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To net tell people about being a victim of domestic violence?

(13 Posts)
ArtemisiaOfLondon Sun 24-Feb-19 11:22:44

I am in the process of ending my marriage to my abusive husband.

I’m torn at what to tell the people closest to me about why the marriage is over. My DH was very good at putting out an image of being the perfect husband and I was also good at covering for him.

I guess I’m just embarrassed about the whole situation and I don’t want people to start treating me as a ‘victim’ (even though I know I am) but I also don’t want to start this new chapter of my life being a liar!

If anyone else has been through this what did you tell the people around you and how did they react?, did it change the dynamic in the relationship that you had with them?

Thank you!

BrizzleMint Sun 24-Feb-19 13:19:05

You've grown apart is a fairly common answer.

Sparklesocks Sun 24-Feb-19 13:24:56

You don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to. ‘We are different people now’ or ‘we fell out of love’ are fine, if people press for more details (which is unlikely) you can just say you don’t want to talk about it right now.
Have you got close people around you that you can confide in though? It’s ok to seek support and have someone to talk to. You have nothing to be ashamed of and your friends will want you to be OK.
And well done for getting out flowers

Aarghkids Sun 24-Feb-19 13:25:36

I kept it to myself at first (telling only my parents and BF) and exh slated me to everyone, alienated my family from me and made himself out to be the wronged party.
I eventually snapped and sent photos and police reports to my 'family' and then blocked everyone from my life.

anitagreen Sun 24-Feb-19 13:28:39

I've just left mine op for the same and people haven't treated me any different sadly most people I have told don't really care as much as I thought they would, but if you want to have a reason ready if people do ask I think what a previous poster has said that you wasn't working out etc, but it's up to you, please get all the support you can because the aftermath is really difficult at first I'm only a week in today

mollycoddle77 Sun 24-Feb-19 13:28:46

But you are not a victim anymore are you? You are leaving him, you have taken control. I wish more people would talk about this, because it might give more courage to others who are afraid to leave their abusive partners. There should also be more awareness of this in general, how common this is, what are the red flags etc. And finally, why should he get away with his reputation intact?

Easy to say for me I know, you need to do what you can and not anymore. But the above would me my wish for you.

anitagreen Sun 24-Feb-19 13:29:21

@Aarghkids this is what I feel like doing honestly. Hope your in a better place now x

PtahNeith Sun 24-Feb-19 14:18:30

Having been victimised by somebody else is not something to be embarrassed and ashamed sbout. He should be ashamed, but not you.

My personal view is that viewing the word "victim" as some highly derogatory slur will get in the way of you healing. Much better to be able to acknowledge that yes, you are a victim, but that doesn't say anything about you - it's a statement of objective fact about the abuse that took place.

The only reason our culture treats the word "victim" as toxic is because it deflects the blame away from perpetrators. If we focus on piling hate onto anybody who acknowledges they have been victimised - instead of turning our anger towards the perpetrator - then the perpetrator is protected from the consequences of their actions and the rest of society doesn't have to deal with the structural reasons abuse is so common and hidden away. People also feel safer when they believe the victim brought violence on herself instead of having to face the reality that it could happen to them and they might not see it coming either.

You're not being weak, or shameful, or lazy, or attention seeking, or any of the toxic labels attached to people who have been victimised and are open sbout it. Turning the word "victim" into a shameful slur is just another form of victim blaming. Please don't do that to yourself.

From my own experience, I would say I felt like I was continuing to keep his secrets and protect him by making up cover stories even after leaving. To those who needed to know, I presented it as a matter of fact statement - I had no choice but to leave because of domestic violence. I was just sharing information.

Some people don't need to know. I didn't go into work and announce it to everyone, I didn't go round telling any new person I met, but I did tell people who knew me and people who needed to know (like HR at work, my doctor's surgery, etc). Now, I share it if it's relevant, and I'm not ashamed to have been abused so if I talk about it I don't talk about it like it's something people should react to. But that's the same approach I take to sharing information about my health - it's a piece of information to share with some people, but not every single person.

If you had been mugged, would you keep it a secret or would you tell those closely involved in your life and who needed to know (but probably still not bother sharing it with wider acquaintances)?

There's a difference between making sure people have the relevant information to support and understand you (so you don't have to deal with idiotic comments about "are you sure? We all have rough patches, give him another chance"), as well as protecting themselves if he becomes manipulative with them - compared to making it the core fact about you that you share with everyone, and spending all your time pouring out all the distressing details to every single person you come into contact with.

The former is healthy and protective, the latter pretty unhealthy. And actually, most of the people in the outer circle of your life who you don't really need to tell probably won't ask anyway.

You are more than a victim of domestic violence, but objectively you are a victim and there's nothing wrong with acknowledging that.

The only change in my relationships was that suddenly people understood what was going on. Some people were upset they had been fooled by him and hadn't realised what he was doing. Some people didn't understand why I was not immediately "over it" the second I left. In a few cases it showed me which people weren't good for me to be around, and on a wider front which people really did have my back. The hardest reactions for me were those people who got upset that they hadn't known and therefore hadn't been able to do anything to help me.

For the most part, it just meant those close to me had a better understanding of what I was going through and why some things are still difficult for me. It also meant when he started contacting them to try and get to me, they knew what was happening and didn't get sucked in or put me at risk.

I would have continued to feel isolated and ashamed if I'd tried to keep lying to everyone after I left. I think telling people takes away his power and helps you start to feel connected to other people again, which is something abuse takes away.

Some people won't get it, because domestic violence is still very poorly understand by many people, but that's on them not you. Regardless, his abuse is not your burden to carry and not your shameful secret to hide. It's not a reflection of your character, it's a reflection of his.

Being able to accept what happened without feeling engulfed by shame is one small step towards your healing.

PtahNeith Sun 24-Feb-19 14:25:07

Oh, and I'd echo the point about support. I hugely underestimated what a shock to the system it would be even though I'd been preparing to leave for a while and wanted nothing more than to be free of him. I'd been clamouring for freedom and then when I had it I didn't know how to exist in the world without him controlling me and all his bullshit rules. helped me. Not just the information (which gave me a sense of reality to hold onto when I was questioning myself afterwards), but also the connections I made there with other women and their support.

Talking and staying connected helps - even if most of your support is online, it's still support. Take everything that's available.

The first three or four months I felt like I'd made a terrible mistake and couldn't cope... And then it lifted and I realised I was coping. You just have to ride out the early storms.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 Sun 24-Feb-19 15:03:59

If anyone was actually so nosy as to say to me "why did you and your ex get divorced" I just said "oh, he wasn't very nice to me" and then changed the subject. I was a victim of domestic abuse too.

RoseMartha Sun 24-Feb-19 15:40:13

Tell people what you feel comfortable to. I didnt tell friends for a couple of months then gradually did over the next nine months. You go into detail with those you feel you want to, other people you just state you have split up. Its your personal choice.

Nothinglefttochoose Sun 24-Feb-19 16:56:58

You are not a victim. You are strong and courageous. I think you should tell people your husband hit you and promised to change (don’t they all) but didn’t, so you left. You’ve put yourself first. You are amazing xx

Mummadeeze Sun 24-Feb-19 17:06:55

I haven’t been brave enough to leave yet, I will, but I am building up to it. But I have told some people I am in a toxic relationship which is quite a good description without getting too deep into it. I made the mistake of telling a friend at work some details about some of the abuse and she turned out not to be very trustworthy. Firstly she told someone else what I had told her and also she was quite judgemental that I hadn’t left him. I understand why but it is hard for people in good relationships who have high self esteem to understand or relate to the situation. I regretted confiding in her so I tend to be more generalised or vague about it now. Massive congratulations for leaving however. Enjoy your freedom. X

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