We don’t necessarily know one another but maybe we do. Living with abuse I know is torturous and I know you feel so alone, so I just wanted you to know that I know.
I know how your abuser hates Christmas and uses this as a mantra in order to justify his behaviour. That he’d never have torn the Christmas tree down if you hadn’t made a fuss when you know he hates Christmas.
I know that you’re going to spend the whole of the festive period treading on eggshells, trying not to draw attention to yourself or the children. Trying to quietly play with them,make them feel loved and nurture them whilst keeping them from being too noisy or too messy so as not to unleash his temper.
I know all the work will have been left to you, all the food shopping and present buying. Even if he’s withheld money you’d still have been expected to get presents, and you probably have.
I know whatever presents you have bought will be wrong. You’ll either have bought the wrong thing or you’ll have bought too much and he’ll call the children spoilt. He’ll tell you you’re an awful mum but he’s wrong. You’re not. You’re incredible.
I know that Christmas time might be a lonely place for you. Maybe you’re isolated from your own family and friends so have to spend Christmas with his. Having to watch him turn on the charm in public and play the devoted family man.
I know you’ll have not been able to get it right if you’ve been round his family. If you’ve been quiet he’ll accuse you of rudeness and being stuck up, asking who the hell you think you are and ensuring you continue to feel like shit.
Alternatively if you’ve been chatty you’ll be accused of flirting with his brother, his friends, his dad. Accused of having an affair, called a slag whilst simultaneously told you’re so fat and ugly no one else would ever want you.
I know maybe he’ll not buy you a Christmas present, he’ll tell you you’re not worth it. He’ll spit that he didn’t get you anything from the kids because you are such a terrible mother. Maybe it’ll go the other way though, maybe he’s presented you with the grand gesture, an expensive gift in front of people that’ll likely be smashed into pieces at his hands by new year.
Alcohol is a factor at Christmas too I know. He’ll use it as an excuse for his appaling behaviour. Blame it on the drink. Should you pour a glass of wine though then you’re back in awful mother territory. An alcoholic. A disgrace.
I think that there is likely still a tiny glimmer of hope inside you. You’ll ignore it for the most part because it is terrifying, you can’t let your mind begin to daydream about another way. You’ve just got to put all your energies into making the kids feel loved, keeping them safe. Focus on just surviving, your thoughts almost exclusively trained towards preempting his next move, keeping him calm.
You probably have even forgotten it was there, than tiny spark of hope. It’s been dampened over the years certainly but not extinguished. It’s lying dormant waiting for the day it’s safe for you to leave. It makes me sick to even say that. Safe to leave. We know the statistics though, we’ve read the newspaper stories, we know leaving abuse can be dangerous.
When it’s safe though, when you’re ready that tiny glimmer of hope will see you through.
I’m sorry that your Christmas is an ordeal. I’m sorry everywhere you look you see happy families enjoying cheery Christmases with devoted fathers and husbands and you wonder why you don’t get to have that. Even the TV bombards you with smiling festive families and I know it just makes you want to weep for your children and for yourself. I know you do your weeping in secret. I’ve been you.
I’ve done years of Christmas being a time of violence and of criticism and shouting and screaming and pain. I didn’t think there’d ever be a time that that wasn’t my life. I couldn’t have ever envisaged that one day the children and I would be safe here in our house, able to do Christmas our way, able to enjoy rather than endure. Here we are though. It is possible, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. I know you can get there too.
Just please know this,
You are valuable and you deserve to be free. You are loved and cherished and there is a whole army of women out here ready to mobilise and support you when you are able to make those steps.
I wish you a safe Christmas and a peaceful new year
If you are in an abusive relationship and you need help the Women’s Aid website is here for help and advice
The Freedom Programme which helped me immeasurably after I’d left the abusive relationship but also is open for women still in the relationship has groups around the country as well as an online course. Their website is here
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