||My ex seemed really nice, really kind and no, I didn't have the foggiest that he was an abuser because abusers just look like normal men. There was a bit of teen drama but it was a pretty normal relationship. After we'd dated a few months my family relationship broke down and I had to move in with him and he then had absolute power over me because I had no family, no home and no money. He'd always been a bit controlling and cruel sometimes telling me I was too flirty and criticising my clothes but he'd always claim to mean well or just blame me. Looking back it was typical bullying behaviour - saying things in a nasty tone and playing innocent when confronted, goading me into snapping at him and then using me snapping to justify his subsequent nastiness, but I was young. I didn't know and also it was what my middle class school and home had been like so it was normality to me. When I moved in it became very noticeable, it wasn't just being a bit bossy and tactless anymore it was suddenly just nasty.
The NHS says that the leading risk factors for domestic violence are being 16-24, being female and being pregnant and unsurprisingly I was all these three things when my ex started beating on me. When I showed him the pregnancy test he smashed it and then my head against a wall. He was just this ball of rage. He called me names, denied being the father and was just vile to me. I was too ill to get out of bed and he'd literally scream at me for being lazy and kick and drag me out of bed. He got obsessed with me being out of work (I'd lost my job because I was so ill) and with hindsight and more life experience I can see he unconsciously used that "wrongdoing" as an excuse for his awful behaviour but I was too ill to even think of leaving.
The violence had I guess started with minor things like shoving me, pushing passed me and so on: his first real act of violence was to rape me a few days after the abortion. It was literally years before I accepted that he raped me because I believed rape myths, that rape is a misunderstanding and that rapists aren't boyfriends but leering men in bushes but of course I was still traumatised by it even if I couldn't name it. In the next two weeks he beat on me more and did horrendous things I can't say out loud even now. In the space of a few weeks my life had fallen apart. It was that quick, the violence just suddenly came and within two weeks I was a shell.
After a couple of months - MONTHS - of knowing about the violence and hearing me scream for help a few people finally started to intervene. Staying on people's couches and being dependent on their goodwill, losing my possessions and being unloved was too much to cope with in my shattered state, at least with him I had material goods and occasional acts of kindness (he wasn't 100% bad after all, nobody is) and he was genuinely sorry and tried to change. People left me to it after that saying it was my fault for staying. I was so low and ashamed, not only was my partner saying these awful things to me EVERYONE was. They said I was an idiot. They said I was causing it by staying. Nobody cared that I was being so badly hurt. I believed what I was told and just died inside.
When he used to get into a rage there was no stopping him, he'd find SOMETHING to be angry about and everything that went wrong in his life was all my fault (I know now blame shifting is a classic abuser characteristic). He'd twist my fingers, bang my head against walls, press down on my eyes - in the time we were together he repeatedly gave me concussion, broke my fingers, beat me with household objects and did childish things like pull my hair. He rarely punched me, he mainly squeezed me on the arms or threw me against things. To him this didn't count as violence because it wasn't punching and I was a drama queen for complaining: he utterly, truly believed this, he absolutely thought this was a fact. He'd never, ever have treated a dog like that so I thought that I must cause it just like he and everyone else said I did.
The violence made me feel deeply ashamed but the sexual abuse made me feel simply worthless, for example while I was sleeping he'd ejaculate over my back and leave it there like I was just a used rag. His big obsession was anal sex - he insulted and degraded me for refusing because it meant I wasn't a "real woman" and then one day he got me blind drunk and sodomised me as I struggled and tore internally. The sad thing is that I didn't even cry over it, I was dead inside.
By this point I was known to the Police as a bad lot because I was violent, always smashing things and fighting. I was always drunk as well, so drunk I couldn't walk. Because I was unstable nobody wanted to help me. Vicious circle isn't it - because you're being abused you're unstable and because you're unstable people won't help. I've got a photo of me at this time I can't bear to look at because Iím dead behind the eyes, PTSD shows in the face and I look like a fucking corpse. I was 17 and dead.
Luckily after over a year of miserable abuse he chucked me for someone else and I rebuilt my shattered life alone. He was so deluded that he genuinely believed everything that went wrong in our relationship and his life was my fault, he saw himself as a victim. Last time I spoke to him he was still playing martyr and whining about how badly I treated him. He also sees himself as vehemently against domestic violence: it's a joke with no punch line isn't it?
I could fill a book with the awful things he did to me, this story is just a quick summary. Through years of therapy and support I've learned to live with the memories and heal but one thing I can't cope with is other people victim blaming, saying that the victim is to blame for staying or provoking the abuser. A few years ago I confided in a friend and spent literally hours explaining why I didn't leave but a couple of months later she started ranting on about how all victims were "nobheads" and she had "no sympathy" for us because the abuse was all our fault! She flat out refused to apologise even when she moved to London - what I don't get is that she found being diagnosed with herpes so upsetting she had to go to counselling but me and ľ of women are "idiots" for finding rape and battery traumatising, she just sees us as innately less than her. Now I'm open with my survivorhood and anyone who has a problem with it can frankly fuck off - any bigot who knowingly agrees with abuser's victim blaming and condemns people to suffering is barely better than the abuser themselves. I'm proud to be a survivor.
It's nearly ten years on now and every day I thank the stars that I'm alive and I always, always remember people still trapped. They're in my heart every day and every single time I see about the two English women a week murdered by her partner I know that I'm just lucky it's not me. It's been so hard seeing myself as lucky after the awful things I've suffered but I can now. I'm not a broken person anymore. I've got the perfect partner and a nice, safe, warm home which is more than I ever dared dream of and because of what I've been through I appreciate it. I do a lot of activism and fundraising now because I always remember where I've come from and the people still there.
If you're reading this and you're going through it now then please please remember that no matter what you have or haven't done you have a right to be safe and nobody has the right to cause you pain. If you join www.pandys.org/forums you'll find survivors who will help and support you. You're not alone and you can survive this. I know it seems hopeless, strange and out of your control but it's not. You know you're reaching out reading this site, please reach out more. I've survived it and you can too.