It really is possible to not realise you are being abused

Domestic abuse rarely begins with a beating. In my experience and from talking to other women I know this to be the case. Often, by the time the first blow is struck (and sometimes this never happens) abuse can have been taking place for months or years.

I’ve wanted to write about emotional abuse for a while now but I can’t seem to do it justice. I’m not sure if even now after all these years, part of me still feels daft for mentioning it and that’s where it is so clever and powerful. I feel silly for telling you someone calling me fat caused me trauma, that someone telling me everyone laughed at me but him kept me in place. This is years down the line so maybe you can imagine when you’re in that place how hard it is to talk to people about what’s going on.

Emotional abuse is powerful in it’s subtlety. It’s a chipping away so gentle it feels like love at the start. A physical attack is like someone taking a hammer to a brick wall and smashing it with brute force until it’s destroyed. Emotional abuse is more like a gentle, gradual picking away at the cement between the bricks until one day the wall collapses, to the eyes of the world all on its own.

Looking back in hindsight as a free woman I can see how gradual emotional abuse was and how easy it was to mistake for being cared for.

What ended up with being screamed at about what a vile looking person I was, that I was so ugly looking at me made him sick began with comments about how I should change what I was wearing because I looked so nice in a different outfit. I felt flattered back then he preferred one outfit.

What ended with me being isolated from the outside world began with him asking me to stay in with him instead of going out with my friends because he loved me and would miss me too much.

What ended with me being accused of sleeping with every guy I came across, being called vile names and not daring wear make up began with him advising me that a certain guy liked me and maybe I should not chat with them so much so as not to hurt their feelings down the line.

I struggle to connect the start points to the end points in these examples. I certainly can’t fill in the gaps between. Herein is its power. Such a sneaking increase in power and control disguised as love is hard to understand. It’s hard to notice when you’re in it, it’s hard to understand from the outside. It’s so very damaging though.

For me, the after effects of emotional abuse have been far greater than that of physical abuse.
It’s the reason I struggle sometimes with how I look, the reason I can’t stand compliments and the reason I suffer with self doubt.
It’s the reason I can’t envisage doing the love stuff, I’d be distrustful of it.

I’ve made great strides of course after years of working on the issues he left me with. I hope I’ll continue to and one day look back to even now and see more strides that have been made. After all, those brick walls I was speaking about earlier, rebuilding better and stronger than ever is always an option.

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25 thoughts on “It really is possible to not realise you are being abused

  1. I didn’t realize till after I was out how far back the abuse started. I used to think it was only recent but in actuality it was tyke whole 12 years.


  2. “Connect the start points to the end points”…. It seems a foggy mess- it starts so small that we don’t even notice it. I looked back and saw the creepy beginning signs were there very early. I should have run fast and far…but I didn’t. I was afraid he would kill me or himself…I stayed and tried to “fix it”, only to lose myself in the darkness over 13 years…


      1. Yes exactly that! It’s cathartic writing it down, but hopefully it could help someone know it’s not ‘just them’ x

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so sorry you went through this. What a terrible betrayal to be treated this way by a partner. I’d experienced emotional abuse from people close to me – not a partner – before. It is an insidious thing that you almost don’t realise is happening and wrongly can blame yourself for. You show incredible self-awareness and bravery to share this story here. Thanks for linking to #eatsleepblogrt. Hope you come back next week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, yes that’s the danger you can not realise until you feel it’s impossible to get out of! I’ll be back next week!


  4. Yes to everything you said. I can identify with it so much. My ex left me feeling like a shrivelled disgusting nagging harpy. To this day when my husband thinks it’s odd how roundabout I go to ask him to do something totally reasonable it reminds me just how much the emotional abuse broke me. But slowly, slowly I’m getting back to me. Thanks for this post! #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I identify with that too, people now do find my behaviour odd in how overly grateful I am for people doing silly daft things!! Getting there though yes, that’s all we can do!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Emotional abuse is all powerful in the way it envelopes you’re entire being and soul. The most dangerous and causes the most long term damage.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Emotional abuse is so difficult to explain but it is very powerful. Also, I think it’s a very good point you make that it starts off disguised as love, and that’s what makes it so believable. I’m so sorry that you had to endure this terrible thing, and it’s great that you’re finally being able to get some of your thoughts down on paper. I am sure that it will help lots of other people with similar stories. Keep going and making those strides forwards #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was in an emotional abusive relationship and when I left him, I was ashamed to tell me why. I don’t talk about it now. Yet I can see how it’s had a lasting effect on me. I too can’t handle compliments and snap at my now husband when he gives them and he thinks I’m odd because of it. I think by not talking about it, it’s taken it’s toll on me. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I totally agree with this and was in a relationship like that for five long years. I was only 13 when it started and that relationship really shaped me as a person, I think a lot of my deep rooted issues stem from it, although at the time I just didn’t see it. I’m so sorry to hear that you went through the same. Thank you for joining us at #sharingthebloglove


  9. It wasn’t until I began my relationship with my second husband that I realised that I had been emotionally abused. I have since dealt with what I suffered. This is a post that will speak to many.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I really hope you are able to overcome the terrible emotional scars he left you with. This is such a powerful post, love how you describe the gradual chipping away of emotional abuse and how the abuse begins with such subtle things. I think this could really help some people recognise that what they’re being abused. Thank you for sharing with #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

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