You would think that by leaving an abuser, it would set you free from their abuse – This is not always the case.
I hadn’t really thought of post separation abuse much. I was aware of many friends, family and strangers having problems with the other parent of their child/children. Where courts or other services got involved due to problems. However, I had not really thought of it in the context of abusive relationships.
Post separation abuse, like types of abuse, can happen in so many different ways. Some examples include;
Despite being ‘free’ from my abuser, I have experienced continued isolation since leaving my home. Perhaps not in the traditional sense, however I have been isolated from in-laws, who chose to pick sides and ignore me, despite being desperate to form a relationship previously, they have been able to switch off any relationship we did have. According to my ‘Wife’ they are aware of the full story, however I find that extremely hard to believe. I have been isolated from friends, this includes ignoring messages and deleting and blocking me on social media, without even checking how I am or finding out the whole story. I am presumed to be the ‘bad one’ – I planned none of this!!
One thing I have learnt through this process is that a person can be a fully grown adult, have a partner, children, a good job and/or own their home. Yet they can be the most unkind, petty and childish people out there – especially when they say mental health is important or to “Be Kind” – then they treat me like this – I’m sorry but that is just hypocritical!!
Other ways I have been abused post separation is simply by the continued refusal to provide a key to my house, then by putting an alarm system on the property, also denying that code (illegally). Whilst I find this incredibly childish, it would not necessarily deter me from entering the property, however I am not going to do that, as even if I enter legally and get locks changed, alarm code changed and codes and keys given to the other owner, they would only be changed again. People think that because I walked away I have just thrown away my home, they have not considered the fact I left for my safety. I could be dead by now!!
My divorce could have gone through by now, however I have been advised to hold off until financial and property legal issues are sorted, just in case anything was to happen. From the very start there has been delays and lies with anything legal. With excuse after excuse.
Considering my ‘Wife’ had plans to throw me out and move someone else and her new ‘daughter’ into the house, you would think she would want this all sorted by now. I just do not understand how someone who would hate me so much and not want to be with me, or near me, would want to still be attached to me in this way!! It makes no sense to me.
A major part of my divorce I have noticed, especially in recent letters I have received are false allegations. I attended my property (as legally allowed to do so) once alone, to post some paperwork through the door – considering her Grandma had just died, I thought she would appreciate the handwritten letters, that for some reason she had packed with some of my stuff, I could have burnt them or shredded them, but I thought she would want them. Anyway, I simply got out the car, posted it through the letterbox and got back in car, locked the doors then sent my texts saying I was safe, set up the sat nav and went back home, I was in the area for a Hospital appointment. However, her solicitors have been advised that I am ‘hovering’ at the property, therefore causing issues. Considering I am a student, with no full time work and experience panic when I visit the area, I would not waste any more time, energy or money on a 100+ mile round trip, just to hover outside the house. Although I have realised the reason the solicitor may have been told this is to try and justify the lock change and alarms on the house.
However one thing my ‘Wife’ does not know is that this whole visit was video recorded and to this day is saved and available to anyone who needs it. When you spend years with a liar, who constantly accused you of lying or saying they “Can’t remember you saying that” you learn to make sure things are recorded or noted somewhere – keeping it safe is another issue for another day.
Other allegations include me being accused (falsely I may add) is Slander on social media. It seems that despite being blocked and my Facebook page being ‘friends only’ my ‘Wife’ can still see my social media pages, whether through an extra account, or through other people aiding her – it is worrying why she is obviously finding ways to see my accounts. However, other than the false allegations aimed at me, I am not too worried, as I know I am not slandering, as everything I have stated is true and with evidence. It seems she does not understand that slander would only apply if anything I did put was false, which it is not. I have been told by quite a few people I am being too kind to my ex!! That if it was them they would have reacted very differently.
Looking back I would change the way I have reacted, I would not become violent but I would have done things a little differently. But I got out!! I got my dogs out!! There has been continued abuse since leaving and even a physical assault (also a topic for another day) I always thought I was lucky it never turned physical, but it did that day.
That day made me feel relief (and pain) but I knew in that moment that I did the right thing in leaving. Emotional abuse did turn physical, it could have been so much worse!!
? ? RED FLAG ? ?
OK, yes maybe I should have seen this sooner, however when you are love bombed, you overlook any strange stories you are told, you also accept excuses no matter how strange they may seen. If someone tells you certain people, such as family or friends are bad for them, or have been abusive, you believe them. Right?
Back in 2014 I married my partner, throughout the process I dropped hints about family and whether she was sure she didn’t want her family there, one day she turned around and told me that if I invited them (without her knowledge) and they turned up at the venue, she would not walk down that aisle, that she would leave and “that would be that.“ Obviously I did not want that to happen at the time, so I did not get in touch or contact them, after all it was not really my place. As far as I was aware, the day would be ruined with their attendance, them changing things or upsetting us (as well as myself being told on several occasions they disagreed with same sex couples and would not even keep a television show on the TV if there was any talk of anything other than “normal” hetrosexuality).
We married on our 2 year anniversary and had been engaged about 2 weeks short of 2 years, you could say that in itself was another red flag. Did I think it was fast? Yes. But I WAS happy.
Later on, married and plodding along slowly in life, my in laws became involved in our lives again. We were looking at houses to buy and there had been a death in the family. I often sat and quietly thought in my head, things were odd, or that the way people spoke to each other or treated each other did not match how I was told to expect or thought I would expect. It was every now and then I thought to myself; “Did I imagine she told me all those awful things?” and the simple answer to this was no – I did not imagine the things I was told. It is a shame that whilst I saw the Mask my ‘Wife’ wore in front of others, I failed to see that another mask was being worn for me. Neither of these masks portrayed the true person I thought I knew. The person I married. Once that mask came down, it revealed a person I do not know.
Once my in laws were in my life more than before, small things such as becoming friends on social media with some of the family happenned, for the two of us (if they were friends before then my privacy settings had to be changed), there was also many things I could not put on there or was told I should not put up, because they would see it. It was at this point a post arose about how someone really felt about our wedding day. As well as those family and friends commenting on that. They obviously worried about it later on as it was deleted, however not soon enough and not only did we see it, it was saved. And before you ask…. No it has not been discussed, it was just ignored and not acknowledged. I have hidden names, pictures and any foul language also from these saved shots.
Personally, on seeing this, I got a little upset. Deep down I knew why they were not there, (whether truth or not) it was not me that prevented an invite, in someway I could have gone against my partners wishes, however that would have resulted in no wedding. Looking back now, I would have avoided a lot of problems, however you can only do what you feel is right at the time. But not only did it stop there, family and friends, some of whom I had met also felt the need to add comments onto this online post. Again, pictures, names and foul language have been hidden.
Many of these people carried on chatting as normal too once they were back into my partners life. I personally do not understand how some people can be so different, I guess the word is two faced, however this could be wrong. I wonder what they are all saying now? I also wonder if they know the truth?
When things got to a certain point in my marriage, they started getting even tougher. Nobody warned me that leaving and choosing my life would be the first step. I thought healing and getting over a break up would be the second hurdle. What I was not prepared for, was speaking up and telling my story and that completely backfiring on me.
I was petrified,but tried to stay as civil as I could, still walking on eggshells, until I got my belongings and legal matters where complete, then I could simply draw a line and move on. I was not expecting things to go downhill from there either.
I thought I would be believed. Who lies about domestic abuse? Apparently more people than you would think! For some reason, there are quite a few people out there, who think I am lying and causing problems. When I can say with my hand on my heart, that I am telling the truth.
I am (or was) always a creative person and have chosen to direct that creativity into exploring what has really happened to me. But that seems to have also backfired on me.
Now I am scared to be open again.
I am scared to tell my story.
I am worried about mutual friends because someone has been causing trouble and showing what I post to my abuser.
Despite knowing I have proof for the things I say, that they did happen and that Domestic Abuse, especially emotional abuse and gaslighting, are not talked about enough. I feel ashamed of my story and fearful of trying to be open and help others, because of the people that say it is lies and slander.
Leaving a relationship is challenging, especially so if that relationship involved a bad ending or abuse. But when people you have known, been related to through marriage, worked with or even complete strangers are being led to believe lies and that my truth is a lie, just to get some sort of revenge – that hurts.
My revenge is living. I did not end my own life.
I SURVIVED AND I LEFT FOR MY SAFETY AND I CHOSE MY LIFE.
Have you ever heard?
- “I never said that”
- “You’re imagining things”
- “I didn’t do that”
- “You are being paranoid”
- “I always make an effort, you just never bother”
- “You’re imagining things”
- “I was just joking”
- “You twist things”
- “That never happened”
- “You need help”
Gaslighting is a term that seems to appear quite often now, compared to 5 years ago. It is a term that basically means a person is being made to question their own sanity and the world they are living in. It can be described as “walking on eggshells.” Gaslighting can cause a person to completely lose trust, not only in others around them, whether strangers or not, but in themselves.
In my case I truly realised I was being gaslit towards the end of my marriage (especially after I left-Everything sort of clicked). Once I knew my wife was interested in someone else. Despite me having clear evidence of the behaviour it was denied, I was told I was overreacting, twisting words and imagining things. Long story short, I was not, what I had heard and found was indeed true. However it often is the case that until a relationship is struggling, or ending/ended you really do not realise how manipulated you truly were.
Once I had left my home, so much started to make sense, I really started to come to the realisation that pretty much the whole time I knew this person, it was one big fake lie.
Many people who are being gaslit may not even realise it themselves. Which can cause problems if others question the situation they are in, simply because it will be denied. It may be “normal” to them.
The best thing to do is support them the best you can. One day they will be grateful for that support. They will need that safe person – that believes their truth.
TRIGGER WARNING – Please take care, some of this content may cause upset and distress. Reach out for support if needed. 💜
“And I your willing victim”
Sound familiar? Yes that is a P!nk song
I had heard of people relating this song, ‘Just give me a reason‘ to a (damaging) relationship. However, I had not really thought about it. If I’m honest I could not really relate, although I love the song!
Looking back now, the song is actually pretty relevant to me. From the start of my last relationship, my heart was stolen by a kind, attentive and charming person. I had been back in the country for just over a year after spending 6 months away volunteering and nearly 2 years post relationship with my first serious boyfriend, who I thought I would marry and spend my life with. Within two weeks of seeing this person, totally infatuated, I accepted a drunken proposal. Despite it being nothing like I imagined-after double checking they remembered actually asking I said yes!!
Two years later we married.
Again, looking back before actually marrying I can see how I was totally attracted and won over by the charm, happy moments and love I felt. Ignoring the red flags and brief explanations for situations. Hiding myself and not telling my future in laws about our engagement, even going as far as her renting another room in the house (only used for storage) “just in case” anybody asked or visited. Because they “could not know.” By the time they knew we had moved to Wales and my ex had said she had cut out her family. I was the bad person who took her away from her family. Which was far from the truth. I wish I questioned this more at the time. Another red flag missed.
During the engaged-married phase we had good times, with very few disagreements. I shared stories, history and wounds. I felt happy and comfortable. I let someone gain my trust.
I identify with these words more so with the later experiences in the relationship, but definitely at least 2.5 years of the relationship. Feelings, events, emotions and even generalised facts that turned out to be true came out during sleep. Inconsistencies appeared, but I was persuaded that anything said during sleep was “not real” or “related to previous trauma” which I was told had “nothing to do” with myself. Everything had an explanation or excuse. For some reason, I just accepted these.
A barrier began to raise. Chemistry began to reduce, feelings changing. Nothing like the early stages of the relationship. Another major Red Flag missed.
Again, looking back, I was hooked. Love made me stay. It made me ignore anything that upset me, confused me or hurt me.
Like a circle, patterns and behaviours went round and round. Pain was fixed by promises and persuasion, kinder words, acts or gestures seemed to put a plaster over the issue. Things would plateau, before beginning the cycle again.
I was hooked.
Life revolved around happiness, experiences, sex and pleasure as well as a connection. Before switching back to negativity, tension and silent treatment. Where again, one small gesture or kind word seemed to fix things. Or so I thought.
Things on several occasions got to the point where I would sit there and think of reasons to stay. Reasons to fight. Reasons to change.
And then there is gaslighting
A person I loved. A person I trusted using my own trauma, my own insecurities and my own weaknesses to their advantage. Unknowingly being insulted and manipulated into thinking my feelings did not matter, that my concerns and genuine gut feelings were wrong. Even when having justification and evidence.
I was made to feel crazy and paranoid.
At the time I thought the stresses of life, bills, work and ill health were causing tension. Things felt empty. But yet I still was being made to believe my actions led to the situation. They obviously did not help and contributed but was definitely not the major issue. I wanted to fight, blinded by love. I thought we would be together forever. Despite looking at other couples and longing for their connection with my own wife.
Fast forward and behaviours continued, false promises made – resulting in “I don’t love you anymore.” Of course I came back within 24 hours – with the hope of change, false promises and a “mistake” being made. Yet things continued and the truth came out. There was someone else who had all the love that I was no longer being given.
Walking away was hard. But it had to be done. My wife at the time was in love with someone else, portraying me to others as someone I wasn’t.
It is amazing what information people come to you with, once a relationship is over. Finding out about things that have been said and done. Money saved away and plans to move others into my home. Expecting me to leave with nothing.
I wish I noticed the Red Flags sooner. I really do. Part of me also wishes I left sooner, before the added issue of her falling completely head over heels in love with someone else – like we did with each other years ago. If I had walked away sooner, perhaps the emotional damage would have been less?
These are just some of the reasons I find myself relating to this song more now, than following the release. I may be losing a marriage, my home and the life I knew. But I no longer have to;
- Withhold information,
- Follow others rules in my own home,
- Be silent,
- Push myself when in a flare,
- Ask permission to do certain things,
- Play happy families,
- Hide my chronic illnesses,
- Sit silently while others call me the “friend” or the “partner” and allow people to not call me by my correct name or write the wrong name on cards without letting them know it is not correct,
- Be manipulated, treated like rubbish and told I am imagining things, being crazy or paranoid.
I can start trying to be me again. Find myself and heal. I can find someone who does love me for me and protect me, rather than damage me.
Do you remember what you were doing one year ago?
I was sat in my home, practising my Safe Medicate (Maths for my Nursing Degree), unaware that the year ahead was about to change so much – and not just because of the Coronavirus!!
Other than the issues that came along with the Coronavirus, the last 12 months for me have resulted in me filing for divorce from my Wife.
- Am I upset?……….Deeply
- Am I hurt?……….Very
- Am I showing it?……….No
- Is there a reason for that?……….Yes
The reason for me not showing my sadness and hurt is simple. I was expecting it. I knew things were tough and I knew, despite thinking things would change, they never did and never would-not in the way that results in a happy marriage anyway. What I did not expect was the lies, sneaking around, cheating and gaslighting that came along with the ongoing problems.
This image was taken around a year ago, at my 29th Birthday Meal. It may have a filter applied to it, but I am smiling, I look happy and during that meal, I was happy. However, behind the smile, behind the shining blue eyes lay a secret. I wanted to be dead, I wanted to hurt myself, I wanted to grab my dogs and go somewhere we could never be found. My antidepressants were, and still are, at a high dose. My anxiety sky high and self esteem pretty much non-existent. I hate speaking to people, going out and have more bad days than good. I doubt everything I say, I do. The clothes I wear and decisions I make. My pain and fatigue flares (which led to a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) where pretty much never ending. I have been programmed to think everything I say and do is wrong. My gut instinct, that proved to be correct, was and often still is even doubted.
I will never doubt my gut again!!
I am now sitting in my, still legally, jointly owned home, here for the purpose of work, alongside going through the house, sorting out my possessions, packing and working out what needs going through to decide ‘who gets what.’ Within a couple of hours of arriving here, the pain and fatigue flare hit. I am not saying I’ve had no flares since leaving, but my second day here was more or less wasted as I could not move. Proving to myself that extreme levels of stress does result in a flare-also helping to explain many flares that have happened over the last few years. So far in 2021 my flares have been minimal-I put this down to factors such as leaving a toxic environment and relationship. That may sound harsh, but the reality is that it was toxic. No good for either of us, especially myself.
I sit here, mid-afternoon, staring at piles of things that still need going through, a hallway that needs clearing and the box room being the only 100% gone through room (with the exception of a box by the door that just needs moving out, a black bag and 2 bags of recycling I need to put outside. I look at these items thinking that they make up nearly a third of my life, married or seeing one person (we were engaged 2 weeks after starting to see each other and married on our 2 year anniversary). Some items I had before, some gained during this time. Some of my items I will take with me and either keep or destroy, larger items will either stay here and never be seen again by me and others will stay here as long as possible, until I have to put them into storage. That itself will cost me a lot of money, that I will need to find.
I will be losing my home. I pretty much have already. I cannot help but compare myself, many people I went to school with are buying homes, getting married, engaged or having children. I’ve lost my trust, marriage and home- I will be divorced. It definitely is not how I saw myself at 30 when picturing my future as a younger person.
You may ask “Why is she sharing this?” My reasons could be listed below, but I am only going to give one reason here, my main reason, which is to share my experience, well some of it, normalising a less “perfect” portrayal of people online. We only ever seem to see celebrity news or “perfect” lives online and in reality people are going through a tough time. People are being forced to keep quiet or portray themselves as happy or show that nothing is wrong.
I am speaking up for myself. I refuse to hide anymore. I have spent too long being quiet, saying nothing or only saying what I was allowed to say and I have been hiding my true self because I was told “they won’t understand” or “it isn’t worth it” and resulted in people not liking me or seeing me in a different way, criticizing me or even shouting at me and talking badly behind my back to others, all because they are not seeing the real me. So I ask you kindly, if you are reading this and do know me. Maybe now is the time to talk to me, get to know me now, with no other influence on how I act, what I say or do and then form your own judgement. It may take me some time to build myself back up, but I will be ME again.
What is Domestic Abuse?
The World cloud above contains 100 words, phrases, signs of domestic abuse. I could have gone on and on but had to stop somewhere. Abuse takes many forms and it is not always a Man doing it to a Woman!!
According to the ‘Office For National Statistics’ Crime Survey for Wales and England‘ the figures estimated 5.5% of adults aged 16-74 years old experienced domestic abuse in the last year (Year ending March 2020). That works out to be 2.3 million people. 1,288,018 domestic abuse related incidents were Police reported, although Greater Manchester Police are not included in this figure. Although 41% (529,077) of these incidents were not then recorded as a crime, the other 59% (758,941) were recorded as a crime related to domestic-abuse.
BBC News reported an 80% increase in people contacting them during the first 2020 UK Coronavirus Lockdown. Many other social media and News sources have written about the impact of lockdown and Coronavirus on abuse and how it has worsened during these times.
They also provided the below services; (click here to see the publication)
For information and support on domestic abuse, contact:
Police: 999 press 55 when prompted if you can’t speak
Refuge UK-wide 24-hour helpline: 0808 2000 247
Welsh Women’s Aid Live Fear Free 24-hour helpline: 0808 80 10 800
Scotland National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriages 24-hour helpline: 0800 027 1234
Northern Ireland Domestic Abuse 24-hour helpline: 0808 802 1414
Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327
Online webchats and text services are also available.
I aim to raise more awareness and write more about this when I feel the time is right for me, but please get some support if you are experiencing abuse or something doesn’t feel right. Please do not go through it alone.
In the UK you are still legally allowed to flee abuse if your area is in lockdown. Women’s aid offer some good resources and things to consider during lockdown and Coronavirus – click here.