Millions of people around the world experience some form of brutality one way or another. Abuse can come in the form of physical or mental; it can also happen to men, woman, boys, girls and animals.
Abuse, rape, assault, and many other words conjure up a violent act. The fact is the expression of these terms does not always lead to an act that is of a violent nature, - as such. A violation, absolutely, but any action that vilifies another human being is mainly a form of control over another person. Through this control a person is subdued, even if not in the presence of the abuser. The act can either be a onetime occurrence or a repeated act. All forms either just one, continued, violent or blatant is crippling for the abused.
There are too many forms to cover in one small blog, and although I do not condone or comprehend this shocking form of behaviour, I can only relate to what has happened to myself. I cannot do any other forms of this heinous crime justice by talking about signs, symptoms, or lasting effects, if I do not know what they are. I can only talk to what it was like for me. What I went through, how I coped and survived is only one way to deal. I am not an expert on the topic or subject. But if I can shine the light on one small insular aspect of this monstrosity and cowardice, then I am happy to share.
Broken down my violation was as follows:
Non-violent in context
Feed through insecurity
Repeated over a period of time
By someone I knew and trusted
By definition it would involve the following forms:
financial abuse (withholding money or controlling all money, including that of other family members)
social abuse (restricting access to friends and/or family, insulting or threatening friends and/or family), controlling or domineering
passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect)
Threats of physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, throwing objects),
Not covered in this blog is:
physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, throwing objects),
Child sexual abuse
CHARACTERISTICS & STYLES OF ABUSE
covert (or controlling) abuse
disproportional (exaggerated) reactions
dehumanisation and objectification
abuse of information
impossible situations (setting up to fail)
control by proxy
ambient abuse (gaslighting)
HOW IT BEGAN
Establishing control through insecurity
I had been on my own for a short time. The last relationship I was in involved a separation due to me not wanting to get married. That person had tried to commit suicide because of my answer, and I was still in shock plus a bit fragile from the experience. I was only in my early twenties and taking a break from University. In no hurry to rush into anything heavy I went out for a night on the town (city) with a large group of people. All of them I trusted. Coming from the country and grown up in cotton wool, the world was still a mystery to me... I was still learning.
Within this group of friends was a brother of one the girls. We got along quite well, laughing, and joking. After a few dates we bonded quite quickly. I was cautious but he played it shy and coy. He showed concern and was very loving and gentle. Once he realized I was hooked the gradually began to change.
Establishing control, in this instance, happens when the controller starts to insert the behaviour as a concern; slowly and gently. Your mind then begins to think you can trust them because they seem to be taking your wellbeing seriously. Trust them becomes reliance.
Reliance becomes need. The abuser does this by seeming to help you with everything; Problems, shopping, housework, money, driving you to work or to the shops also to appointments. Slowly and steady your life become consumed with them. Then bit by bit they start to change.
Suggestions on how to do your hair, what they like you to wear, suggestions of change in routine … its all part of establishing control. Once you are reliant on them and you trust them the pressure starts to build.
In my case it was how long I could stay out, getting upset if we stayed out late, if I went to shops or appointments without him. Getting upset was gentle at first. Words like, “I want to be included”; “I want to help you”; “I need to know you are ok”; you are so precious to me I could not bare to live without you”; “I only have your best interests at heart”. You feel sorry for them, on one hand, and guilty on the other.
To this point the following has been used:
Then the suggestions are more like demands, then the demands become more like commands. Once the commands come through you are in a cycle of needing them. Feeling like you cannot live without them. They are completely in control of you. Also, once the commands come through, they start with the yelling and humiliation in public. Yelling at you for getting the wrong milk, not giving them money, wearing your hair the wrong way, not doing the housework on time.
THIS IS ABUSE
Its an abuse of power, emotion and freedom using intimidation, economic and social deprivation
When I asked about his past, as he was in the army, he said he was framed and was dishonourably discharged for something he did not do. It was to do with drugs. Something I did not touch or like. He would get very angry if I asked him questions on it. I was told it was because he was bitter about being convicted on something he did not do and as a result hated drugs in general. This hatred, of drugs, was vehemently displayed. It was at this point it got worse and he fell out with his entire family. The explanation was, of course, believable.
I began to think I was not worth it. That I was lower than a piece of dirt. He began threatening me, my friends. He began isolating me from everyone around me. Then at my most vulnerable state he decided we would get married. I thought I could not live without him; that I did not deserve anyone else; that the grass would not be greener. I was living in a horror show with no doors and just walls. I would always be punished – verbally and through neglect. [THREATS OF PHYSICAL AGRESSION / EMOTIONAL]
When we got engaged, a this point he did not have a job so was basically living off me ( I have taken leave of university and was working in an old peoples home), I purchased the ring. It was at this point he then moved in with me. I was in deep depression at this point. I did not want to live; I did not feel I had the right to. I hated everything about myself. I was not worth anything. If I was worth something, I would be treated better. The universe was punishing me for being a bad person. I stopped eating, socializing, and just worked then came home. I did not want sex (and I have a high sex drive). In the end he would just lie on top of me to get what he needed. I would say nothing and just pretend I was somewhere else. It was almost as if I was out of my body looking down at this poor pathetic person getting raped. I was compliant (if I was not, I would get into trouble) but I not complicit. [SEXUAL / EMOTIONAL]
One time, when we had broken up, I found out I was pregnant. Devastated but I recognizing that if I had this child it would be a mistake. He could not be a father; he was not capable of loving someone else. When he found out it was an excuse for him to want to get back with me. I was miserable and scared. He was elated and used it to get back close with his family again. My friends were horrified. I found out later he was threatening them and telling them to stay away, otherwise he would fabricate a story about them, and they would never see me again. I did not know this at the time. I felt abandoned and it played on my unworthiness. I felt like I was sinking into a black hole but believed its where I belonged. [NEGLECT / ABANDONMENT / INTIMIDATION]
Not long after, I started bleeding. Lightly at first then more heavily. So, I went to a family planning clinic. I wanted to explore my options. How I might be able to live without him. How I could leave him. When I was examined, I was asked how far along I was. I told them around twelve weeks. I was told that was impossible. The size of the foetus was only that of a four-week-old and that I was dilatated and this time. It all pointed to a miscarriage. I was sent to a doctor who agreed and did a scrape of my uterus. My blood tests I had affirmed I was no longer pregnant and that is looked like the foetus died weeks ago. I was also told I have AB negative blood. The rarest form of blood in the world. It was explained that negative blood would always treat a foreign object, in the body, as a disease so my body would attack what ever it was. If the foetus had a positive blood type, then my body would attack it. They believed this is what happened. I was devastated and it fed my unworthiness, especially to be a mother. He did not believe me and said I was lying; that I had an abortion. It was only when I produced the medical records that he kind of believed me. The thought of missing out on motherhood also made me fee guilty, unworthy, and as if a part of my soul had been shredded into tiny pieces. [NEGLECT / ABANDONMENT / INTIMIDATION / EMOTIONAL]
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Being in my fiery nature I was defiant, which got me into trouble all the time. I tried to break away from him several times, but he kept pulling me back by being nice and respectful; He would do better, he loved me, he wanted to protect me and keep me safe. I fell for this twice. He had moved in with a friend, down the road, but spent most of his time at my house. Three major things happened.
1. FAMILY: It was when he started to talk negatively about my family and saying I should not see them anymore, that I got very suspicious. When I told him that “nothing would come between me and my family NOTHING. That if he wanted me would need to accept my family. I would not budge on this point. An argument ensued and he left. He would always come back one or two days later.
2. CONVICTED: I got a phone call one night to come and pick him, and his flat mate, up from the police station. When I asked what happened he told me both of them had stopped a robbery at the flats they were living in and that they were charged using brutal force. He had a court date. When I said I was going to come and support him during the trial, he said it was not worth it. Then after my insistence I was given a date, which was a time I was working so could not attend. I was still told not to come, to which I said I would not. Wanting to support him I re-arranged my work schedule. When I got there and could not see his name on the agenda, I asked one of the clerks and gave his name, docket ID and time. It was at this point I was taken into a room and spoken to by a policeman.
What I found out rocked me: He was convicted of stealing petrol, that this was not the first time. I went to his flat, as I had a key and knew he was not home and found the conviction notice and fine in the bin. I took it home with me. When he came over, I questioned him in relation to why he was not in court today, that I had gone and could not find him. The answer I got was that he got the time wrong. Then I supplied him with the truth and the evidence. I got my fire back and was basically livid, yelling. Once he calmed me down, we agreed no more lies. It was in the back of my mind that the truth was always going to be a false. I started to think about escape and how I could go about it. Mentally I was not prepared. How was I going to do this?
3. ANIMALS: I got a kitten. I wanted company and something to love unconditionally. I loved animals and missed their presence around me. I got “Ugg” (as in Ugg boot lol). He was a beautiful cat. So much fun. Unbeknownst to me animals, if they take attention away, are perceived as a threat to the abuser. When I was asked by my flats manager to get rid of the cat as it was a rule no animals were allowed at the units, he offered to take care of Ugg for me. He was always kind to the kitten, so I agreed. That way I would still be able to see and play with Ugg. One day when I was supposed to meet him at his flat, I approached, and the door was open. I was frantic. I searched everywhere but Ugg was nowhere to be found. I could not see anything was stolen. When my abuser came back, he was furious that someone had broken into his flat and he began to search for the kitten. He said he noticed a few things were missing. Mind you at the time I did not recall him owning these items but was told they were his flat mates belongings (obviously a lie). Another lie was that his flat mate knew some unsavoury people who he owed money to, so it was obviously them that had broken in and that the kitten had ran out of the unit. I was later told by some of my abusers’ friends that he had staged the whole event and had drowned the kitten. I was in shock and horror that someone could do that. I felt ill and discussed. Could he not have just given the kitten away??? Something had to change. I needed out.
He came over when I was on the phone. He started talking with me even though I was on the phone. I calmly explained to him what I knew, and he told me to calm down; who was on the phone and to get off the phone. I kept talking to my friends, listening to them. They kept telling me to stay on the phone. They heard something in his voice. He asked where I got my information from and that it was not true. I asked him to leave at which he approached me and said in a very calm and frightening voice “If you don’t hold your tongue, I will belt you into let Sunday.” Something snapped in me. It was like a light bulb went of fin my head. The fact he had not beaten me yet, but had repeated rapped me, dawned on me. I stepped away from him. My friends on the phone said to run, get out they would come and get me. I thanked them sweetly, so as not to top him off. Putting down the phone I plucked up as much courage as I could, this was coupled with months of rage. I stood a meter away from him, looked him in the eyes said “you do that, and I will have the police here before you can even leave the room. Now get out and don’t come back”. He hesitated stepped forward, I did not move. He went to walk out when I asked him to leave the keys on the bench. After he left, I went and put all his clothes out the back – he could come and get them through the back gate. Then I rang my parents. I was hysterical and shaking at this point. I could barely get two words out. All I could get out was “please come and get me, I need you.” No questions, no nothing just “give us three hours – they lived two hours away in the country. [THREATS OF PHYSICAL AGRESSION / INTIMIDATION / SOCIAL / EMOTIONAL]
My friends came around and stayed with me, helped me packed. I rang work and let them know what happened. They gave me “as much time off as I needed”. My parents never questioned me. They never asked me why. They just saw me cower and cry. Until I stopped crying and started to be me again. On the outside I was me. On the inside I was broken, and I knew it. I needed help.
I am going to talk about how to get through this. It is a topic all of its own. But the fact that you have tunnel vision, you cannot see past your thoughts of unworthiness, and feed off your low self esteem is essential to recognise. Your ability to think is impaired by the lies that are fed to you; the thoughts that are wrongly put into your head that you need someone to survive; that no one else can love you because of your defect. What you think of yourself is all in your imagination.
SIGNES OF ABUSE
Withdrawal socially and from normal activities
Change in personality
Subtle presence of physical violence
Discounting, minimising, and trivialising
MAIN EFFECTS OF ABUSE ON VICTIMS
YOU ARE WORTH EVERYTING AND MORE
YOU ARE WORTHY OF EVERYTHING
YOU ARE CAPABLE OF ANYTHING
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
You have a right to live safely
You have a right be to happy
You have a right to defend yourself
NO-ONE has the right to belittle you
NO-ONE has the right to deprive you
NO-ONE has the right to own you
ON-ONE has the right to disrespect you
NO-ONE has the right to defile you
NO-ONE has the right to control you
to government departments
To undo this type of damage takes time, belief and patience. It can also take different types of therapy. One size does not fit all. Even though this story is horrifying, I am grateful that the physical abuse did not involve punching, bruising and the hospitalisation of those actions.
I see you. I know you. I believe you.