21st March 2021 at 3:20 pm #123630
Hi everyone I’m new to this forum.
I’ve been suffering from depression for a few years now for which I’m on antidepressants and am receiving counselling on the NHS. Although my therapy isn’t for my past experience of abuse, my counsellor was concerned that aspects of that past relationship are still very much influencing me now years and years on and advised me to contact Womens Aid and so here I am.
My ex husband was an abuser. I’ve now read about the types of abuser, and in hind sight he fits the bill for most of them. I was with him a long time and I guess as with most cases, he wasn’t abusive to start with, it slowly built without me even noticing. I began to accept these abusive behaviours as ‘normal’ or was convinced by him that I was over-reacting to things, seeing behaviours that weren’t there or that it was somehow my fault. Over time he completely controlled my finances, checked up on where I was, would check my phone, read my post, not let me do thing without permission (For example, get out of his car before he said I could), had me waiting hand and foot on him, would call me names and degrade me, sexually abuse me including rape, the list was endless. However, I just didn’t see it as abuse as he never ever hit me. I just knew I wasn’t happy. He had me believing I couldn’t leave him, that no one else would want me.
Eventually I gathered the courage to talk to the police. He was arrested and bailed with conditions not to contact me. I never saw him after that. Never heard from him again other than through the divorce lawyers. The case against him was dropped with no charges, as many are, because it was my word against his. No firm evidence for a solid conviction. Despite me having to sit through hours of embarrassing and humiliating police interviews.
Years after, I still have flashbacks, nightmares and hold on to behaviours he instilled in me. I’ve remarried, and still feel the need to tell my current husband where I’m going and when I’ll be back. Ask permission to do things. Offer to let him look at my phone. He tells me it’s silly I do this, but I can’t help it.
I never had counselling for the abuse, at the time I was offered it but turned it down because I didn’t think I needed it as much as other women who had been through worse abuse. I also turned it down because I had spent long enough in police interviews going over what happened to me, I didn’t want to drag it all up again 4-6 months down the line when a counselling slot was available. I just wanted to bury it, forget it, and carry on with life. Sadly that hasn’t worked out for me and my ex still very much plagues my mind.
I wondered if others have found this? Have you struggled to move on even when you’re out of the bad relationship? What have you tried to help?
21st March 2021 at 4:17 pm #123635DarcyParticipant
Hi my beautiful Angel… Mayamuffin,
Welcome to the forum and well done for posting and sharing your story. I am sure even writing the post was some what cathartic.
I think when we are or have been in an abusive relationship we naturally protect ourselves by going into fight or flight mode. Our brain shuts down our feelings as they are just to much for us to cope with at the time, and we go into protection mode.
However we have to ‘feel to heal’ and sometimes it can take years for us to be strong enough for us to re-visit these feelings we had at the time.
Journaling is a good way to unravel things and get your feelings out. I also believe that our emotions get stored in our physical body so things like stretching and yoga can help to. Once you begin to ‘feel’ again you will get flooded with all different emotions, sadness, grief, anger and frustration… however allow these feelings to rise, come and then go. You don’t even have to know why you are are angry or crying, just feel the emotion and then forgive yourself and the person and look forward with gratitude.
You are aloud to have these negative feelings, but please don’t let them control you. By not having the negative feelings you can’t truly have the positive feelings of true joy, happiness and contentment.
Sending you love and support
21st March 2021 at 9:08 pm #123643
Thank you for the welcome Darcy.
I think because I went through many months of police interviews and divorce proceedings where I had to provide detailed accounts of the abuse, I just didn’t want to discuss it any further. I hadn’t resolved in my head what had happened, I just wanted to bury it away and try to forget it all. Trouble is it just won’t go away. I have nightmares about my ex. I have days where a sound, a smell, something someone might say, or something I see on tv will trigger memories and emotions. For example I struggled watching a tv program the other day because there was a rape scene. I then got upset and had nightmares about my ex afterwards. I don’t tell my husband when I have these flashbacks or nightmares as I think it would upset him. So I bottle it all up. I can’t discuss things with family as again, I believe it would upset them to discuss details. They know generally what happened to me but not the finer details. They were annoyed and upset with what they did know, so I don’t really want to push it any further.
It’s hard to know how to vent and resolve these thoughts and feelings.
The one I really struggle with is feeling guilt for having my ex arrested for the abuse. I get annoyed that I feel guilt and remorse for that, but I do. I still wonder if I did the right thing, crazy as that sounds.
21st March 2021 at 9:36 pm #123645HawthornParticipant
Hi MayaMuffin, and welcome😊
Nothing you are saying sounds crazy, at all. Abuse is like a ripple in the carpet of our lives, we can push it down but it will pop up somewhere else. You have done so amazingly to escape your abuser and to move on with your life. L it sounds as though enough time has passed and you are now strong enough to deal with the trauma of the abuse you suffered in that relationship. Abusers control us with fear, obligation and guilt-the FOG of abuse. So it is not surprising that thoughts of your ex still create those intrusive thoughts and emotions.
It sounds like you might also be suffering from PTSD, it is very common after abuse and can occur even many years after the fact. Do you have support from womens aid? Counselling and the support group I accessed through my local branch have been a total game changer for me. No more nightmares, no more flashbacks anymore. Sharing your experience can help to process it too, here on the forum or by journaling. I found it helped to write out all those swirling thoughts, and then burn the pages.
You will heal and recover from this, but please reach out for support, you need and deserve it. If you are a reader, Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas and the Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk are brilliant books about trauma and recovery.
Be very kind to yourself, that’s most important thing xx
24th March 2021 at 4:12 pm #123747
Thanks Hawthorn, you may be right about the PTSD. That’s been brought up by my therapist as well. My current course of therapy for my depression ends soon. So I’ll be left in that limbo state on another waiting list until the next round of therapy can begin. I’m not being offered therapy for my previous abuse though, so it’s knowing where to outlet that pain.
I did go through a period of writing a sort of journal detailing all the things my ex had done to me during our relationship. I have it to the police to help the investigation, but it was dropped anyway. I’ve not written about any of it since. I’d spent so many months dragging it all up and talking about things I’d just had enough. I’ve never had support of any kind to deal with that.
What support is available from Women’s Aid?
I was given details from them about the Freedom Project. In trying a few of the charities involved in that I’ve happened upon one locally who offers a different course dealing with the after effects of abuse. I’m waiting to hear if I have a spot on that course.
I’ll look up those book recommendations. I’m finding it difficult to read anything at the moment as one of the symptoms of my depression is struggling to concentrate on things. I just drift off really quickly. I’ll try though.
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