January 25, 2021 at 5:29 pm #456
Hello there, I’m new to the Galop website and I joined in the hopes of meeting other people who have been in similar situations to me. Probably not exactly the same of course, but there’ll be common threads. I want to share my story if I may, trigger warnings to do with abuse.
I was in an abusive relationship for around two years, though it felt much longer. I don’t tend to talk about it with friends and family because they either don’t know what to do or say, or in the case of some of them, can say some pretty unempathetic things. “Things like suggesting that I couldn’t possibly have post traumatic stress disorder because the relationship was only two years long. How could someone still have an effect on you nearly a decade later?”
If he had punched me or something I think it would have been easier for everyone all round, it’s a lot more cut and dried if an abusive partner beats ten bells out of you. If it’s all emotional and psychological and financial abuse though – that’s not quite as obvious. Back then I don’t think there was such a thing as “gas lighting” or at least, I’d never heard of it and there was nothing in the law about it.
I spent my days anxiously walking on egg shells, terrified of setting him off. Anything could cause him to explode at me, and explode he did. Literally screaming open mouthed inches away from my face, eyes wide and spittle flying. On one occasion he wilfully and deliberately spat directly into my face. He threw a knife in my direction once too, and scissors. He would destroy all manner of things around the house when he flew into his rages, sometimes his stuff, sometimes my stuff. He became an uncontrollable demon of anger when something set him off. He was also extremely interested in sex and I am not that keen, however it was only after sex that he would get sweet and loving and say nice things to me – but it didn’t last long and he’d be “jokingly” making offensive comments about me once the post-orgasmic glow wore off. As our relationship became more of a prison sentence I couldn’t escape from, I agreed to sex less and less, so he just started taking it.
Yes, of course looking back I should have packed a bag and got the hell out of there. I kept thinking, I’ll give it another week, he’s had a bad day, I shouldn’t have said/done such and such a thing, how stupid will I look for being in a relationship like this if people find out I was in one?
I was starting to feel like I was losing my mind. He would say things and then deny he ever said them or visa versa. He would set things up for me to get wrong so he had an excuse to lay into me, he called me all kinds of abusive slurs, said I was a “(removed by moderator)” on many occasions and increasingly cut off ties between me and my friends and family.
In the end, I escaped. I moved into a friends house for a while until he’d cleared out his belongings and gone. I even got the police involved. There were issues in the first couple of years that followed, abusive or prank phone calls, signing my address up to mailing lists under offensive names and generally doing everything in his power to make life difficult for me.
It’s been ten years now, I still have nightmares about him. Thankfully not as many and not as often. I never entered into another relationship with anyone else and am still very single to this day. I don’t foresee that changing any time soon, I don’t think I could risk putting myself through that again. My ability to love was already on rocky ground after I lost the love of my life and rebounded on the first person who showed me some interest – unfortunately he turned out to be the abusive monster I’ve been talking about and he broke what fragile remains were left of my heart and capacity to love.
Like I said, I never get the chance to talk to anyone about this, so this is a good place to vent for once. Thank you.January 26, 2021 at 5:52 pm #461Domestic Abuse Helpline TeamKeymaster
Hi Lancashire Lad,
Welcome to the forum and absolutely use this place to vent and get it off your chest. Like you say it can be difficult to talk about this with people, especially if you feel like they aren’t going to get it or your experience of sharing it is met with a judgemental response.
I’m sure many people who have been through similar experiences will nod in agreement about the impact domestic abuse has had on their lives, and the fact that it can still leave a residue many years later. You make a point that so many survivors of abuse who contact the domestic abuse helpline team say, which is, ‘it would have been easier if they had hit me.’ Meaning emotional/psychological abuse, sexual abuse within an intimate relationship, control, isolation, coercion, threats etc are so much harder to articulate to friends and family – and even to yourself. And some people who choose to use these tactics in their relationship know this; so they don’t hit you because then it would be clearer to you and the people around you exactly what was happening. I use the word ‘choose to use …’ because from what you describe it seems like your ex-partner wanted to control and hurt you and used many abusive and harmful tactics to do this but chose not to hit you – so it is clear he was making choices. At the helpline we believe people have a responsibility for their own behaviour, regardless of their mental health difficulties, early life traumas, day to day stresses and choose to use abuse and violence to ensure the relationship serves them.
It sounds like you did very well to get out of the relationship by moving to a friends and contacting the police. The Police are there to support domestic abuse survivors so you were entitled to get them involved. It takes a lot of bravery and courage to name what is going on and take the steps to end it. He sounded frightening and you did it still.
I’m sorry to hear that he kept using insidious ways to keep you aware of his presence. 50% of people who contact the helpline are talking to us about ongoing abuse from an ex-partner.
You mentioned he was extremely interested in sex and would take it even if you didn’t want it. Thank you for openness and honesty, talking about sex, this can be something that people can find so hard to bring in the open but it so often present in domestic abuse situations. In case you don’t know of this organisation https://www.survivorsuk.org/ways-we-can-help/online-helpline/ Survivors UK support men, trans men and non binary folk who have experienced sexual abuse or violence. This may or may not be something you need, but just incase it is.
The Helpline team love the title of this topic you started – ‘I’m still standing’ a powerful way to describe where you are and perhaps many other survivors may feel this describes where they are too 🙂
Thank you for your post,
The Helpline TeamFebruary 1, 2021 at 2:38 pm #462
Thank you folks. 🙂
It’s good to know that there’s a place like this out there. it’s been ten years and I’m only just NOW really sort of, “waking up” from the trauma of that relationship and finally looking at where I am and what’s going on. I’ve sought help from psychiatrists and I’m on antidepressants and it’s really, really helped.
I was going through all of the paperwork I had just been filing away over the years and a lot of old memories were coming back. My ex was terrible with collecting debt and I had paperwork of various companies chasing him for money. He got me to pay off some of his debts, or sweet talk HMRC into extensions or allowances for him. He moved in with me without paying his council tax in his last place and debt letters started chasing him about that too.
He got hold of my credit card and started using it to (removed by moderator) ! All of this I’ve just rediscovered through sorting out these files. I’m shocked. How did I not notice all of this before now? I think I’ve just been sleep walking through the last decade. I had final notice letters arriving left and right from energy companies that he hadn’t paid and all kinds of things.
I had managed my credit fairly well up until when I met him, but he quickly took control of my finances and I used the credit card to pay for groceries and such. He had a much better paid job than I did and he would spend lavishly on holidays, clothes and food and encourage me to do the same. I hit my cards credit limit in the April of 2010 and do you know what the credit card company did? Did they help me manage the debt at all? Nope. They sent me a letter letting me know they’re DOUBLING the credit limit. His spending went through the roof and within just a couple of months the credit card company suspended the card and started slapping on interest charges, late fees and credit overspend penalties. 2010 is over a decade behind me now and I am still slowly and painfully paying my way out of that debt hole that he put me into. Repairing my credit score month by month.
Seeing all of these statements is making my blood boil. After all he did to me, that monster gets to get away scot free and take my money with him and I’m left with paying this credit card debt off for eighteen years. He gets to run away from yet more debt, change his name again, change his job again, and just get away with it?! Where’s the justice?
I want to write to the debt collection agency and explain that I have been suffering from depression, PTSD and anxiety related mental health issues since 2010 and that the woeful mismanagement of the spiralling debt problem by the credit card company kicked me when I was down and left me saddled with eighteen years worth of debt. Is there anyone on the Galop help team who could give me some advice?February 5, 2021 at 10:37 am #476Domestic Abuse Helpline TeamKeymaster
Hey Lancashire Lad,
It’s very good to hear that you’ve been able to start seeking professional support with this, because it’s so much to be dealing with by yourself. It sounds like your ex was very frightening and controlling and that can have a big impact, which would of course take time to recover from.
Thank you for explaining more about the financial impact of your ex’s behaviour. Financial abuse not only affects you in the relationship (it can make someone more dependent on their partner in so many ways, so it can be very controlling as well as very distressing) but potentially for years afterwards, as it has for you.
Fortunately, financial institutions have an increasing awareness of financial abuse and it’s effects, and it’s being more commonly understood. More people now understand that it is not the abuse survivor’s fault that they’re in debt. A really good place to start with looking for help is Surviving Economic Abuse – https://survivingeconomicabuse.org/i-need-help/. They have lots of guidance and information, and a financial support line you can ring for more direct support. Have a look at their resources and see how you get on.
You’ve started the hard work of facing what your ex-partner did to you and it’s impact, financially and emotionally. This is such a great, and difficult, step. And recovery is possible, but it’s important to not do it without support. Which is why it’s brilliant that you’re here talking to us and everyone else on the forum to share your experiences. If you’d like to talk to us more directly, you’re also welcome to call us (0800 999 5424) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All the best,
The helpline teamFebruary 24, 2021 at 11:21 am #525
Hi Lancashire Lad
Lancashire girl here! Well born and bred anyway, although I don’t live there anymore.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Like you I also suffered financial abuse 10 years ago, and like you I buried the emotional stuff until now. Partly because at the time, I didn’t even realise it was abuse, or how bad it was, and partly because I was so focused on getting out of the relationship, it was purely about survival. It simply didn’t occur to me to ask for help (other than friends and family). Also the first year of freedom from my ex was wonderful. I could afford to feed myself properly and buy some new clothes. The first time I paid for my food shopping in the supermarket I burst into tears, the relief at finally being able to choose and pay for what I needed and I didn’t have to go without.
I’m sorry you’ve been left with such debts. I still have a mortgage with my ex that I can’t get out of. I’m glad you are feeling a bit better but I can totally relate to what you say about it making your blood boil when you recall. Me too! It’s so unjust. My ex is living the life of Riley with no consequences. I’m looking into getting some counselling to help with the intrusive thoughts.
I think it’s really important to speak up about these things especially in the LGBT+ community. It’s too late for us, but I believe financial abuse is now a criminal offence. But to take action you have to understand what’s happening to you, and like you say, with the gaslighting and mind games, I just didn’t. Even if I had, I wasn’t in a position to think clearly, I was too busy and exhausted ‘firefighting’ on a daily basis.
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