Tag Archives: domestic abuse

All those things you said I was – that I am not

A hard thing to get over after domestic abuse or emotional abuse or being bullied in any manner is the damage that’s left behind. Those words and names that were used to keep you in your place for me were a huge stumbling block. As always I can only speak of my experience of emotional abuse but long after the bully or the abuser has gone those words are still etched into your vulnerable brain.

The old sticks and stones rhyme has things all wrong . Words do hurt. They’re harmful and painful and last long after scratches or bruises heal.

When you’ve been called things regularly , incessantly , relentlessly they start to stick. Over time they become not just something someone spits at you but words you’ve taken on . That’s how you view yourself. Your thoughts and brain manipulated to the point that even after the bully or abuser is long gone you find yourself doing their work for them. You call yourself these names , you take them on as things that are true and part of who you are.

Over the years though I’ve kind of chosen and learnt to own and remove these words of their power. The ones that bother or get to me . I can honestly say none of these do anymore but let me tell you about them in case anyone else has struggled.

FAT

Firstly I wasn’t fat . I had 3 babies in 3 years and that will take it’s toll on a body. The way I look from 0-3 babies changed dramatically (let’s not even go with baby no 4 who left her mark majorly too ) Your body is meant to change dramatically though . It has grown and given birth to actual human beings . It has to change to accommodate this.

I used the word against myself many many times . I did the headwork myself for anyone that had ever called me that .Not anymore. How much I weigh is between me and the bathroom scales (if I had any , which I no longer do because they’re toxic in themselves in my opinion) Unless I’m asking for a piggy back my weight is not your concern.

Ugly

Another physical one. Isn’t it odd how these hurt the most. There is a rant about patriarchal society raring to go here but I’ll park that for another post.

Ugly ,to me now , makes no sense . You can be not attracted to someone that doesn’t make them ugly. This one stuck in my brain too though , compliments were tricky. If someone called me beautiful I would bat that right away with “ah I’m just plain but I’m alright with that”

You don’t find me aesthetically pleasing ? Ok let’s both get on with our days !! Really there is no brain space left for that stuff anymore.

Stupid

Ok THIS bothered me more than any other. Even when said over and over I doubted this one . My brain resisted . I’m not stupid. At all. I’m a reasonably intelligent person. Reasonably intelligent people are quite intimidating to the bully types though ,they’ve the potential to make your average bully look ridiculous using words alone. A massive threat. So stupid is thrown around in the hope that it sticks. I do have to pull myself up on this one sometimes because I will STILL use this about myself. Only I don’t mean stupid as in not clever but as in “I put my dress on inside out again ” I need to find a kinder word.

Unloveable

I’m cold , I’m emotionless , I’m averse to affection and love. This made me unloveable. If someone is abusing or bullying you it’s quite a powerful tool for them to project their views onto other people. Maybe you’ve heard “It’s not just me , everyone think ‘that’ about you ” It’s high level manipulation this because while you’re mentally fighting one person you can grasp onto the thought other people see positives in you. Ugly is most certainly objective. Unloveable feels like fact. The real masters of manipulation here will then throw your deepest insecurities at you ,that at one time you have confided in them. Maybe it’s parent issues , something you went through with your ex, an old friend but throw in well *insert name here * thought you were unloveable too didn’t they , that’s why…..

This one stuck with me the absolute longest . Do I believe myself to be unloveable now though? Absolutely not.

Rubbish in bed

*eye roll emoji*

Along with fat and ugly – well you’re not going to dare go sleep with anyone else now are you?

We do.

It’s brilliant.

I’m sure everyone can personalise this post with their own words that have lingered in their minds way too long. Whether put there by bullies , abusers , toxic family members . It can be so difficult to stop internalising these words and using them on yourself. With a bit of work and a lot of patience and surrounding yourself with positive, loving people you really can get there .

There’s nothing more empowering than when those words bounce right off your suit of armour of self belief .

That’s freedom.

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What NOT to say to someone fresh out of an abusive relationship

I have had a little bit of help for this post by some incredibly brave and strong women so thank you to them firstly , you were a huge help.

Domestic abuse’s power lies in the secret nature of its being. This is why I harp on about it. Everytime I tell of my experiences the secret is broken. It’s not secret , my freedom brings with it my voice .

If you’ve never experienced it though , or if you don’t know anything about the subject and how subtle and insidious it is then how on earth should you know how to react if you learn someone close to you has been abused. How can you be a supporter without saying the wrong thing and freaking them out .

Well I’m not sure I have all the answers there. There are though some words and phrases after I had left that did me so much mental damage I almost felt I was back there , that set back my recovery and that made me question myself.

None of these would affect me anymore . I’d be able to explain. Back then though I was still ever so fragile .

As I always say I can only tell my story and it obviously doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Here’s the phrases that hurt me and caused me distress when I was newly out of the abusive relationship.

Why did you stay so long?

The people who asked this were well meaning. I know the question came from a good place . A worry that I’d gone through what I had so long .

To me , newly away from that though , it just showed me what I was up against . How people just wouldn’t understand. That unless you were tied up in the cellar you had the free will to leave . Your free will is often taken before any violence occurs , if it does at all. So much work goes into the perpetrator re programming your brain and convincing you that you can’t live without them. Some women suffering financial abuse cannot leave as they have no access to money . Some perpetrators physically take away shoes and keys and outdoor clothes to make leaving the house physically impossible to leave . Domestic abuse covers a huge spectrum of behaviour. Rarely is standing up and walking out a possibility.

If a guy ever hit me I’d…

Kick the shit out of him

Leave immediately

Chuck him out.

As I mentioned above , domestic rarely begins with a punch. Many of us I’m sure if we had a perfectly great partner would react differently if he just punched us in the face out of nowhere. However the headwork that is usually done previously to violence means you are filled with self doubt , you believe that you’ve done something to make him angry by the time blows are struck , again if ever .

This kind of comment to a woman who has done the most brave thing is judgy and it’s unhelpful. It insinuates that only weak women are victims of abuse , stupid women , lame women
.This could not be further from the truth domestic abuse affects every sector of society from the High Court Judge to the lollypop lady , the stay at home mum , the doctor , the checkout lady , the nursery nurse , the film star ,the teacher . It is everywhere.

You seemed such a good couple

Aaarrgghh ,do you know how much hard work is put in to ‘keeping up appearances’ to ensure no one ever knows what is going on. The shame is huge , you can’t yet acknowledge it to yourself , the rest of the world sees The Nice Guy . It’s exhausting and stressful and you are filled with fear of anyone finding out. Of course you are going to put on the show of your life !!

Well there are two sides to every story…

Ugh this one is a real gut wrencher. Yes there are 2 sides . His probably sounds way more convincing than mine too , he’s had time to perfect it and add little believable details. He’s told his so often . To his family , friends , everyone he knows . He’s told it so often he probably partially believes it himself .

Her story though . It’s fractured and it’s panicked . It doesn’t make much sense . It contradicts itself and is still vague as she can’t stand to go into detail yet. Doesn’t want to relive it and doesn’t want to upset those that love her but detailing the worst.

These were my biggest triggers to shame and trauma .

There are more though

“other people have it way worse”

“It can’t have been that bad or you’d not have stayed”

” You’re such an attention seeker /drama queen ”

“You just love playing the victim”

“Well I did warn you ,I have no sympathy”

All so many things that I’m sure mostly aren’t said with any kind of malice. Just thoughtless and said with a lack of understanding , which is easy because abuse is so complex and hard to understand!

Survivors don’t expect the rest of the world to ‘get it ‘ but just maybe to do a little reading or research if you are helping someone through it . We need our supporters , our cheerleaders . We need a hand to hold and to be allowed to tell our story. Just be patient if we are rattled or affected by something that seems silly to you.

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Then I became me…

Emotional abuse is such a complex thing.

Life after emotional abuse , even more complex.

Many of us aren’t even aware we’ve been emotionally abused.

So how do you rebuild? The physical abuse , the sexual abuse well you just have to let literal wounds heal. You have to come to terms with the fact you’re a little changed. You’ll forever be a little more cautious. You know for sure it happened though. You felt physical pain.

Emotional abuse though? Well how can you recover from something you don’t even know you’ve been a victim of? Well if you’re even questioning it I would thoroughly recommend doing the Freedom Programme. I know I talk about it a lot but doing it saved me from total self destruction. I dealt with the impact of the abusive relationship , but more than that I have been able to identify emotional abuse in subsequent relationships . I don’t even mean romantic involvements but just even friendships or any situations where I have to deal with other people. I am confident that now I can pick out a twat in a crowd. They think they’re ridiculously clever but they are so similar they give themselves away very easily.

So rebuilding after abuse I found incredibly difficult. I expected once I left I could snap back into being the girl I was before him. It was naïve, but I believed I’d only be truly recovered when I was back to pre -him me. In hindsight pre-him me I was a teenager, I still had a mum, I wasn’t a mum myself. You can’t just flip back into that . So I learnt that I had to rebuild but as a new version of me. A better version of me. Ultimate Kelly if you will.

Emotional abuse is like a giant game of jenga (I’m so sorry you know me and my analogies)

The jenga tower is set up. On each brick is a character trait that makes you you. Some are little things. Maybe that you love lipstick or that you have a favourite movie. Some are huge : That you are opinionated , independent , intelligent .

At the start of the game he takes the little bricks . Tells you you don’t need to wear lipstick you’re already pretty or that that favourite movie of yours is a bit silly . Aren’t you better than that? He thought you were cleverer than that? He takes them gently and the tower doesn’t topple because these are easy bricks .

Once the easy bricks are gone things get a little more complicated . he has to go for trickier ones . He doesn’t want the tower toppling just yet , not too early he’ll give himself away. You see that brick with your best friend’s name on though? Yeah he needs rid of that and its going to be tricky because it’s one that’s helping hold the tower in place. You’ve played jenga though haven’t you? You know the key to removing the tricky bricks is confidence. Just in and taking it , you falter you’ll lose. He mentions he overheard your best friend talking about you , laughing at you , she’s only friends with you because she feels sorry for you . Just like that the brick is taken . The tower looks more vulnerable now . It could fall at any minute.

He’s not going to lose the game though , no way . Not after he’s put so much effort and time into it.

There’s one block holding things together. Keeping the tower upright that everything is resting on. It has self -belief written on. It’s the belief that you know you are strong and that you are loved and that you are worth so much more than him. He can’t let that stay. He can’t take it though either , people will realise what he is doing. So he talks you into taking that block yourself. Tells you you’re ill , you need help. You are paranoid and delusional and you need him to take care of you. With shaking hand you pull that block yourself and hand it to him.

The tower topples.

What was once a combination of all the things that make you you is now just a heap of bricks on the floor .

The bricks stay like this for a while . You accept your lot. You’re broken , defeated and there’s nothing you can do.

Then. One day. Maybe the day after you throw him out of the game for good , maybe it takes weeks or months or even years you begin to rebuild. All on your own. All the original bricks are back , stacked and stable . The tower looks strong , but you’re aware that it would only take a few lost bricks to make you vulnerable again. So you add more bricks to strengthen the structure , to make it so strong and stable it’s almost indestructible. Bricks you didn’t even have access to originally.

You add a strong support network , you add therapy and counselling and knowledge. That Freedom Programme brick makes your tower a super structure. The self worth brick , the confidence brick , the trusting yourself brick they are all pretty hefty ones too.

You see I’ll never be the pre-him me ever again.

To become the post-me him I had to take on board more character traits that I’d never needed before . I had to become brave and self secure and independent. I had to become resilient and tough and focussed.

All the bits that had previously made me me had been demolished . I had to round them all back up again , then I had to find a few more for back up.

Then I became me .

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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 ?Around someone I trust , who has proven themselves to be consistent and worth that trust and whose company I can totally relax in I DO 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 .

Kate on thin ice

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I am healed ,but I still need patience

I am many years free of abuse and toxic relationships. I am stronger mentally than I’ve been for a very long time. So many of the parts of me that had been dismantled and fractured have been put back together.

It took way , way longer than I ever would have expected. Years longer.

I’m here though , I am healed and I am strong.

I am healed but I’m battle scarred .

I’m healthy and I’m strong but there are very faded residual marks that I suspect will stick around a little while longer.

Like when stretchmarks that were purple and raw and red and angry fade to silvery faded lines. A memory of what a huge deal you have been through.

I still have a few remaining ,faded mental scars. Like those silver stretch marks they’re part of me , a record of a journey. Not that happy one of motherhood , but a journey none the less and one I finished a free woman. I’m sure those mental scars will one day fade even further , possibly disappear completely like so many of the other hang ups and baggage toxic relationships left me with. I got rid of them eventually. I’m not angry or resentful of the remaining scars ,they are me now.

The main one is a need for patience from people around me.

Super patience.

Patience in ultimate 4D.

Patience with a cherry on the top ,tied with a bow.

You see all those parts of me that are healed yet fragile , they can all be fixed with patience.

I don’t have loads of friends or a massive really close family. I have a tiny inner circle of people who I trust and care about and whom I am certain care about me.

That’s really all I need , the inner circle rocks you know? Full of amazing humans! I think they get it those people. They understand my need for patience,but I think it probably takes a while to get to grips with the nutty girl who behaves oddly sometimes!

I need patience that sometimes I cancel plans because the horrid voice in my head is telling me I’m rubbish.

I need patience with my indecisiveness . It comes from a place where when questions were asked there is a right or wrong answer and it is essential to get it right (despite the fact you never will) questions still sometimes transport me back to that mindset and it’s as irritating for me as it is those around me.

I need patience at my ( what must be bloody infuriating) absent minded ,head in the clouds behaviour. It comes from a place where once I had to be hyper vigilant every second of every day. I had to think 3 , 7 , 12 steps of another person all the time in order to second guess how I should be behaving to avoid a blow up. From having to be so aware of a tapping foot ,or a certain type of sigh or a look so as I could attempt to diffuse a situation before it happened. Now I’ve always been naturally dozy I confess but I also worked out with the help of my therapist that actually ,now away from that situation I’ve learned to relax , no need for hypervigalence . I’m comfy and have gradually relaxed …. I’ve relaxed …a lot , possibly too much!

I need patience when I over think and am mentally already dealing with a situation that hasn’t even happened.

I need patience when my brain melts at emotional intimacy. That the L word is not in my vocab. That I’m getting better at hugs , but ON MY TERMS!

I need the patience and constantly. I’ve been around people who’ve understood for a short while but then become frustrated and irritated and then that’s me done really. Shut down. Closed for business. Emotional attachment done with. I know it’s irrational but this is why the inner circle is so small I guess.

It once took me knowing someone 2 years to go on a first date. 2 years!!! I didn’t fully realise back then but I absolutely needed that time of consistent words and actions. I needed to know this wasn’t someone who would change goalposts or be a different person from one day to the next. I know it must seem nuts to most but it was necessary for me. Bloody hell dating me you have to work at Kelly pace , kind of like snails pace but a thousand times slower.

I’m healed , I’m strong but I still need that element of patience in people I am close to.

I do so appreciate how my amazing family and lovely friends ARE patient with my flakey , indecisive tendencies I really do! I’ve so much adoration for people who stayed the distance. Honestly , if I used the L word I’d declare it now but small steps eh??

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If Mother’s Day makes you miserable…

Mother’s Day for me is as much as a downer as Valentines Day , and that is saying something.

I don’t have a mum. She died almost 20 years ago. Before I was really a grown up , before I was a mum myself . I haven’t had a mum for a long time and I’m no longer grief stricken in that all encompassing , consuming way that fresh bereavement brings with it. I don’t have parents , that’s been part of my life for a very long time. I don’t weep everytime I think of it or flinch from talking about them.

Mother’s Day though that always feel like a bit of a stomach punch for me . It hits hard and it hurts and it lingers . I think it’s because it is everywhere. I have had emails everyday for about 3 weeks telling me to treat mum , buy her something special. TV ads are there too telling me to spoil my mum , get her a cute personalised card , take her out for dinner. Well you know what advertisers ? I’d love to. I’d be delighted to be able to take my mam out for dinner somewhere fancy , I never ever got to do that you see. I’d only just finished my A levels when my mum died . I wish with all my might that  we could do a lovely Sunday lunch , my mam and my children , my sister and hers . I wish we could have one of those days the advertisers are shoving down our throats. I wish I could spoil her – only present I can remember getting her was a pack of dusters when I was about 7 because she’d been saying she needed new ones ( I’d like to think that my gift giving skills have improved since then)

Mother’s Day without a mum sucks , I’ve seen a few other people mention they feel they same over the past week or so on social media . I suppose it’s just because we are bombarded with what we are missing . Highlights the hole in your life.

It’s not just the lack of a mum that gives me the Mothers Day angst.

Then there’s the guilt of not enjoying THE day . It just all leaves me really flat and exhausted. A total fake of a day. That in itself makes me feel guilty , surely Mother’s Day should be spent dwelling on how bloody lucky I am to have these 4 amazing nutcases in my life. Instead I’ll be feigning happiness and joy that simply is stripped away from me on Mothers Day. I know that feeling this way stems from the toxic relationship I was in when I was first a mum and for the years after. Some of you may unfortunately know that big days and events that aren’t focussed on the perpetrator in those kind of relationships can be horrific. Kids birthdays , Christmasses well they were volatile enough but Mother’s Day ???Whole other level. You may be showered with expensive gifts in front of people to have them smashed to bits when you’re alone or you could be told that you’re too much of a shit mum to get a card on Mother’s Day . You don’t deserve it .

I think this is one of my few remaining hang ups left over from those times . Maybe I’d have conquered it with setting our own traditions and taking back Mothers Day like I have so much other stuff but the thing with it is I already feel like the wind has been taken out of my sails with not having a mum and I don’t really have the energy to fight THIS added problem that kills Mother’s Day stone dead for me .

I didn’t intend to make all this about me honestly. As I say often my blog is therapeutic and getting thoughts out of my head into words on a page really helps me understand myself and my thinking better. I don’t resent other people having the worlds best day I feel obliged to say . I love seeing the happy pics on social media of mums with their feet up , having breakfast in bed . I love to see amazing mums thanked and celebrated , they bloody deserve it ! Tell me stories of your mums and how they are absolute rocks ! I don’t scroll through social media cursing those celebrating the day I promise ( possibly DO do that on Valentine’s Day)

There are many of us though, for whom Mother’s Day is painful .

There are a multitude of reasons why .

It could be that you’re not a mum when that’s all you want in the world , that must be almost unbearably hard.

Maybe you’ve lost a child , that would be a traumatic thing to deal with on a day celebrating mothers. I can offer no words of comfort there because I’m almost sure there are none.

Maybe you have an ill child , are ill yourself , have an ill mum and are dealing with just try to get through a day.

Maybe Mother’s Day triggers poor mental health , I’ve certainly been feeling as though an anxiety flare up could be on the horizon.

Maybe you are in an abusive relationship. Forcedly estranged from your mum and other family , feeling so alone and trapped . Told what a terrible mother and person you are , that you’re pathetic and useless , that your kids would be better off in care than with you. To you women let me just say this , you are outstanding , you are doing an amazing job in intolerable circumstances and you deserve to be free. You are worthy of love and of kindness , you are worthy of being supported and empowered not kept down and silenced . When the day comes that you are able to leave , all these things will find their way to you because it’s no less than you deserve.

Maybe you don’t have your children with you this mother’s day for one reason or another and there is a painful void .

I don’t have the answers on how to make this day more tolerable , bloody hell I’m here writing a blog post that is basically one long whinge.

All I can offer is that Mother’s Day is just one day . That’s my mantra . Just one day . The next day will be better , less pressured . Surround yourself with people who lessen your pain if you at all possibly can. Fill your own little world with people who make you feel better , even if that just means spending time alone. Me ? I will be having a day with these awesome individuals that make me realise that even the shittiest days can be tolerated. I’ll also be tossing about on social media as per usual so if anyone wants to chat I’ll be around . Whether that’s because you are struggling or you just want a distraction and fancy chatting about trash tv I am your girl

See you on the other side!

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I found myself !!(in a theatre in Edinburgh)

Ok , I’ll level with you here. This is going to be a bit of an egocentric post. It’s probably going to also read like an X Factor sob story! Talk of a journey and everything!! Flying Without Wings should really be playing in the background!!….. I’ll keep it short??Deal???

Almost a decade ago when we moved away from home to a brand new city I was a much different woman to the one I am now. I was anxious and scared and damaged , I had not a clue who I was. Over the years I’ve ploughed my time into the obvious child rearing. I’d brought them across here , least I could do is to ensure they are happy and settled (turns out children are very adaptable )

Then I had a little wobble about how the kids were getting older and didn’t need me anymore and who am I? if they don’t need me?

I wrote an identity crisis bucket list , things I wanted to do because I loved them. To try to ‘find myself’ (urgh I know, so sorry did warn you of x factor speak …though I did also say I’d keep it short I guess!)
On the list was Edinburgh Festival. Something I’d always fancied. A whole weekend of theatre ….sign me up!!
When I was alone on my trip was when I realised. I needed to prove myself to myself of all people.

I’ve shaken off negative words from toxic relationships. I no longer believe it all to be true. I also no longer believe I am worthless and the worst mum. I don’t believe people cringe when I speak and I bore everyone.

I’m not bluffing either. I don’t believe those things about myself anymore.

Yet here’s the thing. Up until this weekend I did expect that was how I was seen by others. I did worry my chat bored people silly and they found me dull and boring.That I was just that mum with a load of kids in other people’s eyes.

I spoke to so many different people last weekend though , men ,women all different ages and that worry that I was dull and had nothing to contribute never crossed my mind once.

Then I realised, THIS is me. That real me I’d been searching for. I’m sociable and chatty and friendly. I’m not anxious about chatting to strangers ,I like it. I’m the woman absolutely in her element in a gorgeous city with lovely people with wall to wall to theatre.

That’s me

I quite like her

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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.

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 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 women often don’t realise it’s even happening until it’s too late.
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 fear what comes next.

My Facebook page is here


The Tale of Mummyhood

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

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Not Just the 3 of Us

JakiJellz

3 Little Buttons



RIP Ice Queen.. It’s been (not at all) emotional 

I wrote a while back about how I identify with Elsa  from Frozen more than probably any other character (says a lot about a person I guess) it’s here if you fancy a read. I’ve always had a tendency to keep people at a distance and struggled with expressing my emotions.

Recently though things have changed a little. I think I’m thawing.

There are a few reasons for this and it seems as though they’ve all come together at the same time to make me me a little warmer and more able to deal with and express my emotions (about time too!)

Firstly this blog has helped enormously. When you’re putting yourself out there, even if it’s just to a few people, and sharing your feelings it does lower the barriers.
When I’m talking about the domestic abuse or sharing my struggles with anxiety, things I never dreamt I’d be able to talk about well that’s expressing my emotions isn’t it? It’s Pandora’s Box – like, once these things are out there there’s no putting them back in. I can’t regress to total emotionally uptight woman who can’t talk feelings.

Secondly, I’ve spoken on this blog more recently about how I feel a stronger, more mentally healthy woman than I have in a long time. It’s taken way longer than I expected to recover from toxic relationships but I’m finally here at the other side. Of course there’ll always be triggers, I’ll always have altered behaviours, there’ll always be memories that affect me. I’ve made peace with that now though. We’re changed by our experiences but I’m OK with that. I can be happy with the me I am now.

Another huge factor in shaking off the Ice Queen mentality is that my social anxiety has lessened. In fact I’d go as far as to say this is the major factor.

I’ve struggled with people for a long time. A throwback to feeling worthless and useless all the time.

I have lovely friends who I miss but never arrange to see, I made conscious effort to not make new friends, I back away from social occasions. It comes across as rude which makes me feel worse and ratchets up the anxiety yet further.

It was never about other people. It was about me. That I felt I had nothing to contribute to conversation, that I irritated people, that I bored people, that no one wanted me around they were just being polite.

Recently though I don’t feel that way at all. I’m relishing socialising , I’m enjoying people. I believe people quite like to be around me . The mean , nasty thoughts I have towards myself are a rarity at the moment.

There’s also the small matter of a very handsome chap who is the most positive voice I’ve ever heard *blushes*

So all these factors have come together and really helped me to shake off the cold, distant woman I’d put in place.

I’m finally finding my feet and embracing myself (in a non literal way).

Maybe the Ice Queen was necessary for  a while  whilst I figured myself out, whilst I healed.

Maybe this new me isn’t new after all.

Maybe it’s the me I always should’ve been.