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.