Days are so empty and nights are so long

It’s just so dark in here and I can’t see my way out, there’s no doors for me to go through, I can’t find the light switch, I just can’t see the light.
Who can I turn too, who will listen to me, who will believe me? What would I even say to them, how can I tell them what I have let happen to me, where do I find the words to tell people that my partner hurts me but I know really they love me. Don’t they?
Even if I do speak to someone, how can they help me? They will judge me, tell me why don’t I just leave or tell me to move area. Why should I do that? Why can’t they make the abuse stop, tell my perpetrator its wrong and punish them, why is it that I am the one being punished when all I did was fall in love?
Everything feels so funny and weird right now, like my thoughts aren’t even my own any more. I don’t know what to think or even feel, it’s as though the life has been sucked right out of me. I don’t have any energy left. It feels as though everything is closing in around me, no one wants to listen, no one understands, it feels as though no one can help me.
It’s going to take time for me to speak, a long while for me to say what I have to say because each time I talk about it, I am reliving every traumatic experience that you can’t even begin to imagine what it felt like to be treated in such a way. Yes, I’m going to cry, scream and shout, yes I will tell you how much I love my perpetrator and then I might tell you how much I hate them. I will be in denial; I will blame myself and take responsibility for their action. That is part of the cycle. This is me taking one tiny step forward, I mean, I don’t even know if I can trust you. You just want to tick those boxes on your paper work and I just want to talk to let it all out but in my own time, an hour a week for 8 weeks just isn’t enough. I still have nightmares and flashbacks to deal with. Some nights I can’t even sleep, tossing and turning all night, floods of memories coming back to me, when all I want to do is sleep and block everything out. Sometimes I just want to sit in silence not even making eye contact with you but just your presence being so reassuring to me yet when I get back home there is so much I wish I had said to you but by the time next week arrives, I won’t have the courage to say what I wanted to you.
You have a long list of referrals to plough through, you have time limits on everything and you have deadlines to reach but what about if I don’t want to talk today, tomorrow or even the next day? How about if I don’t want to talk until a month’s time at 6 pm, how can you session or your group work shop help me. I need support when I need it not when you can fit me in, that’s fitting in with your agenda, and it’s not helping me.
Days are so empty and nights are so long, my number has changed and I haven’t dared to give my new number to anyone at all just in case it gets back to my perpetrator, if it does, it won’t take long for the excuses to come flowing, the apologies and the I love you so much, it won’t happen again. But it will. The cycle will continue to keep spinning, on and on again. It will be my fault again, it was something I said or did and I will keep falling for those lies, luring me closer and deeper back into the net of abuse with no way of getting back out, no matter how hard I try.
Even before our next session, I’m still being abused, don’t you see, I’m being followed, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. I am too frightened to go out, scared of what will happen if I bump into my perpetrator. I’m missing appointments and getting sanctioned for them because no one can understand the danger I am in, yes I have left the relationship by my perpetrator hasn’t stopped the abuse. Why can’t you see that? Please tell me you can see that.
There’s no light in my life right now and it feels as though the tunnel is just so long and lonely. No one understands. You can’t possibly understand. How can you. You’ve never walked one step in my shoes. Those words in your text book, the paragraphs you scan on the internet and the things you hear are nowhere as realistic as living the horror that domestic abuse brings.
When I found the strength and courage to leave my perpetrator, my support was an 8 week awareness course and then that was it. I was on my own. Again. Every week I was in a room with others who had been affected by domestic abuse, yet we were all so very different. Inside I was still yelling out to the facilitator, look at me, hold me and tell me everything will be ok. I didn’t want to sit in a room with other people, listening to what they had been through, I still felt so ashamed, I felt guilty and embarrassed for allowing myself to be a victim. I wanted someone to listen to just me. I didn’t want anyone asking me questions, that just made me think far too deeply and I was just victim blaming myself, just the way society was. 16 hours of support wasn’t enough for me. Working within a group wasn’t what I wanted to do right now, I had been isolated for so long, how could I communicate with people I didn’t even know. We had experienced the same thing but our stories were so very different. How could all of us get the support we really needed.
For the last 3 years I’ve been brainwashed into believing that no one will believe me anyway, so what’s the point in confiding in you. You won’t believe me. It’s going to take time for me to gain your trust, but that’s the thing isn’t it, you don’t have the time for me. You need to me to talk and open up at your speed not when I want too. Your waiting list of others is calling out to you so you don’t hear me screaming out louder, look at me, listen to me!
I always thought there would be something more than the 8 week awareness course that I was referred to by Social Services, I mean, let’s think logically, why would I need to be aware of something I had already suffered, surely the awareness should have been earlier, at school maybe?
Every single day was a struggling, having to deal with my own emotions of why did he treat me this way to how could I still love him, and yet I was expected to attend a weekly session at 10am, have you any idea how much of an effort that was; getting out of bed, washed, dressed and travelling to the session, knowing that you were more than likely judging me as your eyes soaked up my appearance.
How did the Social Worker know that at that particular time she met me, that was the point in my journey that I needed support. How could she possibly know that? She didn’t know that I had to deal with sleepless nights and if I did sleep it was full of fear and nightmares, she didn’t know that I was still living in fear, double checking the doors were shut and locked, jumping out of my skin at every loud or unusual sound I heard, the days I didn’t eat or even leave the house, days where I felt like the worst mother in the whole wide world. These things hadn’t happened at the time she referred me, I didn’t need to be made aware of domestic abuse after living it but what I needed was support, someone to be there for me when I needed it. Sometimes I just wanted someone to be at the end of a phone line or drop a quick text too when I felt sad or lonely.
For the last 3 years my life had been completely controlled and now that I had left the relationship, my support network was controlling me too. How is this fair? I wanted to get back in control of my life, not having someone telling me when to do things. I needed to start thinking for myself again, learning how to live in a way that wouldn’t prevent me from moving forward, yet people, who didn’t really know me, were telling me where to go, what time and what day; I still wasn’t in control and people still weren’t listening to me, making me think that maybe my perpetrator was right.
Isolation is a key factor in the complex cycle and one of the many reasons that people experiencing domestic abuse go back to the hands of the abuse because they have nowhere else to go, no one to turn to and no one to listen to them. There are so many questions a thriving survivor will want to ask, someone they want to talk to or just have reassurance that someone is their when they need them. I’m unique and I need a support package for me, not one that is for everyone because that won’t work for me.
Aftercare and support is so much more than an 8 week course, it’s a personal and private journey that we have to take in order to reach the light at the end of the tunnel and although it feels so dark right now, it’s not an impossible achievement to reach. You might make plenty of stops along the way but you will reach your final destination, with the right aftercare and support.

Valentine’s Day can still bring power and control

With Christmas fast out of the way, the shops are stocking up with lovely fluffy teddies, heart shaped chocolates and red roses are absolutely everywhere that you look with Valentine’s day just around the corner.
I remember when I was at high school, I fancied this guy in the year above me and one year I plucked the courage up to hand deliver a card and small gift to his house, butterflies inside my tummy as I knocked on the door. Nothing ever came of it but it was just harmless fun back then I guess. I hadn’t even had a proper relationship at this time and I was still a virgin but I knew I liked him. The feeling wasn’t mutual but I didn’t let it get me down too much, it was all about growing up, hormones and life.
Always getting up extra early and rushing down to the front door in the hope that you would receive just one card and not the huge bag full that you were really dreaming of. Listening to friends at school, dreamily talk about how many cards they got in the post or what present they were brought by their boyfriend or girlfriend; the excitement of it all, after all we were only children, growing up in the 80s, what did we know?
Buying a card or a gift for the one you love, doesn’t give them the automatic right to own you, it doesn’t mean they can tell you what to do or who you can or cannot see. Many people celebrate Valentine’s Day to show their partner they appreciate, care and love them and choose February 14th to show this token of love. When you love someone, you should love them for who they are. For that annoying laugh, for the glasses they wear and for the birthmark just above their eye. People shouldn’t have to be changed into someone they don’t want to be, they should be loved for who they are.
Like most things in life, we all have our different views and we will all see Valentine’s Day differently too; some love it, others loath it and some use it as extra ammunition to get what they want, they use it to their advantage.
Sitting here now, thinking, I can honestly remember not celebrating Valentine’s Day at all. I would have no doubt spoiled him with cards and gifts but I can’t remember him buying me anything, and yes, you are right, when you love someone you don’t have to shower them with gifts but then again you don’t have to shower them with abuse either. The one present that does stick in my mind is when he brought me key ring after he slept with his ex partner in the spare room but I don’t think it was actually a Valentine’s Day gift.
February 14th won’t stop the abuse, just in the same way that December 25th won’t either, it will still happen, it doesn’t stop for special occasions. Instead, every day seems like Groundhog Day, merged into one, just another day. As a partner experiencing domestic abuse, you don’t jump out of bed excited to see what gifts await you, wait for breakfast in bed or to be indulged and waiting on hand and foot, instead you wake up thinking, is today going to be my last day, what’s going to happen to me today or I hope I don’t do anything wrong.
Friends and family might be getting that 100 hundred foot Valentine’s Day card along with that huge cuddly teddy they spotted in the card shop last week, whereas you will probably get another black eye, be manipulated, forced to have sex and made to beg for money to go and buy those toiletries you so desperately need.
The romantic meal that took you hours to prepare, cook and serve will be thrown up against the kitchen wall, the new outfit you brought cut up into tiny pieces and they stereo that your favourite romantic song is playing on, smashed into a thousand tiny pieces. No matter how much effort you put into your appearance, you will be humiliated for it, no matter how many times you tell your partner you love them you will be questioned about friends of the opposite sex or compared to ex partners and no matter how hard you try to satisfy your perpetrator, it will never, ever be good enough.
Seeing couples all hyped up for Valentine’s Day, to someone experiencing domestic abuse, makes your think that all the verbally abusive and unkind things your partner has ever said to you, is right; that no one will want you, no one likes you and no one loves you. You doubt yourself, blame yourself, torture yourself with what if I didn’t do this or maybe it was my fault, but you don’t see that this is the characteristic and behaviour of a perpetrator, this is how they make you feel, this is what coercive control and domestic abuse does to you.
You look around at the world going by, seeing couples holding hands and kissing in public, always wondering and thinking, why isn’t my partner that affectionate to me. Why do they go out and leave me at home, why don’t they introduce me to their friends or family. When you see couples giggling, laughing and smiling and the smallest and simplest of things, you feel so envious and wonder why your relationship isn’t like that. Your mind wonders, thinking about how you wished you were treated by your partner but reality sets in and your fears arise, hoping that today won’t be a bad day but as soon as you hear the key in the door, you become absolutely petrified of the one person that you love.
Valentine’s Day isn’t always about care and love, for many it’s still about power and control. The cycle won’t change; manipulation, isolation, intimidation will still be on the menu. You will still be walking on that tightrope in the hope you don’t drop down onto those eggshells. Even if you do have gifts and cards, the abuse will still follow, they will still look like that caring partner to the outside world whilst you still have to live with the controlling perpetrator.
Some people who are experiencing domestic abuse are lucky whilst many others have only ever received are funeral flowers and that is the harsh reality of domestic abuse.

Just leave

For better, for worse, til death do us part.
Just read those words and let them sink in. Powerful, aren’t they? Words that aren’t to be said or used lightly and the words we often hear when a couple gets married.
What do they actually mean? My definition could mean something completely different to yours. Do we have in our own mind what they mean when we say them or do we just say them for the sake of it?
The thing with words are that once they are said, they cannot be taken away, they cannot be removed, it’s as though as seed has been planted into the back of your mind and as soon as those words are said, they grow and become an acorn tree.
Words are so powerful in that they don’t disappear, they don’t fade, they never go away, no matter how far we try and push them to the back of our mind, they don’t fully disappear. They become a part of us and we just learn how to live with them, we learn how they mould us and we learn to live our life through them. They become barriers, preventing us from moving forward, making it harder for us to climb over when they arrive at the front of our mind whenever a new decision has to be made. The abusive words rush around our mind from before, when we were made to feel worthless, thick and stupid, making the easiest of decisions the most hardest. The voice of our perpetrator echoing through our mind, getting loud and loud, making us, once again, feel as though we are nothing and no-one, making life a struggle, no matter how hard we try to “just leave”.
If I had a £1 for every time some said to me, why didn’t you just leave, I would have been off benefits years ago, and when I was asked that question, it did make me question my own actions but now, it just makes me realise how society really does not understand the complex cycle of domestic abuse.
The perception is, you are hit, you leave and you forget but that vision could not be further from the truth, if only it were that simple! If you were immediately hit, as soon as you met your perpetrator, instinctively you would know that this type of behaviour is not right and yes, possibly you would leave almost as soon as it happened, but abusive relationships don’t start off this way.
Many perpetrators have many people fooled by who they really are, they will not show any abusive characteristics to friends, family or society, they won’t treat colleagues, work mates or associates in a controlling way and they would never dream of manipulating anyone in their life, other than their perpetrator. So even before you form a relationship with this person, to everyone else they are the caring partner.
Other perpetrators have abused many times before they form another relationship yet, often blaming their partner; they don’t let me see my kids, they cheated on me, they wouldn’t let me see my friends, yet all these excuses mirror their own behaviour.
There is usually something that you fall for when you meet your partner, otherwise you wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with them and the same goes for perpetrators too. They woo us with their charm, say the things we long to hear and treat us how we want to be treated and their behaviour toward us isn’t even physically abusive which makes it harder to realise that we are being abused, with many not knowing this abuse is wrong, it’s not love but a crime.
Subtle coercive control happens at the beginning a the relationship where our perpetrator wants us to spend more time with them and less time with our friends, but we see this as genuine love and care, but in the mind of a perpetrator, they are isolating us from friends, family and our live in order to make it easier for them to abuse us.
Every single aspect of our live is manipulated, controlled and monitored. Walking to the shop is turned into something much more sinister than what it really is; who did you see, who did you speak to and what did you say? Passwords changed, messages read and text messages replied too, always speaking on our behalf; not only do we lose our life but we lose our voice, opinion and our beliefs, we are suddenly in existence and no longer living our own lives but living for someone else.
We are told when to eat, sleep, what to wear, who to speak to, who not to speak too. Told we are useless, dreams and hopes dashed by the power of words and then made to feel guilty as though everything was our fault.
Domestic abuse is a rollercoaster of a ride that no one, other than those that have experienced it, will ever understand.
When the strength and courage has been found to leave, this nightmare doesn’t simply end and stop, in fact, leaving can be more dangerous than staying with the perpetrator. A perpetrator will do anything they can to gain and maintain power and control over their partner; they can’t deal with rejection and all those verbal threats that were made the last time you left but went back, can be carried out at any time, it’s just a matter of when, where and how.
Isolation is still a major factor when someone leaves the abusive relationship, the perpetrator has driven friends and family away, you feel guilty for not listening to them and putting your perpetrator before them and you feel so humiliated, for “letting this happen” so you don’t know who to reach out to because, who will understand?
All of your trusting instincts are stripped from you and all the brainwashing conversations that your perpetrator had with you about your friends come floating back to the surface of your memory, making it hard to know who to trust, who to let into your life and how to deal with compliments given you, always assuming the worst in people. This happens because of the abuse you have endured.
You have been treated as a possession rather than a person for the whole of your relationship but you can only see that now, as you look inside. Everything was a blur when you were living in it.
Leaving the abusive relationship is often done with just the clothes on your back, no time to stop and collect your personal belongings, sometimes you just have to get the hell out of there as fast as you can. Your head is all of a mish mash because you are listening to your heart, letting it over rule your head and completely ignoring your gut instinct. There is no time to question yourself, think about the what if’s or time to stop and give it one more chance, because there comes a point in your relationship, when you say to yourself, enough is enough and you have to do what is right for you, no matter how hard it is.
Constantly looking over your shoulder, checking your phone and never sleeping just in case your perpetrator actually finds you, telling you how sorry they are and it won’t ever happen again just as long as you go back, because if you really love them, you will.
Too frightened to eat in case you get fat, scared to put on a new outfit because it will only draw attention to you and worried of making eye contact with someone of the opposite sex because if you do, it’s only because you want one thing.
Coercive control and psychological abuse isn’t something that fades as quickly as a bruise, that black eye or heals like your broken arm. It stays with you. You adapt to learn to live with it because it becomes a part of you.
Leaving the relationship is the time when you need support. When you need to know someone is at the end of the line, there is someone there to email or someone around to call. Those flashbacks don’t always happen Monday to Friday 9 until 5, some days are better than others but when those dark days come, you need to know someone can offer your understanding and reassurance.
It takes such a long time to learn to love yourself again; you need to have a relationship with you and that takes time. The healing process is as unique as each individual taking the steps away from the abuse and toward their future.
Laws are all very well as long as the Justice System is strong enough to give punishment to perpetrators and support to partners escaping the trauma of domestic abuse. We can’t live in a society that tells people to leave and leave them with no support network, giving them no other option but to go back to the arms of the their perpetrator and relive the complex cycle of abuse again.
We need to give encouragement and understanding to all men and women affected by domestic abuse in the hope that they trust us enough to speak out against what is happening to them. There needs to be support in place for when it is needed and as soon as that call to the Police is made, is the first time that the partner being abused, is actually telling you, I need your help. I’ve suffered more than enough, 35 times I’ve been abused before making this call, this won’t stop, my perpetrator won’t change and I can’t do this alone. I need your help and support. That is one of the most crucial times for anyone leaving an abusive relationship.
They have already left the relationship and gone back more than once, gone back to the abuse because there isn’t any room at the safe house, the waiting list is too long or because there is no funding left. They have left and gone back because they don’t have their own financial independence, there’s no agencies to offer them the bus fare home or a train ticket to a new location or money to buy a tasty meal. They have already been told to move area, change their mobile number and “just leave” if it’s that bad, but the reality is, there is nothing strong enough to help support them on their transition from victim to survivor, yet they are the ones judged, they are the ones punished, they are the ones abused with nothing to help them.
I lived for three years with someone I loved. I left home for. I lost my job because of. My driving lessons ended because of his insecurity. He could have told me the sky was green and the grass blue and I would have believed every single word that came out of his mouth and hung onto every single letter he uttered. I loved him so much that I stopped living and my day to day life was just existing for his every single need. His wish was my command. If he wanted a beer from the fridge, I would get it. If he wanted a meal cooking at 3 in the morning I cooked it. If giving me a black eye made him feel better, I had the black eye. This was normal to me. I accepted this behaviour because when I did the things he liked doing, I knew I was safe. I was ok. He was happy. The time to worry was when I did the wrong things, said something wrong or looking at another guy. Those were the things I shouldn’t be doing because they made him abuse me. Little did I realise that actually I was doing the right things and his insecurity was making me feel guilt, making me get the blame and brainwashing me into tolerating who he was. A perpetrator.
My sex education at school didn’t stretch as far as the psychological aspect of a relationship let alone the sexual, I had never heard of domestic abuse yet I learned the hard way to find out about that. No one should ever have to do that. Those experiencing the crime shouldn’t be the ones to be made feel guilty for falling in love. We need to unattach the stigma and educate society that domestic abuse is wrong, it’s a crime that should never be accepted as normal.
Ongoing aftercare and support is as important as awareness, even more so because for many it can be the difference between life and death, because without it, many go back to the bare faced lies, the thousand apologies and the begging for forgiveness. The caring partner comes into force in the hope that the partner goes back to live with the controlling perpetrator where they can start the cycle of abuse all over again and again and again. Oh yes, things will be fine for a week or two, maybe a month if you are lucky, but the need for power and control will rise to the surface once more and the physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse will repeat itself.
Isolation, loneliness and being alone are such a dangerous combination and that is why perpetrators start their relationships with coercive control so when their partner does decide to leave one day, they have no one to rely on, only them. It’s fatal when there isn’t any support for partners escaping domestic abuse.
Ongoing aftercare and support will give reassurance, that this isn’t their fault, no matter what their perpetrator tells them. It is a safety net, giving them the security they need. Just having someone to listen to them is such a huge step forward, a listening ear without the judgement is as important as being heard and believed. It should be all part of the package. It is what is needed.
Leaving for me was difficult. I was a new mum living in a new area and petrified of every single day because today could be the day I bumped into him. I would shake with fear when out alone, always looking over my shoulder and watching my back yet never having a clue how I would react, respond or what I would say if our paths should actually ever cross. I say ever but I knew one day, that day would come.
The first time, the fear that lived deep inside of me was at the pit of my stomach as my whole body began to shake. I couldn’t find the words that I wanted to say to him and I stood in front of him that petrified person I once was, scolding myself as he walked away from me after leaving me feeling worthless. Again. However, the second time, I was stronger and I gave him a piece of my mind and left him standing their right in front of me the false tears trying to be forced from his eyes just made me laugh and feel sorry for him. I stood my ground. His reply. You’ve change.
And yes, I have changed. Changed because I had to, knowing that one day if I didn’t leave, I would be dead but it wasn’t until I left that this reality sank in. My parents could have been burying their only daughter, killed by the man who claimed to love her. I left because of my daughter. She saved my life. I would have stayed if it hadn’t have been for her.
The day will come when we all get our wakeup call from domestic abuse but my point is, it shouldn’t even get that far. With awareness, education and training, those 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men who are affected by domestic abuse might not even become a victim. Perpetrators should know that their behaviour will never, ever be tolerated but if they do choose to abuse, they should be punished for being so in order for our next generation to be kept safe.
For society to understand, it really isn’t as easy as just leaving.

What Coercive Control Means To Me

You know no one love you the way I do, I’m the one who loves you, not them. They just try and dictate your life and tell you what to do. I love you, they don’t. They just don’t want to see you happy, the way I make you happy.
The only reason you go to work is because you’re having an affair with your boss. If it was me you really loved you would stay here at the flat with me, you wouldn’t leave me on my own the way you do. It’s not right.
From the beginning he just wanted me to spend as much time with him as I possibly could. Soon, I was spending less time with friends and family and more time alone. Quickly my life was changing yet his life stayed the same, doing whatever he wanted without a second thought for anyone else.
The clothes I wore were suddenly criticised and only worn to draw attention to myself. I only spoke to people because I fancied them and no matter what I did, I was always thick and not a “proper woman” like his ex. I was branded selfish when I drank the last little bit of orange juice I had brought when shopping, even though that was the first glass I had drank. Going to the toilet, I was timed, he would be standing outside the door looking at his watch and asking who I had been texting.
Coercive control takes away your freedom and life, turning the most innocent situation into the most sinister. It makes you question your every single move and doubt yourself constantly. It is a pain that no one else can see but only you can feel. This type of control won’t just go away either, it becomes a part of you with you learning how to deal with it.
It takes away your identity, you lose your sense of achievement and direction. It builds barriers around you, you lose the ability to trust and no longer know who to trust. It prevents you from moving forward.
Coercive control is so powerful. It controls your money, where you spend it and what you buy, always demanding proof of receipt. It turns you into a possession, rather than a person. It gives you no sense of belonging or worth. It makes you have to explain your every movement, accused of wrong doing, no matter what you do, it leaves you living on autopilot; existing, not living.
When we first met, I thought he loved me and wanted to be with me, I confused his power and control for love and care. He could have told me the sky was green and the grass blue and I would have believed him. Long before I had my first black eye I had been brainwashed, controlled and manipulated, he knew exactly what he was doing to me, yet I didn’t have a clue. I accepted it as normal, tolerated it because I thought it happened in all relationships.
It leaves you thinking it is your fault, that you did deserve it and that you provoked it but the reality is, the perpetrator is always in control.
You leave so many times, yet coercive control always pulls you back, pulling you closer, squeezing you so hard, making it difficult to leave, no matter how hard you try.
He would often bring his ex partners to the flat and gloat knowing how it made me feel and going one step further and actually sleeping with her as I lay heavily pregnant in the next room. He revelled in the control he was having over us.
Coercive control is disguised so that even society can’t see it, let alone understand it. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle that has been taken apart but so difficult to put back together. Coercive control leaves a long lasting impact on your life and is dangers; dangerous because you are unaware you are a victim or it.
The end of 2015 brought in the new law, which is important for awareness and educating those that don’t understand the complex cycle. Coercive control is how the cycle begins in such a subtle manner that it simply isn’t recognised as abuse but it is so powerful it allows perpetrators to brainwash, control and manipulate every aspect of their partners life whilst looking like the caring partner to the outside world, making partners believe it is all their fault.
I find it alarmingly worrying that we are only now seeing this law when coercive control happens at the beginning of abusive relationships. Is our Justice System strong enough to deal with this type of abuse? Will CPS and Judges truly recognise coercive control and actually punish perpetrators?
We are already living in a society that continually victim blames and many don’t have faith in reporting domestic abuse through fear – fear of not being believed and the fear of what their perpetrator will do to them.
Training is paramount for all agencies and professionals who work with and support those affected by domestic abuse, before such laws are passed. Awareness, education and training are vital ingredients to help professionals and agencies work together and work for those affected by domestic abuse. Without these, how can we form a change in attitudes, how can we reduce victim blaming and more importantly offer aftercare and support to help partners successfully move on with their lives?
His tongue and words were always so powerful against me, the twinkle in his evil eye always a clear giveaway that he revelled and rejoiced in the unkind and evil words he was saying to me. His words would always echo in my head, rattling around in my subconscious mind. It’s a dangerous journey and one I had to take alone. No-one to help me put the pieces back together because no one understood what I was going through or how I felt.
Suggestions to move area and change my mobile number would never stop him from abusing me but more so an excuse to find me and start the tangled web of abuse all over again. It wasn’t just a one off, an argument or a domestic; it was a pattern of behaviour that increased in time and frequency. The days where he physically harmed me, immediately afterward he was incredibly sorry, yet every single day when he crushed my heart and every ounce of who I was, with his verbal abuse, never once did he apologise. He was not sorry for humiliating me, bombarding me with calls and texts, accusing me of having an affair with every male I spoke too. He never apologised for telling me I was fat, ugly and useless. He never showed any remorse when he told me I couldn’t even satisfy him, I wasn’t a real woman and that no one else would ever want to be with me.
People never saw this side of his personality, didn’t think he was like that or wouldn’t understand the impact his behaviour was having on me because they were only words and he didn’t mean anything by it, that was just the way he was.
But that didn’t make it right.
No one understood how his behaviour made me feel.
I was nobody, nothing, not worth to even be living. I mean, what was the point of me living, I was worthless, useless and thick. No job or career. No aims or aspirations. My appearance had quickly deteriorated along with my personality.
Coercive control builds up barriers around you, with walls closing down when you can’t understand why someone is paying you a compliment or being nice to you. It has a huge impact on you because it moulds who you are. It changes you. You become someone different and you have to learn to adapt to that whilst trying to move forward with your life.
Dark days will come, but there will be happy and good days too. It is difficult but not impossible to learn to live again after domestic abuse. I sincerely hope this law is going to be strong enough to give all those affected by domestic abuse the justice they truly deserve.