In my previous blogs I have explained from start to finish, how I ended up in an abusive relationship. The warning signs, the feeling of being trapped and eventually the escape.
However this was only scraping the surface, there are many areas that I have been looking deeper into. At the time I maybe didn't realise this was happening, why I did certain things, and how or why my behaviour changed. But now I have fully accepted what happened as abuse, everything is unfolding into a much bigger picture. In my next series of blogs I aim to highlight certain parts of the relationship and behaviours in more detail. Hopefully this might strike a chord with people in the same situation, and help them realise before it's too late.
It's hard to pinpoint a specific time when I 'changed'. I think it's more like the little things about my behaviour and personality that changed one by one, which over time changed me into a completely different person. I guess the first change I noticed was fear. Before I was independent, sociable, optimistic, then I found myself asking permission to go out, and see my friends. No matter what my reasoning was, how I defended myself, or how I tried to explain how ridiculous he sounded, I never got anywhere. It was always the same manipulative response, that wasn't a 'no you can't go out', but more like a 'if you go out I won't be here when you get back' or 'how do you think I'll feel knowing you're out with a load of lads', or 'how can you go out when you know I'm at home feeling like this?' Always about him, and always so manipulative to provoke those feelings of guilt. I became scared of asking. How ridiculous does that sound, not only was I asking permission to go out, but I was scared to ask. That fear turned into a numb defeated feeling in the pit of my stomach, every time someone asked if we could meet up or go out somewhere, I'd make an excuse. All the while feeling defeated, pathetic, and small, knowing it was pointless to even 'ask his permission'. This then leads to the next stage of change.
Two changes that go hand in hand were that I stopped having a social life, and I gave up fighting back. I gave up trying to defend myself, to voice my own opinion. It was easier to stay quiet, which resulted in me staying at home. Smaller things I was 'allowed' to do, like going to a friends house, or going home to see family. I still asked him about it, to which he'd always reply 'you don't have to ask me', but of course I did, and he knew he had this power over me. It was a very manipulative and emotionally confusing process, first he'd make me feel like I had to ask permission to make sure it was ok, it never was so then I felt scared and never asked, then when I did he'd make me feel stupid for even asking. Classic cycle of emotional abuse.
There was one occasion where I'd planned to go home for the weekend and go for a meal with my family, he was invited too. I reminded him of this the week before, he said he didn't want to go and wanted to spend the weekend with me and only me. So I cancelled my weekend at home. I ended up staying in our flat on my own as he was 'at work'. It basically came down to him not wanting me to be talking about him to my family when he's not there, and not wanting to cancel his own weekend plans. Looking back, he was never really interested in doing anything with my family.
As time went on I became more withdrawn. I was quiet and just kept myself to myself. I was constantly having a battle in my head as to why this was happening, why couldn't I stand up for myself? How could someone have this control over me? As much as I thought about it I still felt completely defeated and couldn't see a way out. The long process of wearing away at my personality and independence had taken its toll, and I was stuck in a big black hole with no visible way out.
Reading this, people would probably think that all you have to do is speak up, or walk away. It's not that easy. After months or years of having your life, soul and freedom chipped away at its hard to have any opinion at all. It's like that big black hole is where your personality and individuality once were. The fact is these people know what they're doing, they know what they're aim to achieve will take time, but eventually they will have complete control over your mind. It's easy to say 'that'll never happen to me', just like I did, but the sad fact is it cab happen to anyone. Much stronger people than myself, male or female, any age. It can take a while before you realise what's happening, which is why it's so confusing and hard to escape from. It seemingly comes out of nowhere, but when you break it down its been happening for a while, bit by bit, piece by piece, slowly chipping away.
There are many signs of emotional abuse; spiteful comments, public shaming, belittling, fault finding, humiliation, isolation, constant criticism, the list goes on. All are incredibly hurtful and damaging, usually over a long period of time. As I mentioned previously, this can be very confusing, but if any of this is happening to you do not be afraid to speak up. It is abuse, there's no other way around it. It will not stop and an abusive relationship will not get better by working at it. Maybe the abuser can get help and change, I guess that depends on the person, but going on my experience the damage has already been done, and I could never love that person again.
Do not completely alter yourself for someone who will not alter themselves.
- If anyone reading this has any similar experience, direct or indirect, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Particularly how this kind of abuse looks from the outside, can you tell what is happening? How can you tell? Have you ever told anyone to leave? I plan to continue this blog in stages of the relationship and recovery and welcome opinions -