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My abuser hasn’t won

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I met my abuser when I was 21 years old. I was young, happy, energetic, very sociable, a University student and full of thirst for life. No abuse story begins by being abusive – this is what many people get wrong when asking why did someone stay. It didn’t start like that. On the contrary, the relationship started off like any other young love story. There was flirting, dates, lots of laughter, excitement and falling in love.

He even told me right away about his past troubles with the law, his short prison sentence and his horrible childhood. I liked that he was honest and also felt he was deeply affected by his abusive past.

1He was very charming, hard working, funny and quite loved by those around him. We worked together and a few months later we also moved in together. Most women who have been victims of abuse have trouble remembering the exact moment things turned sour because there is no such moment.

Emotional abuse is subtle and builds up slowly in a very sneaky way. It doesn’t come with huge warning signs at first, nor does it leave physical scars. Changes take place daily in a very discreet way. By the time emotional abuse occurs, you feel love and care for the other person. You feel happy, you trust him and denial doesn’t allow for any realization of the truth.

I can’t recall when our relationship was not so good anymore. There are key moments that are stuck inside my head and I don’t think will ever go. He started abusing class A drugs  – something I had to find out myself months later. When I confronted him with that the initial reaction was anger, verbal abuse, aggressiveness. Later on he would apologize, even cry telling me how sorry he was, how others lured him into that and how badly he wants out. The abuser/victim role was a common game he often played with ‘last time never again’ promises. I wanted to believe him so I did.

I wasted 7 years of my young life in an abusive relationship, 5 of them trying to save him from drug abuse. Why did I stay? Because I didn’t know I was being abused. When I did realize that, I didn’t know there was a way out. Later I believed there is ALWAYS a way out but I couldn’t find mine. I couldn’t leave because I was left alone with hardly any friends. I had lost all my self esteem, confidence and self worth. I had let myself go, had self destructive tendencies and many times lost my will to live. I was lost.

Was I so good at hiding everything or were my friends and family not looking hard enough? Was it easier to look the other way? Couldn’t they see it?… sometimes I wonder.

Like most victims of abuse, I thought I loved my abuser and that he loved me back. Until the end I had hopes that things would be like before somehow. Ending a relationship you invested so much in is a great loss and I couldn’t possibly go through that mourning stage.

2Every time he called me names, shouted at me, humiliated me, put me down, killed everything that I ever loved about myself – I thought it was my fault. Well, he told me so and I believed it. The times that I didn’t he would put on his crying victim face and apologize. I felt sorry for him. Besides, he had had a bad childhood – he needed help. He was very good at blaming everyone else for his behavior. He was also great at not acknowledging any of his abuse and belittling me every time I mentioned it.

He hit me a couple of times – both out of the blue, sudden. On one of those times I was punched in the stomach and fell on the floor – I thought I would die. Laying on the floor, alone, being unable to breath I thought of all my loved ones who I might never see and of all the things I might never do again. No woman or man deserves to fear for their lives at the hands of an abuser.

Being a victim is not only hurtful and traumatizing but also very difficult when having to share your story with friends and family. Some people blame the victim, others make you feel uncomfortable and not good enough and many are judgmental. You don’t have to be naive or uneducated to become  a victim of any type of abuse –  it affects people from all walks of life.

I feel really sad for women who feel now like I felt then –  who can’t find their way out. Women who don’t really understand how much they are worth, how special they are and how unique. Women who live in fear of the ones they love and whose self-esteem has been destroyed. I feel sad for those men and women who are scared to speak up, ask for help, get out and claim the life they deserve. No-one will ever really know or fully understand what you went through or still are. This shouldn’t discourage you – having managed to cope on your own despite that fact shows how strong you are.

There is ALWAYS someone who WILL truly love you for who you are and who will help you put all the broken pieces back together again. I choose to seek professional help, heal from my past and find closure within me. I also choose to feel strong and empowered and help other women and men around me feel the same. The journey towards liberation and recover is hard and long but it’s happening! My abuser doesn’t have my love anymore. My abuser hasn’t won.”

Anonymous

This article has 5 comments

  1. Cristian

    It’s sad to see an abuse story, and one of so many years. But It’s good to see it ending, and I really like the positive, hopeful sentiment at the end.

    I wish these things were not really happening, nobody deserves to go through this. Unfortunately they do happen but maybe as more people read stories like this, and get informed about emotional and physical abuse, there will be fewer and fewer cases. And maybe they are also read by people who don’t realize they are being abused, and it’s a wake up call. Cause it needs to stop so the healing can begin.

    Thank you Anonymous for sharing. And lovely butterflies Effie. :).

    • Effie

      Thank you very much Cristian. Unfortunately many people are not aware that they are being the victims of abuse. I really hope more people find the strength to speak up and share their stories too – spreading awareness is vital.

  2. Anonymous

    I honestly do not know if it is him or me. I was severely neglected and emotionally abused as a child and his mother was over attentive to him (smothered him). She and his father fought all the time, and were very critical of each other. We had a daughter when I was 18, married at 20. We have been together for 18 years now.

    The first problem started when he got stressed over his mother’s fight with cancer. I also lost my job because I was trying to go to high school and work because I was kicked out of my house. He was left to work and pay the rent (him 21 and me 18). He began abusing alcohol and one time punched a hole in the wall and told me to get out. So I walked to the police station with my then 4 month old daughter. When I asked the cops to help find me a place to live, I accidentally mentioned the hole in the wall incident. They came to the house and arrested him.

    His family hated me and blamed me for getting him in trouble. Our fighting got worse and he would belittle me by slapping me on the backside, pushing me and calling me names. My fault was I always wanted him around because his buddies drank and did drugs… so he felt like I was trying to control him and this angered him beyond belief. That is when things turned sour. Constant incessant fighting continued throughout the years and violent behavior got worse.

    I began to become violent too in defense to salvage dignity because I had/have no one to turn to and lost all belief in myself that I can get out of this and survive (my mom was controlling and emotionally abusive always telling me I couldn’t do anything.) At one point I gathered strength and got myself to get a degree from a prestigious university at no cost from scholarships. He was working at the time and felt it angered him.

    In the meantime, I did small singing jobs and took care of the house and our daughter. It wasn’t enough for him and he began drinking more and eventually snapped and whacked me hard in the face and said he hated me and wanted to rip my head off. I have said mean things too but NEVER to that extent. I had a nervous breakdown and panic attacks ever since (can’t drive etc). He constantly tells me how worthless I am now that I can’t work and put that degree to work.

    The problem is I went to get a BA to help out. I never imagined that I would end up overweight, crazy, suicidal and alone. No one understands – they think it is me, and poor him (especially his family). My singing/make-up gigs and taking care of the home were never good enough for him or the family. After graduating with top honors and getting published I struggled getting hired even then! This drove him over the edge. Now I am even further functioning than I was before. I swear I want to be successful and not have panic attacks constantly. I didn’t get so far just to fall. Is it me?? I feel like the failure. Please help me with insight.

    • Cristian

      Maybe it’s just me reading about abuse, here, on Always Ladies, and other sites, but this doubt (Is it me?) that exists, I see it as a sign of abuse. Abuse alters perceived reality, and from your story, it definitely looks like reality was distorted. Constant put-downs, continuous snarky comments can make you think like you are ‘crazy’ or a ‘failure’.

      You graduated, and got published, you worked hoping for a better like, so I don’t think you’re a failure. 18 years is a long time, too long in an abusive relationship so I hope you find a support system, online, locally, anything to help you move forward, in a healthy way.

  3. Shale

    This sounds almost exactly like my story. Just insert alcohol where drugs are.
    It’s so sad but also so uplifting to hear similar experiences, but with an encouraging ending. It helps not to give up in staying away, I still struggle with the thought of coming back every day.

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