Two years ago I ended a very toxic relationship. I was engaged, living with him for four years and I walked away. The last 6 years in total have been like a bad episode of Eastenders, full of darkness and drama. Yet one year after the relationship had ended did I notice something about the whole thing. I didn’t realise any of this until it was over for the longest time. Wait, I scrap that. Maybe I didn’t want to realise but writing my book and looking back at the past relationship I noticed something that had gone on from day one.
I was in an abusive relationship. That sentence causes my palms to sweat every single time. And I didn’t know. I didn’t realise any of it at the time and my god how it has been difficult for me to even admit this let alone write about it. Partly because I worry people won’t believe it because it all seemed so wonderful, partly because I was ashamed. Embarrased. Hurt. But I have had to admit it to myself and others and no longer will I ever feel ashamed about this. Because I was in one. And I stayed.
My book is based on this experience and whenever I have sent it to someone to proof read they all come back with the same thing. It’s good but maybe start with the good times in the beginning.
The hard part? There was no good beginning, it all happened so fast. It blindsided me. Our third date consisted in a huge row when I asked him to not have his mobile phone out texting people when we were having dinner in a restaurant. I was promptly told I was just like his ex. I was controlling. I immedatley stopped I didn’t want to lose this wonderful man.
My relationship was emotionally, verbally and mentally abusive and cruel. To know me, you would struggle to see why I stayed. So I did my research and found out the signs and I can explain each one. I found 10 in total.
1.Humiliation/ Embarassing you. Anyone who knows me knows I am so self depreciating I find it funny. I take no offence. In my time with him, he would say things about me in front of people to cause me to be the butt of the joke. He would take great delight in laughing at me, sharing my secrets that I thought were between us and telling people just what I had done wrong again. All in jest.
- Constant put downs. He would tell me my teeth were yellow at times, and how he didn’t like certain ways I wore my hair. He didn’t like me with short hair at all. He would tell me behind closed doors how I could lose weight if I tried yet tell others how beautiful I was. He would suggest I need to go to the gym yet bring me all kinds of chocolate and treats home and we had a lot of take aways each week. I would also be told my dreams and hopes were stupid as I should just accept life as it was. This is it. Deal with it.
- Hyper Criticism. Everything I did near the end of our relationship was wrong. He was in hospital as he had a psychotic breakdown yet when he came home, it was my fault he was there. I chose the wrong place for him, because I couldn’t make good decisions, I was totally wrong. I myself ended up with PTSD due to seeing things during his illness to which I was told he didn’t know why this has happened to me, as I hadn’t been through anything, he didnt understand my problem.
- Ignoring/ Excluding you. Often, he would go out with friends and wouldn’t ask me because they didn’t like me much. He would go and leave me alone, never letting me into his circle.
- Provocative behaviour with the opposite sex. This was something that made my insides churn yet he knew what he was doing. He would kiss and bear hug other women in front of me and flirt like crazy. All the while watching me watch. There was a point in our relationship when he had a female friend sitting on his knee kissing him on a picture on social media. I had family living abroad message my Mum about this, yet he didn’t see my problem.
- Jealousy. He was very jealous of my relationship with my family so after visits to my mum he would tell me, your mum prefers your sister you know that don’t you? I was also asked to attending a training course in town and I didnt live nearby so for a 10 week period, I stayed at my mums house on a Sunday night. Every Sunday I would have to get him a gift because he would complain that I seemed to want to be at my mums rather than with him. I felt guilty. I also was not allowed to meet a male friend who lived in the same area that I went to University with. He believed men and women shouldn’t be friends.
- Guilt trips. Everything being your fault. My goodness, this one is so relatable. Everything that went wrong in his life, the blame would fall onto me. It’s my fault he got angry and lost his temper, my fault he fell out with people and my fault that I made him have issues with people. I was told he was negative because of me. The guilt came with intimacy. When he came out of hospital, I needed to gather myself too after the whirlwind I had been through yet when I told him I wasn’t ready, I was told the usual of when I didn’t feel like being intimate. You’re just like every other girl once they become comfortable in a relationship.
- Isolation from friends and family. He tried his best. On coming out of hospital, he complained to my mum about how my standards had slipped at home and how I wasn’t doing enough around the house. He would make jokes, and laugh about it yet had managed to plant the seed into my mums head. Smooth move.
There’s a lot more to this story but these were warning signs I ignored for the longest time until I was in too deep. Physical scars can heal yet emotional and psychological ones never really go away unless you work hard at it. Looking back now, I should have escaped after that third date and how he made a fool of me in the restaurant and I just sat and took the verbal putdown because I thought I loved this man. I wanted to prove to him, I wasn’t like his ex, I would be different.
So, I never signed up to be a victim and maybe I became one for four years. But now, I faced the darkest lowest points in my life and I can safely say ( and happily say) I will never be his victim again. I am a survivor.