I’ve been wittering on here for a while now about how desperate I am to be able to articulate the horror of emotional abuse. I’ve been trying to nail down why coercive control is so traumatic. I know that it has caused me more stress and anxiety than any physical act. I know that being a victim of coercive control has effects on me still now, it’s always there hovering on the outskirts of my mind. I just couldn’t work out why this was.
Now I know.
Yesterday I read a tweet about coercive control, about how it doesn’t end when the relationship does.
That was it.
The light bulb moment.
Everything flitting about in this messy mind of mine fell into place.
That’s why the hell this incredibly effective tactic of abuse still gets to me. Has caused so much mental anguish. It never stops. It never quite ends.
From the day I walked out of that door the perpetrator of my abuse has never ever laid so much as a finger on me. I know this makes me one of the lucky ones. I’m aware of the murder rates of women who’ve left abusive relationships and I know how dangerous that period can be.
Has he abused me since I left though?
When he called educational welfare.
When he told the police that I’d stolen from him.
When he told everyone I knew I was suicidal and unstable.
When he told social services I was crazy and a danger and had made up the abuse.
When he repeated all of the above to a family court judge.
I know the tactic. He was trying to overwhelm me so completely, make my mind such a mess I couldn’t think straight so as he seemed a viable option to me.
It didn’t work.
The abuse didn’t stop when I left and that’s why it caused so much trauma.
Let me reassure you if I can though. As horrifying and difficult as I found family court in particular, I’m still here. My family are still free.
If you’re at the beginning of your journey away from abuse or are even still in that relationship don’t be frightened by the fact it’s hard. The thing is with every day and week and month that you are away physically from the abuser you grow. You develop tools to equip you to deal with the desperate tactics he’ll employ to regain control. You’ll have people around you who tell you you can do this so fervently their faith in you will see you through when your own wanes. Even if these people are online confidantes because you’re maybe still estranged from your friends and family.
I’m going to talk about the Freedom Programme again, but that course will equip you with your very own survival pack full of tools to make you able to deal with the attempts your perpetrator may use to regain control.
I’m here at the other side.
He still makes the occasional attempt to grasp some control by using contact with the children (a very common tactic) it’s so weak now though that grasp he used to have on me that it barely registers.
Seeing him in the street doesn’t trigger an anxiety attack, seeing his name in my email inbox doesn’t make my blood run cold. Even just 3 or 4 years ago I’d not have thought that possible.
The attempts at control will happen intermittently for a while yet. I know this. I’m prepared now though. Thanks to supportive, protective, nurturing friends and family. Thanks to the Freedom Programme for the knowledge and power.
Thanks to all this I have all the tools I need to keep us out of his reach.
I never thought this could be the case, but it really is.