Some Simplicity in All the Confusion

In response to an earlier post, I decided to take this healing thing and cutting those ties seriously.  I’m partially doing that in therapy and I’m partially doing it myself; through journalling and through reading.  A few months ago, I bought myself copies of Why Does He Do That? and Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?.  A lot of it may not be relevant for me any more, considering I’m no longer in those relationships or those kinds of relationships and a good chunk of it on the basis that I don’t have kids, but the introduction alone for Daily Wisdom talks about finding a sense of self and a sense of freedom from those abusive partners, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

I’ve had a few people in the past said they’d be interested to hear more about the healing process, about my healing process, that I write in such a way that it’d be useful to get the perspective from someone who’s still going through that process (though, I’d argue that none of us ever stop going through that process) and well, it’d be useful for me to actually write out my thoughts as I’m working my way through this book, to have them somewhere where I can look back on them and process where I am now and where I was.

I imagine these posts could quickly become annoying and I apologise for that if so.  I’m not going to neglect writing my other posts, in case you’re here just to hear the odd token story from an exited womon.  I guess I’m going to be writing these posts for myself and for other womyn who have been in abusive relationships; maybe there’d be some insight there that can help them, especially those that can’t afford their own copies of the books.  Whatever the reason, I’m doing it anyway (or at least I say that now, I have no sticking power with anything) so if that does become annoying, I am sorry.


I don’t make him do the things he does.
When men blame women for their behaviour,
that’s one of the benchmarks of abuse.

Everything was my fault when I was with Dom, literally everything.  I was responsible not only for the things I did, but the things he did, even the things the cats did.  If one of them woke him up early in the morning, it was my fault.  Everything was my fault.  Everything was always twisted in that house, I’m loathe to call it a ‘home’ because it really just wasn’t.

He twisted everything.  Anything I accused him of, he twisted back on me.  I was the abusive one, I was the one yelling, I was the one controlling everything, I was the one who always started the arguments, I was the one who made the flat messy, I was the one that spent all the rent money, I was the one that did everything.

He was an expert when it came to gas-lighting.  I believed him, I believed every word.  There was a long period of time where I genuinely believed that I was the abusive one, where I genuinely believed I had no right to complain because he was just defending himself when I abused him; it’s what kept me trapped in that ‘relationship’ for so long – what right did I have to kick up a fuss and leave him when I was the one being abusive, if I could just be better then there wouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been out of that relationship for four years and I still have those doubts; still doubt whether he was really the abusive one, if it was in fact just me.  I question every single behaviour, every single word, every single thing I do with my girlfriend; convinced I’m really just an abusive person, I’m constantly watching myself for any slightest signs of abuse.  Logically, I know it’s not me, I know it’s never been me.  I know I treat my girlfriend with the love and the respect and the care that she deserves.  I know I’m just actually a genuinely nice person; that I can have moments where I get frustrated and maybe say something verging on mean about people in my life, but that’s more just venting in response to normal day-to-day frustrations exactly so I don’t actually say anything mean to them.  This isn’t even me just trying to say the nicest things about myself (trust me, this is definitely not a habit) to alleviate any sense of guilt, I am just a nice person.

And regardless as to whether or not I am a nice person, I didn’t make him do anything.  I guess.  It’s still hard to believe, let’s face it, I’ve not exactly been programmed to see the worst in abusers, I’ve been programmed to see the absolute best in them and the absolute worst in myself and going against that is difficult and painful and scary.

It’s difficult for me to accept the above quote; it’s difficult for me to accept that the responsibility for his own actions lies with him.  There’s always a ‘but’, there’s always a loop-hole.  ‘But if I just hadn’t…’, ‘if I’d just done…’, ‘but if it wasn’t for me…’.  There’s always a reason why it’s my fault, there’s always a cause and an effect and I am always that cause.  Trying to get myself out of that way of thinking is difficult and it’s painful.

It’s difficult and it’s painful because it’s easy to blame myself and not only because that’s what I’ve been taught and manipulated and programmed into doing for the majority of my life.  It’s easier to blame myself because if it’s my fault then there’s something I can do to stop it happening again.  If I just change my behaviour, just change the way I think, just change everything about myself, then I won’t get hurt again, right?  Blaming myself means there’s a problem with me and I can fix me, I can whittle down and change and warp every single aspect of myself, I can be a whole other person and then the abuse and the rape and the torture would stop.  If I’m the problem, then I can fix it.  Blaming myself is easier because it means I don’t have to face up to the fact that I was a victim, I don’t have to face up to the fact that I was abused and I was raped and I was tortured for the majority of my life, for the entirety of that relationship.  If I blame myself, if it was my fault, then words like ‘rape’ and ‘domestic abuse’ become meaningless because I of course wasn’t living with an abusive, violent man, he was the one living with an ‘abusive’, ‘infuriating’, ‘difficult’ woman who caused so much trouble that he was forced to defend himself.  Blaming me means I don’t blame them.  Not blaming men means I can free myself of the label of victim.  It means nothing happened, it means I have no right to whine about it now.  It means I don’t have to admit just how horribly I was hurt, to either myself or anyone else.

So changing that thinking is hard for me, just as it is for any other survivor.  We have so many reasons to blame ourselves.  When we’re in the situation we do it for protection because goddess help us if we try and blame him, when we do it later, it’s still for protection, it’s protecting our own minds from the overwhelming reality of being a victim.

Logically, of course I can see it.  Of course I can see that he was responsible for his own actions, just as I was responsible for mine (barring the things he and others forced me to do – that I relented and agreed to do for my own protection).  Of course I can see that my not putting the shopping away fast enough didn’t make him hit me; he chose to hit me.  Of course I can see that me saying ‘hi’ to a friend didn’t make him turn on me and assault me for cheating on him; he chose to do that.  Of course I can see that my lying next to him pretending to be asleep wasn’t me playing hard to get, wasn’t me asking for it, wasn’t me trying to turn him on with a kinky game; he chose to rape me.  I logically know those were his choices, his actions, not mine.  I know I never wanted to get the shit kicked out of me, I know I never wanted his gross, sweaty self all over me, I knew I was a lesbian even so I definitely didn’t want his hands on me.  I know I didn’t make him do any of those things because why would I, they weren’t anything I wanted?  I know I didn’t make him beat me and rape me and torment me for five years; he chose to do that.

But logic isn’t the same as belief, it just isn’t.  I’m too scared to believe, I’m trying, goddess trust me, I’m trying but it’s just so hard to believe that I didn’t make him do each and every single one of the things he did to me.  It’s so hard not to believe that if I was just a better person, if I wasn’t as ‘abusive’ as he convinced me he was, then none of it would ever have happened, it’s so hard to put the blame on him without shaking in fear at what the consequences of that would be if he were to ever know, to ever find me.

I’m trying, I really am.  I’m trying to believe it wasn’t me.

I know if it was any other womon, I’d be saying the same; I know I’d be telling her it’s utterly disgusting that he blames her, I’d be saying it is most definitely abusive, that she doesn’t control what he does.  But when it comes to me?

Well, I’m working on it, I am.

I’m not responsible for what he chose to do.

I’m not responsible for what he chose to do.

I’m not responsible for what he chose to do.

Rad-Survivor.

 

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Loosening His Grip

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote here and that’s been for a few reasons.  It’s because I’ve not been doing well, because I struggled massively over Christmas and the New Year.  It’s because I’ve been doing well; I’ve got a taste for happiness and a sense of safety and I’ve not wanted to poke the hornets nest and ruin that for myself.  It’s because I’ve honestly just not known what to write.

For the past few months, I’ve barely been focusing on the prostitution, the pornography, the trafficking; any of the areas of trauma I set up this blog to focus on.  Part of it’s been deliberate, I’ve pushed my mind away from those thoughts, from those memories, from those experiences; I can and will do anything to deny to myself that it’s all real, even if that’s counter-intuitive to my own healing and my own survival.  Instead, for the past few months, my brain has felt the need to focus overwhelmingly on my past abusive relationships, on the rapes and the abuse and the torture and the stalking and the captivity that my ex partners put me through and whilst that has involved pornography and prostitution, I’ve kept my mind well away from that.  It’s not surprising, to be honest, not now that I’m in a relationship with someone who truly loves and cares for me and treats me with respect and compassion; I’m noticing more and more the differences and the more I notice them, the more I’m starting to see just how abusive those past relationships were.

Whilst I’ve been half aware of it for the last year and a half, the last few weeks I’ve realised something more and more and it’s something I’m so deeply ashamed of, it’s something that I feel I should have been long free of, it’s something I feel like just shouldn’t be there any more, it’s something that feels like a gross betrayal of the woman I love.

Just over four years ago, the end of November/early December 2011, I broke up with my ex-fiancé.  Not that it made much difference at the time, our relationship was officially over, but he refused to move out, refused to give me my key back (and like fuck could I afford to change the locks) and all it did was make him more violent and more open and vicious with his abuse.  He continued to rape me and took pleasure in telling me it was ‘now’ rape (as if it wasn’t before), that he was going to fuck me no matter what, that he enjoyed knowing he was raping me.  He told me he could do whatever he wanted to me, that I was just a worthless whore, that if I didn’t belong to him then I was worth nothing.  His messages were mixed; one moment I didn’t belong to him and I was a worthless whore, the next moment I still belonged to him and nothing was going to change that, not even me, that the only time I’d stop belonging to him was when I was dead.

I spent those months convinced that that point was quickly coming.  Dom (because why the fuck shouldn’t I name him?) was still around, still beating me, still raping me, still punishing me, still torturing me despite my having finally got the guts to break off the engagement that I never even agreed to and break up with him.  My traffickers had tracked me down and were completely back in my life, prostituting me out of my own flat and when they felt they could, dragging me back to where I’d always been prostituted before.

I never expected to survive, I never expected to escape.  I’d basically given up.  On the night I did escape, after having very, very reluctant conversations with friends, everything was a blur.  I remember clearly thinking I had a few choices and I barely had any time to make those choices – I knew my main trafficker, my mother, was going to be back in the morning.  I’d already gone through a day of hell.  I still don’t know how I survived that day.  I knew my choices were to wait for her to come back – to be dragged back into that world completely, to end up dying there just as I was always meant to.  Wait for her to come back and kill me out right, that she knew she was already losing control over me and that she’d never be able to control me in the same way again.  Kill myself and save myself all the trouble.   Or make that call, send that text, ask for the help I’d been offered and take a chance on escaping.  I don’t remember sending that text.  I don’t remember packing my bag.  I don’t even remember putting clothes on.  I just remember sitting in her car, very conscious of the fact I was bleeding and terrified it was gonna soak through to the seat.  I didn’t even really know where I was going or what I was doing.  Several times I nearly panicked, begged her to take me back, terrified of what my mum, Dom, my other traffickers would do if they found I wasn’t there.  But I was too frozen in fear, too numb, too stuck in my own head and dissociated to say a word.  I found myself out my best friend’s house and my life changed from that moment on.

I was in a hotel for three weeks at first; completely alone, my friends refused to visit me there and I barely had the energy to go visit them.  That first night, before I’d had a chance to change my number, Dom rang me, shouting and yelling at me for leaving without telling him, screaming at me because my mum was pissed and was blaming him and I was so close to breaking, so close to telling him where I was.  I completely dissociated and found the strength to hang up and take the SIM card out; the people that needed to contact me knew where I was.  I’m ashamed to admit I still have that SIM card (and my old email address), I could never bring myself to destroy it or throw it away; knowing my traffickers and Dom can still use it to contact me, get back into my head.  I know I should, I just haven’t been able to.

I was completely away from Dom, I still am.  I’ve been completely away from him and safe from him for nearly four years.  Except, in a lot of ways, I’m still not.  There’s still so many ties that haven’t been cut.  Ties that I’ve been too scared to look at, too scared to acknowledge, too scared to touch and do anything about.  They’re the emotional ties, the mental ties, the gas-lighting, the control he still has over me, the grip he still has on my life.

I’ve tried to deny it so many times, despite for the last few years being aware it’s there.  I’d insisted so many times that Dom was the least of my worries, that I wasn’t even remotely affected by what he’d done to me, that I was an exited woman – I couldn’t be worrying about an abusive relationship when I had so many other things on my plate.  But it wasn’t true and I knew it wasn’t true and pushing down those flashbacks and those memories and the consequences they had on me just made everything worse.  Around summer, 2014, things got really bad.  I was in a constant state of high anxiety, I was having constant flashbacks.  I was almost constantly curled up and scared and unable to move.  Every single sound left me breaking down completely.

I currently have a needlessly aggressive neighbour.  A neighbour who shouts and swears, slams doors and bangs on walls, throws things around and generally throws weekly tantrums.  Logically, I know him throwing tantrums has absolutely nothing to do with me and thankfully he’s living alone so I know there’s not a woman suffering in there, but without fail and especially throughout 2014 and the start of 2015 his actions would leave me in a complete mess.

That doesn’t even begin to describe what was happening for me, honestly.  Every time he started, I’d be left curled up in fear, completely unable to move, completely unable to make a noise myself, of any kind, terrified I’d make it worse.  I wasn’t even able to breathe properly because I was so terrified of making too much noise and making it worse.

Whilst my neighbour is an arsehole and needlessly aggressive and loud, I know I wasn’t responding to him, I was responding to Dom, I was stuck in flashbacks and I was stuck in the past.  I read a post on Tumblr, recently –

Men who slam doors and furniture are making sure you hear how much they want to hit you. – hmsindecision

and that’s exactly what my life with Dom was like.  Yeah, he frequently beat the shit out of me anyway, but before he reached that point it was a constant building up of slamming doors, punching walls, slamming furniture, throwing things, knowing it was leaving me terrified of what was to come.

Once those noises start, whether they’re Dom or my neighbour, all I could do was wish it was over.  Wish that he’d just hit me already so the cycle would stop and I didn’t have to live frozen whilst the noises carried on.

I started self-harming whenever my neighbour started, just so it would end the cycle, so I’d get the hurt that would leave me able to breathe again once the banging had started.  I felt like I couldn’t relax, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything again until he’d just got it over with and hit me.  But my neighbour wasn’t going to hit me, there was no Dom, all that was left was me and my self-harm.

That was my first realisation as to just how much control he still has over me, how much he’s still in my head, how much he still has a grip on me.  And yeah, I’m ashamed of it, I wish I could say I was over it, I wish I could say he was the least of my problems (which in a lot of ways is true when you have a history of being prostituted and being used in porn) but I’m not over it, he still has a lot of control over me.

In therapy this last Thursday, I completely froze when my therapist was asking about him.  She was trying to get me to admit he was abusive, that his behaviours were abusive.  I froze, I became panicky and it took me a long time to be able to say anything.  I was so terrified of saying anything negative about him, so terrified of what the consequences would be despite the fact that I’ve not seen him for nearly four years, despite the fact that I know I’m safe now, despite the fact that I know he won’t be able to find me.  He still has so much of a grip on me that I couldn’t even admit just how abusive he was in a private therapy session, where no-one else will ever know.  It’s taking so much self-control to not delete these words here, despite very few people knowing Rad-Survivor = me and despite very, very, very few of those people even knowing who Dom is.

The truth is, Dominic still has a massive grip on me, still has so much control over my life, still frequents my flashbacks and my nightmares.  I can’t just shrug it off and ignore it just because I have bigger things to deal with.  I have to deal with both.  I’m so ashamed to admit that he still has so much control over me after all this time.  I evidently took some of that control back by calling off the engagement, breaking up with him and eventually leaving the night I did, but he still does have so much of a grip on me and it’s really about time I started getting rid of it.  I can’t live my life constantly terrified he’s going to find me at any moment, I can’t live my life constantly terrified of consequences that aren’t even going to happen.  I deserve better than that.

Rad-Survivor.

Finding My Healing Path

So much of me wants to take into account the advice of other exited womyn; to take heed of their words when they say we don’t need to remember everything, that we need to accept and acknowledge our pasts and our realities to the point where we can heal, but we don’t need to remember each and every moment of pain, trauma and torture.

But my brain seems far too reluctant to pay much attention to that; it seems intent on remembering each and every single little detail (though it could just be that after close to twenty years of rapes and trauma and abuse there’s just so much of it that I’m inevitably gonna end up having to process so much just to reach the point where I don’t have to remember it all.  I’m gonna end up, no matter what, remembering at least something or I won’t have anything to accept and acknowledge and heal from.) and no matter how much I try and ease the flow of flashbacks, they just don’t seem to stop.

Logically, I know that part of this is because once again I’m actively avoiding healing, I’m actively pushing away my memories and actively avoiding therapy and not really engaging with anything.  There’s one simple reason for this and that’s that I’m happy.

For the first time in my life, I actually know what happiness is.  I’m starting to actually understand concepts such as happiness, calmness, trust, safety and I don’t wanna mess with that.

My trauma’s become this big, looming hornets nest and frankly, I don’t wanna poke it.  And why would I?  I’m experiencing positive things for the first time in my life and I have the option to welcome pain and trauma back into my life (they might be diminished as they’re based on memories, but it’s still pain and it’s still trauma), I don’t only have the option, but it is something that I’m inevitably going to have to do and that terrifies me; I guess you can understand my reluctance?

Despite all of this, despite my reluctance, I know damn well that I have to do it.  I might not exactly be old, but I’ve lived with trauma long enough to know that the more I ignore it, the more that it’s gonna come back and bite me in the arse.  Dissociation and distancing has served me well, it’s kept me alive this long, but there’s gotta be a point where I let go of those coping mechanisms and actually try and heal.

I sometimes really, really, really hate being smart enough to understand the healing process and understand the way that trauma works.  I wish I could just enjoy this happiness, blissfully unaware, but I do know that the longer I avoid engaging with the healing process, the worse the consequences are gonna be.  There really is only so long you can ignore trauma before it comes and bites you in the arse again.

And so, once again, reluctantly, I’m making a commitment to all this healing malarkey.

I had a realisation, yesterday, realised exactly where the starting point for me was.  The frustrating thing?  This is the same realisation I had about three years ago; I was right then and I’m still right now.  I know myself well enough to know what it is that I need and how to reach it and I did know the same three years ago.  I on some level knew that there was a specific starting point for my healing and whilst other aspects of my trauma might come up in the process (and has done) that this is where I need to focus the work I do, first.

So, this starting point.  I think it’s with my ex, which I hate, because I’m still utterly fucking terrified of him, but I do think it’s where my healing work needs to start.

You see, the thing is, despite this blog, despite the way I write here and elsewhere, I haven’t even remotely accepted my trauma as trauma.  If I was to write this blog and spend every other post going ‘nope, it’s not real, I’m just crazy, of course that wasn’t rape, la, la, la, la, la’ my voice would be silenced almost instantly.  I know how much people cling onto their token exited womyn and I know that if a good chunk of those people found out their token was just a bit… crazy, then they’d be gone in an instant.  (Newsflash – we’re all a little crazy because trauma is horrific, we just hide it because we know how quickly we’d be silenced if you got even the briefest glimpse of that 😉 )

It’s one of the most difficult parts of being a trauma survivor; accepting that our experiences actually count as trauma.  Even if we can get past the point where we insist that our memories aren’t real and we must just be making them up (which we usually reach because our brains unrelentingly throw flashbacks at us until we do reluctantly accept they’re real – which yes, painful) we still then have to try and acknowledge those experiences as being abusive and that’s where we get especially good at denial and loopholes and excuses and justifications.  You know all that victim-blaming nonsense?  Well trust me, no one is better at it than survivors ourselves.  We’re capable of finding excuses and loopholes and justifications in just about every single scenario – and of course, this only applies to ourselves.  I’ve never seen another survivor question her sisters, only her own experiences.  What’s true for our sisters simply isn’t true for ourselves.  We’d never, ever think of telling a survivor sister that her trauma doesn’t count, that her experiences weren’t abusive, but holy shit are we happy to tell ourselves that.

‘If I just hadn’t pissed him off.’

‘If I’d just kept the door locked.’

‘It can’t be rape, I was just a whore.’

‘It was just a job.’

‘Well, I mean, I was drunk.’

‘I kept going back…’

‘I chose to go into that relationship.’

‘I chose it.’

‘It wasn’t that bad anyway, that’s not real rape, that’s not real abuse.’

‘I’m not a survivor, that’s taking away from real survivor experiences, I’m a disgusting person for claiming their words.’

‘Real abusive relationships don’t get that violent that quickly.’

etc.

etc.

etc.

We’re full of excuses and loopholes and justifications; excuses and loopholes and justifications we’d never impose on anyone else.

The simple truth is, despite logically knowing what my experiences amount to, despite knowing how others view them, despite me telling any other survivor with a similar past that it’s abuse, despite the way I talk on this blog – I don’t believe I’m a survivor, not really.  I can’t really believe that my experiences are abuse.

And that’s where my sticking point is.  I can’t accept my trauma as trauma.  I can’t accept abuse as abuse, at least for myself.

Except maybe, maybe with my ex.  I’m too lazy to come up with a pseudonym so here I am naming and shaming.  Except maybe with Dom.  (This isn’t the ex I spoke about here – this is the one after, my last ex.)

Something with Dom leaves me catching myself, leaves me questioning my own words.  He’s the only one out of a multitude of perpetrators where I find myself thinking, well, maybe it was abuse?

I think it’s partly because I realised, on some level, at the time that he was abusive.

I remember about three years into the relationship, I ran a session at a Summer Camp around healthy relationships with a colleague.  I already knew all the ‘red flags’ for abusive relationships, heck, I helped prepare the session and write out the information.  But for some reason, on that day, looking at all the flipcharts with all the red flags up there, something clicked and I started really questioning what I’d be leaving that safe space for, what I’d be going home to.  I ended up talking with that colleague afterwards, gently questioning the possibility that I actually was in an abusive relationship.  I very quickly backed away from it; it was nowhere near safe enough for me to question it at the time, but the seed had been planted.  It was possibly there beforehand, but that’s the first clear moment I remember questioning if Dom was abusing me.

I tried to leave Dom a few times, it never really worked out that well for me, but I knew, I knew on some level I needed to get out.  I broke up with him at the end of November/start of December 2011 and I finally escaped him completely May 2012.  The sheer fact that I was able to leave him means that on some level, I really did know he was abusive, I really did know that he was hurting me, I really did know my life was at risk.

And that’s why, I think, he has to be my starting point when it comes to healing.  He’s the only one I can even slightly recognise as being abusive.  And that skill, that ability to recognise abuse for what it is is undoubtedly gonna be a key part of my healing.  How am I ever supposed to heal if I can’t even see my trauma as trauma?

I instinctively know that once I can very clearly see Dom as abusive; that I can have that fact clear and stable in my mind, that I can recognise those behaviours for what they are, then I’ll be able to apply that same thinking to the rest of my experiences, slowly but surely.

I just instinctively know that this is where I need to start.  Which I fucking hate because yes, I’m still fucking terrified of him.  I still wake up from nightmares, drenched in sweat, nightmares that feature nothing but him.  I’m still constantly terrified he’s going to track me down somehow, even if I know he’s engaged to someone else, even if I know he has no idea where I am.  Even the mere thought of him freezes me in fear.  I broke up with him four years ago around now; I’ve been completely safe from him since May 2012, but I’m still just so scared of him; still just as scared as if he was right here.

But I frustratingly know that this is what I need to do, that he has to be my starting point.  Gah.

I decided, yesterday, that I’m finally gonna read Why Does He Do That?  I have a feeling it’s gonna have some of the answers I need.

Rad Survivor.

More Guilt

Yesterday, I did yet another stupid thing.  Triggering myself and punishing myself is something I’m sadly so good at, so you’re probably gonna end up reading about the stupid things I’ve done on a regular basis.

Anyway, yesterday, my stupid thing was doing a little Facebook and Twitter stalking of my family and my ex. (this is always done via another FB account so I’m safe doing it and I’ve not added any of them as friends or messaged them via the side account etc.) and I ended up finding out something that disturbed me so much and left me really just not knowing what to do.

I’ve known for a little while now that my abusive ex was in a new relationship and I’ve spent so much time curled up in guilt because of that; so strongly feeling like I need to get a message out to her somehow, to try and warn her, to let her know just how abusive my ex. is so she can get away from him.  I ended up not doing it.

I found out yesterday that he proposed to her, that they’re now engaged.  I know him, I know his views on marriage, I know exactly what he’ll be thinking.  He believes that girlfriends are his property, but he believes even more that wives are his property; this is about gaining full control over his girlfriend, I know, because I was engaged to him at one point and I saw how much everything changed for the worse, to the point where I couldn’t take it any more and had to leave him.

I don’t know if he’s abusing her yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was, it’s been about four years so I’m sure she’s definitely noticed some red flags, sure he’s done something by now.  I know she was generally more stable and less vulnerable than me; I was trained to accept abuse and not say anything long before he met me, so I know it was generally easier to hurt me, he got to skip all the grooming stages, but maybe he hasn’t had to skip those with her.

I’m worried for her so much, especially now he’s tied himself to her, I was worried before but this really freaked me out.  Once I officially ‘belonged’ to him, he got so much worse, I was his property and he could do whatever he wanted to and with me and he barely had any restraints before then.  I’m so scared for her, I’m so scared of what he’s gonna do to her.

I tried to tell myself that he wouldn’t hurt her, that he had somehow magically changed or maybe it was something about me, never about him or he just needed to find the right person who he wouldn’t abuse and maybe he’s found that person in her, but I know that’s all bullshit.  Abusers don’t change, they’ll never change.  She’s just at much at risk as I was, as the few women before me were.

Talking with my girlfriend about him and his family and this situation yesterday, I realised a lot.  I realised that of course he’s always gonna be abusive, that he always had been.

Between screaming and yelling at his mum at 3am to go and make us some food (I nearly threw up from the shame and the guilt and couldn’t eat any of it) when she had work the next morning and her doing it without question because he always lost his temper so quick.

Between his insistence that his ex girlfriend, who’d only been with him for a few months, was completely crazy and a liar and fucked up and if she ever said anything to me that it was a lie.

Between the fact that his younger female relatives were always so wary around him.  That his cousin refused to leave her daughters alone with him.  That his other cousin repeatedly crashed and burned and would never be anywhere with him alone.  I knew he had abused his step-sister, she told me herself.  The fact that a young girl adopted into the family used to scream and cry and yell whenever he was anywhere near her.

Between the fact that a boy much younger than him, struggling with his sexuality and generally really vulnerable had been manipulated into an on and off again relationship with him for years.

He’d always been abusive and thinking on it with my girlfriend yesterday, his family knew, they’ve always known.  There’s something really telling in the way his grandmother is glaring in all of the pictures of the engagement party; it was the same look she had when he announced our engagement.

Part of me really, really wants to reach out to her somehow, to warn her, to tell her to get out, to help her pick up on those red flags and see who he is.  But I know that I could potentially be risking my own safety if I do and I know that she simply wouldn’t listen to me.  He’s of course told her that I’m crazy and a liar, in the same way he told me the same about his ex; if I write to her this soon after her engagement, I’m just gonna look like the crazy, jealous ex. who’s trying to sabotage their relationship.

I don’t care what I look like though, really, I’m never gonna see any of them so what does it matter to me?  But I know that my words are gonna automatically be disbelieved.  The only one that doesn’t see how abusive he is is his mum, who’s just so detached from it, so numb to it, so intent on believing her son is different from his father and anyone else that does see it is either complicit or too scared to speak out for themselves.

There’s not much I can do.  Even if I do somehow get an address for her and write to her, she’ll not believe me and I could possibly put her at risk if she confronts him about whatever I say.  The only address I have for any of them is his parents, but his step-dad is just as complicit with his abuse and his mum refuses to see it.

There’s nothing I can do, but I just feel so guilty.  I logically know that if he hurts her, it’s not on me, I’m not responsible, he’s an abusive man who chooses to be abusive, but I can’t help feeling so guilty and feeling like I have to do something, anything.  I’m just so scared for her.

RadSurvivor.

Surviving Domestic Abuse

Despite it being the very last few days of October, I still feel the need to say or do something for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  I usually don’t, in all fairness, usually because I talk about and discuss domestic abuse quite often at other times of the year, but meh, this time I feel the need to write a thing.

(This is only part one of the thing.  I didn’t have the emotional energy to get through both.)

The thing is triggering because I got stuck in flashbacks and ended up writing more detail than I usually would.


I’ve been in two serious abusive relationships, which isn’t exactly all that uncommon for survivors; whether they’re survivors of incest and CSA or trafficking and prostitution.  Prior to those relationships I was in other relationships that could very definitely be classed as being domestically abusive, but I was young and they were short-lived and I generally don’t consider them to be as serious as those other two.  That’s obviously not to say that there are varying degrees of domestic abuse; it’s never OK to abuse a partner, but as far as my own experiences go, there are some things I just write off.  Besides that, those earlier relationships were very limited as I was so very young and privacy hard to come by and so any abuse were isolated incidents whereas those other relationships were much more long-term.

The first started when I was sixteen, or at least that was when the more official relationship started; I had been speaking to him since I was fourteen.  I was traumatised, hurting and so far beyond self-destructive.  On some level, I knew how dangerous he was, I knew how much risk I was putting myself in, but I did it regardless.  Between having been raped, abused and trafficked for my entire life and determining that my worth was based in men using and hurting and wanting me and the fact that my old girlfriend had died just a few months before, I forced myself back into the closet, denied my lesbianism and agreed to meet up with a man who was significantly older than me; a man who had been grooming me for two years before we met.

He’d originally told me that he was only two years older than me.  It wasn’t until I was already on the train, meeting this stranger off the internet who had a large collection of Lolita images on his blog and an equally big collection of BDSM porn, that he told me he was actually older.  I was suicidal, self-destructive.  It was barely six months after my girlfriend’s death and barely two months after a suicide attempt that left me in a coma for three days.  I didn’t care how old he was, I didn’t care how much risk I was in, I didn’t care if he killed me there and then, I wanted to die, I wanted him to kill me.

It was his suggestion to meet at the train station in public, probably his attempt to get me to feel somewhat safer, but I was so far beyond the point of caring.  It was a surprisingly sunny day, he was late and I found myself sat perched on a little ledge alongside the glass wall of the station, the crappy red benches already full of other passengers.  I spotted him before he spotted me.  I remember being instantly repulsed by him.  He was much older, 28 to my 16, his hair receding and he was generally really fucking ugly but I didn’t waver.

His hands were on me and he was kissing me before he said a word.  Telling me how hot I was, telling me how much he wanted me.  I’d long gone past the point of flinching when men touched me, I just waited until he was done.  I’d dressed for him, I knew what he liked, I’d seen enough of the images on his blog to know what he’d want to see.  I knew what to expect from him, I knew what was going to happen to me.

He took my hand, said there was a place he wanted to show me.  The town we were in quickly gave way to hills and woods; he took me further and further up this hill then suddenly veered off into a wooded area, further away from footpaths and walkers.  I started to panic, a small part of myself that wasn’t maybe quite as self-destructive, that didn’t want this, that didn’t want to be with a man, that didn’t want to be here, that didn’t want any of this to happen.

He suddenly stopped, said he didn’t care if walkers still came up here, that he had to have me now.  I didn’t protest, I didn’t have the ability to say no, I didn’t have the ability to scream just how much I didn’t want this.  He put his hand up my skirt, I wasn’t wearing underwear as he’d instructed, he said I was a good little whore, to get on my knees like the whore I am.  He raped me and the surge of panic came back and I very unusually tried to push him off of me, he just pinned my arms down and carried on.  I started crying, again unusual for me, but I guess there was something different about this day, this wasn’t just business as usual.  After he was done he took pictures of me, took me back to the train station and told me to come back the following weekend.  When I got back to my dad’s (where I was sofa-surfing after being kicked out of my grandma’s for my suicide attempt) I went online and found he’d announced us as a couple all over his Myspace and Vampirefreaks.

I stupidly went back the following week, this time to his parent’s house where he was staying during the summer holidays.  He again raped me as soon as he got me through the door.  His parents came home later in the day and we ended up eating together, I accidentally got his mum’s name wrong and that was the first time I saw just how angry he could get.  After the food he dragged me upstairs to his room.  Once the door was closed he shoved me against it, his hands around my throat.  Hissing at me about how I’d embarrassed him, how I was a useless little bitch and couldn’t get anything right.  He choked me for so long, I didn’t think he was going to stop.  He let go, started to walk away then doubled back and punched me in the stomach so hard I collapsed to the floor.  I lay there for a long time and when I was able, got up and started apologising to him, asking how I could make it up to him.  I already knew the answer and he raped me again.

The pattern of me visiting him at his parent’s house, him raping me, little bursts of violence then niceties repeated until he went back to Uni. in the September and I started college, having just turned 17.  I was still technically homeless, living on my dad’s sofa trying to avoid his leers and his coming home drunk and masturbating whilst I ‘slept’ on the sofa and I took every opportunity I could to not be there, which quite often meant visiting my boyfriend at uni, it was a lose-lose situation.  I ended up missing so much college, but I didn’t care, I was still so self-destructive and suicidal, I had no future and I had no hope.  October half-term came and he demanded I stay with him for the whole week.  I didn’t refuse.

My week long visit ended up lasting significantly longer than just a week.  The moment I got there he took my phone and all my money and basically locked me in his room.  He lived in a shared house with one other woman, who was nearly always out, which meant I was basically alone with him constantly barring the times he went to work and he left me locked in his room.

He was raping me on a regular basis, trying out all of his little BDSM fantasies on me, beating me whenever I made a mistake or messed up or pissed him off, he was taking pictures and videos of me and putting them up online; on the few occasions I’d ‘earned’ the freedom to go outside with him, he was wonderfully nice to me, buying me things, telling me he loved me, taking me out for meals etc.  But the niceties could never balance out the violence.  Could never balance out the broken ribs or the black eyes or the bruises.  Could never balance out the time he got so angry when we were cooking that he threw a pan of hot oil over my naked chest (when his housemate wasn’t home, I was never allowed the privilege of wearing clothes); he cried after that, when he realised how badly he’d hurt me, I forgave him.

One of the days I was there, he threw a house party.  One of the guests had weed and he asked for some, but admitted he didn’t have any cash.  He was asked if he had anything else to sell.  I felt my blood freeze, I’d been here often enough, I knew what was coming.  They negotiated and they agreed that the guy with the weed and three of his friends would all get a turn and my boyfriend was covered for weed for the night.  He took me to one side, told me to go to his room and do whatever they wanted.  I took a bottle of vodka with me.

The night before the last day I was there, he had hurt me really badly, dislocated my shoulder and left me covered in bruises.  He went to work the next morning, he’d long stopped bothering locking the door, he knew I wasn’t going anywhere.  His housemate knocked on the door and I hid under the quilt, I hadn’t earned the privilege of clothes that day.  She looked at me and I could see pain and sadness in her eyes.  She got my bag, got some clothes out and laid them on the bed next to me.  She got my phone out of the cupboard he had been keeping it in and put it next to me along with £50 out of her own purse.  She watched me struggle to get dressed and helped me, got a damp cloth and wiped dried blood off of my face.  She still hadn’t said a word to me.  She took my hand and took me downstairs, there was a taxi waiting outside, she put me in it and told the driver to take me straight to the train station and then finally spoke to me, told me to go home and never come back, to not answer the phone to him and to never contact him again.  She kissed me on the cheek and shut the door.

I never even knew her name, she was always just his housemate, but she saved my life and I’ll be forever grateful.

I got back to my dad’s, who had barely even noticed I’d been gone.  He saw my bruises and told me I should know better than to piss boyfriends off and I better haven’t had got myself pregnant and that was it.

I didn’t contact him again, though I did get an expensive necklace and a letter in the post a week or so after, him telling me that he loved me and he missed me, that he needed me and that he couldn’t live without me, that he was going to kill himself if I didn’t go back.  I nearly lost my resolve when it arrived, I nearly went back.  I went on his social media sites and saw messages from a younger woman than me, she was thirteen.  I messaged her and she admitted that she’d met up with him at the same time I was locked in his room, that she’d ‘slept’ with him in the park around the corner from his house.  I hated him so much for hurting her and it strengthened my resolve to never see him again.  I threw the necklace and the letter away.

For so many years, including to an extent still now, I wrote all of this off.  I declared it wasn’t abusive; that I was sixteen, an adult, legally able to consent, that I’d wanted this relationship and that even if he was older (which nobody, not his parents, not my dad, not his friends ever questioned) we were equal and it was all OK.  That I’d gotten myself into that situation, that I knowingly met up with him even though I knew the risks, that I knowingly got into a relationship with him, that it was something that I did to myself.  That I was an annoying piece of shit and if I could have just kept my mouth shut long enough, he would never have gotten angry at me.

For so long I’ve refused to see it as an abusive relationship, and there’s still part of me that questions if it even was, but what else could it have been?

RadSurvivor.