4 Ways to Spot an Abusive Spouse

Domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime.  Sometimes I get scared about what kind of man I’ll end up with. Will he treat me the way I watched my father treat my mother? What if I become like him? These questions drove me into a dark place of thoughts and upon reflection, I’ve gathered my 4 indicators of an abusive person in a relationship.

1. They will try to control you
Whether it’s your finances or people you want to go out with, they will ensure that you are cut-off from the rest of the world. Abusers tend to have this desire to be noticed and almost worshipped, but nothing will satisfy them for long. They get thrills out of taking away people’s power and making sure they are the centre of your attention.

2. They will play the victim
Abusers are master manipulators. They will build a strong attachment between you two and somewhere down the line, they will snap. They may hit you or lash out in anger – but they know that love is blind and they will use this to their advantage. They may say things like “don’t you love me?” if you try to leave. Unfortunately many people fall for this trap and stay with an abuser because they are blind to their actions. This gives the abuser the chance to do it over and over again which is unacceptable.

3. They will turn everything into an argument
Everything. Abusers prey on the opportunity to hurt and feel powerful. They thrive on negative reactions –  it satisfies them. I personally believe that disagreements in a relationship are inevitable and completely normal, but great couples know that they have to pick their battles. Working through a disagreement should be productive, not destructive.

4. They will get physical
They may cause you physical harm by pushing you, beating you and carrying out many other violent acts. They may break things in your presence to create threat and fear. They  may have sex with you when you don’t feel like it. Remember that rape is possible in a relationship – sex must always be consensual.

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 Note: Abuse is not restricted to a gender and it is always wrong.

If you think this post may help someone recognise that they are in an abusive relationship then please share. 

If you are being abused, please call the 24hr freephones:
National Domestic Violence Helpline (UK) – 0808 2000 247
National Domestic Violence Hotline (US) – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

If in doubt, please report it to the police in your country. Abuse must not be tolerated.

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I’m finally moving out!

I’m leaving for university this Sunday and the reality just sinking in. No more home cooked meals waiting for me at the dinner table. No more mum bringing me soup when I’m slumped in bed with a burning fever. No more cute little brother barging into my room asking me for cuddles. This comfortable little bubble I’ve been living in all my life – I’m escaping it. Everything will be so foreign. And I’ll be left to my own devices.

Moving out has been a fantasy of mine since I was a little girl. One day when I was 6, my father was teaching me maths and I got a question wrong. He started shouting at me about how he doesn’t understand why God gave him such a stupid child, like he always does. When he started shouting like that, I always got a lump in my throat because I was about to cry. He asked me the question again and my answer barely came out as a whisper. He got so angry that he grabbed me by the hair, dragged me to the front door and literally pushed me out of the house. I fell on the floor outside and started crying uncontrollably. I tried banging on the door but he wouldn’t let me in. People saw me crying on the streets but they didn’t do anything. They just walked by. I felt so unloved. So alone.

That’s when I learned a cold hard truth: I’m all I have in life.

Traumatic memories like this are what put me in therapy last year. I learned that all these home comforts and so-called friends that I have are just some added bonuses in life that I sometimes mistake for happiness. They make me forget that for as long as I am around my father, I am in a toxic environment. That’s what I need to remember in those weak moments away from home. I don’t stand a chance at happiness here because my environment doesn’t support it. At university though, the world is my Oyster. For the first time ever in my life I can do whatever I want without him trying to convince me that I’m worthless.

I have date with freedom and it starts on Sunday 🙂
Here’s to the most awaited chapter of my life. Young me would’ve never seen this day coming.

freedom

Suicidal

At the start of this summer I knew that I’d be going through hell if I stayed at home with my parents the entire time like I’ve always done. But I’m 18 now, I thought. I can make as many plans as I want and I can stay out of the house as much as possible.

So, that’s what I did. For 3 weeks straight I said yes to every plan proposed by my friends and I ensured that they all happened (for my sake). I was out almost everyday laughing and taking amazing photos – two of my favourite pastimes. It was bliss.

But then this coping mechanism of mine to stay out everyday with friends backfired. I felt suffocated by all this human interaction. It was nice at first but then it became too intense. I explored this in my previous post I’m tired of emotional attachments‘. Life is all about balance. At that moment, I had lost the concept of spending time with people in moderation and I felt overwhelmed. So I went from one extreme to the other. I stopped going out and I lived like I normally would.

As I snapped out of my imaginary bliss, all the pains I’d been repressing rose to the surface again. My parents were the trigger. I’m subjected to my father’s aggressive behaviour towards me and everyday I’m in awe at how he shamelessly makes me do all his work (writing his letters, emails, texts, making work phone calls) and takes full credit for it whilst he treats me like shit. Never a “please” or a “thank you”. Just “do this or I’ll hurt you”. Sometimes I cry whilst I’m doing the task because he stands right behind me watching and insulting me at the same time. I try not to let him see though because he calls me way worse things when I cry.

My mother always tells me that I am the most troublesome and disrespectful child to ever walk this planet. Her justification behind this is that I used to scream and cry all the time when I was a baby. My baby photos do support this – I’m wailing out in almost all of them. I’m her first child so it was very hard for her. It doesn’t help when your husband is an abusive asshole. What blows my mind is that she holds me responsible for behaviour that I don’t even recall as a baby. That’s what babies do don’t they? They cry. My mother treats me like I’m vile. Once when I was young I went to hold her arm probably for comfort and she pushed me away saying “Get off me, I feel so disgusted when you touch me”. I never forgot that.

On Saturday, I went to a passport photo shop to take some new photos. My younger siblings and father came with me. When he saw the photos, he started shouting at me in front of everyone about how ugly I look without my glasses on. I felt so embarrassed and hurt. I cried for ages when I got home. A younger me with no self esteem used to believe that I was ugly because my parents often said so. As I grew up and compliments added up, I realised that although I’m no supermodel, I’m certainly not ugly. When I told my friends about this they were outraged at my parents’ insanity and finally understood why I hate them with a passion. Even if I was ugly, what was the need to publicly humiliate me like that? How can you call people ugly? Let alone your own child?

This Monday it was my little sister’s birthday which I was excited for and my mother said to me “go out today and come back at night”. “Why?” I asked. “I’m not telling you” she replied. Later I found out that they planned a day out without me. I was left home alone. I’ve never felt so unwanted and hurt in my life.

It’s results day on the 18th of August. I find out whether or not I’ve been accepted into  university which is well away from home. I wouldn’t have to live here anymore. I don’t think I did well enough in my exams to get in but I’m hoping for a miracle because I can’t do this any more. The pain is unbearable. Everyday is a struggle. I’d rather be gone.

I know that I only feel this way because of my parents but isn’t it true that my parents are tied to me for the rest of my life? I can’t just cut them off and I’m losing the will to live.

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Exciting life update following this post: Click here 

Overwhelmed by all the love and support. I appreciate every single comment and I’m very grateful to be part of such a beautiful and caring blogging community ❤️

I’m tired of emotional attachments

To me, being emotionally attached to someone is equivalent to giving this person power over your feelings. It takes one heated argument for them to ruin your day or one loving conversation for them to make your day. Why is it that caring about someone comes at such at emotional expense?

At this time in my life I have the privilege of saying that I know a lot of people. However for the past few months I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling suffocated by maintaining close friendships with people because it’s such a huge emotional investment. I’m suddenly these all these people’s mum, therapist and personal cheerleader all at once. I recognise the importance of having supportive friends in life because everyone needs someone to talk to –  but everyday? really? The problem is that the majority of my friends get upset and insulted when I purposely choose to reply 2 or 3 days later. Quite frankly it’s because I don’t actually care about what you’re wearing tonight or what hilarious joke your sister told you.

At first I thought this was because I had too many friends at once, so last month I decided to cut down and only give my attention to my 3 closest friends. I could only bear a maximum of 2 full conversations with each person in the space of a month. Every other time, I felt myself becoming bored and eager to leave to conversation in order to be by myself. So I just ignored them, spending more and more time alone as the days went by.

This might sound heartless but I care about these people in the sense that if something life threatening was happening to them then they’d have my undivided attention. But the probability of them being in a life or death situation is very low on a day to day basis. This means that every other day I’m supposed give a damn about everything else in their life. I really don’t care about people that much any more and lord knows I hate small talk.

I think this is because I’ve finally become very comfortable in my own skin and I’ve learned to love my own company. I grew up emotionally detached from my parents and still to this day I feel like a stranger in my own home when they’re around. I’ve spent my life trying to gain their love and affection only to be abused in return.  It’s heartbreaking, being attached to someone. I’ve had certain expectations of people in life and I’ve been let down a lot.

Now I literally have no expectations from people because I’ve gone past caring. If people want to stay in my life, they can stay. If they want to go, they can go. I have no fight left in me for people. I love being alone.

alone
Note: There is a difference between isolation and solitude. Isolation is being cut off from the rest of the world, feeling lonely and devastated. Solitude is the ability to be away from the rest of the world and feeling invigorated by it, knowing fully well that I have access to people. I personally enjoy my alone time more than anything, however I can still enjoy human connection in moderation. I don’t encourage you to cut off emotional ties, it’s just the way I’m currently feeling due to personal experience. 

The art of remaining silent

The tongue is a lethal weapon. With ammunition, it can cause mass destruction.

As human beings, it’s within our power to craft sentences by selecting words as a means of communication on a daily basis.  But how often to we actually pause for a moment to think about the impact that our words are having on our quality of life?

Speaking is natural for most of us. Words just tend to flow out our mouths. The type of speech we exude on the other hand, is a habit. For example, some people have developed a vulgar vocabulary and swear after every other word. These people can come off as rude, unapproachable and unhappy. Some people ooze with kind and comforting words. These people can come off as considerate, likable and happy. So when we are speaking to someone who values our words it influences how they feel about us, but more importantly, it can influence how they feel about themselves.

My father only speaks to me to insult me and has done so for as long as I can remember. I grew up terrified of him and I have never felt good enough for him. Being told that I am stupid, ugly and worthless constantly from childhood has stripped me of self esteem for a long time. His words made me lock myself in the bathroom and cry for hours. I’ve lost sleep over it. Up until I started CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) I wholeheartedly believed all of his insults. I thought there was something wrong with me. That I was an awful daughter who couldn’t do anything right because he is never happy with me.

During my early teenage years up until recent, I noticed that his words enraged me so I worked up the confidence to challenge his insults. I know he enjoyed provoking me because arguing is what he does best. We argued aggressively and consistently until he felt threatened by me. Eventually it reached a point where he’d get physical and slap me, push me, punch me, kick me and step on me. I tried to fight back but as a young girl being gripped by a grown man, all I could do is struggle and cry.

Therapy has helped me understand that this man will not change. His words are not true. I’m not the problem.


Today, I was filling out yet another application form for him whilst he stood over me, insulting me.

“Your handwriting is so fucking terrible” (it really isn’t)
Me: *silent*

“Call yourself a student? You can’t even write 1! That’s not how you write 5! Is that an 8??”
Me: *silent*

“You’re so stupid, I’m sick of you! Why are my children like this??”
Me: *silent*

It baffles him. He tries to provoke me more each time but I just don’t give it to him. I remember that it’s not true. I keep my cool. I can’t fight hatred using hatred. I learned that the hard way.

Words are powerful. We can either use them to build people up or break them down.

When in doubt, kill people with silence.

“Silence is a source of great strength. – Lao Tzu”

The trouble of seeking help

After my exams had finished in June I vowed to myself that I would seek help in the summer holidays because I felt like I was going insane. For the past 2 years I’ve felt stressed all the time about everything. My depressive moods were starting to affect my daily life: I couldn’t sleep, I lost my appetite and I was too scared to talk to people. My mind was the noisiest place I knew and it became my biggest enemy.

I filled in a self referral form online and they said they’d get back to me soon. Fast forward a few weeks, I’m in the heat of the Italian countryside at my uncle’s house with my family when I get a call. I discreetly go to the balcony to take it and I’m told that I’m not eligible for therapy because I’m a year too young and in full time education. I felt shocked and appalled at how difficult it is to get help for for mental health problems in comparison to physical ones. Surely as a “minor” I’m just as vulnerable, if not more, than anyone else over 18? Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults from age 15-24. [1]  Yet mental health services fail to make themselves readily available to prevent many unfortunate cases ranging from suicides to the intensification of serious mental disorders.

The next logical step was to go directly to my GP but it took me until mid September to actually book an appointment because I feared that my doctor wouldn’t take me seriously. The thought of going to one to talk about my feelings was stomach churning. What was worse is that I had to request confidentiality because I was going behind my parents’ backs as my  entire problem is deeply rooted childhood abuse.

I was given a priority appointment so I was the first patient to be seen as soon as as my doctor arrived. When I walked into his room, I noticed that he was new and quite young so he had presumably just graduated from medical school. He cheerfully told me that it was his first day and as small talk goes, he asked me “how are you?” before I even managed to sit down. At this point my heart sank because:

1) I was there because I was not fine at all but this question invited the answer “fine”, which is what I hesitantly replied.
2) I was probably his first ever real patient in his working life and I felt extremely guilty that I was just about to ruin his entire day by being, quite literally, a depressing patient.

The way in which I explained everything to him is a blur in my mind. I remember just spilling my life out and being on the verge of tears because in that moment it dawned on me what a torturous and isolated life I’ve lived at the hands of my own father. So much so that it had come to the point where I was expecting a stranger male with a medical degree to understand me and deliver in the short space of 10 mins. I could tell that he felt awkward as he listened at the beginning but I saw that his eyes started to water when I finished.

He cleared his throat and proceeded to tell me that being from the same background, he’s familiar with the abusive nature of certain people in our culture and that he empathises greatly, as doctors tend to. But that was the extent of his service. He then pulled out a sticky note and wrote down two numbers:  one for social services and the other for “child and family” therapy. There was no way on earth that I was calling either of those numbers but that was all he could do. He didn’t even directly refer me to a therapist. I walked out with a sticky note.

The outcome isn’t a result of my doctor’s incompetency though. It’s a reflection on the lack of transparency in mental health services on the NHS for minors. What’s concerning and ironic is that had I chosen to make a poor decision after my appointment, my doctor would’ve be entirely responsible for it. 

A few weeks passed, I felt worse and I always carried that sticky note with me in my bag. One lunch I was out with a close friend who was well aware of my situation and after days of trying, she finally persuaded me to call the second number because therapy with parents is better than nothing. When I called, they said they’d need to consult me for an hour by asking me questions over the phone. I was free the next period so I managed to get a free room arranged for me so that I could take the call at school.

The questions were deep to say the least and they certainly gathered a thorough picture of my case. I felt hopeful. At the end of the call, the woman thanked me and said that they would get back to me in nine weeks because of the long waiting list. Nine weeks. 

As I left the room, a member of staff asked me how it went and I told her about how long I had to wait. To my surprise, she told me about a counselor in the school who is qualified to carry out Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I didn’t even know we had a counselor.

I’m very lucky that this is the woman who I meet every Monday to receive CBT privately in the comfort of my own school.

However I’m aware that a lot of my fellow sufferers have been less successful in finding the right support and it upsets me that mental health is dealt with so poorly in the system when it’s such a pressing issue.

Let me know if you’d like to hear about my CBT experience.

If I have children

If I am blessed with the privilege of having children,

I’d tell them that I love them – often.
If they get hurt, have an awful day or go through a tough time, I’d hug them and make sure they know that crying is not a weakness. Crying is natural and it is welcome, regardless of your age.
I’d never make them feel worthless. I’d make sure that they know how special they truly are.
I’d make an effort to spend time with them. I’d make sure that they know I care.
I’d put emphasis on family holidays because this is a perfect chance to bond and make memories that last forever.
I’d take lots of photographs of them.
I’d guide them in the straight and safe path but I wouldn’t force them into something they don’t want to do.
I’d want them to pick a career that would make them happy. I’d teach them that any job is a great job if you truly enjoy what you do. Then it won’t even feel like work.
I’d never want to make them feel like they are a burden to me.
I’d ensure that we talk a lot.
To my daughters, I’d tell them that if the man of their dreams is not the same ethnicity as us, that I won’t discriminate. It’s character that matters.
I’d tell my husband I love him in front of them.
I’d avoid arguing with my husband in front of them.
I’d never insult them and call them names.
I’d remind them of how beautiful/ handsome they are. I’d praise where praise is due.
I’d teach them the importance of kindness from an early age.
I’d never punish them for making academic mistakes, as long as they are genuinely doing their best.
I’d never beat them up.
I’d be conscious of everything I say because I know that children have sharp memory and that everything I say has the potential to affect them in the long term.
I’d let them know that I’m always here for them.
If anything, my parents have taught me how to not be parents.

I hope that I will treat my children better than they ever treated me.