After all these years, I still often look back and wonder why it took me so long to realise that something wasn't right. I clearly remember the triggers and the signs but somehow in that moment it wasn't clear how they fitted together.
I look back and I ask myself, 'how could you know which the important events were and how they would fit together?' Years later I'm still piecing together these events like a never ending jigsaw. Events, like jigsaw pieces, scattered in time and place. Really these are the memories that you realise are all part of that bigger picture which makes up abuse. At the time I tried to make the events fit together by altering them just enough for them to make sense but in that format they didn't fit together. Only when I looked at them honestly, objectively and holistically did they make a whole and then I could see the picture that they made. Just like a jigsaw - each piece stands alone until placed together when an entirely different picture appears.
I, perhaps like you, didn't see what each individual episode or event meant and perhaps that is why I allowed the abuse to continue for so long. That is why it happened to me! I sometimes wonder when I will finish this jigsaw or whether I will ever finish it because there are hundreds of realisations, hundreds of signs and a thousand reasons as to why I didn't leave that unhealthy relationship?
Looking back I wonder if I knew what I did now would I try to piece this jigsaw together and look at the bigger picture? Or would it still result in the same outcome?
Even now I'm still surprised, still shocked and still think to myself, How could somebody do that to another human being? How can you isolate somebody? Make them fear you? Threaten them, degrade them, humiliate them, financially ruin them, be violent towards them, turn others against them, make them question their sanity, violate their personal space? How can you put another human being through that? But the sad reality is that some people do all that, and more!
I may never fit all these pieces together and see the entire picture and understand why I went through what I did. But I can now see that the problem never lay with me and I can be reassured that if I had done something differently it still wouldn't have changed the outcome.
However, knowing the warning signs of an abusive relationship may enable others to recognise the signs, the pieces of the jigsaw earlier.
Be aware if this person:
Isolates you from friends and family
Threatens to hurt you or people close to you if you leave
Monitors your movements
Criticises you and constantly blames you for the abuse
Forces you to have sex with them
Controls your life: money, who you see, what you wear
Changes mood suddenly from 'charmer' to 'Hammersley '
Humiliates you in front of others
Says you're useless and couldn't cope without them
Intimidates you into doing what they want
Makes you change your behaviour to avoid making them angry*
You can also read case studies to illustrate some of the different aspects of abuse in my newly published anthology 'Clipped Wings: Hear some stories of survival' where you will get a snapshot into the life of a victim. You can find out more about this at; JenniferGilmour.com/about