I’m going to be on guard when he says
he’s trashing my family to ‘help’ me.
Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft
For a while, I didn’t really have an idea what to write when it came to this entry. I am very aware of the tactics that abusers use; isolating you from your family and friends so you have no real support network, no strength and making his abuse easier. But frankly, Dom wasn’t wrong when it came to criticising my family – they are the people that trafficked me, after all.
But even if it was a good idea to be away from my family, the reasons he tried to distance me from them were not in my interest, they were only in his.
He always made it sound like it was for my own good, which yes, it was, but that wasn’t his motivation, it was never his motivation. He didn’t give a shit about me, he didn’t give a shit about my well-being, about the fact I was being trafficked and abused, about the way they treated me, he only cared about himself and my being isolated, about my not belonging to anyone other than him.
I had to be his. I had to belong to him and only him and he knew that as long as my family were around that they would always have the most control over me; that I had been so conditioned and groomed and abused that I would always refer to them before him. He approved of their abuse of me, I knew that, especially as it made me more pliable, more vulnerable, easier to abuse and manipulate without fighting. I know that’s exactly the reason why he picked me, because I had been severely abused before, because he could get more violent more quickly without facing resistance. But whilst he admired and appreciated the abuse from my family, he still wanted me to be his.
When I was nineteen, I was pressured by numerous people to press charges against my mum’s boyfriend, but the majority of that pressure came from Dom. He repeatedly told me it was the right thing to do, told me I needed to do it, told me he’d stand by me no matter, told me I needed to get out from under his control (ha), repeatedly guilted me, playing on the one thing he knew would push me into doing it – that if Paul abused other girls it’d be on me (this was a message repeated to me by numerous people – including the police). All the pressure meant I ended up doing it, I ended up pressing charges, but it was mostly Dom’s influence that got me there because there was no way I was doing it without interpersonal support, even if it did come from an equally abusive man. I don’t want go into all the details of that case, that’s definitely another post, but Dom spent that entire time trying to chip away the control and gas lighting that Paul had over me and replacing it with his own.
He repeatedly told me he’d never treat me like that, that I didn’t deserve to be treated like that, that I deserved to be away from my family. And I believed him, believed that for the first time someone was actually on my side, completely unable to recognise that he only wanted to take that control for himself, completely unable to recognise that he was treating me like that. As I’ve said in other posts, I never loved him nor wanted to be in a relationship with him, but during those months, he was my main support; I became incredibly dependent on him and really trusted him and needed him.
I was deliberately ignoring the things he was doing to hurt me. I ignored the beatings, the rapes, the criticisms, the violent words. I ignored every time he called me pathetic and stupid when the pressure of the case got so much I ended up self-harming. I ignored the times he told me I must be lying about Paul. I ignored the times he said I was pathetic for letting it all affect me so much. I ignored the times he poked holes in my memories, making me doubt myself and the abuse. I ignored the times he took advantage of me, raped me, whenever my mental health spiralled because of the case – the times he raped me when I was too drunk to know my own name, the times I passed out from drinking, the times I was too dissociated to know what was going on, the times I was so stuck in flashbacks and so triggered and not wanting to be touched at all and he forced me anyway.
All I could see were the times he was ‘there for me’. The times he came with me to give my video statement. The times he sat with me in hospital so they could stitch me up once again. The times he rang into college for me because I was too ill to go in, too ill to call in myself. The times he cooked for me and cleaned for me and cared for me when I was too ill to even move. All I could see was the support that he gave me throughout the case – completely unaware that he didn’t care about me, didn’t care about the case, didn’t care about my well-being, was only seeking the ways to gain more control over me.
Even whilst writing this, I’m doubting myself. Maybe he really was just a good guy, maybe he really was just trying to help me? How dare I accuse him of being abusive and having ulterior motives when he put so much effort into supporting me during those months? What if I’m wrong? What if he genuinely just wanted to help me?
Logically, I know I’m not wrong. I know he only helped me so he could transfer that control over to himself. I know he wasn’t helping me cut off my family, press charges, gain freedom for me. He didn’t want me free, he just wanted to secure his ownership over me and he knew he’d never have full ownership over me when my family still had so much control, so much prominence over my life.
I know how that can seem odd to others, maybe hearing it from another perspective is what’s making me doubt it myself. I know other survivors will recognise and understand the two crazy sides of him, though, can understand exactly how this worked. Abusers don’t work with much logic; they work in a way that is beneficial to them, that leaves their victims feeling the most crazy and the most dependent. Stopping someone else being abusive to me, pushing me to cut ties with my abusive family might sound great on paper, it might make him sound like an amazing guy, but his intention was to never give me freedom, it was to take control himself. If my family hadn’t actually been abusive, he would have found some other way to try and force me to cut contact with them, it’s just the way abusers work. Dom just had a legitimate reason to get me to cut contact with them.
After that police case was dropped, after Paul violently raped me in retribution, all of Dom’s care, all of his support disappeared instantly. He accused me of ‘cheating on him’. Said I was a whore and I obviously wanted it anyway. That I was lying about Paul ever having had raped me and that I was the one that sought it out, that I was in a relationship with him and always had been. The next day, I attempted suicide but was stopped. Dom got angry at me because I didn’t ring him first, said how worried and concerned he was, how hurt he was that I didn’t reach out to him when he loved me so much. The entire time I was in the hospital and then recovering in my room at the hostel, he was texting me, calling me, constantly. Then he switched violently, called me an attention seeking little bitch and went on again about how bad my family was for me. That I only did it because I felt so disgusted with myself for having sex with my own family again. Those following days were filled with him jumping from one extreme to the other. Caring and loving and concerned. Violent and abusive and criticising. His overall message, throughout, was that I couldn’t ever contact my family again – that I’d fucked up so much that none of them would ever want anything to do with me. That he was all I had left.
There were, however, family members who were ‘nice’ to me, or at least appeared to be and for a long time I would have argued that they were absolutely not abusive and separate from the others. I now know that’s wrong and that they were equally abusive albeit in different way, but at the time, I considered them to be safe, amazing people, people I actually wanted a connection with, people who I saw as a support system.
These people, mostly, were my dad (at least, I always assumed him to be my father and he thought he was my father), my half brother (although a child, he gave me a lot of emotional strength and support) and my grandma and by extension her new husband.
Dom did everything he could to try and cut my ties with those people, too. In hindsight, I needed to cut contact with them long before I did, but once again, Dom’s motivations were not for my benefit, they were for his. It was not something I wanted. I believed them to be the only family I had left after mostly cutting ties with my mother and her boyfriend, after my granddad/father had finally dropped dead, after mostly cutting ties with my sister and I didn’t want to lose those last connections with my family, regardless as to whether or not they were good for me.
Dom was constantly criticising them, pointing out every little thing they did and often twisting it. He repeatedly said it was for my own good. He’d make it impossible for me to see them. Insist we have to do something else on the days I agreed to meet them. Insist on coming with me whenever I saw them. I didn’t see any of my family alone for all of those five years – which ironically possibly worked out for me, it was the most peace I ever got because both Dom, my dad, his girlfriend and my grandma completely toned down their behaviours towards me around one another. But again, that wasn’t Dom’s intention, his intention was to make sure I didn’t say anything, that I didn’t try and reach out to them.
Always, always, always it was for my own good. ‘They’re just going to put you down, they’re just going to criticise you. You do so much better when you’re not around them. They just want to control you. My family would never do that. They don’t want you to be happy. They don’t support you – I do. You’re going to turn into them if you keep spending so much time with them. You’re better off without them. You only need me.’
He was trying to drive a wedge between me and my family and it was absolutely a wedge that needed to be there, which makes this even harder to process. I needed to be away from my family. They weren’t safe for me. They were awful to me. And I did need to cut off those ties. Which makes it so much harder to view him in a bad light because ultimately, it was for my own good. But he didn’t have my ‘own good’ at heart, he never did. He drove a wedge between myself and my family for his own intentions. To secure control over me and to ensure no-one could interfere with that – either by splitting us up or by securing control over me themselves. My mind, my trust, my compliance, my submission was a battlefield. So many people wanted it, so many people never wanted me to have it myself – I didn’t even know it was something I could have myself. Dom just wanted to take it for himself; he never wanted to free me from my family.