Three years following the escape from an abusive relationship I am finally feeling the need to put what I went through into words. As hard as it is to describe to people how it happened, I am not doing this for sympathy or a pat on the back for getting away from it, this is to highlight how damaging and devastating emotional abuse can be. What I am about to explain is quite intense, the wording I may use seems dark at times, but unfortunately accurate. It's pretty near impossible for people to tell what's going on on the inside, from standing on the outside. A complete destruction of personality is exactly how it feels to me.
There is still a stigma surrounding this kind of abuse, as it is not physical there is no physical evidence, the words 'why didn't you just leave' probably run through everyone's mind whilst reading this. I once thought that too. Why don't you just leave. If there is anything I am aiming for when talking about this, it's to explain that it is not that easy, however eventually you can do just that. Just leave.
Before this, what I now recognise to be a life altering experience, I was your average 21 year old. I was at university, living with friends, going out, spending time with my friends and family, meanwhile being completely content and in control of my life. I have always been 'a glass half full' kind of person, I took anything life threw at me but took nothing too seriously. I never expected to spend over 2 years of my life living in someone else's shadow, with a complete loss of voice, opinion and self worth. Until something like this happens to you, it's hard to believe that you could go from being so strong willed, to an unrecognisable shell of your former self.
The invisible abuse, emotional abuse or psychological abuse, leaves no physical signs or scars. It is an attack on the personality over time. Changing behaviours, provoking fear and gaining control. It's like you're watching yourself from the outside, screaming at yourself but you can't hear anything, willing yourself to have some courage and finally stand up for yourself but you get pulled back down.
I have read many articles and forum posts attempting to explain the feeling of emotional and psychological abuse, however one that stood out most to me is 'the box'. You are put in a box, you don't know how you got there. The box starts to get smaller, you make yourself smaller, curl up and stay quiet. You remove your friends, your social life, aspects of your personality that may cause arguments or friction. The box still gets smaller and you don't understand why, believing it's all your fault. If you touch the edge of the box it'll cause an argument, so you get smaller and quieter, not realising you will never be small enough or quiet enough to avoid confrontations.
- 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 -