It’s been a while since I had the mental ability to write anything. Honestly, I have always functioned under the whole idea that if you don’t have anything nice to say or positive to add… or inspiring to contribute you should not open your mouth. Definitely not put it on paper and disseminate it to others who could be further damaged or saddened by it. BUT…. here is the real deal. I realized that living through and surviving emotional abuse is something that almost all humans experience at some point in their life. My story may be unique in some ways, but very common in today’s world. It’s too common and not talked about enough or dealt with at all unless a person reaches out for help.
The title of this blog post “Well that was interesting” is a lead-in to what is and will be a very big turning point in my personal life and hopefully yours as well.
First, let’s define what abuse is. According to The Hotline
Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:
- Tells you that you can never do anything right
- Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
- Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
- Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
- Controls every penny spent in the household
- Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
- Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
- Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
- Prevents you from making your own decisions
- Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
- Prevents you from working or attending school
- Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
- Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
- Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol
I understand the need to generalize abuse in this manner, but if someone had told me that I was being abused using this information I would not have recognized what was happening to me as abuse. Let’s get really down to the details and how manipulation, abuse, fear and criticism plays into your story.
HE TRAINED ME – MANAGED ME – EXPLAINED TO ME HOW I WOULD BE TREATED IF I LEFT
In my case, being told repeatedly “I’m an asshole”, I play this game called “I Win” and I am really good at it. Hearing stories over and over again of how he beat people to a pulp and never once was ever convicted of any kind of assault. Sharing his story of divorce with details of how he made his ex-wife completely miserable and did horrible things to her and anyone who tried to date her or be a part of her life. He said things to me like… “I never enter into a conversation with anyone unless I know what the outcome of the conversation will be.” To an outsider, this might seem like a totally benign thing to say, but in the home of an abuser, it was absolutely terrifying to hear. As a matter of fact, I remember the exact way I felt when he said those words to me. It made me rethink every single conversation I ever had with him and made me realize he had a plan or an ulterior motive for everything he did.
NOW I realize how crazy that sounds… and I do understand that we did have conversations that were not choreographed and planned out. BUT the important ones… the ones that were defining and about real issues? The ones where I said, “Hey, can I talk to you about something?” …. were carefully worded and memorized by him. Frequently repeated back to me when it was necessary to remind me of what I said, or how I was supposed to respond to something. Frequently, what was repeated back to me was not what I said, or at least not what I intended to say. It created a situation where I – someone who was not good at confrontation, or premeditation was required to really plan ahead, and think about what I was going to say and how it would be received by him. This made me silent in most situations, completely silent.
The part that still baffles me is that he heard what I said, and remembers things differently than I do. He holds onto things I said and repeats them back to me when it suits him…. especially when it wins an argument for him. What I eventually began to realize is that sometimes things I said like “Don’t rush to find a job. Take your time and find one that really fits you well.” He heard… “don’t get a job.”
Emotional abuse and honestly almost all domestic abuse is a silent pandemic. It happens in all neighborhoods, in all races, all religions, all countries and in every possible relationship style. The victims of abuse are often silent and spend more and more time alone thinking, learning and trying to figure out why they do not feel happy. Most suffer from an illness that can not be explained or eventually become ill. Often they become disabled and are forced to rely on their abusers to care for them.. which I might add is a demeaning and very destructive pattern. They fear living and they lose hope. They feel like it is their fault.
I remember thinking to myself… “Why am I not happy?” I honestly had everything I had ever wanted. I had a fantastic career, and lived in the most beautiful place ever… and I was married to my soul mate… or was I? I had always been a happy person. I raised a child alone for the most part and was always happy, even though I worked 3 jobs and struggled literally every week to pay the bills and make a good life for my child. Why NOW, in the most awesome part of my life was I miserable. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I could find no reason to get excited about the future. I could not even think of what might happen in a year, not to mention farther in the future. I was paralyzed. I had lost my voice.
I spent at least 6 months searching and trying so many programs to help me. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I just knew something was not right. One day I was searching the internet and saw some information about emotional abuse and I started reading… then I read more… I wasn’t even aware at the time that I was afraid. I realized that I was silent because I was afraid. I was afraid for all of the reasons I originally thought we belonged together and I knew if I decided to leave it was going to be very hard, frightening and dangerous.
Fortunately, I am free now and I am healing my self-esteem. I am learning more every day about how emotional abuse affects people to their core. We as a society need to be more active in helping educate young people and help them create healthy boundaries. Yes all of the people that are in emotionally abusive relationships need help and education, but I feel that education needs to start much earlier. I know that my boundaries and expectations were molded by my childhood and I think schools should have this kind of education for students so that they can recognize emotional abuse and break free from this cycle.
Please be aware that by publishing this article I am baring my soul and sharing details of my life that will be frowned upon. I am opening myself up for backlash from my own abuser. I am taking this risk with the hope that someone will be helped by hearing my story.
If you think that you are possibly in an abusive situation please do some research and reach out to your local domestic abuse hotline for assistance. They can help you understand what is happening to you and help you make a plan if needed to escape your abuse. Do not stay in a situation that is sucking the life out of you. You are too precious a commodity to be wasted in a dark, loveless situation! You deserve more. You deserve everything! You deserve love and freedom!