Tag Archives: abusive men

Affection withdrawal as an abuse tactic… conquered

I’ve waffled and whinged and whined in this blog a lot about my aversion to hugs and tactility. I’ve bored you all with my 2017 Eureka moment where finally the Ice Queen thawed and being touched no longer makes me wants to recoil in horror and turn into a statue.

What I’ve not really dealt with though is why I’m like I am .

It’s odd; life after abuse. You have so many lingering behaviours once you’ve left , even years on some habits stick (one of these days I’ll take my phone off silent mode) Some ideas still float about your head unquestioned ,until you realise that actually those ideas are not your own ideas ,they were a seed another person planted in your head so gently that you took them and everything that grew from them on as your own but they never ever were yours. Sometimes one day , everything clicks into place and you realise that your behaviour still mirrors that of that abused woman ,and then…well then you have the power to get rid of it .

I had a bit of a Eureka moment like that over this week. I know where my hatred of affection came from , I know why I’m like I am and now I do I can banish it for good.

When I met the man who abused me I was going through a tough time , I was vulnerable . I must have been a gift to him! Now I’ve never really been a hugger ,that I can’t say is down to anything other than I’m not naturally a tactile person. He came along though and showered me with affection. At that low point in my life I soaked it up. Cuddling , touching, all the affection and compliments and kind words and gestures wrapped me up completely. I liked it , I liked being the focus of all this love and I was flattered .

Over time emotional abuse became the norm . I was manipulated and coerced into behaving a certain way. He was charming and I am a people pleaser so it probably wasn’t that much hard work to get me to do as he wished. However on one occasion I resisted . I didn’t play along with his games . I stood my ground and didn’t give in . I can’t even remember what it was that was the issue now but that day he withdrew affection and kindness and compliments and they never returned. Those strokes of the arms as he passed me , the hand squeezes that I’d relied on ,am arm around me or a peck on the cheek all disappeared immediately along with compliments and encouraging words (even only now as I write this do I realise why I hate compliments too)

As I mentioned above I am a people pleaser by nature and I’d grown to like the affection he had lavished me with. He had already done enough ground work on my head to ensure that the affection withdrawal would have the desired affect. It did. Then you see I was always striving to get that back. I was doing anything he wanted to try and pull back the affection , only now I was so very grateful for the tiniest scrap of approval he only need offer the occasional hand on the shoulder or feeble words of praise to make me feel better. I was altering my behaviour and character to get this guy to go back to his love bombing of the beginning . I was absolute putty in his hand , easily moulded to be exactly what he wanted at any given time.

I think we’re joining dots now to find out why I then became the girl that hated hugs and affection and touching. I always knew it had to be a defensive thing and it absolutely was. In my mind I could never again give anyone that kind of power ,that hold over me . I couldn’t settle in to enjoy affection because I knew how horrific it was to have it removed.

Years away from toxic relationships , therapy and this blog though have been my trio of weaponry against the damage done mentally. They’re pretty solid too these days. I talked here last week about my need for patience and yes I do absolutely need that understanding and trust if I’m going to be close to people , physically and emotionally.

You know what though ? I’m going to have to disagree with the Doctor on this one now . You can trust a hug , I like hugs . I like hand holding and little kisses to the face and my hair stroked. Physical contact is a primal human need and I’d deprived myself of that for way too long .

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The nice guy

I’m not going to lambast Johnny Depp here. I don’t know what went on his marriage. I always speak about how important it is that women who come forward about domestic abuse are believed is.

I’ll say I believe her, and I’ll leave it there.

The thing that’s unsettled me most about the Depp scenario though is twofold. Firstly the horrific manner in which Amber Heard has been treated has triggered a hell of a lot of anxiety for me.

“she must have deserved it”

“those bruises are clearly fake”

“she can’t have been abused, there’s a pic of her smiling the next day ”

All the vileness and disbelief thrown her way took me to a dark place.

The other thing that’s really gotten to me about the whole thing is the number of colleagues and friends coming forward to assert ‘he’d never do this. He’s a nice guy’

Abusive men are usually nice guys. To their friends to their families. To your friends to your families, to you in the beginning.

These men are charmers, sweet talkers, they’re so genuine and caring and loving.

The insidious nature of domestic abuse is what makes it so dangerous and so frightening.

When the ‘nice guy’ asks you to stay in with him rather than go out with your friends, you find it flattering.

When the ‘nice guy’ tells you, you don’t need to wear make up, why don’t you take it off before you leave the house, you’re quite charmed.

When the ‘nice guy’ confides in you that your friends are no good, they all secretly laugh at you and hate you. Tells you that there’s only him who really cares you believe it.

When the ‘nice guy’ kicks you in the face for speaking out of turn he’ll apologise and cry and tell you it’s only because he loves you so much and it wouldn’t have happened at all if you’d just kept quiet. You’re worn down by then, you’re ashamed so you believe him.

When the ‘nice guy’ screams in your face that you can never leave as you can’t cope without him. That no one else will ever want such an ugly, stupid mess. You believe it wholeheartedly.

Then if you’re one of the lucky ones. If you get to leave, if you run away and escape from that torture that was your life. The charm offensive intensifies, towards you at first. Grand gestures, tears, flowers, on his knees begging you to come back. He must note a change though, a look in your eye, a change in your stance, a different tone of voice. He realises his power is waning and has to turn his charm elsewhere.

He’s good at that.

The ‘good guy’ will tell your friends and family he’s concerned about your mental health.

He’s likely put years of background into this to make sure they’ll believe he cares.

The ‘good guy’ will use tears to anyone with authority. The police, the social worker, the court. He’ll break down into heartbroken sobs that his children have been taken away.
He’s a charmer, some people will believe him.

The ‘good guy’ will have told HIS friends and family lies about why you’ve left. They’ll aid his abuse by calling you a liar.

Unfortunately you can’t pick out the abusive man in a crowd.
You can’t say it can’t be true because they’ve always been nice to you, bloody hell abusing their partner is a full time, intensive job, done over months and years they simply don’t have the time to abuse everyone they know.

You can’t say you’ve never witnessed it so it can’t be true. These men aren’t stupid, every action they ever take is planned and thoughtfully carried out.

I know many really good men (well a couple at least) hell I’m trying to raise two. I’m not saying the good guy doesn’t exist. I’m just saying maybe we can be a bit gentler with the women speaking out, doing the bravest thing they’ve ever done.

Abusive men are charming and manipulative, they’re good at it. Maybe we can keep that in mind before we judge.

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