stomach each time I saw him quickly turned to fear living in my soul. The fear of the unknown, the what next, the what now. The fear of meeting Mr Jekyll or Mr Hyde, the fear of walking into the explosion field of the unknown, the living in fear.
I quickly learned how domestic abuse took away your freedom and how there wasn’t room for you, your life and a relationship with a perpetrator because at the end of the day the relationship was just about the perpetrator, it didn’t matter what your needs, wants or feeling were as long as life, no the world, revolved around the perpetrator.
I soon began living on autopilot, my mind always on him; was the flat clean enough, what to cook for tea and was there enough cans in the fridge.
My appearance, along with my life, soon deteriorated, it felt as though I didn’t have enough strength to live two lives, mine and his so it was just easier to put his before mine. It was just easier for me.
Everyone in my life, he put down, made fun of and said hurtful things about them yet said such things in a way that made him sound as though he was absolutely right. His brainwashing behaviour blinded me with the truth and isolated me even further into his arms. His arms I was scared of but how I ached to have them wrapped around me all the time. I felt as though he was my perpetrator but also my protector too, he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me, only he had that privilege.
My only escapism as a victim was alcohol, it just made the physical abuse easy to handle, my 4ft9 inch frame couldn’t feel his size 9s kicking my ribs in time and time again as I raised my hands over my head to at least protect my face. Then again he wouldn’t cause so much damage to such a visible part of my body.
I remember on one occasion he kicked me so badly I could hardly walk the next day and couldn’t stop vomiting.
Drinking blocked things out for a while and made the physical pain bearable. Of course, everything was my fault and I was the selfish one in the relationship because a perpetrator never, ever takes responsibility for their own actions and live a life of constantly blaming everyone but themselves. With the adrenaline of love and fear constantly being a part of you, you believe everything that is happening to you is your fault.
They put you high up on a pedestal but they can also bring you down by making you feel lower than low. It’s as though they have an evil spell over you and every inch of you belongs to them and they can do whatever they want with you because they are always in control.
Domestic abuse doesn’t just leave you either, it becomes a part of you. It gives you a different outlook on life, it changes you as a person and also how you treat other people too.
You lose your trusting instinct as a survivor of domestic abuse, you find it difficult who to trust when new people walk into your life. You suddenly believe everyone is a perpetrator when in reality they aren’t but it takes time to build up your confidence again.
You have to learn to buildup your confidence and strength from inside to let the world see you sparkle from the outside.
I am thankful that I suffered domestic abuse at the hands of my perpetrator because he has helped mould me into the strong and independent survivor I have become today.