This is a big deal to me

Sitting in the living room with candles alight and the feeling of calmness surrounding me.  Dinner has been prepared, cooked and eaten with satisfaction, an air of contentment lingering around the fall walls. Not a sound to be heard.  Nothing but a safe atmosphere can be felt.  Reaching over for the TV remote, I find my favourite channel, rest my head on the back of the settee and let out a sigh.  A sigh of relief.

Curtains are closed and the front door is locked.  There’s no panic or fear each time the clock ticks by of getting the table laid and the tea dished up as soon as it chimes 6pm.  There’s no worry of the meal not being cooked to perfection or fear of cleaning the mess up of the kitchen walls.

My first DD came out of my very own bank account today, I had enough money in to pay for my gas and electricity bill – without going into the red, this is a big deal to me – and I still had money to last the week through – this is a big deal to me.

Walking down the high street earlier, head held high, smile on my face and I caught the smell of my favourite perfume lingering on my neck.  I made eye contact with everyone I walked past and even gave a smile to one or two, I did it without worrying about the consequences – this is a big deal to me.

Wearing my favourite outfit gave me so much more confidence, I really felt good about myself and I’m sure it showed!  It felt wonderful to wear what I wanted, without having to ask permission or to be told to take it off because I’m purposely drawing attention to myself.

Being in control of my own life again, is a big deal to me.  It not only gives me a sense of belonging but also a sense of achievement too – achieving, surviving and thriving without my perpetrator, when all they every told me was how I wouldn’t be able to live without them.  Well, look at me now!

This is a big deal to me.

Living life on the edge of fear, thinking that tonight will be your last night, that tomorrow will never come.  Not knowing what boundaries will be moved to today or where the goalposts will be placed just so power and control can be gained and maintained yet again.

Having no self-esteem, worth or confidence because the one person who claims to loves you steals it away from you, without a care in the world only for their own satisfaction.  Having nothing but isolation, manipulation and fear is no way to live, yet living with a perpetrator makes you feel it’s the only thing you have to survival.

Baby steps are the way forward in the healing process, learning to love yourself again, learning who you are and what your wants and needs are is a huge step to take but one that must be done slowly through fear of returning back to the life of abuse.

Taking things for granted isn’t what life is about but looking around to see what you actually do have in life and that is the one most important thing to have – life.  Waking up in the morning knowing it is full of whatever-you-want-it-to-be-full-of and doing whatever-you-really-want gives you a sense of happiness inside your stomach where fear once lived.

This is a big deal to me because I know what could have been.  I know what it was like to live in such a dark place that you felt so suffocated because you felt there was absolutely no way out and you stayed in that rut through fear of dying; dead if you stayed, dead if you left.

Never knowing what the right thing was to do, you just did it anyway in the hope that the peace would be kept and just for tonight no abuse would emerge.  Isolation wrapping itself around you, hands all over you, around your neck, stopping you from reaching out to those that love you so very much and just want the best for you.  Blinded by lies you can’t see a way forward let alone out.

Being a thriving survivor is a big deal because without surviving, perpetrators would be winning.

When you don’t understand something, how can you talk about it?

I mean, it’s just not really heard of, is it? A 6ft 2 inch bloke weighing 16 and a half stone being beat up fy their petite partner.  Report that to the Police and they would just laugh you right out of the Police station.

How do you even start such a conversation, where do you being when you don’t even know where the beginning is?

Jealousy is about passion and love, isn’t it?  It puts a bit of spark int the relationship, doesn’t it?  You can’t claim jealous to be abuse, can you?

It’s not exactly the type of conversation you strike up with your friends either, is it?  Oh by the way, guess what happened to me last week.

At what point do you open up to someone when the only person around you is your perpetrator?  Your life is no longer yourself, isolation has taken everyone away from you, self-esteem and confidence drained from you, you no longer have any fight left inside you to try to change things.

My words would always fall on deaf ears because people don’t believe domestic abuse would happen to me because men are macho and wouldn’t allow anything like that to happen to them, but not all men are perpetrators and many are raised to never left a hand to women.

When I have no one to talk too, I simply bottle everything up inside, hoping and praying that it might change but it never does.

I can hear the ringing of echos laughing all around me as society finds a male victim of domestic abuse so funny.  When someone plays with your heart and head, it’s never funny.  It brings so much destruction with it, every move being that one which could bring the explosive behaviour of domestic abuse.

Loyalty is never a part of the relationship but something holds you back from speaking out; fear manipulation, ridicule.

Feeling betrayed by the one you love is the worst feeling and you just can’t understand why a person who claims to love you can ever treat you in such an appalling way.

When you don’t understand something, how can you talk about it?

It rips you apart inside when no-one listens to you or wants to believe you because it doesn’t happen to me, does it?

Domestic abuse is not a postcode lottery, it happens to anyone; it knows no boundaries.

The outside world only sees what the perpetrator wants them to see; a happy caring relationship.  People don’t always see between the lines, just see what they want.

Without addressing and acknowledging such an issue, how can we focus on the prevention of this crime?  Living in the 20th century really should mean moving forward in such a positive way, not two steps forward and three backward.  It needs to be discussed at such length that helps victims have courage in speaking out.

Judgement and stigma are attached to domestic abuse but living in a world that portrays men as the stronger sex, doesn’t help victims.  Domestic abuse doesn’t care about anything other than destroying lives.

Home is where the fear lives

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As a child, it was a safe place to grow up, full of love, trust and care, surrounded by people who only ever wanted the very best for me.  A warm, calm and loving atmosphere always surrounding me, morning, noon and night.  A hug was always on hand, a consequence of a bad day, a hug to make everything go away, to make everything better again.  Subtle voice tones, nothing more than peace and harmony lived here and I loved it.

Never wanted this feeling to end or disappear and always thought this feeling was part of every home.

Within two weeks of meeting my ex perpetrator, I moved into his flat.  It wasn’t thought through, I was blinded by love, or what I perceived to be love.  He told me he loved me, he never wanted me to spend time with my friends or family, the way he looked at me, made me feel loved.

Soon, I fell into the routine of being his maid, cook and cleaner – I was sacked from job for this very fact and so he could watch my every single move.  I think this was his way of showing me his live, I mean, everyone loves differently, don’t they?

I didn’t understand how his own personal insecurities were the consequence of his actions.

He had this way of making his behaviour feel as though my best interests were at heart.  I was so smitten by him, I didn’t see it as any different.

I did notice how this “safe place” was very different to that of my home.  I always felt as though I was walking on eggshells, never able to relax or settle.  Worrying about my own behaviour, wondering if I was doing the right thing or something that would make him erupt into the side of him that I feared.

Home was now full of danger and darkness with a feeling of fear, not love.  My heart would rapidly beat, inside my stomach a feeling of anxiety as my body would shake every time I heard his key turning in the lock.  My head buzzing with thoughts as I could hear his footsteps walking down the hall.  What sort of mood was he in, I hope no one had upset him, what was he going to do to me today?

Laughter was no longer part of my daily routine, it always made him question me, why was I laughing, what I had I been doing to be so happy – his words always made me question myself.

It felt as though I didn’t belong here, it was as if I was here for his wants and needs, not because he wanted to be with me.  I was around for his amusement.  Where ex partners would be invited to his flat, where I would be humiliated and ridiculed one minute and the next, I was the best thing since sliced bread.  I was confused and hurt but he always turned the situation into one where he could justify his actions and I would simply accept them.

Living in fear soon took away my bubbly personality, my voice of opinions and my thoughts.  It felt as though my life had been replaced with a robot’s mind, living on auto pilot, putting his wants and needs first.  As long as everything was going his way and he was in control, things were fine, but if I dared to step out of line, I would feel his wrath.

It got to the point where I would just roam the streets, aimlessly, walking around to nowhere in particular.  Obviously, I would only ever do this when he was already out, usually in the pub.  Sometimes, I would have a surge of strength where my head would tell me to leave, my heart would tell me I loved him and my gut was screaming out, this is wrong this isn’t love, but somehow I never heard or listened to my gut instinct.

Walking around, my mobile constantly ringing, calls from him, voice mails from his mum and text messages from hs friends, making out how he loved me and deserved another chance.

Fear soon ripped through my body as I quickly thought about the precautions of my actions.  He always had the power to make me go back to him with me begging for forgiveness when the reality was, I was just trying to escape.  Yet with no one to talk to, listen to me or understand, what other option did I have but to go back to the arms of fear?

I was scared of him, yet he made me believe that I couldn’t breathe, cope or live without him and as crazy as it sounds, I was safer with him than if I left.  There was nothing stopping him from finding me and killing me.  When I left him, I had this thought inside my head that he had asked someone to run me over.  Paranoia completely overtook my live but when I was living with him, I had the ability to work out what mood he was in so I could cook for him, buy him a beer or have sex with him to prevent him from hurting me but when I left, I never knew what he was doing.

When you first start the relationship, you don’t notice the early warning signs because they start so subtle and you don’t see your partner as a perpetrator.

Tiptoeing around your perpetrator becomes something of the norm, thinking and believe it happens in all relationships.  Thinking it’s normal, prevents you from talking about it, asking others about their relationships because it is accepted as normal.

Fearing your partner doesn’t stop you from loving them.  You love them because you fear them.  Your love for them soon turns into fear but it is often difficult to differentiate the difference.  So you stay, in the hope that tomorrow will be better, that they will change for you but that day doesn’t come and it won’t.

Perpetrators see nothing wrong with their behaviour, they thrive on the power and control.  Fear lives deep inside of you and is continually around you; fear of looking at someone, only to be accused of cheating.  Fear of the food nothing being cooked correctly, only for it to be thrown against the kitchen wall.

The fear of leaving and the fear of staying.

His money was his money and my money was his…

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Living life to work, I played hard but always worked even harder.  Nothing gave me more pleasure than waking up in the morning and getting ready for work.  The sense of being an asset to an organisation and being part of a team was an amazing feeling.  It gave me a sense of achievement, going to work every morning.  Not only was I financially independent, I was independent.  Loving nothing more than buying a complete new outfit, head to toe and never thinking twice about the price, was always a highlight of my weekend.  Being dressed in the latest fashions always made me feel good about myself, a real confidence booster.

Life around me felt inspiring, safe and free.  I was comfortable with my life and more so, with myself.

Everything that was surrounding me, was wonderful.  I was secure and safe, knowing I didn’t have any money worries was a huge relief to me, having no one to reports back too about my own personal spending habits, no one to show receipts too and no having to hide purchases in the back of the wardrobe.

From an early age, I know I wanted to work in an office environment and was proud of my achievement of becoming a Legal Secretary.  I was proud of what I had accomplished and achieved.

My life felt so complete and it didn’t feel as though any pieces were missing, yet when I met him, it felt as though that’s how things were meant to be.  Everything happened so very quickly and neither did that feel wrong or different.

As soon as we met, he told me he liked me a lot, he loved me.  I felt flattered that someone like him would feel like that about someone like me.

I never knew anything different about the relationship I was in, I had nothing to compare it too, I knew no different.

He mad me feel special, wanted and needed in such a way that it didn’t feel anything less than love.

A difference in his behaviour toward me on my payday never rang out any alarming bells for me.  How he was never at home when it was his pay-day, out socializing – sociable, who am I kidding, more like flirting with every woman he laid his eyes on, no doubt, charming her with his charismatic charm.

His ability to make me feel guilty when he didn’t have a drink and the power to initiate that I go out and get him what he wanted.  Manipulation was one of his powerful weapons.  He was just so clever in treating me in such a way that was completely covered in control.  Yet I just couldn’t see it and didn’t always feel it either because he was so suave into shifting the blame onto me.

How on earth could I be blamed for something I didn’t even know what was happening to me, let alone instigating the situation.

A person who could intimidate me, just by a look, yet just as quickly turn it all around and tell me it was all my fault.  Domestic abuse; I had never even heard of the term but surely it was something that happened to other people, not me.  It was an issue that a blind eye was always turned too, it was just a domestic with the victim obviously at fault.

Being frog marched to the bank to draw your savings out, was normal behaviour, something that happened in every relationship.  Being frowned upon if not being able to withdraw the cash but being forced to try it again until there was no money left.  The withdrawn cash being spent to keep everyone happy but me.  As long as he was happy right – oh well, it made my life easier – well, for a couple of hours anyway.

Going to sleep at night, didn’t make waking up the next day more bearable.  Horrible going to sleep only to wake up again.  What was the point in actually waking up when the vicious cycle would just spin round again and again, but the strange thing was, I didn’t see it as abuse, I thought he loved me.

Maybe it was my money he loved, the control of it, knowing he could have whatever h desired to spend my money on, making it seem as though it was my idea, the right thing to do and make it look as though he really deserved to be treated this way.

His calculating charm controlling me, controlling how I felt; controlling every single aspect of my life, disguising it so that I felt it as care and how the outside world saw him as the caring partner.

My money was never my own, it never went on the things I liked, wanted or needed because this relationship wasn’t about me; there wasn’t two, it was very much one-sided but yet I deeply loved him, my heart ached every single second of the day because I desperately wanted him to love me, the way I loved him.  I wanted him to love me, not the power he had, the control and not the abuse but me, just me.

To him, I was the selfish one, drinking the last of the orange just but not him for taking my last pound for a can of beer; to him that was completely acceptable.  To him, an abuser, a perpetrator.

What he wanted, he got, irrelevant of what he did to get it because no one else mattered to him, not even me.

Devoting time to a person whom you genuinely love, is completely draining and totally exhausting, when all you receive in return is isolation, abuse and intimidation.  But you feel as though you can’t live or survive without them, you want to be that one person to change them, you want to believe them and be the reason they do change.

To choose to abuse is not acceptable.  It should never be tolerated or accepted as normal behaviour.  The reality is, a perpetrator is always in control because that is what they thrive on and what the complex cycle is completely all about.

Domestic abuse isn’t about the visible marks it leaves behind but the invisible scars that live deep inside you and those that will always have an impact on your future, even though you are desperately trying so hard to put your past behind you.

So much stigma attached to the victim staying, rather than judgments being turned toward the perpetrators behaviour and why they continue to choose to abuse and more concerning, why they consider it to be completely acceptable.

Focusing on one aspect of the complex cycle is sending out a dangerous message to our young people.  Domestic abuse is not about bruises, cuts and scratches, but the ever lasting imprint it leaves on your life.

Financial abuse is a huge barrier, one that isn’t quite so easy to overcome, no matter how hard you try.  It actually takes away your independence, freedom and will to succeed.  How can being blacklisted help you move forward and become financially Independent?  Having a perpetrator whose priority is gambling rather than paying the rent and leaving the debt in your name, prevents you funding a secure future – through no fault of your own, other than loving too deep and trusting too hard.

Without awareness, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will become a victim and that is one too many.  Living in a society that simply accepts domestic abuse is one that isn’t worth the next generation being a part of.

He was always happy with controlling my money; my money was his, not mine.

Sorry isn’t good for anything

Such a small word, something that you would always say to me, yet you never once meant it.

I accepted the word, each time it came out of your mouth because I wanted you to be sorry for all the hurt and pain you caused me, but you never were.  If you were, why continue to abuse me?

Sorry isn’t good for anything.

It never changed your behaviour toward me, it never made you stop being a perpetrator or I from being a victim but along with everything else you said to me, I believed you.

I was in such a vulnerable state and you knew how to play on every single emotion I had., you knew how to work me and what made me tick because it was you working me and controlled how I ticked.

I guess, it was just a quick fix, sort of like when you put a plaster on it to stop the bleeding for a few seconds and then after, everything is fine for a while.  Only difference was, I was bleeding on the inside and there is no cure to stop that.  But hey, who am I kidding, you knew that all along because you were the one, always in control.

Sorry doesn’t erase memories, sorry doesn’t take away the hurt or pain, just numbs everything for a second or two and feels like a gateway to you, allowing you to abuse me, all over again.

When people say the word sorry, suffering is usually attached to it somehow, and that’s what I was, suffering, abuse at the hands of someone who claimed to love me.  Sorry is a way of expressing or feeling grief, boy you were expressing it and I was feeling it.

Your sorry never changed the situation, it didn’t stop you and it didn’t make me feel any safer.  It wasn’t good for anything.  You said it, but in truth you weren’t.  Actions speak louder than words and they told me you weren’t sorry.

Sorry usually came after abusive incidents, followed by the lies and promises never to do it again.  You even stopped for a short period of time but soon reverted back to your abusive ways and I will never understand why.

Sorry will never be good enough, one can’t simply forgive and forget what you did, I can only move forward and leave you in the past and in time, this is something all thriving survivors will do because sorry isn’t good for anything.