I believe it’s really important to raise awareness of domestic violence and coercive relationships; especially at a time where we are all staying inside our homes. I can imagine for a lot of people staying inside is their idea of actual hell, because going to work and socialising is their only means of freedom.
This is an experience that is personal to me, and without slandering anyone or revealing many personal details I’d like to share it. Sharing my story in the vague hopes that perhaps this could give someone in the same situation hope. Because sometimes hope is the only thing that keeps you going.
I was in an emotionally destructive, and what I feel was an extremely controlling relationship for the best part of 8 years. I also managed pretty well to hide this relationship for the entire duration of it, my family has no idea. Deep down I knew the relationship wasn’t right, but I had become indoctrinated to believe otherwise. On the surface I agreed to everything he said for an easy life, but deeper down my mind and my conscience could not rest. This is why I couldn’t burden the emotional drama of telling any of my family.
Abusive and controlling behaviour doesn’t have to be physical. In fact, quite often it’s all verbal. Verbal manipulation. This often works so well because your partner knows you inside out. They can pick apart your weak points, exploiting your insecurities in order to oppress you.
There are many red flags, such as telling you what to wear, criticising your friends and family and severe mood swings. Making you feel guilt for things you haven’t even done. If you ever feel the need to question your sanity or your self beliefs because of comments from your partner; there is a chance the relationship could be toxic.
Responsibility and Accountability
Playing the blame game in these scenarios is never a winning idea. But I would like to say that during this relationship I played my part, I’m far from perfect. I grew within this relationship and he was constantly convincing me everything He did was for my own good. But changing or growing should happen naturally of your own accord, you don’t hold a gun to a sunflower and tell it to grow beautifully tall and yellow, do you?
Having a toxic relationship doesn’t necessarily mean your partner is evil, it just means the relationship is destructive and doing both of you no good. This could simply be down to incompatible personalities. Whatever the scenario is, remember to take responsibility for your actions in the relationship and if it feels toxic, and you feel safe to do so, you need to leave.
Personally I felt many times that I couldn’t leave. I think this was very frustrating for my friends, who thought that the easiest solution to all my problems would be to leave him. And of course that was the answer to all of my problems. But it really wasn’t straight forward to leave at all. I attempted to leave so many times, I’d get an insane burst of strength from someone or somewhere and I’d be so convinced this was the day everything would change. The day I could reclaim my mental and physical freedom. Running away from the situation, even if I was firm in the opinion that I wanted nothing to do with him and I wanted to be alone – it never worked.
Over the years I became unrecognisable to myself. The me I used to know, she was a strong woman who would always stand up for what she believed to be immoral. Have you ever felt so emotionally drained that you let someone bully you just because you don’t have the energy to argue? Because that was a daily occurrence for me, for years. I became wriggled with anxiety, battling depression and enduring emotional blackmail – I was so weak. I saw the strength drain from me after every argument, pouring into him as he towered over me in a figurative sense. He never hurt me physically, and he was always respectful when I was allowed to see him. On average this would be once every 3 months. I couldn’t ever behave long enough to be allowed to see him regularly.
Upon reflection I realise now that this was in no way a relationship. I’d describe it more as a dictatorship, manipulated and oppressed by an intelligent dictator. Real relationships aren’t about power struggles, because if you really love someone you wouldn’t need or want to control them. It’s as simple as that.
I am now in a very loving relationship that has allowed me to quickly recover from wasting 8 precious years of my life. Being able to compare these two relationships that are polar opposites is like therapy to me. It gives me the opportunity to reinforce to myself that I am not insane. I’m not crazy, emotional, sensitive, selfish, self absorbed or any of the other names. No. I’m me and guess what? I’m happy.
I really wanted to write this to let people know who are in the same situation, that there is a way out. You can have your life back, and you will. So for now, stay safe, stay strong and seek help whenever you need it.