Saturday, 29 March 2014

My Story of Twenty Years of Domestic Abuse

This is a story, my words, my thoughts and my feelings which I write to help free myself. I hope this will become part of my healing. It’s about me and only me. My abuser will have a different story, a different version of events, a different perspective but this is my journey, the drama I found myself in, the facts I felt and lived through.

I know now that I am beautiful, kind, warm, friendly, generous and passionate and I don't find that so difficult to believe now. I know most people like me. I am usually happy and I know I am intelligent, creative, clever and inspirational and I find that believable today. But back then I was none of those things…to both him and myself. None of you will believe what happened to me and that I allowed it to happen. The misery and desperation I went through every day deep inside on a physical, an emotional and sexual level was completely devastating. It much easier to write this now having fled and where healing has begun. But healing has been a very slow process, unlike the abuse.

Over a 20 year period, I had come to believe that I was unintelligent and worthless; that I would never be anything or anybody. All I ever wanted was to be loved deeply by the most important person in my life – my husband but sadly this was not to be. I wanted so desperately to be loved unconditionally by him. I simply wanted happiness; not a lot to ask for one would think. I realise now that with this man this was impossible.

I had lived the first half of my life with an emotionally abusive father and went on to marry a mentally abusive man. Both men were extremely clever, intelligent and held senior professional positions in the workplace; both were workaholics. Both were arrogant and had huge egos, were always right and were very controlling. Both of them made me feel that I was difficult to live and deal with and that they were the victims having to put up with me. They both made me feel I was not good enough for them and never would be. I always felt second class and never accepted for the good in me. it wasn’t until much later in life that I realised subconsciously I had mirrored my father in my husband. 

Most people are aware of physical abusers, hitting and beating their victims because outwardly bruises and black eyes are visible. But we have to remember there are other abusers, the silent and unseen types, slowly chipping away at their victim's self-esteem and confidence, playing with the psyche and wearing them down mentally and emotionally.  Abusers wear many hats and come from many different backgrounds, they all have different tactics, all extremely damaging to their victim and abusers do not necessarily look like abusers – whatever an abuser is supposed to look like.

My abuser was well spoken and dressed, highly intelligent and moving in high circles of power. We attended flamboyant dinner parties with people of stature and I was expected to behave, dress and communicate appropriately…I was the fluff on his arm. If I ever stepped out of line I succumbed to mental, verbal and sexual abuse behind the front door of our beautiful five bedroomed home. 

I was living with an abuser who controlled me so intensely and by doing so destroyed my personality and confidence and I became isolated, lonely and desperate.  I couldn’t stomach the stress of social gatherings and the pretense and lying and the “performance” I had to give to ensure people thought everything was OK and that I like being treated the way I was being treated.  I became entirely his solitary prey.  Even my mother wouldn’t visit anymore. I was intensely scared of him, he was constantly threatening me and I believed he would hurt me if I challenged him. It was easier to toe the line and conform. I was the ever faithful wife. I lost all my friends and had no one to confide in.  I was ashamed and scared to tell anyone, even my family. I came from a respectable upright family where abuse was never spoken about or contemplated and where marriage was an institution and “you just got on with it” and your marriage vows were for life. No one in my family was divorced let alone abused; why was this happening to me I asked in the darkness every night; I prayed every night for a better day tomorrow.

He got a huge kick out of frightening me; maybe just driving too fast in a dangerous situation until I couldn’t breathe, would hyperventilate and throw up and he would laugh. He knew what he was doing and was unconcerned, he loved the feeling he got from this past time. I could do nothing right from cooking to cleaning, to ironing his shirts to my makeup. As a size 14, I was always too fat and overweight. My driving was crap and I didn’t know what I was talking about.

My abuser was cunning and clever, to the world he was “Mr. Charming” and no one ever believed that he could possibly be abusing me. In front of people, he was always the nicest man in the world, caring and respectful. In the early days, he was clever enough to contain his temper and physical violence so there is nothing for anyone to see, therefore no one believed and nothing can be proved. But as time went on he was unable to control his temper and eventually became physically violent which got progressively worse. Then there was his threatening behaviour and disrespect, subtly making me believe white is black until he confused me so much that I believed I was going out of their mind. I believed I was mentally unstable and succumbed to his abuse further. I was nothing and only good enough to be his puppet.

He continually informed me I was and would be nothing without him. When I threatened to leave he sarcastically reminded me that no one would have me, there was nowhere to go and on top of that, I had no money of my own. Consequently, I believed that my abuser owned me and that my world would not turn without him. He took away my free will; he spoke for me, made decisions for me and allowed me no choices or opinions. He forced me to make professional, personal and reproductive choices I didn’t want and wouldn’t normally make. In amongst all this turmoil, he forced me to have a child or he would divorce me on the grounds of non-consummation of our marriage. He threatened to humiliate me as a non-fertile woman again degrading me and ensuring I felt worthless.

He raped me on numerous occasions forcing me to have sex because he needed it and held me down even through my tears. He ensured the act was completed on his terms, in his time frame and satisfying his own desires. He was demanding, kinky and rough and did not stop when asked. He showed no compassion for me even when I suffered gynaecological problems and had no empathy or sympathy and was still extremely demanding and rough sexually. When he was particularly vile he withheld affection and used affection and sex it to blackmail me. He definitely got a kick out of degrading me and enjoyed his power of force; power and force in the bedroom definitely turned him on.

This sick man criticised every move and action I made; he was never satisfied with anything we did or owned.  Nothing was ever right and he was never thankful or grateful.  He controlled, isolated, threatened, terrorised, insulted and belittled me. He told me I was crazy, a head case, got a screw loose, stupid, dishonest, a liar, psychotic, mentally unstable, should be locked up, put away and that I had a personality disorder. These types of abusers confuse their victims so badly that the victim eventually believes the propaganda being thrown at them.  You feel dirty, humiliated and disgusted with yourself.  The abuser tells you over and over that you are crazy and paranoid.  Mine often said I had a personality disorder and behind my back and unbeknown to me he wrote to my GP stating this.  He damaged my whole being with his mouth, mind and fists.

Thirteen years later I now realise all the above are classic forms of abuse and are more painful, dangerous and lethal than the kind that leaves bruises.  Bruises heal and go away but words and mental torment stay with you a lifetime. All forms of abuse leave deep wounds and scars and I believe you never totally get over an abusive relationship. You can try to forgive and understand but you never forget. There will always be a tiny nugget of damage remaining deep inside the brain for the rest of your life. No amount of therapy or forgiveness can ever heal this minuscule nugget. What happens is, over time, it doesn’t surface as often or as traumatically, the hurt becomes less raw.

There are many kinds of abuse, some of them obvious, some of them not; all of them dangerous and degrading.  Some are more insidious than others; the most insidious are subtle; their victims not only believe them but also blame themselves for the abuse they are suffering.  When the psychopath is really clever he uses all of his tactics and convinces his victim that it is her fault, or that the victim imagined it or that they get everything out of proportion.  These subtle forms of abuse are the hardest to stop because it is obviously harder to see. My abuser used all these tactics with no conscience and no remorse.

I was driven to severe depression and alcohol abuse; I was on anti-depressants for years. Abuse at any time, of any kind, is potentially fatal to the victim.  I became an alcoholic and suffered an eating disorder and the worst part of my situation was I believed it must all be my fault and I must be a very bad person. I stayed; trying to make it right but consequently fed my abuser which authorised him to continue. I never complained, consequently, he didn’t realise how unhappy I was. I protected myself by denying it was happening. It was too painful to admit what was happening to me, too embarrassing to tell anyone and I didn’t know if anyone would believe me anyway. I didn’t want to believe that the person who should be my soulmate and confidante would treat me this way.  I had suicidal thoughts on numerous occasions and I stopped crying because I couldn’t, I was all cried out. I became numb and felt nothing; nothing could hurt me. I had a cold fa├žade and became an asymptomatic alcoholic.  I drank to hide the pain and to be able to deal with him.  It dulled my senses and I didn’t care what he said or did to me. I spent the last few years of my marriage living in a fog, drifting from day to day, merely functioning. I looked twice my age and I was like a time bomb waiting to explode; a prisoner in my own skin.  I stayed out of the house as much as possible to keep away from him which only made for a bad time when I eventually got home.

It was only when I was pushed almost to the edge that I faced what was happening to me. Nevertheless, I had no money, a child, and nowhere to go so it wasn’t easy to see a satisfactory way out. I knew I had to run away but where was I to go and how was I going to finance it. Being abused for me was like a drug and giving it up was extremely traumatic. For years I had known nothing else and I was leaving all my possessions and my home. I felt so guilty breaking up the family unit and hiding his daughter away but I had no choice. After I left he called me every name under the sun, threatened to kill me and kidnap my daughter. I didn’t see my personal possessions again for thirteen years.

No one is exempt from abuse; it can happen to anyone.  The best jobs, schools and backgrounds, low or high incomes are no guarantee there is no abuse behind someone’s front door.  I am smart, intelligent, attractive and well-educated b the t domestic abuse did not pass me by. When I finally plucked up the courage to leave I finally had a good career and a little money of my own.  I would never have believed I would become a victim to a psychopath; abuse doesn’t discriminate by colour, race, religion, spirit or socio-economic background.  It can touch anyone anytime and often when you least expect it.  I never believed it would happen to me; this wonderful free spirited me. Never stereotype or assume.

Over the 25 years of our marriage, I realise he thought he could buy my loyalty, love and affection by giving me a grand home with a high income. He would constantly tell me how lucky I was, that he did everything to make me happy and that I should be extremely grateful to him for everything we had. He would tell me that he went to work to earn enough money to ensure I had everything I desired and wanted. But “things” can never make you happy. I needed love safety, peace and contentment. I live alone now but I have never been happier and at peace with myself and the world. He hit me three times.  The third time I had it recorded at a solicitor and the doctors, as I knew no one would ever believe me and he would always deny it.  His behaviour was the epitome of domestic abuse. 

He almost destroyed me. Eventually, I summoned up the strength and courage to “flee” one Monday afternoon with my daughter after school to a hotel. We hid for days while he subjected us to verbal abuse. The police and my solicitor were informed and our address was made a safe house. We moved around a lot as I was paranoid he would find me. For two years or more I felt he was following me. He never did find us and slowly we accumulated a home again but the post-traumatic stress I suffered was almost as severe as the abuse. My daughter was traumatised and under police guard at school for a while. She also suffered an eating disorder and depression. Thirteen years later we have both recovered to the point where we can live again and are no longer scared of him at all, but it has taken thirteen years. We both have good careers and work hard and take care of each other. Her relationship with her father is still very estranged. 

Today we wear the proud badge “Survivor” and live peacefully in our world.

On Saturday 12th February 2017 I was lucky enough to meet and spend time with actor Chris Harper at the Escape Charity Event. Chris currently plays the role of groomer "Nathan" in Coronation Street. As Nathan, he will go on to groom Bethany.  I spent quality time discussing my own grooming, gaslighting and coercive control with Chris in order to assist him with his research into his role as a paedophile and perpetrator. 

You can read an interview with Chris Harper  in the Sunday Mirror today (12.02.2017) where he supports Voicing CSA and shares a small part of my story here:


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