‘My innocence had been taken, boundaries no longer existed and I lost myself into a haze of dark cloud that I could no longer escape from’ - ERT
From the age of 15 I had quickly fallen in love ‘or so I had thought’ and got into a relationship with my partner who was 21. The age difference was huge red flags but at the time I was so oblivious to my surroundings, my judgement and I thought it was cool at the time to be with an older guy.
12 months had gone by, I was exposed sexually to things I was not comfortable with but thought I had to because he was older and new better, so this must be what love is. Painful.
I lost my bubbly, social butterfly personality and lost all my friends. He was my only friend, constant paranoia, mentally abusive, checking through my phone and constantly accusing me of things that were untrue.
I had enough and It had to end - which is when things progressively got worse.
He constantly harassed and stalked me as he had now lost that control, made best friends with my friends and was all of a sudden out every night!
I was out with friends, in which he had found out and ended up following. I became too drunk and needed to go home, all of my friends had left and the only comfort I knew was to latch onto him and I had asked him to take me home.
In the taxi on the way back I had passed out, going in and out of consciousness, lights flashing past in lines and a constant feeling of sickness.
We arrived back and he allowed himself into my house, had poured me another alcoholic drink and forced it down my throat. From this point all I remember is a heavy weight on top of me, it hurt and I was telling him it hurt but it didn’t stop.
The next morning I woke up in a panic and threw him out of the house! I was mortified, felt dirty and unclean, ashamed and extremely confused.
I messaged to try and justify the feelings I felt in this moment and told him that I didn’t want to have sex with him and he carried on! He threatened me, called me a drunken slut and threw it back in my face.
However, I knew this was not normal so I tried to reach out to friends but as he had made friends with them too no one could believe that he could do such a thing.
I questioned myself and it eventually all blew over. However, looking back it was rape. not sex, not content, not love.
A few weeks later I tried to reconnect and build relationships with friends again I had pushed away. I began the gym ready to begin a new life, a new me!
When I then met my second partner, I was extremely vulnerable and not educated into the trauma and controlled environment that I had been in.
This was love was it not?
Things moved quickly again, I was 17 and he was 25. Age did not register to me at that time but again looking back, I was still just a child and still had not yet fully experienced life.
This type of control was cold, direct and not manipulative but just threatening.
I had been swooped into a huge cage I had called my second home. I lost connections with friends and even family at this point. He had thrown out all of my clothes, even knickers out of my draws and told me what I can and cant wear. I was no longer allowed to shower alone, my personal space and belongings were gone. I was criticised and watched on what food I could and couldn’t eat, i was constantly mocked, lowering my self esteem and confidence. I was ugly, fat, no one will ever love someone like me. I no longer had hobbies and my passions evaporated. If I ever tried to speak my opinion on a matter I was hushed or he’d put his finger over my mouth like a child.
Things began to progressively get worse, he got rid of his car so he used mine preventing me from going out anywhere alone, he’d rage and cause a scene if out in public so I no longer did to save arguments. He abused his dogs in front of me to make me cry and it even got to the point where I had become severely ill but he would not allow me to eat and spoon fed me like a baby instead.
I no longer had my own thoughts, my own opinions, my own choices or my own voice. I was a silent robot that did what she was told and felt as though she had no one to turn to for advice.
He raped me multiple times and most nights I would lie facing the wall silently crying not knowing why I was feeling this way. I had been brainwashed and this is love isn’t it? He would wake me in the middle of the night, made me feel ashamed and dirty, have his way with me and then wouldn’t allow me to touch him for the rest of the night.
I became severely ill both physically and mentally and had to take months off of work. I was at my most vulnerable and he had said something about my appearance to upset me which I challenged. In return he slapped me across my face for the first time to shut me up. It was only then I new I had to leave or I never would.
I always remember telling my Mum at the age of 18 ‘when I have kids of my own, I am going to tell them to live their lives to the fullest! Before they ever settle down with someone’
I was 18 ... my life was just beginning but I had thought that this was the end. That is how powerful a controlling relationship can be. They manipulate your friends and family around you so they can not fully see the deeper picture going on inside.
My Nan was my saviour and she sensed an extreme danger and luckily had stayed to visit for a couple of weeks. If it wasn’t for her telling me her beautiful stories of falling in love with my grandad (who sadly is no longer here) and going on adventures during grandads time in the army - I would never of known any different. She taught me what love should be and told me straight! Leave! I needed that ...
Again, when breaking with someone controlling. The end is when it is at its most dangerous and where the stalking, harassment begins... texting friends, family members, following you out, watching your house, following and driving behind you and just finding any way to get your attention and receive a response out of you.
Always remain consistent and whatever you do, never respond (unless essential if little ones are also involved).
A year wen’t by and I began to re find myself, I was a little stronger... re started hobbies, started new ones such as yoga. Camping and even travelling to Romania to do volunteering work, raised money for multiple charities and began to feel my sparkly, positive self again that I once new. I became much closer to my family and sadly had lost confidence in reaching out to my friends as I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I had pushed them away. Little did I know at the time the effect that this would have on my mental health and social bubble.
I was still hibernating in the safety of my home, unsure and unnerved to go outside but it was slow progress.
However, unfortunately I had still not learnt from my mistakes to spot the warning signs as I was still uneducated, unaware and vulnerable.
Predators can pick out and feed off of your vulnerability and use this to their advantage which is why the way you feel about yourself, is the type of people you will attract.
I still didn’t love myself, all the words I was told come flooding back... so why would anyone else?
I met my third partner! Last and final mistake! He was different...
he was charming, handsome, over loving, extremely extrovert and passionate. Alll the good qualities from an external view to want in a man. But I had not met a narcissist yet, in the deep layers of all the manipulation, charm and love was a toxic, broken man.
He made me feel I could fully open up and then used my past to his advantage.
He exploited me sexually as unfortunately, this was a repetitive cycle from a young age, not knowing enough in regards to putting boundaries in place and my having my innocence taken.
He would randomly touch me or inappropriately intimidate me to make me feel ashamed and embarrassed.
He came out with radical and bizarre conversations such as ‘would you kill someone for me?’ And getting pleasure from my pain and fear.
One night, I was asleep and all of a sudden woke up in a panic to find my top buttons undone, my knickers down and him under the covers. I was frozen, in shock and did not know what to do.
Luckily he stopped and went back to sleep but I was that unaware of boundaries that I had joked and laughed to my friends about him doing it. Realising I was secretly crying out for help when my friends were in shock by this! The relationship quickly ended
He was unhinged but had also opened up to say that he was also sexually exploited when he was just a child by a women, aware that he too needed help.
Something changed in me after this and I gave myself time - time to think, time to heal and time to be ME.
The key is TIME.
Almost two years on from this now I have been diagnosed with PTSD, I went to group therapy sessions on Spotting the Signs of Domestic Violence with Arch. I had one to one therapy support with Savanna and also EMDR therapy. I became a YOGI! And I allowed myself to be free.
It took time to relearn old ways into then making choices for yourself, over apologising, noticing your anxiety and panic in certain situations or even when memories return.
However, the difference is that I no longer allow my past to control me anymore, I have forgiven myself in order to forgive them.
I had even separately met with my third partner to tell him that I new he had tried to have sex with me whilst I was asleep. He was mortified that I knew and was even honest to say that at the time he didn’t even think it was wrong. He is seeking counselling and getting the help that he also needs as I think it’s important to recognise both sides. I told him that I forgive him for what he did - but really I forgave myself.
To no longer be embarrassed or ashamed of my past, I now know that none of it was my fault and not everyone will fully understand or believe as Domestic Violence is such a very complex, silent problem that not enough are speaking about!
So I hope that from me sharing my own story, will also help others to come forward and do the same.
And to show the importance of prevention and the lack of education that is so desperately needed for young people to educate them on boundaries, self love, relationships and what true love should be!
‘I still have my scars but my wounds are now healed, I escaped the dark cloud and now my future is bright💗’ - ERT
Anything is possible x