Thank you so much for sharing your story with the community. A lot of people view this forum and can often gain strength and insight from those people who share their stories.
At the beginning of your story you share what sounds how you have learnt to cope with the abuse and the suffering caused by the abuse for the trade off of some happiness with your partner. I hear you and this is something that gets talked about a lot with people who call the helpline. I wonder if you are familiar with the idea of the cycle of abuse? Which is the thinking that the ‘good times’ are part of the pattern of abuse – that there is an outburst, which is then followed by some making up, then a period of ‘happiness’ or calm, tension starts to build again and then another outburst. Some people talk to us about trying to get the happiness to last or the person who they started the relationship to come back. But unfortunately without a real desire from the person using harmful behaviours the pattern of outburst, make up, happiness will continue.
One way people who have partners who harm them use to cope with the abuse is to minimise the harm – while in the relationship this helps to protect the person experiencing the abuse to carry on. Like you say, it is not until you are away from the abuse, perhaps for sometime, that you can start to look at the extent of the emotional and practical pain caused by the abuse. At this point it can be worth seeking out a therapist or a peer to peer support group to help with this. The helpline can help you with this. You talk about feeling lost and grief when you do find the strength to move away from the person abusing you, which sounds real and difficult.
You make such a good point about well meaning friends and family unintentionally adding pressure and actually you need to be in control of your journey otherwise those trying to help you accidentally start to sound to you like the abuser. At Galop we hear a lot from friends and family wanting to help and we always suggest they read this guide about how to best support your friends and family.
You mention how their negative, or as you say ‘bad’ comments about your partner, which often come from a place of care and love, can unfortunately contribute to you feeling like a failure as you talked about feeling responsible for your partner, and then perhaps relationship as a whole. In case it is interesting for you to know a tactic abusive partners will use is to make the non-abusive partner feel responsible for the whole relationship. We hear this a lot and you are not alone with this feeling or experience.
It sounds like you sometimes feel like you need to protect the person abusing you from the comments of those who care about you. This is a difficult position to be in and you’re not alone with this. Often people who are living with domestic abuse come to feel like they need to protect and care for the abuser because other people don’t understand them.
Really good to hear typing this post has helped make you feel better Post as much as you like. The forum is here for you. You’ve done so much to balance and cope with what sounds like a very difficult situation. Bravo.
The Helpline Team