18th February 2016 at 1:49 pm #9880red deerParticipant
Hi all, this is my first post on these forums, so hello, and I’m glad to see how many people have come together to support each other in such a positive way. I guess I’m hoping for some advice on what I’m going through at the moment and how to move forward from where I am now.
In my early 20’s I was the victim of domestic violence. I know everyone here is in the same boat, so I’ll spare you the details, but basically it was on varying levels the whole nine yards of what domestic violence can be: mental and emotional abuse, physical abuse, threatening behaviour, manipulation, isolation, controlling etc. The span of my contact with this person lasted about a number of years and eventually the majority of the contact stopped following police intervention.
I had thought I had dealt with everything pretty well. I of course still occasionally berate myself and am ashamed of myself for my poor choices and putting myself in that situation in the first place, but I moved on, continued with my life, have done some really positive changes and made a lot of personal and professional accomplishments since. I never suffered from depression or anything like that and I have a positive outlook on life. But one thing I didn’t do for over 4 years, was get involved in another relationship. I was so relieved to be out of the situation I had been in, part of me revelled in being single and free again, and part of me threw myself into my education and work leaving no space for getting involved with someone new anyway. I went on the occasional date, or had the occasional hook up with someone in a bar, but I always declined getting involved with someone further.
Fast forward to 18 months ago (4 years after finally being free of my previous relationship) and I decided I did want to try dating again, because I genuinely did love being in a relationship when they were good ones and I’m very much someone who loves people.
After talking to friends, I decided to try online dating. It was a very brief thing, I only lasted a couple of weeks on the site; I found people could be very forward behind the safety of a computer (Tada!! Me and this post!), but I did speak to one very nice individual called John (well not really called John but for the sake of this post that can be his name). I gave John my number and we began to communicate by text quite a bit. We spoke on and off by phone for about 11 months (for various reasons on both of our parts we had cancelled dates and backed off for periods of time) before we finally met and hit it off really well. We’ve since been in a committed relationship for six months now; we’re in love, we both see a future with the other and have talked about long term commitment etc.
But I guess since starting to date John I’ve realised problems still exist for me regarding my previous abusive relationship, problems I had largely ignored or didn’t have to address because I wasn’t involved with someone new. But I am now, and this is the crux of my post. I don’t know how to deal with this, or begin talking to John about my past.
There are a number of ways I’ve seen myself act which is clearly related to my previous relationship
• I’m very apologetic; about everything. Especially if I think he is upset or angry.
• I’m very jumpy. Even though I’m completely comfortable around him, and I know he’s never do anything to harm me, I have knee jerk jumpy reactions from everything from him coming up behind me unexpectedly, me not realising he’s already in the room, or even (as happened on our first date) sudden movement (which embarrassingly enough on date one was a falling leaf)
• I can’t make decisions. I try to defer to him on everything – where do you want to go/ do/ eat.
• I don’t handle it very well when he shouts. I have, again, a knee-jerk reaction of being afraid, and then when I take a second to realise who it is and that I’m in a different scenario I get very upset at my reaction of fear and find it very hard not to cry (cry for my reaction rather than his). I don’t think it helps in this situation that he’s 6’4”, and while he doesn’t try and intentionally intimidate me like my ex did, a 6’4” individual shouting any day of the week is going to be a little intimidating.
• A couple of times he’s said something completely innocent but very reminiscent of a situation involving my ex and I’ve sort of clammed up.
So I guess as someone who’s been through domestic violence I don’t have everything as well together as I thought I had before. I’m not really sure how to start addressing these problems, or how to start talking about all this with John.
He obviously knows somethings up with me, and I’m sure he’s made the connection between my reactions and domestic violence. On a couple of occasions after I’ve gotten upset and he’s realised something he’s done has scared me, he’s been very sweet. He’s even gone so far as to reassure me that he’d never physically hurt me, that he’d love me and that everything was ok etc. He’s also made statements like ‘I’m pretty smart you know. I know what’s going on’ and directly told me he doesn’t want me to feel like he’s ‘in charge’ of our relationship and that my opinion doesn’t count or matter.
But despite all of this, I really don’t know how to start a conversation with him about this, or really how he might react. He can be a bit emotionally reserved and not the best in dealing with upsetting senarios. I genuinely don’t think I would mind talking about any of this with him, but I am afraid I’ll scare him off or putting all of this out in the open would change our relationship and how he treats me.
Finally, I’m on the waiting list to see a confidential councillor through work to talk about some of this with them, but I don’t know how long it might take to get an appointment. I guess, any advice, imput, if someone has found themselves in a similar scenario and would like to share – anything – on how to deal with any of this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time x
18th February 2016 at 6:20 pm #9888Confused123Participant
Im only been out a year and half so cant really relate that much, i would say the counsellor will be the best person to understand your feelings , there r other ladies who have met partners and do experience what u r feeling so maybe they will come on and guide u better, all i can think of is maybe say u had bad experience with a partner but not ready to talk about it yet, i know when guys ask me about why im single i just saying enjoying my single time and cant fit a guy in , but it does make me stay on guard , hope some one else can guide u better
19th February 2016 at 10:13 am #9936HerindoorsParticipant
Hi Red Deer. Like Confused123 I have not experienced this myself yet as I have not got involved with anyone else so can’t offer any practical advise. What did concern me about your post is that you say ‘when he has done something that has scared me’ and ‘a 6’4” individual shouting any day of the week is going to be a little intimidating.’ I don’t want to put a downer on your new relationship and I am going a bit off topic but…what is your gut telling you about him? Its early days and trust takes time to build up but I am not seeing that you trust him, and that’s maybe because of some of the ways he behaves? And if that’s the case, its not you that is making him behave that way, its just the way he is..
Sorry if I have got this all wrong but felt it was worth replying at least xx
19th February 2016 at 6:49 pm #9957SerenityParticipant
A relationship that’s healthy I guess is one where the balance of power is equal, you are given equal choice and freedom, you are respected, where the other person doesn’t use the weapons of fear, guilt or obligation to control you or make you do things you’re not comfortable doing, or to limit your development.
I am worried about you saying you defer on everything and always apologise.
I did both these things in my abusive marriage, and I think I did this because I felt his needs were more important than my own, that he wouldn’t tolerate my choices, and I always apologised because he made me feel things were my fault and , I realise now, he needed the upper hand, to have me grovelling, and he threatened to leave if I didn’t acquiesce.
I wondered what your take was on the above, in terms of this relationship? x
20th February 2016 at 11:00 am #10012SadandconfusedParticipant
I hear alarm bells too I don’t see a possible reason he would be shouting at you especially knowing how it makes you feel. Abusers aren’t all the same because he is different doesn’t mean he can’t be abusive and this is early days too.
I would agree to everything and never have an opinion either are you sure you are ready for this?
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