I wanted to document my personal experiences of the domestic abuse in a few blogs. I know in the midst of, and indeed the aftermath of abuse you can feel like you’re the only one to ever go through this.
Once it became apparent to my abuser that I wasn’t going to return ,he realised he had to change his tactics.
He could no longer control me so his attention turned to controlling how others saw me. A very common tactic , I’ve since learned.
The guy is convincing , really almost Oscar worthy in his weeping and wailing and playing the wronged father who has had his children whisked away for no good reason. I know that so , so many of you unfortunately know exactly what I’m talking about here.
It began with him telling all my friends and family that the reason I’d left was that I’d had a breakdown , that I was suicidal. He only wanted to know where I was because he was so worried about me.
I began to suffer badly with anxiety , though I didn’t yet realise that’s what this was. I developed an irrational fear of fainting in public , it was so horrible. I was convinced every time I crossed a road with the children that I was going to faint mid crossing and we’d all be killed. Many , what I now know to know to be, anxiety symptoms made an appearance. Horrid tummy pains , racing mind , disrupted breathing patterns , numb face all showed up whilst I was just tying to deal with this monumental thing I’d done by leaving. At this time I wasn’t aware it was anxiety and I began to wonder if this was in fact a breakdown , that maybe I was losing my mind.
Thankfully my new GP was a marvel. She was the most reassuring presence in a panicky , scary mess. She helped me more than I even realised at the time. She was the first stranger to say she believed me , she was the first person to assure me that I wasn’t going crazy and in fact this was all a natural reaction to the situation I was in. She referred me to counselling and put me in touch with the Freedom Programme – the course that not only saved my sanity but began to help me put myself back together.
Comforted and strengthened by the reassurance I found the anxiety easier to deal with , it wasn’t pleasant but it was liveable with.
Then came the abusers trump card – family court ( I’ll come back to that in particular in another post) and as a special double whammy -social services (again whole other post)
I’d found him telling all my friends and family I was crazy embarrassing and uncomfortable but this was up a gear. I found myself having to defend myself against claims that I was unstable and as such surely I couldn’t be the good mother I was claiming to be ? Also I had made all the abuse claims up hadn’t I? To justify why I’d ran away with his children?
That’s how I found myself having to prove I was sane.
Psychological testing was ordered by the court (on both of us )
So one day I found myself sat in a psychologists waiting room , the words of a social worker ringing in my ears
“If there is any evidence you’ve lied about the abuse , I will look at removing your children”
Me now , looking back, is furious that a so called professional could say such an appalling thing to a vulnerable woman. Me now would tell that woman that she is colluding with an abuser , that she is herself continuing to facilitate abuse. I’d tell her she can no way prove I’ve made anything up. I’d explain to her that her scepticism in my ‘story’ made me do the opposite and play down my experiences, I’d tell her that because of her words when a sympathetic police officer tried ever so gently to coax out of me what had happened and explained how he could help and how actions could be taken against my abuser I couldn’t do it.
Me then though , was an anxious , vulnerable woman who could only think about jumping through whatever hoops were necessary to keep my children. She didn’t have a voice then.
She does now.
Even then though , sitting in that office I still had faith. I wasn’t crazy , I wasn’t lying. That had to be apparent. He WAS lying , he couldn’t fool a professional surely? I’m not sure what my poor naïve self was expecting , did I think he’d crack under pressure? How daft of me.He’d been given an ear , someone to give him the time of the day , someone allowing him to talk about how he was the victim in all this . He thrived on that!
When I got in to the psychologist he was lovely and warm and did put me at ease. He asked such in depth , personal questions it was all very disarming . My (lovely) childhood was raked over ,the death of my parents , previous boyfriends discussed , did I think myself a good mother. I knew I just had to be the most honest I’d ever been. I was too, really hard for someone who doesn’t like people knowing her business (yes I get the irony of me now writing a blog about it for the whole internet to read- let’s say years of therapy have left me a bit more open and that can only be a change for the better)
After the initial chat I had to answer a multiple choice questionnaire which seemed to contain thousands of questions , this was what would flag up if you were a naturally deceptive person , how angry you were , your state of mind. I’m not a psychological expert and I’m sure it’s all very accurate but again a lot for an anxious person to deal with.
That was that.
The day I had to prove I was sane.
Oh and I did by the way….and it may have been a stressful experience to go through but to have the report in my hand that says I displayed nothing of concern bar the moderate anxiety we already knew about was good for me. At that time I needed that for me as much as for all the other eyes that were on me.
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