Category Archives: domestic abuse

I’m resentful…and it’s strange

The man who abused me is getting married in a few weeks.

It’s provoking a few strange emotions in me.

Ordinarily these days I rarely think of him. He took up so much space in my mind for so long. I simply don’t allow him any more. Having to organise the summer holidays though and work things out with the children ‘The Wedding’ comes up a lot and I’ve had to communicate with him way more than I usually do. So hand in hand with that I have been feeling a little unsettled .

It would maybe be expected to maybe go through a train of thought of wondering why he could behave normally and decently with someone else. It’d maybe be expected for me to wonder what it was I did to make him behave that way.

I don’t though. 

Not one bit.

Mainly thanks to therapy and The Freedom Programme I know that there was nothing at all I did that caused him to behave that way.
Nothing.
That is all on him.
He chose to be abusive.

A secondary reason I’m not having those kind of thoughts though is because I don’t believe he has changed. To have changed would mean taking responsibility,seeking help to alter your behaviour. However he still gaslights my experiences by never ever having admitted how he behaved.

So with not believing he has changed ,that brings with it a sense of responsibility towards his wife to be. I wrote a note to her here detailing how futile I know it is for me to tell my story ,to attempt to warn her off.

I wish there was a way I could keep her safe but it’s frustrating as hell that there is nothing I can do.

Mainly though the strongest feeling I have in regards to this situation is a whole heap of resentment. 

I’ve spoken about how that relationship left me numb for a very long while. There are many negative feelings about what happened to me that I have dealt with and then tucked away , anger being the main one.

Resentment though that’s been niggling a while.

I’m resentful that he gets to get on with his life ,having the normal grown up relationships whilst I was left so broken only now almost a decade on can I even ever so gently begin to date.

I’m resentful that I still and probably always will carry mental scars and struggle in certain situations whilst he gets to carry on without a care in the world.

I’m resentful that my children are being dressed up and shown off at this wedding and he will take credit for what amazing people they are despite not being in their lives for years.
I know it sounds like the whining of a bitter ex ,and this post is a bit of a whinge fest I’ll grant you. 
I document every huge stride I take in recovering from abuse though that it only seems honest to cover the tricky times.
I’m not sat here rocking in a corner or conjuring up complex revenge plans. I’m too healed for that.
I truly hope the kids have a fun day and enjoy themselves.

I just had to write this though.

I needed to document my feelings because amidst the champagne and the smiles and the happy ever afters….

I see him.
I know.

I remember.

So does he.

Out of my hands 

Back when we left the abusive relationship all those years ago.

Back when my now taller than me teenagers were still little tiny things. 

Back when my now college boy was still in infant school. 

Back when my articulate chatterbox 2nd born still couldn’t talk properly (damn you speech therapy it was THE cutest) 

Back when I thought baby no. 3 treating brother baiting as if it were an Olympic sport was a phase she’d grow out of (poor deluded me) 

Back then. 
I had one priority – to keep them safe. 

It was hard at times. I was still so damaged from the abuse, I wasn’t strong mentally but still that fundamental aim remained. 

Keep them safe. 

I often felt like I was fighting the whole entire world and noone would listen to me and help me. For years through the family court nightmare with social services dragged into our lives by him every concern I had was met with ‘he’s their father, he has a right to see them’ 

I had to stand firm and unwavering at a time when I’ve never felt so fragile, but I could do it for them- to keep them safe. 
The children have seen their dad intermittently. They go to their paternal grandparents every fortnight and though he rarely took up the opportunity I was clear he was welcome to visit them there.  I didn’t want to be keeping my children from their father. Don’t get me wrong it suited me when he didn’t bother, I’m not claiming to be a saint here. 

Now though, at almost 17,15 and 14 it’s no longer my call. It’s no longer my decision but theirs. It’s out of my hands. 
This weekend they’re going to stay at his house for the weekend for the very first time. I’m really not dealing with it very well. 
The thing is it’s no longer about their safety. They want to go and stay and I can’t stand in their way. They really like his girlfriend and I actually think she could be the draw of why they want to go. 

It’s not that I believe them to be in physical danger – believe me if I thought that was even a possibility they’d be going nowhere.  
The discomfort I’m feeling is for selfish reasons.  The thought of them being there has triggered all the old feelings. Mentally I’m transported back to when I first came here – fragile and vulnerable and just feels bloody horrid. 
When we first came here my anxiety manifested itself as a ridiculous phobia of fainting in public. My physical anxiety symptoms feel very much like that second before you faint. Erratic breathing, throat tightening, light headedness and back then I was new to the anxiety game and didn’t realise that’s what it was. It used to happen daily back then but it’s not happened that badly in a good 7 years. Then yesterday it happened again. I know it’s because of this weekend and I just can’t stand to feel this way. It feels as if all my strength and mental stability has been whisked away and I’m back to that shaken girl of old. 

I know it’s only temporary though. I know when they arrive home Sunday after a lovely weekend all will be back right with my world. I do know that so I’m going to try to take a positive from this. I’m going to use it to acknowledge to myself how far I have come, how I am a totally different stronger woman now. 

I did what I set out to do. I took my children out of an unhealthy environment and I kept them safe. 
I have 3 down, happy, level headed (most of the time) teenagers and I have to allow them the space to make a relationship with their father if they choose to. 
I kept them safe. 
I just was unprepared for the time to come when it was out of my hands.  

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It’s coming up to that time of the year again.. .. 

We’re here again. The anniversary of the date I left the abusive relationship is on the horizon. I think by now I’ve possibly bored you all with my take and insight on that particular subject. I just wanted to talk about The Freedom Programme though and what an invaluable resource it is when you’ve suffered abuse (or indeed still are) 

That scary day, all those years ago, that I fled I didn’t expect to succeed. I don’t remember much about that time due to a shed load of unhealthy coping mechanisms as I spoke about here. What I do remember about that day though was the fear. Standing at the train station with the kids – sick with fright fully expecting him to show up and force us back. To this day I still occasionally have dreams of that exact scenario happening. They’re truly horrible. 

I did do it though. I got away. 

That startled girl in new city though is a million miles from the woman I am now. I’d naively expected to be able to  shut the door on that relationship and magically transform back into the person I was before him. Confident and ambitious. It sounds silly but it came as a shock to me quite how damaged I was. Thankfully here, years of therapy and using this blog as an extension of that down the line I am in the main healed and healthy and stronger. 

My healing process began with The Freedom Programme. I’d really like to share with you how it helped me so much. 

Firstly the fact that it’s a group scenario becomes really helpful. I know I know! That ironically was what almost put me off doing it in the first place. I had no confidence back then. I could barely look anyone in the face. How could I stride into a room of women and talking about things I hadn’t even with my closest people?
Well of course it wasn’t like that. 
It was a room of kindness and gentleness. Women just like me, who had the same stories to tell as me. That’s where the fact it’s a group scenario becomes empowering. You’re so isolated when you’re in an abusive relationship the relief of another woman saying “me too” when you talk of your experiences is incredible. When you speak of incidents that you’ve not mentioned to others as you worry they’d be seen as trivial and women relate,that’s powerful. Nothing sounded silly to these women, they knew. They got it. 

Secondly it’s just a brilliantly put together programme. The woman who devised it really knows what she is talking about on this subject and you can feel it. 

Each week you look at a different side to the perpetrator, the different behaviour they use. For me I for  the  first time acknowledged shared beliefs with the perpetrator which really helped me gain an understanding. You also are introduced to his opposite. Identify the characteristics of a more supportive man. The decent human being. Helpful in itself. 

Another amazing thing I gained from doing the Freedom Programme is that it helped me to allow myself to let go off the guilt I felt for not being able to get  the children out of that environment sooner. I wrote a whole blog post covering that here but it really was weight of the world lifted off your shoulders stuff. 

Lastly, and really importantly, the Freedom Programme stays with you. Here I am still banging on about it all these years later, I probably will be in another 10 years. 

There’s a section in the programme about being able to identify early signs of abusive behaviour. Kind of red flag warnings you can spot at the beginning of a relationship. I come back to these often. Between learning these on the programme and a good few years of just interacting with people I do feel quite well equipped to spot a twat from a distance these days. It’s helpful.

 They. Are. Everywhere 
The ones just beginning to chip away at a beautiful woman. The ones further down the line in absolute control of other people. The ones still single yet give off a waft of ‘abusive tendencies’ so strong  you can almost choke on it. 

If you are experiencing abuse there are agencies that can help you. That can safely support you. There are a whole army of women out here ready to mobilise on your command. 

Refuge 

Women’s aid

And of course the brilliant Freedom Programme

Are all here if it’s safe for you to get online. 

Doing the Freedom Programme started off my healing from abuse in the most positive way. Writing this blog and years of therapy have a big  part in enabling that healing to continue and there are also some spectacular humans who have helped me to get to where I am now, which is in no way a spectacular place to be but thinking back at this  time of year is way better than I’d have dreamed my life could be back then. 

Thank you all of you 

Xxx

 


Shameless plug : If you like my nonsense and fancy nominating me in the #BiBs2017 you can do so just here http://www.britmums.com/nominate-for-the-bibs2017/



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She’s off on her soapbox again…

I am too.
I’m just so sickened and furious I can’t possibly not climb onto my soapbox. So forgive this long, rant post.
We currently live in a society where Tax Credits will only be paid for the first two children. I have thoughts on how we can meander into effectively being a 2 child state but they’re for another blog. I am aware that the welfare state is under excruciating pressure and that cuts have to come, again I’ve thoughts on why the cuts have to come from the poorest rather than the richest but again whole other blog post.
The one exemption to the 2 child law that is in place is if a third or subsequent child is “conceived as a result of rape or an otherwise coercive relationship”

All you have to do is fill in form NCC1 4/17 (an 8 page long document) to be assessed as to whether your rape counts or not.

Simple eh?

Nothing for you ladies to get your knickers in a twist about. The government are merely making sure they put a end to all those hoards of women getting themselves pregnant for benefits and one of those massive mansions some channel 5 documentary shows us they all live in.

I find this law abhorrent enough as it is. I can imagine many women having to struggle financially rather than go through the humiliation and reliving of a hugely traumatic event filling in the rape form then having to discuss it again with a third party.

The law itself isn’t what has me seething though (well it does but it seems I can get to a higher seething level). My issue here is that whoever dreamt up this Victorian, barbaric law and every person who signed it off along the way know nothing about domestic abuse and less than nothing about coercive control.

The thing that jumped out at me was that women still living with the father of children born through rape or in a coercive relationship are not allowed to claim this support.

So here we are at the first ridiculous notion. That if you are in an abusive relationship which, as they often do, include sexual abuse you are able to just pack up and leave. Now  even without taking into account the slashing of funding for women’s refuges, making it harder for those who are able to leave, there’s the simple fact that many women in abusive relationships can’t just leave. Here’s why I couldn’t.

Then we get to rape in relationships. The people who dreamt up this law are obviously those who are experts in how rape happens. They clearly think it’s exclusively something that only happens in dark alleys, by big scary monsters of men who attack strangers.

Rape doesn’t always happen in badly lit streets after dark. Sometimes it happens in a comfy bed, in her own home, by the man she loves.

Keep in mind too that a tactic abusive men use too is to keep a woman pregnant. Ensure she’s stuck in the house. Often she’s denied access to contraception as she’s not allowed solo doctors visits.

So the people at the top who make these laws. Well you’re doing the work of the abusive man for him here. You’re telling these women that you can’t be raped if you live with someone (he’s probably been telling her that for years) Then when he does impregnate her without her consent she’s going to struggle financially, trapping her further. Well done decision makers. Research a project called The Freedom Programme they’ve helped many a woman like me get to grips with their own abuse. I’m sure a little read could educate even the most ignorant.

The rape clause also tells us that children conceived as a result of a coercive relationship are also exempt from the 2 child policy.
Except again this women have to have left to count.

Sigh. .. .
Coercive control in its nature begins  so subtly you often don’t realise it’s even happening until it’s too late. You no longer question why you shouldn’t wear make up you just stop. You know you can no longer go out with your friends but are unsure how it got to that.
I can envisage many a scenario where coercive control in a relationship would result in pregnancy.
It’s the man telling his partner if she truly loved him she’d have a baby despite her not wanting one , after all doesn’t he live with the kids she already has by some other guy?
It’s the woman accused of having an affair because she doesn’t want to have sex. She knows from past history that line of questioning will likely end in violence so she lays and doesn’t protest whilst he has sex with her.
It’s the exhausted brand new mum, newborn by her bed whose partner is so jealous of all the attention she’s giving her baby. She’s sore, she’s exhausted, she certainly doesn’t want to participate but she’s told to just lay still and quiet so as not to wake the baby.

I could go on, but I’ve probably gone on enough. I just can’t understand the mentality behind this law in a country that considers itself forward thinking and free and fair.
I’m at a loss as to what I can do as a woman living in a country where the government shows such disdain for women’s rights and such a misunderstanding (or maybe a choice not to understand) how abuse works.
I feel for these women, abused by the person they live with then to have their experiences gaslighted by the government too.
I fear what comes next.

There’s a petition here against the cuts if you feel like I do. 100,000 signatures means this must be debated in parliament

My Facebook page is here

 

Shameless plug : If you like my nonsense and fancy nominating me in the #BiBs2017 you can do so just here http://www.britmums.com/nominate-for-the-bibs2017/

 

 

          The Tale of Mummyhood

Packing up the emotional baggage that was never even mine

I’ve been telling you for ages now about how healed I finally feel years after I left the abusive relationship. Therapy, this blog and time were a really helpful trio is aiding this and I feel mentally more healthy in so many ways.

I’ve accepted as fact though that I’ll always have my little ‘issues’ left over from that relationship. I accepted I’d been damaged and some of that was irreparable, but that’s life I just had to get on with it.

That’s bullshit.

You see I’ve come to realise many of my ‘little issues’ are in fact not mine at all and there’s no chance I’m carrying around someone else’s baggage around with me forever.

Let me try to explain…

My lack of confidence in my parenting ‘issue’

Yep that was never mine.

I think I’m doing an OK job. Some days I’m supermum, some days I’m locking  myself in the bathroom and wondering what on earth I’m meant to be doing. I’ve come to realise this is how many (dare I say most) parents find parenting. A roller coaster of joy and worry?

The issue here belongs to the person so aware of his own crap parenting that he needed to make someone else doubt themselves at every turn to make himself feel better and essential to my existence.

He can have that one back.

My emotional ‘issues’
Yeah I’m cold and unfeeling. I struggle to express my emotions and in fact emotions as a whole terrify me…

More bullshit…

Here I am, in this very blog expressing my feelings and emotions. To other people. Often over sharing in fact (sorry about that! )
It turns out I feel a whole myriad of emotions which from time to time I even manage to express quite articulately (ssshhh don’t tell about the rogue grammar and excessive exclamation marks!)

The issue here was with the person who stifled my emotions in the first place, who belittled me expressing my feelings. The person so threatened by a chatty, intelligent, ambitious woman he had to squish all that out of her by one way or another.

He can certainly have that one back.
The icy ‘keep away’ wall that lingered around me long after he did should have only ever have been built around him… . Preferably with no door. .. and a with a lid… and then buried. …. Anyway I digress… but yes, not my issue.

My intimacy ‘issues’
This was quite a clever one to make me believe was mine. It allowed him to retain a bit of power long after he’d gone.

I hate touching and affection – well seems when I’m relaxed and comfy in another persons company I’m actually quite the fan!

If I let another person see me naked what with me being so grotesque his eyes would dissolve at the sight.  – trickier to get over this one, I grant you. We suffer enough with body confidence as women as it is, particularly when you’re a mum.

After an abusive relationship though when that’s been a huge weapon in his armour you’re going to disregard anything positive a new person will tell you, ignore compliments. The ‘fat and ugly’  voice in your head is louder. 
Not forever though.  When a positive, complimentary voice  is consistent and you choose to allow THAT voice to be louder… Well it turns out the ‘fat and ugly’ voice shuts up eventually.
A multitude of sex ‘issues’. I was probably best celibate forever –
Again, tricky. I decided to own this one though. Warn anyone I got involved with how awful at sex I am. I may have used the line “honestly if I was reviewed like on TripAdvisor I’d get 1 star” (a REAL issue I have is thinking I’m funny-it’s a family thing)
Turns out (and I detect a recurring theme here. .. Comfortable… Relaxed. . ) not my issue either!
They were the issues of a man who needed me to totally believe the only person who would ever be interested in me was him.
These are getting so much easier to return to sender.
After all the big stuff this is going to sound daft. The ‘issue’ I got worked up over the most though was that I knew, definitely I’d never ever be able to sleep in a bed with a man.

How would I explain this to a new boyfriend I was trying to enthrall and interest? Where in all the flirting do you slip in “can you sleep on the sofa please a man in my bed  freaks me out”
Come on , you can’t do that I’d think to myself . It’s OK I’d just lay in bed and pretend to sleep. Keep up the illusion of being a normal human.
That’s genius…Oh except ..I can only even fake sleep if I’m at the side of the bed nearest the door. I can’t possibly even breath if there’s a person laid between the door and I , he’s going to spot the crazy there immediately.
I was a lost cause, how sexy is a panic attack at 2am because you’re at the ‘wrong’ side of the bed?
This turned out to be the most insignificant worry ever. Again – relaxed and comfy around the right person  I can sleep soundly, even more amazing I didn’t even realise I’d slept the whole night at the wrong side, away from the door, until much later.
This one had been my issue. Caused by another persons behaviour then magnified ridiculously by my own brain.
So if I could overcome issues that were partly mine. Well the ones that belonged to other people, mislabelled as mine? Certainly time they were packed into the suitcase marked ‘Someone Else’s Baggage’ and said goodbye to for good!

Here’s my Facebook page 

 

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To the mum enduring an abusive relationship at Christmas time… 

Dear friend, 

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

Xxxxx

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

My Facebook blog page is here

 

One Messy Mama

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Could you do me a favour? 

I’ve talked often and with so much gratitude about The Freedom Programme. 

When I began the programme I had only been away from abuse a matter of months and whilst I was physically away and safe, mentally was a whole other thing. 

Doing that course saved my sanity. 
Every woman in that room knew the abusive guy (I know they all think they’re smartly individual – they’re actually tediously similar)They use the same lines, they display the same behaviours,they share a way of thinking. We shared their way of thinking for a while. 

After this course my mindset was different. I’d been handed the tools to help me deal with what I’d been through, being a group settings had helped me realise that ‘it wasn’t just me’ 

I’d advise anyone who has been through an abusive relationship or who is still in one to do The Freedom Programme. 

I wrote here about doing the programme helped me feel sane.

 I wrote here about how it alleviated burdening mum guilt. 

And here about how important it is to feel believed when you begin to tell your story. In that room, with those women there was no judgement, no blame no disbelief and that was what I desperately needed. 

Leaving an abusive relationship is a terrifying traumatic thing. To feel supported and listened to and understood helps us as we begin to repair ourselves. 

So here’s my favour – Please, please, please could you just click here and vote for the Freedom Programme to be able to secure funds to help them to continue to help women. To aid them in helping to change lives. 

Just like they did mine. 

My Facebook page is here

I’m @daydreamer_mum on Twitter 

Life after abuse : The  social services trauma 

I wanted to document some of my journey after abuse. When I first started to blog many of the experiences were all a bit too raw and painful to even think about. Only now at the other side am I able to document some of it with a more personal voice, telling my own story. Hoping it makes anyone going through the same know that they are not alone.

There were 3 things my abuser told me whilst I was in the relationship that would happen if I left. I’m sure anyone who has been in a similar situation can already guess them, these guys aren’t overly creative – cut from the same shitty cloth rings a bell.

“No one will believe you about the abuse ”

Everyone will think you are crazy” 

“you’ll lose the kids ”

These three things were said so often that in the end it seeped into my psyche and it became fact in my messed up mind. 

When I left, sure enough, he attempted to make all these things true. 

I spoke here about having to prove I was sane. 

No one believing me though, that was the biggie and coupled with the fear of losing my children it was the hardest thing to overcome. 

I’d left my abuser. I’d moved away from home where we were all loved to run away to safety. 

So my abuser got out the big guns. 

Social services. 

He wanted my children removed, they’d be better in care than with me, I was unstable and not fit to look after them he’d claimed. 
He’d also filed for full residence of the children at this time, I’d done the same so the court ordered a report to be written by social services to help them make a decision. 

I’ll say, as I always do, I cannot prove any abuse. I have no evidence, no charges were ever brought. (Please if you are in an abusive relationship if it’s at all safe to do so note incidents, dates, times, witnesses. Only if it’s safe though and  there’s no way the abuser will come across your notes.) 

This put me on the back foot from the off and my trying to explain my experience to the social worker was met with much talk of “your word against his” 

Having your parenting raked over with a fine toothcomb I’m sure any parent can imagine is a pretty horrific affair. 

Every room in my house was inspected (I’d ran here with absolutely nothing so my house at that time was sporting a minimal vibe at best! ) 

I was interviewed at length about why I was stopping a father see his kids. I was told how upset he was, how he’d broken down in front of her. Course he did –  turning on the tears was a very effective tactic for him. I in turn weren’t showing emotion, why was this? Well I’ll tell you why it was. It was because I was numb. Completely numb, I’d had to shut down my emotions just to survive living with the guy sobbing into his hanky currently. (One time I did cry and concerns were raised that this could be an indication I was unstable!) 

My children were interviewed at school, drilled about what I fed them? What we did together? How they felt about living here?  Did they miss their father? 

A meeting was called IN SCHOOL! This made me sick to the stomach, I’d not lived here long I was trying to make a good impression in a new school, start afresh and now I had to sit here whilst every bit of my life and my family were discussed around a table of strangers. Thankfully school were so supportive and I’ll always be grateful but honestly I felt like the worst human being on the planet during those days. I just knew though, I had faith that if I just jumped through their hoops the truth would out. 

In a positive of all this attention, the focus was also on him. He was also looked at, observed. 

It went on for months that ever present worry of social services, visits and interviews and having to prove myself. It was without  doubt the hardest period of my life. There were days I doubted myself. It’s unsurprising though, that when faced with the possibility of a court choosing that your children should live with him, you find strength. 

You find so much strength, so much fight. 

I was granted full residence of the children at social services recommendation. I felt validated by that. Yes hard questions had been asked of me, yes people doubted my ‘story’ about the abuse, yes it was humiliating beyond belief to be investigated so throughly when I’d done nothing wrong. You do whatever is necessary though. You have to. 

To anyone currently going through this I know how hard and soul destroying it is. To have someone gaslight your experiences to professionals, to barely be able to function with worry that they’ll believe him and you could lose your children. Hold on tight though, hold on tight and keep your head and surround yourself with people who care for you and have your back throughout this. You and your children deserve a happy, free life and that can be there for you at the end of this. 

I’m living proof of that. 

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Mummy Times Two

Life after abuse:Proving I was sane

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. 

You’re not. 
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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A little self analysis.. 

I wrote earlier in the week about my absolute need to be believed about the Domestic abuse I suffered, you can read that here.

Writing and talking about it got me thinking and realising that even all these years later living a life free of abuse I have inherited a behaviour from the abuse that’s not the healthiest.

I have taken on a willingness and readiness to be able to prove myself. I’m in in a constant state of ensuring I’m able to back up my words. I collect evidence without even realising. I rarely make a statement or claim something to be true unless I can prove it is.

I don’t even mean big or important things either. I do it with silly stuff. Small girl’s daddy and I co-parent her. We share her time which means she has an overnight bag (aka the bane of my life) Small girl’s daddy is a lovely daddy and the Shared Parenting really works for her. However I’m a bit dozy (understatement of the year) and I often forget to put things in said bag. I always note down what I’ve packed though. So if I’m questioned about why I’ve forgotten the school shoes for the millionth time I can ‘prove’ I have.

If I’m telling someone a daft fact or about something I’ve read I’ll provide links and Web pages just to back myself up.

I keep any correspondence ever from my abuser. Just in case. Just in case I ever need to prove that he continues to (unsuccessfully) exhert control, that he has sent abusive vile emails, that he has made up ridiculous, ludicrous lies. Years worth … because I daren’t delete a thing.

I never, ever want to be the woman who cannot prove herself again.
Being that woman almost broke me.

Once I’d left the abuse I was dragged through the Hell that is family court. It was the most traumatic thing I have ever been through. (a note to other victims though. .. It was hard, it was traumatic but please don’t let me put you off. The pathway to freedom and a happy family life is filled with obstacles, but they’re worth getting over – I promise you that, you’re strong enough for that fight)

The first social worker I spoke to had unfortunately spoken to him before me. He’d been the nice guy I spoke about here.  She questioned the validity of my ‘story’ of abuse. I was floored. I’d believed this woman was going to help me keep my children safe. Her opening line I fact was “I’m going to give you the opportunity right now to admit you’ve made all this up”. That was and remains the lowest point in my journey to now. She apologised to me years later and tried to explain how hard a one person’s word against another type scenario was. I see how hard that could be honestly I do. I also know for sure that taking that kind of stance with a scared, vulnerable woman could have forced her right back to her abuser.

Thankfully at the time I was doing The Freedom Programme (yes she’s harking on about that again. I’ll never stop,  it saved my sanity) the facilitators were so helpful in pointing me in the direction of  help to tackle the sceptic social worker.
I had no evidence of abuse back then. No police reports, no hospital records. None of the evidence people kept asking me for. I can’t prove abuse happened. It was, and remains,  my word against his.

So that’s where my need to be believed comes from. I never want to feel that way again. It’s probably an unhealthy thought process and one I’ll discuss with my therapist.
That I didn’t even realise I thought and behaved that way until I wrote that blog interests me though.
I always say writing this blog is therapeutic for me, for these kind of reasons. When I get my thoughts down on paper they can become a mirror so I can self analyse a bit.

That helps me.
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