Trapped with an abuser: Chapter 1

As I’m writing this it’s hard to relive and tell it, I don’t remember all the small details just the big events and incidents. Trauma does funny things to the brain in order to protect itself from the pain. Memories get filed away so you can deal with them when you’re ready, some of these memories I’d forgotten about completely. This is my story. My hope is that it reaches my children and helps another woman realise she can leave. These are my words that once written down, cannot be gaslit or manipulated to suit another’s agenda. People underestimate emotional and financial abuse. However, believe me when I say, this is often the worst kind. The old saying ‘sticks and stones’ sometimes I wish the abuse had been more physical as bruises heal. Fear, isolation, emotional neglect, dependency, and low self-esteem are much, much harder to overcome and can take years if at all to break free from.

They said I was brave, it wasn’t bravery. It was rock bottom; you know the one? The one where you just can’t take anymore shit. I thought naively that leaving him was the end of the abuse, that I could move on to a happy life. Boy, was I wrong! Four years on and he has moved on, he has a new house, new car, new girlfriend, and all our children. Now don’t get me wrong my life isn’t all doom and gloom. I have a beautiful home where I can shut the door and I have peace, for a week at a time. But, and it’s a big but. I still feel controlled and abused by this man that once claimed to have loved me. The only person he loves is himself, I have never met anyone with such an undeserved massive ego as him. My sister has often joked that she would like his mirror, as it clearly lies.

How long does it take for you to realise that your partner is abusive do you think? 1 month? 2 months? 6 months? Maybe even a year? The answer is not clear, what I will say is as soon as someone shows you who they are believe them. That first red flag will grow into more as they continue to get away with their shitty behaviour. I’d like to say the first red flag I was shown was subtle, but it wasn’t. We’d gone to stay with his parents I can’t remember what I did to piss him off but to get back at me, he’d placed a radio outside of the bedroom on full blast to annoy me. Now I know it sounds ridiculous, but stay with me here, each time I came out and turned it off he would set it up again. This petty, childish behaviour was the first of many. I now recognise this as gaslighting but at 19 I just thought it childish. There were a few incidents in the early stages, again this sounds like I'm picking holes. However, I fell pregnant very early on in the relationship (3 months). The job I did didn’t pay much so I struggled for money, I was then made redundant when I was 5 months pregnant, obviously no employer was going to take me on, and I could no longer hide under clothes. I was made to sign on and received £30 a week. He had a good job and had a decent wage, he paid nothing towards helping me to survive the pregnancy, instead expected my parents to provide for me. One evening we went to a friend’s house, they all decided to get a takeaway, I couldn’t afford one, so I didn’t get it. He brought himself a meal and ate it in front of me, I was devastated, I was carrying this man’s baby and he literally did not care that I was hungry. He didn’t offer and didn’t bat an eyelid; he was totally oblivious to my needs. To this day and that was 27 years ago I still feel that was a massive red flag, problem was I was pregnant and wanted a dad to my baby. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as they say and how I wished I would have shoved that curry down the bastards’ throat and chocked him!

Once the baby was born the issues between us became more intensified and obvious, we weren’t in sync with one another, two entirely different people. I was willing to work at the relationship and did so for over 20 years, whilst he coasted along thinking I was the problem. Not long after having the baby, all this change in a short space of time took its toll, I ended up unwell with post-natal depression. Of course, I didn’t know that’s what it was, and it took a long time to finally get a diagnosis. I would think I was dying of various different aliments, was terrified of being in the house on my own at nighttime. I went backwards and forwards to the GP countless times and they never listened to me. I was having awful panic attacks, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and rarely left the sofa. I would have conversations with people and not take a word in they were saying, watching TV was just that, watching it but not seeing what was on there. I had zero sex drive and completely hated my new body. I was falling apart and didn’t recognise the woman I had become. You lose your identify anyway when you’ve had a baby having post-natal depression on top off that tips the scales and I thought I was completely insane. After seeing various doctors, I was lucky enough to get a very kind older woman doctor. My partner insisted he came with me to the appointment, and he had made an A4 sized list of notes. In these notes he had detailed how insane (in his opinion) I was. My sister was absolutely furious and disagreed with him leading to a row. Looking back this was classic signs of covering up his poor treatment of me by blaming my mental health and I was too sick to notice or care. He managed to use this to his advantage at work, he applied to the Army Vicar and family support to be released from tours until I was better. This was never for my benefit it was an excuse for not being on active duty and having a desk job nearby. I started medication and slowly started to get better, the rows between us intensified and he would push back with every little thing I dared to bring up. I would beg him to talk to me about our problems and he would sit there with his fingers in his years shouting “I’M NOT LISTENING” chanting it over and over until I had walked away. Instead of trying to work through our issues he would write long passive aggressive letters and leave them on the ironing board for when I got up. The letters would always make the problems my fault and him accepting no blame whatsoever. If I wanted to talk through the letter he would ignore me, shout over me, or walk away. It was his way or no way.

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