I was contacted by a woman who wanted to share her story. I broke it into tweets but here are her words in their entirety. These are words about a relationship that is very familiar to me, very familiar to a lot of people. I didn’t leave, where would I go? What would I do? How would I survive? These were the questions I asked myself.
I would warn you this may trigger you for psychological violence.
Things are good at first, he showers you with adoration. Slowly things start to feel strange. He annoys easily, withdraws. Things are always focused on him. You start to lose your identity, dropping your interests and friends. It’s just easier that way. You notice you feel less sure. You forget how to stand firm. You question your beliefs, your reality. It’s so hard to understand why exactly.
He starts to get angry. The fits come more often, more intensely. You’re confused because the rules keep changing. You’re told everything that goes wrong is your fault, you feel guilty. You’ve lost your faith in yourself so this is easy to believe. Because of this shame, you start isolating. You hide things from family and friends. They mustn’t see how awful you are too. It gets tiring – all this shame and pretending. You reach a breaking point and question the bigger picture.
He notices, starts manipulating you with kindness. You start to wonder if you were wrong to doubt, maybe he can change. You feel loved again, or something close to it. Even if the kindness is tiny, it’s a relief. You relax into the attention. Suddenly, he cuts off affection. The stark contrast between the abuse and kindness leads you to believe you did something terribly wrong.
He says he only gets angry because of you, nobody else makes him react this way. You see him with other people and agree, it’s you. You believe that you can help him. He’ll treat you nicely if you put in enough work, act perfectly. You know you can fix this. You don’t feel free or like yourself. He says if you ever leave, he will harm himself or you. He says he loves you, that you’re everything. He says nobody will believe he’s done anything wrong. He dares you to call the cops, says they will laugh at how crazy you are.
With the set beliefs that you’re worthless, mentally unwell, unable to support yourself financially, and fully to blame for the situation….how do you actually leave?