I have just attended a group for domestic abuse and it was awful. I went along as I’ve wondered for a long time if Tom might be abusive but I also wonder if I have mental health issues that make me paranoid and think that he’s abusive. I was hoping that by going along to the group, I would find out for sure, one way or the other, although I was 99% sure they’d say that it was all in my head.
I felt out of my comfort zone straight away, I realised partway through that it was because I don’t want to be like the women there. All of these women have suffered, I mean really suffered at the hands of their partners. A few of them have almost been killed by their partners and I felt like such a fraud because Tom has never laid a finger on me, he just says things that make me feel shit, he shouts and screams at me and behaves horribly towards me at times but at other times he can be kind and loving.
Everyone in the group had to talk about how their week had been, some talked of their children getting into bed with them to protect their mums because they didn’t want their Dads to come and kill them. Others were so positive and strong and spoke of what a good week they’d had but had been scared about their ex coming out of prison. One woman has decided to move back to her hometown instead of running away, to face up to her ex no matter what. She said, ‘If he kills me, he kills me. At least that way it will be over.’ It came to me, I told them my name, told them I felt like a fraud and then I burst into tears. That was two hours ago and I’m still crying. They asked me some questions about the abuse, I kept telling them I didn’t think it was abuse now that I’ve listened to the other women, I think Tom has been right all along, that I am paranoid, oversensitive and negative and for the first time someone took me seriously. They said that emotional and mental abuse was even harder, in some ways, than physical abuse because there’s no definite proof, but that in their opinion he is abusing me. They talked to me about the cycle of abuse and how it’s normal for an abuser to abuse one minute and then be the doting partner, kind and loving the next, and that was the hook that kept people like me there – the deep hope that the loving behaviour would eventually stay. I barely held it together after that and ended up leaving thirty minutes early because I was such a mess. I couldn’t catch my breath through my sobs and was close to hyperventilating.
I’ve realised just how weak I am though, these women are all so strong, they’re still fighting and still smiling despite everything they’ve been through and I can’t even stay for a whole meeting. I am shaking, I can’t breathe, I can’t stop crying and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I can face going back to another meeting next week and yet my troubles are nothing compared to those other women. Nothing at all.
Right now, this minute, I plan on making lunch, putting washing away and then walking into town. I know damn well I’m trying my best to act normal so I can fool myself into thinking that everything is normal and then it won’t hurt so much. In other terms, I’m undecided whether to go to next week’s meeting or not. In the long run, I really don’t know. I can see that I am not me, I’m actually scared to be me because of his reaction, he’s like a disapproving father. I can see I am hurt, angry and scared and it plays out in every situation, every single day of my life. Do I continue to live this way, which in some ways is easy now: I’m used to it, I tolerate it, or do I go it alone, raise the children alone, destroy their home and uproot us? I think I just need time, and lots of it, to absorb what’s happened today and take each day as it comes but I have no money of my own and I don’t know how to go about making changes.
There isn’t anyone that knows what’s really going on. My mum knows some bits but no-one knows the extent of it. I haven’t even written most of it in here because I don’t want to admit to myself that it’s going on as often as it is. I certainly don’t feel strong enough to share it all with someone, I know I’d fall apart on them.
If only Tom said things outright. He’s very manipulative, in that he sugarcoats all of his insults so that he can say he was joking, or that I’m oversensitive, and it works, it makes me feel unsure about myself more than it does about him. I would consider counselling if I found a counsellor that was trained in domestic abuse and was either free or very cheap but because Tom controls all of the money I can’t go spending £40 per hour that some counsellors charge. The counsellor last year told me I was a negative person and that he was hurting too. Her comments really made me question my part in this if a counsellor was calling me negative.
I feel wrecked. My eyes hurt from crying, they actually ache which is weird. I’m worn out and feel completely drained. I have thought after thought after thought going around and around in my mind and I just want it to stop. I feel vulnerable, embarrassed and ashamed but most of all I feel sick at the person I have become. I’ve been living a lie, I’ve been a snob, I’ve been looking down my nose at people, pretending to be something I’m not and all because he didn’t want me to be the person I was. To change from the person he didn’t want and bullied out of me I’ve become heartless, unkind, boring, sad and lonely. This is a huge shock to the system and I’m in complete turmoil.