Prince Charming

A small excerpt to frame this post and explain;

“Emotional abuse can make shadows of the most intelligent women,” she says. “Women in very senior positions at work will feel like frauds because they’ll come home and be treated so poorly.”

According to Don Hennessy of the Cork Marriage Counselling Centre and author of the book How He Gets into Her Head, the one thing all victims have in common is kindness. “They have to be the type of person willing to put another person’s needs before their own.”

The first thing Hennessy asks someone seeking support at the counselling centre is: are you being blamed for things in your relationship? “And the usual response is, ‘Yes, I’m blamed for everything.’ ”

He says abusers groom their partners to meet their needs from the start of a relationship. They usually have a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy and the ability to manipulate.

Something else abusers tend to be, according to Ryan, is charming. “Friends and family will say, ‘Wow, what an amazing partner.’ When everyone’s telling you he’s fantastic, you think he must be.”

So, you see, he isn’t the man he has presented himself as to everyone who knows him. It’s hard to describe how his traits present themselves, because it’s very covert. It was incredibly hard for me to even see what he was doing. It took me to leave to realise it. The distance had a huge part in highlighting things that were just normal for me, or too close to even focus on. Also, I’ve been with this man for 14 years. I’m 42 and I’ve known him since I was 16. We even dated for a little while back then, and he told me back then he loved me. Love and loyalty have ways of making you blind. Plus with him it was always me…my fault….so how could it have been him?

I look back now and I’m not even sure it was love on my part. I lost my father at a young age and my mother emotionally abandoned me pretty much right after that. It’s not surprising to me that I eventually fell for him, after he’s been the only person to really ever tell me they love me consistently.  After all, love is what children crave most and there really wasn’t anyone else to give me that.

It started with poetry, romance and a feeling of relief that I had finally found someone who “got me” and would understand what I’m about. I was excited to have found someone I thought I could share that journey with. I mean I knew he was different to me, in many ways, but I couldn’t see any of them being an issue in the beginning. 

The start of our relationship was intense and blinding and my world rotated around him. I , in fact, left my entire life behind on another continent to start a new life with him, So, I started with severe isolation within the relationship, this only made me hang on tighter to the one person I trusted and knew – HIM.

His friends became our friends and we lived our lives his way – this meant: nice restaurants, exciting social events, deluxe short breaks. It was an exciting life…never dull…very superficial…very materialistic, lacking in depth ..now that I reflect. Given I’m a pretty spiritual person and value authenticity over most things, it’s a hard fact to reconcile. How did I manage to live that way for so long? Being distracted by the constant chase for the newest most exciting thing to happen and eat and see certainly helped.

I mean it did eventually start to feel very empty….and this is where having a child came in. What better way to become a fulfilled person than to give life to something else….a part of you…that you would put first and would love no matter what it did or said. I never ever felt very maternal, but the moment I found out I was pregnant I felt a fierce protectiveness. That feeling hasn’t waned to this day. My connection with my child is intense. I take him in with every sense. Physical separation is painful, as I’m a super affectionate person. When we are together we are literally glued to each other. He wants and needs this physical connection with me, after all he was and still is a physical part of me.

Anyway, I digress. Where was I? Charming. Yes he is, he is easy to talk to. Women seem to gravitate towards him because he is well practiced at looking like he listens well. Maybe he actually did in the beginning, and just decided to stop after a while. It’s very clear to me now that my ex has had zero clue who I am as a person for many years now, and I certainly didn’t refrain from expressing myself in any way. As the years have gone on I’ve become much better at expressing how I feel and who I am. I credit good therapists and an introspective nature.

The bottom line is, well, he’s charming…..on first glance. Look a little closer….focus properly and it should become quite clear that there is no depth behind it…it’s self serving. It feeds his ego. Ultimately that’s why he hasn’t ever been single for very long….he needs another to feed on, to make himself feel bigger and better and superior.

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Gypsy needs a home

I’m back to work and stressing about where I’m currently staying. I’ve probably been there 6 weeks now, and I can feel I’m starting to outstay my welcome. It’s a horrible feeling mind you, but I understand that’s going to happen at some stage. Being homeless is truly not a nice thing, however I am truly surprised sometimes by how much it bothers me.

I’ve always felt rather gypsy-like. This may have to do with the fact that someone once told me my last name had Gypsy origins, or it may be to do with my strong free spirit. Either way, I like to attribute my coping with one year of homelessness to this fact. Then, the person I’m staying with may ask me to not be in the house on a certain date or for a certain period of time, and it hits me….it hurts….so obviously having a “ base” is kind of important to me, even if I’m loathe to admit it.

I’ve had to accept that I don’t really have any privacy anymore. I’ve had to adapt to every new place to ensure no one got angry with anything I did. Trust me, this isn’t easy. Everyone has different pet peeves and well I’m not twenty something anymore and I have my own way of doing things. I’ve had to put that behind me for long periods of time. Refuges are very strict. Curfews and bans on certain things are common, and you are essentially monitored 24/7. Staying with a friend is different, there is more freedom there, but there is also a line there that cannot be crossed in terms of closeness when one is living in the same place. It’s a fine line.

In reality, I bring with me baggage, an ex who wanted to subpoena the man who helped me with a place to stay this time. Just for the sake of it. I did my best to protect this friend who has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong but purely by associating with me and having a good heart is at risk of being punished.

Nevermind that my ex took a new girlfriend a mere month or so after I left. 

Nevermind that she was the mother of a child in my childs class.

He has a new victim and he still won’t leave me be. Every piece of communication, whether through his lawyer, or directly, speaks of his total and utter lack of respect for the 14 plus years we were an item. The injustice is real.

Motherhood stolen & eggs

So I’m at work today, just doing my thing, and someone has brought in their child (as it’s school holidays) He’s playing quietly on his ipad whilst his mother is in a meeting. The boy must be around 9, the moment I see him I smile and he smiles back. Then I tear up. Deep breaths in and out. Crying at work is not generally seen as professional.

It’s Easter this week. I’ve requested to see my boy for the long weekend, I mean for longer than normal. This was denied. Never-mind that I spent a whole 4 hours with my child for Christmas, or that for the past year my ex has had him nearly every holiday. The courts haven’t even seen any of the multitude of affidavits I’ve written and had witnessed in an effort to have someone else decide what is fair besides my ex. Who clearly has only his own best interest at heart .If he retains custody of my child he can lower what I may be eligible for financially you see.

My boy misses me. I’ve been his primary carer his entire life – up until I left his father. There were few to no issues with me seeing my son until I got lawyers involved. Once I engaged lawyers, I was suddenly an unfit mother, mentally unstable, an alcoholic ,etc etc….a danger to the child I bore, fed, cuddled, encouraged, comforted, disciplined, taught, laughed with, enjoyed, had pillow fights with, sang with, medicated, washed, cheered for, picked up and dusted off, kissed better, worried about, cried for and just generally adored.

Suddenly he decided I needed supervision. Suddenly everything that happened when he was with me was under the microscope and magnified. Suddenly I was accused of being neglectful because my child fell into a pool whilst he was helping his godmother clean around it. He can swim, and I was watching him when he fell. As was his godmother .He got a mosquito bite (which he has had allergies to) whilst in my care, and suddenly it was the end of the world. It wasn’t enough that I gave him an antihistamine right away and as soon as I dropped him home put some antibiotic cream on it.

Somehow any bites he got at home (with his father) were of no consequence, but when with me it was a reason for me to be scolded and reminded of how to parent. Many letters went back and forth between our lawyers about this one thing. Ridiculous. My ex wouldn’t even know to give him an antihistamine if it weren’t for me. Walking on eggshells whilst I was with him has just morphed into walking on eggshells despite having left him. Everything I do, say, drink, eat, wherever I go – is under scrutiny. 

It wasn’t enough that he had zero respect for my privacy whilst in the relationship. He accessed my private emails and tracked me via his phone and the Find my friends app. He’d ask me why I was somewhere when I was out and what I was doing – because he was tracking my location. He installed smart locks on the front door and cameras. I had my own unique pin code, where every entry and exit was logged. He’d review camera footage which was all recorded. He’d once been upset that I had messaged one of “his” male friends. They also happened to be an old friend of mine (we all went to school together), but he didn’t like it because he was male. I made a point of being very careful he never got jealous. He didn’t need to be, I was a loving caring partner who told him regularly how I felt about him. I just sensed that it was something better avoided.

I’ve been surprised this past year at the things, the small things, I denied myself because he thought they were wrong. Like breakfast for dinner. Seems silly right. But if I ate by myself or without him, I got labelled as selfish and he got upset with me and I got punished. He didn’t think breakfast for dinner was logical hence shouldn’t be done. So imagine my delight the first time I had a nice warming, comforting egg dish for dinner once Id left. It was pure bliss I tell you.

Sometimes it is the little things.

Explanations

So, it’s a big call to say you’ve been emotionally abused. 

I’ve been called a liar by my ex, who says I’m only saying that to make my case in court stronger.

It doesn’t feel like it makes anything stronger. It was a bit of a shock really when I realised that what I’d experienced all these years actually had a name. That it wasn’t me…and that I didn’t deserve it. It was actually a revelation, I felt relief and anger and hurt all at once. It was quite overwhelming. It still is.

Blaming you. A common theme I’ve found. now that I’ve delved into the world of Domestic violence and all its character traits. It seems that the person ‘doing ‘ the abuse needs you to feel like it’s you. They need this because it makes you weak and them strong, and it makes you easier to manipulate. My ex never hit me, he did however criticise me pretty constantly for our entire relationship. Small things, never really nasty, but constant pointless jabs, that took on the tone of “ you’re useless” and “ you are incapable” – once you’re there it’s not far to “ you’re worthless”. However all the other things that went along with it helped.

I am someone who was fed this dialogue as a child and believed it then. So it wasn’t difficult for him to lower my self-esteem greatly that way. I was always happy to compromise, sometimes to the extent that I would just give him the choice so he’d be happy. I didn’t want my choices to annoy him or anger him, I avoided it at all costs.  Sometimes giving him the choice wasn’t the right thing either and he showed frustration that I didn’t want to choose. Either way I was in trouble.

He was always very concerned about appearances (still is mind you), which is something we’ve always been at odds on. I am actually someone who hardly sees the outer shell at all – I look for the real content…you know…the good stuff…the heart and soul. He’s the kind of man who buys a new shirt for every occasion – literally, he does. Whilst I’ve walked to the shops in my pyjamas.

If for some reason I didn’t feel up to accompanying him to some outing, a friend’s party for example, he would not be happy about it. He would say things like “what lie am I going to have to tell OUR friends about why you’re not coming “. I would reply that our friends knew me well enough that he didn’t have to lie at all, he could just tell them I wasn’t up to it. This would make him furious, he’d usually storm out with a parting comment meant to inspire guilt. I’d then get the cold shoulder for a few days for making him go alone. 

Emotional withdrawal was his punishment of choice, I always hated sleeping on a fight or having anything go unresolved for long. I bought relationship books to try to teach us how to argue more fairly and to resolve things, all to no avail, as my ex NEVER EVER took any responsibility for anything. Nothing was ever his fault. EVER. Even when I used neutral language like “ this is how this makes me feel “ he would take it as an accusation that he was doing something wrong. He’d blow up and say things like “I can’t do anything right” making himself the victim, which meant the conversation went nowhere. I’d get frustrated at our inability to get anywhere in these discussions and he’d finally crack and come towards me in a physically intimidating manner bellowing “ you’re pushing me “. I’ve had him scream at me like that inches from my face, it’s very scary. He’s done it to my son too, he was petrified.

Nothing I brought up was ever valid, my feelings were considered unimportant. I was labelled too sensitive and delusional. When we’d fight, he would outright deny he said something when he’d literally just said it. It’ impossible to fight that tactic, trust me. I’ve since learnt this is a form of gaslighting – a tactic used to make you think you’re not all there. It wasn’t easy for me to go there mind you because I have a fabulous memory, still he insisted I was the one mishearing and I was the irrational one. Honestly, get told that enough and you’ll start believing it.

Ok, so I’m not saying he’s this horrid person and I’m perfect. Honestly, I’m not perfect in any way, but I have always owned my part in anything. The hard thing about this is that more often than not the “abuser” doesn’t even realise they are doing it. How can that be you ask – I have no clue either…..something to do with frontal lobe deficiencies is what I’d guess. The frontal lobe of the brain is where empathy and insight sit. These two traits are completely lacking in my ex. So technically, he probably doesn’t realise he’s being unreasonable, or horrible. This certainly makes the issue harder to process and harder to deal with, because even leaving him hasn’t stopped his abuse. He is still trying to control me, and is quite successful at it right now seeing as he’s using our son to do it.

Honestly, sometimes (ok I lie, more often than not ) I just want to scream out loud at the top of my lungs at what he’s doing to me and to our son. Yet to the outside world, he’s playing the devoted father and caring community man.

Sunday reflections

Sunday April 14th2019

So, today I heard from my child he would be having a playdate with the daughter of one of my closest female friends. This means she has been in touch with my ex. The ex that’s currently denying me any assistance, the one who denies me adequate contact with my child, the ex who is trying to gain full custody of my child that I’ve raised since birth. This hurts. A LOT.

This brings me to think about what it is sufferers of domestic violence( because yes emotional abuse falls in this category) have to deal with when they finally manage to leave;

Normal consequences of divorce / separation

Homelessness

Financial poverty / government dependence 

Social isolation                                                                                                                 

Emotional issues arising out of the abuse

Parenting a child alone / part time

Legal battles / safety issues

People don’t seem to think about this at all, or if at all only fleetingly. Those who need support more than most are left alone to deal with the issues.

I have been in two refuges in my nearly one year of homelessness. One for 6 weeks, which was a shared house where I was unable to have my child with me (even if my ex would have let me see him). It was a lovely house but shared with two other “ damaged” women. After that I was able to transfer to a refuge for women and children, in the hope I could see my son more. My ex (being the elitist he is ) didn’t want my child mixing with “ refuge” children, so I wasn’t “ allowed” overnights with him. For approx.. 3 months all I saw of him was a few hours on a Saturday. After my time in the second refuge ( 3 months max ) I was evicted. Oh and before you all wonder how this works – yes you need to pay rent at a refuge.

Right now, Im still homeless, I have slightly more access to my child ( due to leverage we used as hard as we could because my ex wanted to take him out of the country on holiday). I have him Friday nights one week, I have to pick him up (even though I currently reside a long way away from his school and house) on a Friday and then take him to soccer on a Saturday morning ( close to his home), then drop him at my mothers house ( yes she is trying to be “ fair “), which is basically a stab in the back . The next week I pick him up Friday after school and I take him to soccer then back where I am . Only to have to drop him back home on Sunday morning at 9 am. This is a lot more than I’ve had since I left but its not enough for me or my child. I know this because I’ve asked him.

This all means I spend about 4-5 hours travelling per weekend – when I’m the one who has a low paid job and nothing but debt and stress following me. The mandate I have is to let it seem like none of this affects me and to ensure my child is happy with my meager offerings, whilst his father lavishes him with expensive outings and things. We still have joint parenting rights ( although he tried to take that away from me ). The courts in all honesty have helped my ex, the whole lengthy process has done nothing to support the primary carer of my child ( for the first 6 years of his life ) and has not helped stop my exes penchant for control and dictatorial tactics. He currently uses the same emotional control tactics on my son that he used on me for many years.

It must be added, I’ve lived out of a suitcase for the past year, most of my belongings and clothes are in the house I left, which he now presides over like a lord.

I have no health insurance, I struggle to pay for things like tolls, phone bills, clothes etc…whilst my ex lives in our 1.8 million dollar house, earning a six figure income and uses his social media to broadcast what a wonderful father he is – despite my child knowing I am homeless.

Mind you – this is man I have known since I was 16, and with whom I lived for more than 13 years. A man I supported and put first our entire relationship.

How does this happen? How can anyone let it happen? I am a good mother, a loving friend, a loyal family member, an intelligent and caring being. A person with wit and insight, empathy and aptitude. Yet here I am, at the bottom of society with no real avenues for assistance but to put myself into debt to lawyers who thankfully see me and my case and know that a) they will get money out of me eventually because I have a good case  and b) I don’t deserve this.

Emotional abuse is silent, its invisible and its insidious.  Open your eyes people, sharpen your listening skills, and please offer help to those who you know need it. You never know when you will need it yourself, and when you do need it, its too late.

INTRO

23.03.2019

Not visibly bruised but dying inside

It’s a Monday, it’s raining…and yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve had so far.  It’s nearly a year since I left. I’m still homeless ( Albeit lucky to have a lovely friend who has taken me under his roof whilst I try to save for bond for an apartment) , I see my boy way too infrequently, my family is oblivious to my plight despite knowing about it. “He’s never been anything but nice to me “they say, yes but what about me…your flesh and blood….who has and still is suffering…what about me?

 I have friends, poor friends who I’ve earbashed for part of this time. Many I’ve lost, whether due to his clever public campaigning or by me just not being in that physical area anymore. Oh and I can’t do the social thing when I have no money for food. Also, when you’ve been emotionally and financially abused for many years it makes that “ reaching out “ to others so much harder, even though I need it desperately.

There is also the social circle thing….he’s stayed in the house…so nothing has changed for him…except he needs to find another victim, I am trying to ensure this doesn’t become my son.

Here are the facts;

Together 14 years

Not married

One child – aged 7

Emotional & financial abuse & control

Tactics he’s still using nearly a year after I physically left him

Value of the house he lives in with my son – 1.8 mil AUD

How many places I’ve been/stayed in since I left – Two houses (room  within ) Two Womens refuges, one adjoined flat.

How many jobs I’ve had for how long in that year – 2 jobs for the last two months – apart from that basic Centrelink assistance

How many days I saw my son in 8 months – 44 days

Dedicated primary carer whilst working full time for the majority of my child’s life.

What my ex says about me – I’m a threat to my own child and I’ve not contributed to our “ life” to warrant me getting any kind of financial support.

Do I have good lawyers – yes

Does the legal system help those that have experienced this kind of abuse – no

Do I feel abandoned – absolutely

Do I want to give up – nearly every day

Do I have a choice – no

Why – my gorgeous 7 year old boy

So, this is why I am writing this. To have some kind of outlet ( as I can’t afford therapy yet). I will get access to some paid counselling from Victims services but as always these government processes take forever.

I have a need to vent about how unfair this is, this whole thing. Despite not believing in the justice system I feel deeply let down. My ex is now seen as primary carer because he’s been living with him for so long.  Never mind that the reason behind that is because he has withheld my son from me and because the custody application process is lengthy and there are too many delays.