It completely changes you

My heart was beating so loud, I just froze, my breathing became fast, I gripped the car handle as though my life depended upon it.  My mouth became dry, tears stung my eyes as my body began to shake. 

“I can’t get out” I whispered, my eyes looked straight ahead.  My head was now full of every single hurtful word he had said to me during our three-year toxic relationship.  I felt physically sick, I was so scared.  Yet here I was, sitting next to the man who loved me unconditionally and I was too scared to get out of the car to pop into the shop because I had seen my ex-partner walk past us. 

The impact of his behaviour, even though we were no longer together was extremely powerful.  I was still scared of him.  I had seen him do things to people that will stay with me forever.  I have been on the receiving end of his wrath, I’ve heard his verbal threats and I know what he is capable of.  Other people have only ever seen the nice side, not the nasty, I have seen his abusive ways in all its glory and it isn’t a pretty sight.  The things you see and feel when living with an abuser live with you forever, once you have survived it, it stays with you whilst you learn to try and cope with it.  You have to learn how not to let it take over and control your life, the way your abuser did.  Some memories are better off not thinking about but sometimes it’s hard to switch off. 

Leaving an abusive relationship isn’t as easy as people think.  You are battling so many emotions, you’ve already cried enough, you want to move forward but every step you make is so damn hard.  You love him but you are scared of him but you want to be with him.  You feel as though you are fighting a losing battle, all these emotions running around in your mind and all from one person. 

The one person who claimed to love you and now your barriers are so high around you that you have no idea who to trust anymore.  You don’t recognise yourself, friends and family no long know who you are because surviving domestic abuse completely changes you. 

Your thoughts and feelings aren’t what they used to be and it’s as though you are seeing life through someone else’s eyes.  It feels like you have been on autopilot for so long that you have just been exisiting and now you have to learn to live again.  That in itself feels not only daunting but frightening too because the one person you have relied on for so long is no longer here.  They have taken control of you and your life and now you feel alone. 

You will jump at the slightest noise you hear, even in the safest place on earth.  Even a certain smell can be a trigger and take you straight back to a place you never want to revisit again. 

Paralised with fear but somehow you have to find the strength from within to be strong and move forward with your life.  It’s about taking one day at a time, life isn’t a race, you have all the time in the world to get to be where you want to be. 

Your feelings are like a dripping tap, you can’t just switch them off, you have to learn how to deal with them.  Society is under the make-believe influence that you leave an abusive relationship and everything is fine, the abuse stops and life carries on.  That is so untrue. 

The perception of domestic abuse by those it has never had an impact on is far much easier than the reality of the complex crime.  If only it were as simple as being hit by your partner and then leaving – if only.  However, this is not the reality of domestic abuse. 

Many survivors are not physically abused, abusers don’t come with a warning sign and the abuse – physical, psychological, sexual, financial – doesn’t always start straight away. 

As a survivor you are completely judged for every decision you make – yes, the survivor not the abuser. 

Over the three-year period we were together, not once did I ever hear anyone question his behaviour toward me.  He was often manipulative in front of others but no one questioned it.  No one said it was wrong, it was acceptable or stood up to him to stop it.  He knew that people feared him and that they wouldn’t approach him.  As there was no one or nothing to stop him, why would he? 

His own life never changed.  He was always in charge, always in control, came and went as he pleased, as long as I was in the flat when he got back then all was good for him. 

It is a strange experience living with an abuser because all of your own thoughts, beliefs and view simply melt away from you.  It is as though abusers have such an immense power they re-train your brain to think how they think. 

There are no specific types of abusers or survivors.  Abusers often come disguised as teachers, doctors or police officers – all part of the cycle and abuse because often when their true identity is revealed the community find it so hard to believe. 

Survivors healing process is an unique and individual one which takes time.  We have to take one day at a time because we don’t know what is around the corner. 

Sleep is controlled too

Sleep is probably the one thing we all take for granted, it is a large, important and familiar part of everyone’s life.  Unless you are in an abusive relationship that is. 

Sometimes you are too frightened to eve sleep through fear of never waking up again.  Trying to relax whilst living an abuser can prove difficult because living everyday walking on eggshells is impossible; most days the goal posts are moved. 

Living with my abuser, sleep was almost none existent becausee if he didn’t want to sleep, neither would I, irrelevant of whether I wanted to or not.  If I went to bed without him it was because I didn’t love him or he would just come into the bedroom to get me and take me into the living room, to simply sit with him and keep him company. 

These nights where we sat up and would watch the clock go around were regular and looking back now, they were the nights where he felt completely sorry for himself, where everyone had done him wrong, where nothing was his fault, where it was everyone else’s fault. 

He would laugh and ridicule me when I became so tired I could barely keep my eyes open and if I dared to not off on the sofa he would wake me up with his guilt trips.  Sometimes I was just so tired I could hardly speak but when he wanted to talk I would have to engage in deep conversation.   

Sometimes we would sleep all day the next day, well I say sleep all day, that’s not quite true, I would have to get out of bed to cook for him and when he wanted sex, he would wake me up for that too. 

A lack of sleep has a huge impact on you but having it taken away from you and being sleep deprived is just awful.  You can’t really say sleep is a safe haven with an abuser because you don’t always know what to expect.  Sometimes you pray before going to sleep, hoping tomorrow is better or pray that you will actually wake up again. 

Sleep deprivation is a hybrid of emotional and physical abuse because not only are there profound emotional effects on survivors when sleep deprivation is used, there are also dangerous physical affects as well.  It is a common tactic used by abusers in order to interrupt, impend and restrict survivors sleep cycle. 

Sleep is one of the most basic needs for survival, abusers take away that need from their survivor because they don’t want them to survive, they just want to be in control. 

The reason for sleep deprivation could range from anger or more manipulative form of abuse where abusers think they will more control over their survivor in a sleep deprived state. 

Having a lack of sleep can make you feel confused or irritable, with your ability to think critically an advantage to the abuser, something they can use to their advantage.  Survivors might agree to something they wouldn’t normally, just to get back to sleep. 

I was a nervous wreck, jumping out of my skin at the slightest sound, I was physically and mentally drained.  Sleep deprivation is taken away from our children too, even if we think they can’t hear anything, of course they can.  Smashing, shouting, screaming will wake them up, feeling frightened and wondering what is happening down stairs.  

Some might feel brave and creep down the stairs, trying hard not to make a sound will arouse them, they will be lying in bed, feeling frightened and wondering what is happening downstairs, trying hard not to make a sound.  They feel so much guilt as though its all their fault.  It isn’t, domestic abuse happens because the abuser chooses to abuse. 

A good night’s sleep should be everyone’s right and something abusers don’t take away, which is why a Good Night’s Sleep Project is important.  We want children to feel safe, not scared. 

 

His jealousy should have been a red flag

I remember just looking at people, longing for them to scoop me up in their arms and to tell me everything would be okay, it wasn’t my fault and that I wasn’t the only one to go through this.  But that day never came for me.  

My head was full of so many thoughts, some I didn’t understand or even know why I was actually thinking them, some made me doubt myself or completely blame myself for everything. 

I guess I was feeling broken and I just wanted someone to put the pieces back together.  I wanted someone to fix me. 

Little did I know my own personal journey would be a rocky one. 

We live in a world where not everyone understands the complex cycle of domestic abuse.  With the best will in the world, mums, dads and best friends don’t always understand.  Why we don’t just leave or why we leave and go back.  Professionals don’t understand that we can’t always make that appointment because on that morning we have been raped or had our money spent by the abuse we live with or we’ve been held hostage in our own home because their insecurities are making them think we are having an affair.  We can’t always phone you to let you know we can’t sign on today or we can’t come to make that statement or attend that meeting we HAVE GOT to attend otherwise we might have our children taken away.  Yet we are often punished through things that we are not in control of. 

Domestic abuse is all about power and control, something our abuser thrives on.  They control every aspect of our life and we can’t just stop it by saying, hold on babe don’t rape me today because I’ve got to go to go to an awareness course today otherwise it’s back on the waiting list for me. 

As a survivor of domestic abuse we find it so very difficult to know who to trust.  We have been brainwashed and manipulate for so long, our judgement is completely clouded by manipulated behaviour.  Repeatedly being told, no one will believe you anyway, if you leave me I’ll get them to take the kids away from you.  We are pulled in so many different directions, we don’t know which way to turn. 

Consequences of further abuse from our abuser and added pressure of professionals we feel even more control not support. 

For me, my 8 week awareness course in which I was referred to by Children’s Services, was simply something I did through fear of having my daughter taken away from me.  Everything was still so raw, I was at the lowest point of my life with my abuser still being in control, dragging me through the Family Court. 

It felt as though I was being dictated to and if I didn’t do as I was told there would be consequences from both my abuser and professionals. 

This wasn’t the support I wanted.  I just wanted someone to listen to me, no one was asking me anything, let alone asking me how I was feeling.  I was just being told what to do or asked why didn’t you just leave. 

I felt judged not supported and after the awareness course of what I had survived.  That was it. 

Like so many survivors, I accepted his behaviour because I thought it was normal so I tolerated it.  I thought he loved me. 

His excessive jealousy was a huge red flag but I misunderstood his control for care.  When he didn’t want me to see mum that night or the next, I thought it was because he wanted to spend time with me.  The abuse stated at the honeymoon period of our relationship, when we couldn’t get enough of each other, when he was so charming, when he told me what I wanted to hear.  I was so blinded by this my focus was taken off what he was really doing to me, controlling me, isolating me, taking away my support network and making it hard to leave once I realised something was wrong. 

I had never heard the term domestic abuse, I didn’t know what it looked like, tasted like or felt like until I had survived it. 

My sex education at school was just a teacher showing us how to put a condom on a banana and us watching a video of childbirth.  I didn’t know what feelings or emotions I would experience, I didn’t know what it was like to have a broken heart, I didn’t know what love means to one person doesn’t mean the same to another, I didn’t know someone would see jealousy, possessiveness and isolation as love.  I’d never heard the term domestic abuse, I didn’t know I had a choice, I didn’t know I could have left soon.  I didn’t know other people had survived it.  I didn’t know. 

Life is full of horrible and wicked things that we want to protect our children from, let alone have a conversation with them about it but I think if I had been aware of domestic abuse soon rather than later, it might have made a difference.  I could have spotted the signs sooner, I might have left sooner, I might have spoken out sooner.  

Talking about domestic abuse isn’t about telling people to forget about love, it’s telling them how to love and be loved.  It’s not about telling people the world is full of abusers but telling them that there is someone out there who wants to love them, not hurt them. 

It’s about giving people the choice to change or leave, not dictating to them or telling them their worth not judging them for staying.  It’s about keeping people safe, not sweeping the issue under the carpet, pretending it doesn’t happen to people like us.  

Keeping the conversation flowing will encourage people to talk openly about it, give faith in speaking out and in turn save a life. 

In the 20th century we are seeing young people accept domestic abuse as normal and as love. It is not normal and it is a crime. It it clearly underreported because it’s still not taken as seriously as it should be – as it needs to be. 

Children are used as weapons and tools in a very dangerous tangled web of a complex crime and it is our duty to make that change. 

Awareness is powerful and the one powerful tool any man, woman and child needs to survive domestic abuse. 

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/210076

Life is for living, not killing

Remember reading your most favourite fairy tale story, dreaming of being that particular princess, thinking of being a drown up and not being able to wait to meet your very own Prince Charming. 

Love is one of the most amazing emotions ever, to love and to be love is just spectacular and showing love can be done in so many different ways. 

Mums and dads can often show their love by telling us to wrap up warm because it’s cold outside or to put our seat belt on before they take us to our favorite place. 

Friends might show us their love by buying us a present from their holiday or telling us an answer to that question we don’t really understand in class. 

Siblings might let us wear that favourite top we have secretly been eyeing up o they might let us tag along to that party they swore they wouldn’t take us to. 

Love is shown and given in so many ways that it’s not always on display or so easy to see but when it’s there, we feel it in our heart. 

Sometimes the love we actually feel is often the best, a big hug from mum or dad, big brother ruffling our hair, holding hands with that someone special and that one kiss that makes butterfly feelings in your stomach. 

Love in the right hands is just amazing, sometimes just a small gesture can upt a big smile on your face all day long and leave a glowing and warm feeling all around you.  Everyone in the world should be loved and everyone should feel safe.  That should be a person’s right. 

We all have our own personal dreams and aspirations as we grow up, sometimes we follow our dreams and sometimes we don’t.  More often than not we all have aspirations for our children too, we might want them to be a teacher, doctor or nurse, we encourage them to do well at school, we hope they don’t fall in with the wrong crowd and we worry about them when they go out without us.  We often have these though patterns because we love our children and want the best for them. 

But what about those children who aren’t loved, those who are abused, controlled and killed. 

We can’t live in a society any longer where attitudes are, it doesn’t happen to people like us or it doesn’t happen where we live; it knows no boundaries, it does happen and it is happening right now.  You can’t turn a blind eye.  It might not be happening to your son or daughter but it could be to your neighbour, your uncle, brother, sisters’ best friend or one of your colleagues at work. 

Just because you can’t see any physical signs of domestic abuse, does not mean that it isn’t happening behind closed doors.   

Lie isn’t a fairytale and as much as we want to wrap our children up in cotton wool and bubble wrap forever, we just can’t.  We have to let go of the apron strings at some point and let them take their own journey in life, even if they do take a few wrong turnings here and there, that is part of life, they have to make mistakes in order to grow and more importantly learn from those mistakes. 

I think one of the most embarrassing conversations we have with our children is, “about the birds & bees” – although I’m not entirely sure who is more embarrassed – but maybe naively we might only talk about sex, it might be a quick talk so it’s done and out of the way.  Do we really sit there and talk about relationships and feelings that often go hand in hand with sex.  Surely, we don’t have a conversation that talks all good things in a relationship, isn’t it fair to weigh things out, we can’t give false hope on either side. 

Talking about domestic abuse isn’t a thing to fear because talking about it makes us aware, gives us a choice and lets us know our options. 

So many people mirror abusive behavior because they have seen it at home, been brought up to accept such behavior as normal and without conversations continually flowing, how will they know any different or ever have the courage to speak out? 

An abuser takes away the voice of a survivor but this survivor wants to give them a voice. 

After hearing about Mylee Billingham, I vowed to myself that in her name I would at least try and make a difference. Her story touched my heart because that could have been my Tegan. 

Please consider signing my petition, to get the conversation flowing, to raise awareness and to give our young people, the next generation, the confidence to speak out. 

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/210076

I can’t just leave

I lost my job because he constantly called at my work place demanding to speak with me, getting angry when I walked out with a male colleague or he would be waiting for me in the reception as I left work. 

It’s been so long now since I lost my job it feels as though I’ve actually lost my own identity, I no longer know who I am, my job was my sanity sanctuary but since being sacked my self-confidence has drained from me. 

How do I get another job, what do I put on my CV about why I lost my previous job, what will happen when organisations contact my employer for a reference and they say, constantly late, with drawn, could do better.  Who will want to employ me now? 

He promised me that every week he paid the rent on his property, I knew it was paid on a Friday because that’s when he demanded my wages for me.  I couldn’t really understand why I kept getting rent arrear letters, the house was in my name as were all our bills, it was the obvious option really because I was the only one working.  His money was his plus he needed if for his beer.  I was in rent arrears and in debts with the bills soh ow could I leave, I don’t have any money.  I can’t ask him to lend me any either, he always likes to see my receipts and every item that I have brought, he likes every penny accounted for. 

I don’t have my own bank account so I can’t eve save any money even if I wanted too, any spare cash I give to him, he needs his beer. 

I have no job and no money, I am in rent arrears, I can’t get on the council list and I won’t be able to get into the local refuge because I can’t leave my dog with him and they won’t allow me in with my dog.   

People around me, I don’t mean friends or family as he made me choose between him and them, he said they were no good for me because they didn’t love me the way he did and they were jealous of what we had, I guess he was right, they were always telling me he was no good for me  But people around me, knew was happening to me behind closed doors the bruises were quite clear for all to see but I guess because I always seemed okay, never said anything different and never said anything about him, people thought I was ok.  Maybe they assumed I said the wrong thing, I said something I shouldn’t have or I wore something that I wasn’t allowed too and that’s why he gave me a black eye, it’s as though they condone, accept and tolerate his behaviour toward me. 

And what about the children, if I left the marriage they would blame me for splitting up the family.  I would be seen as the one giving up.  If I did leave, I know he would make it difficult for me to see the children or even worse, those verbal threats to take them away from me, would become a reality.  I know what he is capable of and he would do just that. 

He has to be in control all the time and everything has to be his way.  Even when I go out, if I am lucky enough, he bombards me with calls and text messages, I think he just misses me really but it’s so embarrassing, I can’t relax and it’s as though he is constantly checking up on me, wanting to know who I am with, where we are and what we are saying to each other.  Sometimes it’s just easier to stay at home. 

I’m so isolated so I can’t tell anyone and no one will believe me anyway, everyone thinks he is just so charming and to a point they are right, well, he was so charming when we first got together, he couldn’t do enough for me.  We can’t even walk down the street without people stopping to say hello and to speak o him and no one ever says a bad word against him. 

Sometimes it feels like I am fighting a losing battle I can’t speak out or report it because most of the toe he doesn’t leave any physical marks, all scars he leaves behind are living psychologically in my sub conscious mind and I have to carry the heavy burden of his words and actions every single day of my life. 

If I just leave, I know he will come and find me and he consequences of me leaving just absolutely petrify me because I know what he is capable of.  It might sound a little strange but living with him, I always know what his next move will be.  He has little tell tale signs that tells me when something not so good is going to happen to me.  If I leave the environment that I am in lI am not going to know anything around me and I will constantly be looking over my shoulder, wondering what will happen next.  Anyway, it’s not like I haven’t tried to leave before but he just begged me to stay, he promises me he loved me and I know that he does, it’s just that I press his buttons sometimes and I make him angry, it’s my fault.  Even the Police tell me to just leave, I’d have to see him anyway because Judges like Dads to see their children but on the other hand I have social services telling me if I stay with him they will take away my children.  

With all this going on around me, trying to be the perfect wife and mother, trying to stop stepping on eggshells and trying not to do the wrong things, although I don’t really know what the wrong thing is any more because every day he moves his goal posts and what was acceptable yesterday, isn’t okay, it feels as though I am in the deepest darkest possible place I can be in, with no way out. 

Don’t you think that I want to leave but ask yourself, if I do leave, will that really make the abuse stop?  Will his abusive behaviour completely stop? 

Domestic abuse is all about power and control, with all abusers, male and female, always doing things to gain and maintain that power and control.  That need, does not simply stop. 

Two women, in England and Wales, are killed each week by a partner or former partner. 

Having our confidence, self-esteem and self-work completely destroyed, teamed with isolation surrounding us this having no one to rely upon anyone other than our abuser and often mistaking their control for cause because there is a thin line between the two, leaving is never an easy option.  To leave is to dice with death. 

A Good Night’s Sleep

I need to feel safe in order to sleep.  But the truth is, I don’t feel safe and I don’t sleep.  I can’t even begin to imagine what would really happen if I did fall asleep.  No, I’m not even going to think about that it’s far too scary. 

It’s all my fault anyway, I know I’m the one to blame, if I wasn’t here then none of this would happen, I know it wouldn’t.  But where would I go? How can I leave?  How would I get there? 

When I’m tired it makes me feel grumpy and I can’t always concentrate and then I get into trouble, again.  Sleep is important for me, it helps me grow.  It’s not just the not sleeping part, I also wet the bed too.  I can’t help it.  I really can’t help it.  I don’t mean to do it but, but, I do.  I think it’s because I’m scared.  I want it to stop.  The sounds, the shouting, the screaming, the silences. 

I’m just so tired and scared.   

I can’t talk to my mummy and daddy because they will just shout at me, tell me to go away or tell me it’s all my fault.  I try to talk to them, tell them I’m sorry, tell them I love them but nothing seems to work, everything I do is wrong. 

I used to like school and my teacher used to be so lovely, nice and kind to me but because I fall asleep in the classroom she shouts at me too. I’m even too hungry to eat sometimes and then the rumbling inside my tummy, that keeps me awake too.  There’s not always food in the house so sometimes I can’t eat anything anyway.  My teacher says that my work isn’t as good as it used to be, she’s asked me if there is anything wrong but I can’t tell her, I just can’t tell her what is happening at home.  If I do, it will get my mummy and daddy into a lot of trouble and they might take me away from them and I couldn’t live without them. 

I just want to feel safe in bed, I want something to help me shut everything out and help me shut my eyes and go to sleep.  Sleep might make me feel safe.  I think I would like a nice teddy to cuddle close to my chest, at least then I would have something to love and protect.  I would even give my teddy a name.  I can’t remember the last time I had a teddy to hold.  Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had one before. 

Actually, I think I would like some nice clean pyjamas too, my often get soiled and mummy hasn’t always got time to wash them, but I don’t mind.  I think I would like some slippers too.  I would like these things but I can’t ask mummy or daddy for them because they haven’t got enough money to buy those things for me, they have to buy their own things first. 

Often, at night I heard the doors banging downstairs and sometimes just after, I hear lots of crashing and things breaking, sometimes I hear loud voices coming from mummy and daddy too, that makes my stomach feel all funny inside.  Then it goes really quiet and it’s like I’m waiting for something else to happen, like a big explosion or eruption, sometimes it stays silent forever but other times the noise starts all over again. 

I just want a good night’s sleep,  I  wonder if I will tonight? 

When I go down stairs in the morning, it’s like walking into the unknown, I never know what I will see. Sometimes there is blood up the walls or holes in the doors and walls or sometimes it looks as though we have had burglars in the night ransacking our house. 

It’s always so quiet too, mummy and daddy are often in bed asleep and I just get myself off to school because I don’t want to disturb them.  When I a at school I often wonder what is happening at home and what I might walk into when I get back.  I don’t tell my friends about it, they wouldn’t listen anyway, I just have to hope that one night I will get a good night’s sleep. 

 

 

You want to steer, I’m shifting gear

Looking back on my extremely toxic relationship, I can now quite clearly see it was all about control – him controlling me.

Before I met him, life was fantastic, I had a wonderful journey of my life in front of me but in the blink of an eye everything changed.

I was no longer in control of my life, my thoughts, feelings and aspirations no longer mattered – let’s face it, I didn’t matter either, well not to him anyway.  To him I was just a possession, something for him to control on his demand and disposal.

Before I met him, I was confident and knew my own sense of direction but it felt as though he came long and mocked everything out of me, he ridiculed my beliefs and humiliated me at every opportunity knowing the love I had for him would allow me to forgive him over and over again.

The love I had been surrounded with all my life by my parents suddenly ripped away from me as though it shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

I had met this person who piece by piece destroyed me completely, crushed me physically and psychologically in such a powerful and clever way it made me believe he loved me.

Everything he said to me was like a dagger in my heart, his words were so powerful and left their mark in a way that I soon started to lose self belief in myself.

I was suddenly living in a world that just no longer made sense to me, where a mother acknowledged and knew her son was so abusive but never told him any different.

It soon became normal for me that if I dared speak to anyone of the opposite sex, irrelevant of who it was, I would be accused of having an affair, made to feel so guilty that just making eye contact with them was something sinister.  In the end, I learned it was easier for me to walk around with my heart bowed down rather than making eye contact with anyone at all.

That’s the thing about living with an abuser, you might learn the hard way but you certainly learn quickly.  Little tell tale signs that he was pissed off, such as his foot tapping, were indications of abuse that was about to happen.  No matter what others thought, I never provoked him, ever.  It was as though this gush of anger lived inside him and the only way it would erupt was if he lashed out – at me.

Living with an abuser is a rollercoaster or emotions and it’s not easy to identify that you are in a relationship with an abuser.  They are so charming and loveable, until the mask starts to slip off and when their true identity is finally revealed, you are just so crushed, wore down and have no energy whatsoever and have no idea which way to turn, you just feel so lost and empty.

Over a period of time and without acknowledgement, simply acceptance, you have been brainwashed, controlled and manipulated by someone who claims to love you.  Whilst you try to digest all of this, the guilt, anger and blame kicks in too.  It’s a whole whirlpool of emotions and understanding which just feels so surreal and difficult to comprehend or understand.

Three years I was in a relationship with him for and he wanted to steer me in only the directions he wanted me to go, but the time came for me to shift the gear.  It didn’t come easy but almost 12 months after becoming a mum, things changed, I changed and he noticed that – and hated it.  He must have felt that gear shifting.

Of course he loved it when he was in control but hated it when those roles reversed.

 

You leave because theres nothing keeping you there

Love comes in all shapes and sizes the same as perpetrators.  The honeymoon period is the same for both too and dangerously difficult to differentiate the two.

 

It’s all new and exciting to begin with and you really can’t get enough of each other but in a toxic relationship you could say you are groupe to make it easier to be abused.  When friend and family notice a difference in you, you simply brush it off, defiant that everything is absolutely fine, how you and your relationship is perfect and how you won’t hear a bad word said against your partner because they are simply the best.

You believe that, you want that to be true, you tell yourself that but deep, deep down you know it isn’t true.

 

Something tells you that when they tell you not to see your family tonight, that it’s wrong and it shouldn’t be that way but because you love them and want them to love you, tonight is the night you miss going to see your family and the next night you don’t see them until you can’t even remember the last time when you did see them.

 

You feel so frustrated because it seems as though your life is completely changing but your partners’ life stays exactly how they want it to be.

 

Over time you lose your identity to simply become the cook, the maid, the prisoner.  You lose your sense of belonging, just existing rather than living.  You wake up telling yourself, today will be better, always giving them a second chance but that change doesn’t come.

 

Working things out in your mind makes you feel as though you are on a roundabout just going round in circles, you want to stay because you love them, you want to leave because you know it’s wrong but who will listen to you, let alone believe you.

 

You’ve left a thousand times in your mind but you haven’t even left.

 

If only you could see yourself from the outside in, then you would know that you have to leave because nothing is keeping you there.

 

Take a step back, just one and look at the compliments he isn’t paying you, how many times has he told you he loves you, when was the last time he joined in with a conversation with you and your friends or told you to give your mum a call.  When was the last time you work up and didn’t have to walk on egg shells or when you didn’t go to bed wondering if you would wake up the next morning?

 

Can you see the last time you went out with your friends without having to reply to a million text messages or the last time you were allowed to the shop alone without being called, asking who you were with.

 

How many times have you wore your favourite outfits without them ridiculing you, why have you stopped wearing makeup and when was the last time you had a cosy night in without any abuse to follow?

 

Inside that relationship you can see nothing more than your abuser allows you to see but outside you can see everything so crystal clear.

 

They build you up, put you on a pedestal, promising you the moon and stars in return for them to abuse you whilst making our to the work they are the perfect partner.  You feel exhausted from pretending they are that perfect partner.

 

This is how abusers reel us in, make us feel loved with their charm and hurt us with their control.  With no on understanding this complex cycle, it leaves us feeling lonely and isolated, as though we are an outcast in our own community.

 

It often feels as though we are losing a battle within our own mind because we don’t really know what is happening to us or why, we put up with it in the hope it will stop soon.

 

Sometimes we might feel a little brave and tell ourselves that today is the day that we are going to leave but then one hundred million reasons to stay will pop up in our mind, making us stay for another day.

 

We tell ourselves we might as well stay because if we report it, they will deny it, no one will believe me or they won’t be punished anyway so what’s the point, I’ll stay.

 

The relationship you are in is packed full of problems yet your abuser has made you completely reliant upon them and with their wonderful words meeting with your ears, you give them another chance and another.

 

All this is part of the complex cycle, the mix of emotions, the not knowing, should I stay or should I go, that is difficult to comprehend.  With abuse all around you, it’s suffocating but leaving is the most refreshing feeling ever.

 

Blame

I was the much awaited daughter of my parents and on Friday 18th April 1980 everyone on that ward knew my Momma Bear had me.  The house we lived in together was filled with so much love and happiness; I was so rich in love!   Random conversations, giggles of laughter and huge on tap, pretty much summed up my childhood.

One thing I have learned since becoming a survivor of domestic abuse is it is so much easier for society to victim blame rather than understanding that domestic abuse happens because perpetrators choose to abuse.

My parents married and started their family young, something the didn’t want for me.  I was too career minded for that!  They were the strongest couple I know and I’m not saying there weren’t any cracks in their marriage but they held them together so well, I didn’t see any of them.

Even now, I get offended when I am asked about my childhood, as though it’s acceptable that I was a victim of domestic abuse if I witnessed it at home.  This question make it sound as though the abusive relationship I was once in was my parents fault.  No, it wasn’t.  When I am asked why didn’t you just leave, it’s someone blaming me for staying and not blaming my abuser for their behaviour.

Blaming behaviour helps no one other than allowing the abuser to carry on abusing.  Such behaviour is as equally as damaging as the abuse itself. In the fact that seeds of doubt are planted into the minds of victims, blaming themselves prevents them from speaking out and stops them from leaving the abusive relationship, therefore, endangering them further.

Words are so very powerful and as equally dangerous too – especially to anyone living with an abuser, this is why society as a whole needs to be educated about the complex cycle.

There is never an excuse to abuse – ever, however, an abuser will always blame their behaviour onto someone or something else rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.

Living inside a tangled web of lies and abuse is never an easy situation to be in yet everyone else feels if they blame everyone that surrounds domestic abuse it justified such behaviour somehow.  It doesn’t.  Declaring that a victim is responsible for another person’s actions and to hold them accountable for such action is deadly because it gives the abuser the green light to carry on.

 

Waking up full of fear

Living with my abuser always meant that no two days were ever the same.  Challenging, you could say the relationship was very challenging, goal posts continually moved and so many bombs dropped and eruptions here, there and everywhere, happening for reasons completely unknown to me.

We were living in the same flat, as a couple but the lives we were living were so far apart it was unreal.  It felt as though i was living in the middle of someone else’s nightmare, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape.

This toxic relationship would leave me going to bed at night wondering if I would actually wake up in the morning and when I did wake up I wasn’t sure if it was more despair than anything; waking up to a day of not knowing what would happen to me.

In this relationship it was as though I was walking around blind folded being lead around by this personal controlling me, him telling me which was to go but me knowing whichever way we went together, I would never, ever be safe.

Sometimes I just couldn’t wait for him to leave the flat and to leave me alone, but then I would worry when hearing the key in the door, wondering what would happen next.  As soon as he was inside, I had to watch out for those eggshells and hope I didn’t crack any.

Beer and food seemed to put him in his happy place but then again it could always set off fireworks too – there really wasn’t much in between, but on most days the fear of God was put into me.

Looking back now, I would often ask him the most bizarre questions but in that particular situation, I was keeping myself safe, well trying.  “Will you have sex with me tonight”, I would ask him because I thought it was what he wanted but little di I know that question gave him the curiosity to think I was having an affair.

I quickly learned that if I was doing things “that women should be doing” such as cooking and cleaning, he was okay with me.  As long as everything was his way, things seemed fine.  He was so dominating and a real believe of women belong in the kitchen and men should be in the pub but as soon as they come home, food should be on the table for them.

I guess, in time, I just did what I was expected to do, anything for a quiet life.  I would be on auto pilot as I cleaned the flat, even though it was already spotless.  I just wanted to be busy and not abused, sometimes it would be okay and other times it wouldn’t be.

I would often go to bed, lying there, thinking how I could escape but waking up in the morning, I would give him just one more chance.  One more chance always lead onto me staying longer that I really wanted too and then me feeling so frustrated with myself for staying.  It was a mix of so many emotions, a real mixed bag of highs and low, more lows than high.

Some days it would feel as though I was fighting a constant battle with my own thoughts and feelings as well as dealing with everything he was throwing at me.

Each morning I would open my eyes and sigh to myself – I was still here with him and I was still alive.  Then the fear of my existence would rip through my body.

To him, it was as though I didn’t exist, just there for him to abuse.