After everything I’ve done for you…..

by Avril D’Arcy. 

Avril, the incredible woman who asked us to post this lucid and raw account of the everyday suffering of domestic violence, escaped the crippling physical and psychological effects of sustained harm by the person who proclaimed to love her. This is a stark retelling of the impact of the violence perpetrated against her, and comes with a trigger warning.

To be told that you are loved, in spite of who you are, is not to be loved at all. This was my life for years: To be loved in spite.

The everlasting memory of emotion from my time with my ex-boyfriend is confusion. I lived in a permanent state of nervousness. Being hurt by the man that I loved, being comforted by the man that hurt me, and apologising for making him angry in the first place.

I wish he had broken my nose.

Like really smashed it up.

Then maybe I wouldn’t have to justify and explain my every move.
Does it matter that I left before it got so bad that I couldn’t?

Should I have stayed to gather evidence?
You see the thing is, I don’t know that I ever could have left, apart from when I did.

So why am I the one hiding in the shadows like some sort of villain?
Why am I the one that has to sit at home while he garners sympathy from mutual friends and plays at having a grand old time without me?

As I sit here, I wish he had broken my nose, like really smashed my face up.

Maybe then I wouldn’t have to feel like it’s me that’s done something wrong by wanting my friends to know how much he’s hurt me, how much I’ve lost of myself.

The worst thing he’s ever done, is made me feel afraid of myself.
I feel like I can’t trust myself, my former self or my future self.
He wants me to know that this is normal, that I am naive and that this will definitely happen to me again.

I want him to know that he will never break me, not now, no more.
I want him to know that I’m not going anywhere, that he will have to face what he’s done when he sees me.
I want to reclaim a life that was always mine to begin with but that I now have no idea how to reach.

Not even fingertips graze the edges of the circle I once called my friends.
The fear of them believing him stands so strong and cements the already insecure and paranoid nature of my mind.

I wish he had smashed me up.
I didn’t meet a man that was awful to me. I didn’t go on a date and get slapped in the face and decide to stay. That’s not how it happens, that’s not how it is. I met a man and he was wonderful. He hung on my every word, he complimented me and was attracted to me and we had fun. We laughed all the time, at the start. It starts slowly and silently. With looks and small comments. Innocuous comments or so you believe in the beginning. Small criticisms of pointless, unimportant things. But it isn’t harmless, it isn’t innocuous and eventually it will leave your soul in tatters. For me, I got out before the physical violence became visible. He had twice physically hurt me and somehow it was the best thing he had ever done for me. I saw the chance to leave.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know what he was doing. I did, to some extent. It’s just that I thought I could help him. I thought that once he’d calmed down, he would listen to reason. But you can’t talk to an unreasonable person. There’s nothing with which to reason.

When it was good, it was too much of a risk to try and bring anything up, I learned that the hard way. When it was bad, I tried my best to make him see sense but that only spurred him on further. When it was really bad, I couldn’t escape the loop of insults and criticism and when it was really, really, really bad, I saw the opportunity to run.

Why I waited so long is a question with which I still struggle. In all honestly, I didn’t see a way to leave before he gave me the concrete answer, an answer I didn’t know I’d been waiting for. The view from the floor.

I wasn’t surprised that last day. I remember simply thinking, ‘this is it, here it comes’. I didn’t scream, I was fairly resolute in my acceptance of the situation. It felt like I’d been waiting for it for years. The biggest surprise was the fact that there was a strange sense of relief, of completion: I had been given a way out that was absolute and left no explanation. Or so I thought at the time. The worst days, much much later, were the times I thought about going back, fleeting thoughts though they may have been, they were the scariest I had ever faced.

My name is A­vril, I’m 31 and last year I left an abusive relationship. It happens everywhere. And it’s everybody’s problem. I always thought that this was a black and white issue. That there was no middle ground where people could sit and maintain a demeanour of complacency. But in this, I was so incredibly wrong. Previous conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and strangers always gave the impression that everyone knows that domestic abuse, in all forms, is categorically wrong. That there are no excuses and there are no sides. This all changed in the aftermath of my relationship with my ex-partner. We were together for three and a half years. That’s a long time to wait to leave. I didn’t take photos of bruises, I didn’t think I’d have to. I didn’t go try and destroy his life, to be honest I thought he’d done that himself. I never realised that I would have to explain, to discuss, to argue my case. But I did, and some days I still have to.

I was orally raped when I was seventeen. I don’t think I’ve ever written that sentence before. It was by a boy I knew, a boy I had been kissing that night. I didn’t see it coming and honestly am not sure if I’ve ever resolved my feelings about it.

I had never told a boyfriend about that night; I was so afraid that they would see me differently, treat me differently. But I told this boyfriend. I thought it would help me, and help him to understand better. You’re supposed to be able to tell your boyfriend, partner , husband all your secrets. The things you’re most afraid of, the things you can’t tell anyone else. I trusted him. I was so wrong. He used all of my secrets against me, all of my insecurities and fears. He used them to hurt me, to undermine me and to make me doubt and dislike myself. There was one particular evening and he was yet again fighting with me. I was selfish, I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t care about what he wanted. He told me that it wasn’t fair that he should have to miss out on something he wanted just because of what some asshole did to me when I was seventeen. What he wanted was oral sex, but not as I would have given. He was rough, like really rough. On this one particular occasion, I complied, I didn’t want to but I did. It was better than having to face the inevitable shouting, swearing and silent treatment that always followed when I disappointed him in some way. He was being pretty rough, but I continued, uncomfortably. Eventually I ended up retching and throwing up bile. You would imagine that at this point I would have stopped, but I was so intimidated by this man, that the safer, easier alternative was to clean it up with my mouth and pretend it never happened. To this day he doesn’t know that I did that. That I felt so ashamed of myself, so nervous of him and his reactions to me doing something ‘wrong’ that I licked up my own bile. Afterwards he expressed his appreciation and I pretended I was fine. I felt like I was dying inside, but I smiled. I hated what I had become. In what state of mind could I have been in that the alternative was to do something like that? I was broken. But I didn’t know how to fix it.

Sex had become a minefield. I could rarely do anything right. There was no room for me in our bedroom. He blamed me for everything. I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t turn him on. He was aggressive, had been becoming more aggressive in bed for a while. He would pull my hair so tight, I would have to pull against him in order to be able to breathe properly. He didn’t seem to notice that I was even a real person in these moments. I had become an object, a means to an end. It does something to you, when you or your partner has begun to use your body in this way. You feel an emptiness inside, a damaging force of objectivity. One evening, after a particularly cruel argument, I locked myself in the bathroom and had a panic attack lying in the bath. He told me that I was a selfish bitch, that he wouldn’t flirt with other girls, but they make more effort than I did. Maybe if I dressed sexier, wore more make-up he wouldn’t. It was my fault. As per usual. He eventually told me that actually he preferred fucking his ex-girlfriend than me. That was when I went to lie in the bath. Sobbing and trying to breathe. When I came out, I asked him why he was saying these things, he told me simply: Because I want to hurt you.

He gained power from hurting me. Every reaction I had was a source of power for him. I had become numb to the usual, swearing, shouting, the ‘shut the fuck ups’ and the ‘shut your fucking mouths’. He had to go further and further each time. I was a slut and a whore, I was a selfish bitch, a stupid cunt a fucking moron, a silly cunt. I was gross, disgusting and he thought he might catch something from me. He thought I had been with too many men, and that I was disgusting, but he said that he thought he would have at least got what he wanted from me. I was insecure and paranoid, irrational and jealous. He once said the words, ‘You used to be so confident, what happened?’ I just stood there in disbelief and silence.

I apologised for everything, for my very being. I don’t know how this happened, it wasn’t how any conversation started out. I once apologised for not telling him properly that he was hurting me by his behaviour. How? How did I become this person? Where had I disappeared to? This wasn’t the person I was supposed to be. It wasn’t the person he had started going out with. It seemed like he had taken all of the things that he had loved about me in the first place and torn them to shreds. He now hated all of that and I could do nothing right. The goalposts kept moving, I would master one thing and he would come up with a new problem. My behaviour was so modified by the end, I didn’t know what I was doing. I questioned my every step. My whole day was mapped out by whatever type of mood he was in that day. I used to cry most days on my way home from work. Thinking about all the things I needed to say to him. Things that we needed to sort out. Plans I had for the future, the voice that I had lost. But every day I would get to the front door and pull myself together and pretend that I was fine. I knew that if I walked in the door with anything other than a smile and joy to be back in his presence that I would be looking at another evening of fighting or of silence. I wasn’t allowed to be in a bad mood, I wasn’t allowed to have had a bad day. If I took too long to take my earphones out or didn’t greet him properly I was facing accusations of not caring enough. I should be happy once I was back with him. Nothing else should matter. It’s a pretty exhausting way to live. He on the other hand could be in whatever mood he liked. You won’t find a more negative person. The world was against him. But he created a space where it was us against them, and by god I should appreciate everything he did for me.

I was sick all the time, I rarely get sick. It was as if my body was trying to tell the story my soul couldn’t. I got abscesses and cysts, I got heat stroke and colds, sore throats and had chest pains that never seemed to leave. I was exhausted and wasn’t sleeping. I was in a constant state of latent anxiety. Waiting for the next time he was in a bad mood or the next time I said something ‘wrong’ inadvertently. I was walking on eggshells and didn’t know what the next day would bring. I would tell him if I was feeling anxious. I’ve battled anxiety and depression since my teens and have learned that I should say out loud when I was experiencing symptoms. If we were ok at that time, he would tell me not to worry that he had everything under control. I was worried about money, our future, our inability to save, to clear his many debts and didn’t know what sort of a future we would have with his financial history. I was constantly worried that I would have to do all the heavy lifting when it came to financing our life. He worked part time, and didn’t seem to care about things like that. We had each-other, didn’t we? Why couldn’t I be happy knowing that? We had a roof over our heads? Of course we did, I was paying all the rent and most of the bills. I was making him stressed talking about money, making him feel bad about debts that were nothing to do with me and that he didn’t want to talk about. If we were fighting when I told him of my anxiety or stress, he would tell me that they were my issues and it wasn’t his problem that I couldn’t ‘handle him’ when he was angry. It was my responsibility to ‘deal with him’ when he was abusing me.

I dreaded getting sick. Firstly, I often got sick after he did, not unusual since we were living together and were partners. Somehow though I always had the impression that he thought I was doing it on purpose. An irrational mind will do that. He was initially always caring when I was ill. But as the illness progressed he would get increasingly frustrated, impatient and angry. He yelled at me that he said I looked fine, like I was looking for a compliment, for attention. I was actually asking him if my face was more swollen than the previous night. I had two massive abscesses and at that point was so swollen that I could see my own mouth without the aid of a mirror. He was angry that I wasn’t listening to him. Another time, I was in incredible pain with a cyst. I had asked him to check on me later as I was in bed. The pain got really bad though, and I got up to get more pain-killers from our kitchen. I just went in and out and back to bed, was feeling miserable, there was no need to stop and chat, he was busy playing computer games or watching TV. He had a massive argument with me about how I did it just to make him feel bad, how I should have asked him to get them, even though I was in another room. Somehow, this was about him too. When I got heat stroke while on holidays, he started a massive argument about how I wasn’t showing enough appreciation for him helping me. I could barely stand up at that stage. I didn’t appreciate all the things he did for me. I was so selfish. I’ve forgotten how many times I lay on our bed and sobbed until I couldn’t anymore. None of it made sense. He told me he loved me, he told me he’d do anything for me. Why did he want to hurt me like this?

Logic told me that it was all bull, but somehow I still wanted to help him. I begged him to get help, told him I would be with him through it. He would promise he would, and then the next time say he didn’t need it, that he didn’t believe in therapy and that it was my problem anyway. If only I wasn’t so annoying, if only I could just do what he wanted. He once asked me if I needed him to make a list for me, his sentence trailed off. He drew an explanation on the wall of his room as to how exactly I was annoying him. It was one of the few times he caught himself and heard what he was doing. That happened a couple of times. Where he would realise what was happening. Those moments gave me hope. But he quashed those feelings deep. He couldn’t accept what he had become. He had stopped apologising in the last nine months of our relationship. I had moved in with him, I had met all of the issues that he had with me, and now he had me where he wanted me. He forgot all his promises, his laments and was resolute in his righteousness. I was the problem and how dare I make him feel bad about anything. The constantly moving goalposts made it impossible for me to keep up with his complaints. Nothing was ever going to be enough, no matter what I did, he would find another problem.

I once wrote down a list of some of the terrible things he had said to me.

‘You’re lucky I’m not a violent man’
‘I know why you’re so annoying, you question everything’
‘I have my anger under control, your face is still intact, isn’t it?’
‘You’re a shit girlfriend’
‘You don’t turn me on, you’re not sexy enough’ etc etc etc….

When he read the list his response was only: ‘Do you know how hard that was for me to read?’ It was out of context and I never listen, that was one of my problems.
He couldn’t seem to grasp the reality of how hard it was for me to have to hear those things from the man that I did honestly love. But my feelings were secondary, always. He came first. If he was having a good day, I was having a good day. I was caught in a cycle of abuse that I couldn’t find my way out of. Our lives had become so intertwined that I would lose everything should I go. I left him once, it lasted a few months, but I went back. I reasoned myself into it, thought he would change, he didn’t, he never will. On the day that we decided to give things another go, he told me that I had had my ‘out’ and that if I left him again, that he wouldn’t be so good to me, that he would make sure I lost everyone. Why I didn’t run screaming then, I have no idea. I just always thought that there would be time later to bring things up, to figure things out. He had problems, and I would help him with those, and then we could talk about all of it. I couldn’t leave him when he needed my help. That day never came, and things just got worse and worse. By the end I felt like I needed a ‘good’ reason to leave. I had rationalised all the other reasons. The psychological and verbal abuse didn’t seem like enough. I thought about recording our fights, to make him listen to how he treated me. I never seemed to do it though. I would start out standing up for myself, but end up cowering, backing down, crying and asking that he just be nice to me. What a question to have to ask of your boyfriend. ‘I just want you to be nice to me’. The words rattle around my head constantly. When I finally got the courage to tell him that when he was angry, he scared me, he told me that he was leaving me, because he couldn’t be with someone that thought that of him. Again, it was my perception of things, and I was wrong, and it was never his fault.

I had started saving money in a separate account that he didn’t know about. I told myself that it was an emergency fund, a ‘just in case we needed something’ fund. The fact was, I had little control over our finances. I was paying for everything, which left me with nothing extra for myself. I only went out when he was out, and would give him any money at the start of the evening. This was all under some sort of guise of me being incompetent. What did it matter, it was ‘our money’. Funny how it was always ‘our money’ when he was spending it. I rarely bought anything or did anything by myself, and on the rare occasions that I did, he made it almost impossible for me to enjoy it. Anything I did by myself was undermined to the point of obsolescence.

The last month with him was horrific. I couldn’t move, but that set him off into a rage, into the usual silent treatment or onslaught of insults. Two weeks before the day I left, we were actually having a pleasant evening together. An argument erupted because of a cup. A cup.

I was being crushed in a doorway by my boyfriend. I can’t find the right word for this action. He didn’t want to listen to me, and he wanted to close the door, so he closed it on top of me. He loved doors. He liked to slam them, he liked to close them in my face. The plaster on the wall in our sitting room was cracked because he had slammed it so hard, so many times. The bedroom door kept sticking for the same reason, and there was a cupboard door that was falling off its hinge. This time though, I was the one that got damaged in the door. My boyfriend was a big guy, and he, full force, with all his strength, crushed me between the door and the door jamb. I was in shock, my voice sounded tiny and scared as I told him to stop, that he was hurting me. That he was scaring me. ‘Why are you doing this?’, “because I want to close the door’. I was nothing.

I was crying hysterically on the couch, in shock, in emotional agony. He couldn’t stop anymore.

He completely retreated into denial. He hadn’t done anything wrong, he wouldn’t apologise. This was the point that I became really scared of him. I had always convinced myself that it would never get to this point. As explanation for his behaviour, he listed all of my faults, all of my secrets and insecurities. And then he told me that he loved me in spite of all of it. In spite of who I was, he loved me anyway, and I should be grateful for that. After everything he had done for me, how could I still not understand that? That night I ended up comforting him. I can’t remember now how I did that.

I got stubborn at the end, I knew I couldn’t live like that. I needed to stand up to him, to speak back to him, to try to make him understand he couldn’t treat me that way. That’s when I ended up being dragged from my doorway, knocked into a wall and onto the ground. Squaring up to me hadn’t worked, the spitting rage through gritted teeth didn’t see me cower the way it usually would. I didn’t back away, I stood in front of him and told him straight. He couldn’t speak to me like that. People have asked me why I didn’t just move out of his way, let him walk away after he had called me names, after he had humiliated me and threatened me. But I couldn’t, I had to tell him to stop, to think, to see that he couldn’t insult and swear at me. I needed to stand up for myself, I couldn’t take it anymore.

As I lay on the floor of our hallway, he laughed a snide little laugh, looked at me and said, ‘you silly cunt’. I half picked myself up and sat against the door, in shock, in a weird calm, inside myself. I tried to put a t-shirt on, which he had earlier in the argument shouted at me to take off because it was his. He grabbed it and threw it behind him across the hall to where I couldn’t reach. I couldn’t have been more vulnerable. And he was laughing at me.

I sat in our apartment for a whole day before telling anyone or doing anything. Part of me thought that if I could fix it, if I could talk to him, I wouldn’t have to tell anyone. I was in shock. Paralysed with the realisation that this had actually happened to me. I didn’t want to believe it, and my mind tried to rationalise it as best it could. But there was no getting away from it now. I knew it was all over, that the decision had been made for me. There was no fixing it. And I had to start thinking about fixing myself. I never imagined that this could have happened to me, I don’t think anyone can. After I left, the range of moods and emotions were astounding and overwhelming and sometimes I still find myself seeking approval for my decisions. My clothes, makeup, hobbies, interests. I repeat myself constantly, especially if I am nervous or tired. I apologise first, before anyone even questions me. Just in case. Adapting to the real world was incredibly hard. The realisations of my relationship kept hitting me in waves over a period of months. It’s been over a year now, and I’m still learning how to cope with people. I’m still discovering the ways in which my brain had reprogrammed itself to just survive through the daily life of the relationship. Sometimes I feel like if I feel better, it means that what happened to me won’t matter. Like I’m the only proof of what he did.

It’s been a very long journey to today. There’s still a lot of work I have to do to heal, but one thing I need to remember is this: I was wrong on one point. The decision wasn’t made for me. I made that decision, somewhere I found the strength to make that decision. I walked away. I didn’t go back when the pleas and bargains and empty promises started flowing. And I am the one that gets ownership of my own story. Not him. And that’s a really good place for me to start.

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15 Responses to After everything I’ve done for you…..

  1. imogene says:

    This has brought up so many memories for me. In so many ways this woman and I have had similar experiences, only she was able to describe it so much more eloquently than I ever could.
    Keep your chin up and stay strong. It takes a very long time to heal, but you will reach a point in your life again where you feel that the sun is shining just for you. Walking away is a tough decision, but you will meet new people and you will make new friends who won’t judge you or “accept you in spite of…”

    i wish you all the best x

  2. Linda says:

    You are a very brave lady baring your soul like that , thank you for sharing as it may help other people in abusive situations. I do hope you realise that there never was anything wrong with you, it was your ex who was horribly warped and can never find true happiness. One day very soon I believe you will forgive yourself for being vulnerable due to what had happened in your past and you will know the sun always shines for you 🙂

  3. michelle says:

    Hi A….
    Your story brought back some awful memories for me. I still live with the guilt of why didn’t I see it?
    I ended up with physical injuries on my way out the door. I was stalked, my every move out the house watched.
    No one understood why I couldn’t leave..scared to stay, scared to leave.
    I think it’s great and brave of you to tell your story…I hope you have a peaceful life now although you can never get back the part of you that they steal.
    From one survivor to another, I wish for you happiness and love,real love for you in your today’s and tomorrow’s.
    Thank you for sharing your story..

  4. helen says:

    Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Lina says:

    Thank you for sharing this and for being so brave. I’m sorry you’re friends and family are not more supportive and I hope that you can help educate them about abuse, and why no woman should put up with abuse, no matter how “charming” or “handsome” their partner might be. You did the right think and you are helping other women by talking about this.

  6. Vicki Walter says:

    Well done, I congratulate you. He didn’t change you as much as you think he did., you found the strong girl inside you once again and you walked away. Do not give this pathetic person another thought, do not let him impact on your life another minute, he does not deserve your time. He tried and failed, does that not say something about you, not completely lost, just gone for a while. But oh my did you come back with as a women found. Abuse in whatever form is evil, its perpetrated by the weakest of the weak, its their validation for living, but its not ours or yours, I wish you love and peace, I hope you find someone who loves you for who you are, giving you unconditional love, the love that enriches your soul and heart. xxxxxxx

  7. lifeofmissb says:

    Oh A you brave, strong woman! He didn’t break all of you…. The woman you were before this hasn’t gone; she’s still there, and slowly but surely she’s returning. So much of your story could’ve been mine. The difference is my ex left me for someone else before it could get really bad. But those last few moths were bad enough & in the last month when he was still living in the house (in the spare room) his true colours showed. I was called every name under the sun, it was my fault for us breaking up, he wasn’t attracted to me – I wasn’t sexy enough, if I was & we’d had more sex he wouldn’t be leaving me etc etc… He did physically threaten me one night but I stood up him & I believe he wasn’t ready to hit his first woman yet. I really must send that other girl who has was desperate to have him a thank you note. For the record her relationship fizzled within 6 weeks. She probably doesn’t realise the blessing that was.

  8. KC says:

    I have so much admiration for you.

    You are so strong. You are clearly very articulate & intelligent. You are brave.
    You are selfless in the gift of sharing your story with others who maybe can’t tell theirs yet. You are beautiful. You should be very proud of the person you are – and I hope that someday soon you’ll not need anyone to tell you those things for you to truly believe them, but for now, know that there are people you’ve never met in this world cheering you on & sending you positive thoughts whenever you’re having a bad day.

  9. Sam says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you recognise and appreciate how strong you are, how brave you are and how much love you have for yourself enough to have walked away. It’s amazingly heroic and your life will only get better.

    I know this because I have been there, suffered for 18 months during which time I ended up with a fractured cheekbone, 2 bruised eyes, stitches to my mouth and more significantly an absence of self worth that still permeates my life from time to time.

    These guys are so damaged, who’s soul is filled with ugly hate. You coming out with your is such a service to women out there who are in the same predicament. It highlights to them that you can be brave and strong; that life out there is actually better without him; that you no longer have to live in fear, constant anxiety and self loathing in your own home; that having the ” comfort” of a partner is just not worth it if your very being is shattered and you end up a fractured shell of your former self.

    My ex made me feel stupid, pathetic and that no one else could love me. Now I know I am a wonderful person with so much to offer.

    You are an amazing woman. I wish you all the love, happiness and peace at heart that you truly deserve. Never ever look back.

  10. Kate says:

    I am so happy for you to be where you are now. You will have your ups and downs as we all do, but your happiness and choices are all your own now and i know you will get the happiness you want from life. 😀

    I stayed for 6 and a half years myself, its been over 4 years since i left. I am still remembering bits and pieces i had forced myself to ignore and, that i did my best to forget. Random every day things will trigger the memories but i dont fear them and they dont upset me, i see it for what it was and take from the memories what gives me strength while discarding the rest into the lessons learned pile. I must admit though that i now know myself and i am more head strong than ever.

    So many people cannot comprehend people who stay living with abuse, i think you explained it in a way that most people should be able to comprehend. I hope not only that you help those who are currently living with abuse but also that you help those who have never experienced it to gain an understanding and give them pause before they decide to tell an abused person they are stupid for staying in the first place.

  11. jenny cassin says:

    I have so much respect and admiration for you!!! For writing this and for finding such strength to know you deserve to be treated with respect and love. Your story can only help others in such a destructive stitiation realise there is a way out. Love to you

  12. Machteld says:

    Avril, thank you for sharing your thoughts and teaching others, with reference to your experience, what situations are to be avoided and how society should change, for the better. Your post will stay with me, whenever I will contemplate on the injustice of survivors not being heard or believed, and whenever I will hear people make all too easy comments about what people “should” do when they are in an abusive relationship – e.g. expressing surprise that people don’t just leave, and reasoning that this means that either it wasn’t so bad, or the persons in questions were weak – as opposed to strong trying to find a remedy and hold on to love – or wholly irrational – as opposed to scared, and having little confidence and other resources which are necessary to leave. Your very honest report of what motivated you to stay (even if you regret that you did not leave earlier) shows that it is possible for a survivor to be (and always remain) true to yourself. You describe the painful truth of how you acted, thought, etc while you make clear that it was the only way you could survive: your self was under attack and you were looking for a way out, but with a portion of self-loathe and self-doubt it was hard to see one. Anyone reading what you wrote can see how you tried out different things to be yourself, within the relationship. Anyone reading it can also see that you were the only one making an effort. The other party was manipulating and using you. Like you describe, he could do what he wanted and live the life he wanted to live with the money you earned. That’s something your case seems to have in common with many others: the abuse is a way for the abuser to get what they want. The power gained by the abuse is a means to an end (having sex when they want, or having different partners which the partner will not know about or complain about if she does know it, not having to work for an income or to pay of their debt).
    But your story does even more than just describing what goes on, and making clear that even intelligent women like you can be lured in. It makes clear, as you write, that society needs to understand better how abuse works, so that there is no need to show bruises to friends and family. Your story, I feel, goes a long way to showing what should change here. We should try and move away from hearing two sides of the story, when one side of the story is so very clear. And we should support survivors, in the way you do by giving the example, to not feel shame when they report exactly what happened, and what they were thinking, when enduring the abuse. These things go together, I feel. And that is part of what you are pointing at. It would be easier to share experiences of abuse, if survivors can trust that they are believed. Then there would be less shame in reporting what happened. And it is the way forward in their healing process, too, as nothing is worse than not being believed when you are still in a process of regaining confidence. Does this mean that we should believe any allegation of abuse? That’s a hard question. But we should accept testimony of abuse as a default I think – and if not in court, then at least ethically, at the level where friends tell you what they endured. And that’s because it will make it a lot easier for people to not stay in an abusive situation and (!) to be able to move on.. Thank you, for making clear that in actual lived experience things are not black-and-white in the way that you were expecting when it comes to society’s verdict about some aggressor’s behaviour. And thank you for illustrating, too, how this lack of judgement is what stands in the way of eradicating abuse. It introduces the double standard that an abuser is given the benefit of the doubt as a human being who may not have intended the abuse, while the survivor of the abuse is shamed and disbelieved because people forget that it takes enormous will-power and great courage to stand up against and overcome continued attacks on one’s self. In addition, by describing your case and owning all of your actions and decisions, you show that any prejudiced, easy or demeaning judgement of a survivor is false – as all the comments above testify. I hope you will continue to live life with your chin up. You deserve to be happy, and you are free now. Free to be happy.

  13. johanna buchanan says:

    Congratulations for standing up for your own life. Congratulations for writing this powerful account of what you went through. I am so impressed with your strength. I don’t like it when you say that sometimes you think that if you feel better it means that what happened to you won’t matter. It will always matter to you but your life won’t always be defined by your experience with this person. He doesn’t have that power over you. You were unlucky to meet him, that’s all.
    It’s nothing to do with you that he’s the person he is. I hope you feel better soon.

  14. Paul says:

    Thank you so much for giving me a glimpse into what it is like to suffer at the hands of a an a abusive partner.

    One question that is always raised in these cases is; why would one not leave earlier? I think you demonstrated how manipulation results in the victim feeling some responsibility for a abuse that they are suffering.
    At the end of your writing I get the sense that you still feel some responsibility for what happened to you. Please please please remember that this abuse is not and never was, in any way, your fault.

  15. BRAVO!!!!! You are an incredibly strong person and you deserve so much love. I hope that each day you get a little stronger and a little happier until the road ahead curves so much that your horrific time with that maniac is but a bad nightmare from long ago. I was very moved by your story and saw a little of you in me. You did the right thing by leaving, it would have never changed, you never would have been good enough no matter how you tried. I wish you joy and love as you take baby steps back to yourself in your new free sane life! Xxoo

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