18th March 2016 at 11:13 am #11773bowandarrowParticipant
Hi all, I’m feeling rather trapped in a situation and not sure how to best tackle it and wondering if I could get some advice.
Background: I am in my (removed by moderator), and my first boyfriend (removed by moderator) was abusive to me in many ways. I kept details as to what happened secret from everyone, I was scared and confused and did not know where to turn. About two years ago, I was again in a relationship where my ex was physically, emotionally, mentally and sexually abusive to me. He was the one who ended the relationship (he said it was all my fault everything happened etc…). It was a very dark time for me, I almost dropped out of uni, failed a lot of exams, and went on personal self-destruct mode. I was able to somewhat pull myself together (though I have kept a lot of details secret from family and friends) and I am currently with a new partner who knows my history and is very supportive. Unfortunately, as I met my ex at (removed by moderator), he used to live (removed by moderator) from my house. I would often have to walk past his house, bump into his housemates and generally see him around. Our friendship group is mutual, and my current partner and my ex are friends with the same people too.
Now: There is a weekend-long event that occurs several times a year that myself, my partner, and our friends go to. I won’t give details of what or where it is to keep this anon, but due to the cross-over of friendship groups, this is something that my ex partner now also attends. The first time we were both there he kept sending me texts, deliberating coming into close proximity to me and using other subtle, but still menacing physical threats. I made the event organisers aware of the situation, and my partner told him to stay away from us and there was a verbal agreement made that he would keep his distance. This was around a year ago, and over the past year at these events he has continued to intimidate me in ways that he knows will unnerve and frighten me and make me feel unsafe, but in ways I cannot ‘prove’ i.e. gestures, continuing to come over to (removed by moderator) he said he wouldn’t, getting friendly with people who he knows are friends with my partner etc.
It seems silly writing it down like this but it is another long-term example of the mind games and manipulative actions he used to play with me – he knows he’s overstepping the lines, and he knows I can say nothing about it. He knows that by taking the actions he is, he is making me feel unsafe and like he has ‘won’. My experiences with my partner are not something I want to disclose to everyone else – I am deeply ashamed and hate many aspects of myself because of it, and I do not want them to know. Plus, I am scared that people won’t believe me and then I have ripped open scars that will be scrutinised and mocked. However, I know that by them not being aware of who he is and what he did and continues to do, he can stay in close proximity to me.
Simplest solution would to be not to go – however, then he is completely winning, and I am losing out doing something I enjoy and look forward to (his presence aside). I also drive people there, and with the first event of this year approaching very soon I cannot pull out now with so many relying on me. People would ask questions, and my partner and friends would still go without me and I would be left home alone. I am currently going through a raw time with work which has bought up all my unresolved thoughts, feelings and emotions relating to my ex. I work with (removed by moderator), and the company has implemented a new programme involving running ‘treatment’ programmes for perpetrators of domestic abuse. I was unable to complete the training for this due to an emotional breakdown as it was so overwhelming, but management literally threatened me with my job due to certain things outlined in my contract. So, I am currently feeling overwhelmed due to all that, and now very soon have to spend (removed by moderator) in close proximity with my ex.
I have been too ashamed to seek counselling and over forms of support before. I’ve just dug deep inside myself and done my best to push forward and distract myself with as few people knowing what has happened. I keep looking up counsellors, and then closing the tabs on my browser. I have considered calling Samaritans, and then feel stupid. I just don’t know who or what to turn to and what to do. While my partner is supportive in many ways, as he also doesn’t really know what to say or do he sort of pats my back and goes ‘there there’ when I’ve been anxious and upset about it (I don’t expect him to be a counsellor to me). I just don’t know if I can take much more of suffering in silence while everyone continues to consider my ex as this wonderful, charming, charismatic person while I am metaphorically bound and gagged. To make matters more complicated, my father now also comes along to these events. My family know nothing about what has happened, and my dad is the sort of man who would physically go for a person who hurt his daughters, and due to my ex being very tall, broad and strong, I am genuinely scared about what the outcome of that would be.
This probably doesn’t make much sense, but it feels a bit better to write down some of the jumbled thoughts and emotions in my head right now. I hate how much power and control he still has over me all this time later, and by seeing him again and again my recovery process… well, there isn’t really one because I can’t move on.
18th March 2016 at 11:22 am #11776HopespringsParticipant
Well done for finding your way to this forum and for posting. I’m going to be honest with you and I hope you appreciate it as it’s not going to be what you want to hear. You should not go to these events. I know you feel like you’re letting him win but honestly it’s the exact opposite because when he sees you and does the things he does to manipulate and intimidate you at these events that is him winning.
I know it’s difficult but you’re lucky it sounds like you have a supportive and understanding partner now – maybe the two of you could do something together instead? Or join a club something you enjoy make new friends. I know it’s hard and it feels like “why should I?” But the truth is being free from abuse is the best feeling ever and sometimes it is the survivor who has to make changes. You can see your friends other times when he’s not there. And if they judge you with or without knowing the whole story they are not true friends anyway. I’ve had to cut a lot of people out my life and stop going to certain places and it’s difficult but my safety and sanity come first.
18th March 2016 at 11:32 am #11777SerenityParticipant
I know that you might be considering not going to these events as a cop out and him winning, but then isn’t that caring about what he thinks?
On this forum, so many women have come to the conclusion that no contact is the only way to keep yourself safe and from suffering ongoing damage.
I am complete no contact with my ex, and he is so arrogant that he is probably thinking that it’s because I am heartbroken, and he’s probably telling his mates this too.
But I don’t care, because the truth has set me free from caring- this truth being that it is in fact my ex who is needy and controlling and can’t move on and won’t let go, not me. He might try to make out to everyone that he’s moved on, but he hasn’t, as the covert games continue. Bullies relish causing upset and they don’t let go.
The fact that he had got you in an emotionally vulnerable state so much that your work is threatened ( like mine was) to me is maybe a warning that you need to strengthen your fortress, firm up your boundaries, not allow him to fluidly appear, disappear and reappear in your life continuously, so that he has the opportunity to continue to frighten and destabilise you.
Your friendship group won’t know what is going on, because I imagine most of them have never experienced your situation, and unless you’ve been through it you don’t understand; also, he is probably such an expert mental abuser, that he ( as you say ) executes the abuse in ways that others don’t recognise as abuse- whereas all of us women here recognise it too well!
I think this nasty ex is finding ways to creep closer to you, and continue to keep you hurting, and you need to pull up the drawbridge. Blot out his opportunity to be close to you. Your current partner – if he cares- should understand, and you can organise your own events where you meet up with those friends in the group who you trust. The friendship group and your social life may need to change a bit, but your mental and emotional health and your recovery are the most important things here. Take the power back x
18th March 2016 at 1:01 pm #11782bowandarrowParticipant
Hi Hopesprings and Serenity – I wasn’t expecting replies so quickly out of my ramblings so thank you both!
I know you’re both right in your advice not to go to the events. I never, ever want to see him again, let alone be in close proximity for a period of time. I guess a sticking point is my partner and our friends would still go to these events without me (my partner has gone for many years before we met) and my dad would be like ‘oh I can’t go if you’re not there, why aren’t you going anymore’ – I couldn’t side-step questions and talk especially as everyone knows how much I enjoy these weekends (ex aside). I think if I did make the decision to not go/asking my partner to stay with me is going to bring about its own types of troubles for me.
Sorry that sounds like I’m throwing back what you just said in your faces – I promise I’m not and I’ve listened/read to all you’ve said, it just a complicated situation 🙁
18th March 2016 at 1:19 pm #11783HopespringsParticipant
It is complicated but you don’t have to answer to anyone. People have questions so what? Why is it such a big deal your partner goes without you? You need to look after yourself instead of worrying about other people.
18th March 2016 at 10:13 pm #11807AyannaParticipant
My ex abuser and I had the same taste in music and festivals and since I fled I never went to any of these music events because I know I would bump into him there. I also like other events, which he is not so keen about and I chose to go to those events instead.
For the sake of my well being I never want to see that man ever again and I rather do not go anywhere where he could also go.
I moved far away too.
Since I fled I avoided all contact with him. The only contact I had was forced upon me against my free will by the family court.
I suggest that you too consider making changes in order to go zero contact. It is the only way for us to live peacefully.
18th March 2016 at 10:13 pm #11808KIP.Participant
Definitely look at councelling or contact your local women’s aid. Ring the helpline. Maybe it’s a self confidence thing that won’t allow you to decide to stay away. Any contact with an abuser is toxic and there will always be a mental price to pay. Abusers thrive on silence. You could say he was abusive to you and still frightens you. You don’t have to give more details?
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