Abuse, part 1
Shannon has written this post on coping with the abuse she experienced in a relationship.
This post has been really hard for me to write and I’ve debated whether or not to post it on more than one occasion. The only other people I have shared this with is my counsellor and my Mom and I’m not ready to share the whole story yet but I’m hoping that by writing this it can make at least one person stop blaming themselves for something that has happened to them.
I was one of those girls who really believed in fairy tale romances and wanted so much for the first boy I kissed to be my husband and we’d live happily ever after. I now see this was very naïve of me. This might happen to some people but it definitely didn’t happen for me.
I was in an abusive relationship for two years. This was almost two years ago and I’m only just starting to feel like I’m taking back control of my life.
In all honesty I hadn’t realised it was abusive until I started telling my counsellor little things, and he said to me ‘you know what that was’? I said ‘yes a controlling, manipulative relationship’ and he said ‘what you’ve just described to me is emotional and sexual abuse’. It was then that it clicked.
You must think, how could you not realise something like that? And that’s exactly what I’d think if I was reading this about someone else. But I didn’t, which sounds so stupid and it’s what gets me even now, two years later. I feel so annoyed at myself for letting it happen and not walking away sooner.
Although I thought I loved him at the time, I never liked him as a person. I’d never understood why, when I was over him, it was taking so long to get over what he’d done to me. I thought it was because it was my first relationship so it was taking me longer than most people to get over it.
It wasn’t until the counsellor said what he did that it clicked.
I knew all along deep down that the way he treated me wasn’t right and wasn’t normal but I thought it was just my anxiety making me read more into it and that was what he used to tell me as well. Everything that ever happened was my anxiety’s fault and “A normal person wouldn’t be making such a big deal out of it.” His words for everything that ever happened. So I assumed that was what it was and it was something that was in my head and something that was wrong with me.
I thought I was the problem so even if I left him and found someone else the same thing would happen. So I stayed with him hoping things would change and creating a future in my head of how I wished things were. This also took me a long time to get over. I was mourning a future that never existed.
I wasn’t sure what was normal but what I was sure about is that it was not how I imagined a relationship to be. I don’t understand why I put up with it but I do know it has made me stronger and I wouldn’t put up with that from anyone again no matter how much I thought I loved the person.
I’ve always been the strong minded one of my friends. The one who people go to for advice but that’s the thing with me, I’m the best at giving advice but when it came to me being in this situation it’s like I completely lost my mind. I no longer thought for myself and instead just did everything I could to make him happy, even jeopardising my own happiness and my family’s happiness.
When my friends or someone on TV had been cheated on, I would be the first to say how I wouldn’t put up with that from anyone and “If a guy treated me like that he’d be straight out the door”. But no one knows how they will react in these situations until they’re actually faced with it themselves.
I turned from this strong minded, independent business owner, to a timid little girl whose emotions and every aspect of their life was controlled solely by this one guy. I was the girl I’d always felt sorry for and always promised myself I’d never be. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the most confident person but I knew my worth, something which I completely lost when I met him.
If at the time my friend was telling me that her boyfriend was treating her like this then I would of told her to leave him immediately but it’s not the same when you’re living it. You don’t realise how bad it is until afterwards. When it’s your boyfriend who you trust 100% who is doing these things to you, you don’t question it because he’s your boyfriend.
I blamed myself a lot and thought it must have been because I wasn’t confident or experienced that these things didn’t feel normal. I now know it wasn’t me at all and they were in fact not normal, he was not normal and the relationship was not normal.
It took me a long time to accept what had happened and although I don’t think I will ever fully be over it, I am learning to deal with it. I kept this to myself for a long time afraid that if I told someone they would either not believe me or think I was stupid for putting up with it for as long as I did. I was scared I’d look weak. But speaking about it to my counsellor and telling my Mom has really helped.
My Mom couldn’t understand why I couldn’t move on and after I told her she realised it wasn’t as simple as a normal breakup. I thought that talking about it would make it feel like a weight being lifted but to begin with it made me feel worse. At the time having to relive everything didn’t help but I now see that I needed that to move on. I thought if I kept it in and didn’t speak about it then I could pretend it didn’t happen, and talking about it would make it real. It was actually the opposite and I wished I would have told someone sooner because instead of blocking it out like I used to, I have now processed what happened and have started to move on.
I’m not completely back to myself yet and obviously certain things trigger the thoughts again but I’m the best I’ve been in a long time. I’m now on the waiting list with RSVP after being referred there by my counsellor and having an initial assessment appointment with them and I can now see my life moving forward rather than being stuck in the past.
I have also started a blog in the hope that I can help someone who is going through or has been through a similar thing to me – www.myquestforinnerhappiness.com