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Survivors of abuse, DV, EA and everything else!

(18 Posts)
TwinkleReturns Sun 28-Oct-12 00:06:36

I think its about time that those of us who have survived posted updates on our lives now to show those just coming to terms with their situations that there is hope. I know I looked around for something similar a year ago and struggled to find anything that really reassured me that it would be ok long term. So many of us on the relationships board post snippets of our stories and talk about the abuse but we dont talk about what happened 6 months - a year down the line.

So I'll start. This time last year I started my first thread. I knew something wasnt right but I was so unsure of myself that I didnt have a clue just how bad the abuse was. Over the next month posters helped me to understand that what my ex was doing was abuse and after an incident I was forced to leave to protect my DD. I went into refuge but a month later I went back. In June I left again, this time I also went back. In August I decided enough was enough and this time I knew I wouldnt go back.

So now a few months down the line where am I? Im living in a 2 bed flat with my DD and on Mon I'll be 20wks pregnant. I am ten times the woman I have ever been. I have managed to put several hundred pounds in my savings account. I clothe, feed and love my daughter in a safe and calm environment. She has absolutely flourished in a stable home without any negative influence. Her personality has just burst forth - I really didnt realise how much it was affecting her. I worried that she wouldnt be ok, that she'd be distressed but we coped and we've become so much closer with having gone through it all together.

Ive had some bad days, Ive had some days where ive really struggled but they passed. As Ive got stronger Ive had flashbacks of abuse Id buried, things I didnt process at the time and with every flashback Ive become stronger. Its like a jigsaw where at first half the pieces were missing. I knew the bits had to be there but it was instinct and now as the pieces are revealed I become more and more certain that my insincts were right and that I did the right thing.

I have plans for our future. Im saving to move to a little rented cottage where we will have a garden and more space. Im saving up to learn to drive. In a few years Im going to do my degree. I have discovered that I am a strong and capable mum and woman. That I am faced with challenges and I can deal with them. Im determined to show my DC that they can achieve anything that they put their minds to.

Realising that you are in an abusive relationship is one of the hardest tests we can be faced with. You doubt yourself, you doubt your capabilities and you doubt whether you can be enough for your children.

You can do it.
I and so many others (who hopefully we be along to post soon) have done it.
I once read a book which had this quote in it: "When you feel there is no hope look for the one small ray of sunlight shining through the darkness and remember; there is always hope, the impossible is possible, if you believe in yourself."

TwinkleReturns Sun 28-Oct-12 09:43:07

bumping for morning crowds

CogitoEerilySpooky Sun 28-Oct-12 10:08:38

OK... very long-term survivor (17 years ago now) of an EA relationship with someone who brought all kinds of stress to the table... alcohol, financial problems, attempts to distance from friends, 'personal issues'.... before finally deciding (ironically) that he'd had enough. Still single all this time later, probably as a hangover of not wanting to sacrifice my independence again. But mother of one (no connection with exH), comfortable lifestyle and far happier than many.

My biggest regret is that, as a young DW with no DCs, despite realising it was all going wrong, I didn't have the courage to take charge and get out earlier before I was dumped. I realise looking back that I was naive to believe that love conquered all & that people could change for the better if they had the opportunity. I also thought it was the right thing to do to 'stick around', 'try harder', 'keep the peace' and (shamefully) 'put up with it' just because of a marriage vow. Massive mistake that I would urge no-one to replicate.

Offred Sun 28-Oct-12 10:14:11

Thanks for this thread. I'm nearly 7 years on. Married very happily with new twins as well as the two I had. I just posted the following on the 60k thread in AIBU but it is explanatory;

"I had a pretty crappy childhood; physical, financial and emotionally abusive and left to live with my boyfriend at 16. We lived at his parent's 3 bed house with his younger brother who he shared a room with, his sister and one of his older brothers whose gf also lived there and his two parents. We had no bed so we slept on a single mattress on the floor and I qualified for bridging allowance of £11 per week which I had to buy all my food etc out of and I had taken up smoking because I was depressed (bad choice) we used to pick cig stubs out of pub ashtrays/off the floor and re-roll them.

After a while things improved with my parents a bit and I went home, I got a job working at the funfair (was 17 but told them 18 for higher wage) on low pay, long hours, lots of dodgy people, I was drinking a lot to cope with living with my parents (bad choice), after a work night out my line manager raped me. Obviously I lost my job but only after being bullied by everyone at work about being a "prick tease". Losing my job made my parents really angry.

I got another job in a pub shortly after my 18th birthday and met xp. After a while he moved back down to his family on the otherside of the country and I went with him, he was abusive; sexually (in case you don't understand what that means it involved showing me horrible porn he expected me to act out if I loved him, taking condoms off until it was pointless asking him to wear one, sleeping around, filming me, groping constantly, having sex with me while I was asleep, constantly expecting sex, having sex with all my female friends) financially, emotionally, psychologically and also physically controlling (not letting me go places/speak to men) I attempted suicide, various things happened; him sleeping with a 14 year old girl he worked with, him disappearing off for days on end, him stealing the rent money and blaming it on me, our housemates stealing/damaging all my stuff, his mum threatening me and chucking a drink over me because he told her it was me who stole his money and his stuff that got stolen, eventually we had to come back up here (bad choice).

I went back to my parents but couldn't stand it and stayed out as often as I could, was working in pubs with xp, got pregnant and he forced me into an abortion (yes it does happen in this country), one time he took me to a house I didn't know with a load of people I didn't know off their faces on drugs and told me if I didn't take ecstasy he'd leave me there by myself. That was how I started taking drugs which was another way to block out (as well as alcohol) everything. Before long I was actually homeless and sleeping on random couches/staying with friends. Xp went away to work abroad and I stopped taking drugs but was still drinking a lot but working in bars so wasn't costing money an still homeless, I'd go home with blokes to have somewhere to sleep, obviously some of them thought I owed them.

I had a kind of boyfriend who I thought was pretty nice for a while and stayed with him, he was a pretty serious alcoholic and a lot older than me and he also raped me whilst really drunk, thought that was normal though and didn't leave until he threw me down two flights of stairs when in a drunken rage.

That night I had literally nowhere to go and the most amazing and kind man offered me his bed, this turned out to actually be his bed and he slept on the sofa for 3 whole months. I was earning £20 per week from one night's bar work. At this point xp had come back and I got pregnant again but this time I had been sorting myself out with a proper job and no alcohol so we got a flat. Xp was still abusive around Xmas time I had had enough of him disappearing off with other girls all the time and he had well and truly isolated and humiliated me and so I refused to allow him to have sex with me and he raped me. After that he went and stayed with his mum/other gf and when he came back he tried to make me pay out of the child benefit/tax credit for the bills he hadn't paid (I already had all food, clothes and shoes, my PAYG phone and the household Internet and gas); he got the joint benefits claim since he had left his job and my SMP had finished and he was getting the HB too. It turned out he had not paid anything and had instead just put all the money into drinking, smoking, drugs, fruit machines and drinks for girls.

We had a huge argument and he pushed me down and grabbed my son out of my arms and I called the police who made him leave for 24 hours and he never came back.

After he left i found the debts, i also did a pg test and when he overtly raped me i'd got pg. Whatever debts he'd got against the flat (rent and some historical council tax) I got debt to pay off and I started my own benefit claim which was like freedom after being completely financially oppressed before. Fortunately my landlord was great and on my side saying he was glad xp had gone and telling me a load of stuff he'd been saying to him about me (which he hasn't believed).

Lots of things came out of the woodwork about how he had isolated me from everyone by telling them lies about me and how he had stolen stuff from people and blamed it on me. He brought what was deemed in court to be a vexatious proceeding against me in family court, he used the police to bully me, lots of horrible stuff for about 3 years after he left.

I've now been married for almost four years and yes my DH has a high income, if he gets a good bonus it can be £60k, we decided to try for a baby and got twins and we have, because of our age been in need of housing at an unavoidably expensive time. We live hundreds of miles from dh's contracted place of employment because we couldn't afford to live near his work. We live in an ordinary end of terrace house in the crappiest area of town with the highest levels of crime and horrible neighbours who deal drugs and smoke weed around our children when they are in the garden and who have massive dv rows at 4am and are constantly swearing and shouting, we can afford one crappy old car and we can't afford a paid for family holiday although we can use my parents' holiday home and we do have a weekend away for our anniversary without the children. Fortunately we can afford to pay for me to go to uni to study law because on my current level of education as the wife of a high earner childcare currently prices me out of the job market. None of this makes us poor but it sure as hell does not make us rich, which is all I think anyone has ever said."

HotDAMNlifeisgood Sun 28-Oct-12 10:17:50

My username expresses how I feel, and what I have realised, a year into leaving my abusive ex-H.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Sun 28-Oct-12 10:25:16

Next month, it will be 2 years since my final lightbulb moment: the day my ex-H said "I would rather kill you, and myself, rather than let you leave me." There was no going back from that - although lord knows I had tried. I had dedicated the previous 2 years to fixing our marriage and (ha!) trying to fix him and get him the help he so desperately needed (or so I though in co-dependent fog).

The first 9 months after I left ex-H were really rough: I was depressed, on ADs, lots of suicidal ideation and feelings of hopelessness and self-hatred. I was busy opening up ALL the Pandora's boxes inside me: my dysfunctional upbringing (which I had previously thought of as idyllic), my co-dependent and people-pleasing nature (where I had previously thought/been told that I was a strong feminist educated independent woman, or an arsy bitch, depending on who you asked).

Then about a year ago, all that hard work started to fall into place. I was able to set boundaries. I was able to spot unacceptable behaviour, and call it. I was building a social life, with new friends - friends who are kind and who like me, where I had always been deeply convinced that I was unlovable.

I am happier now than I have ever been. And the best thing is, that I know I am still on an upward curve, and that there is still more happiness and self-confidence for me to grow into. I can't wait.

HissyByName Sun 28-Oct-12 12:10:27

good idea for a thread.

But I will not be recounting the horrors of my relationship with my ex. What I would tell you would horrify you, but not me. What you tell me horrifies ME, but not you. Those that know me, and have accompanied my MN awakening will know the salient details as I sanity checked them along the way.

The abuse in my past is irrelevant, it really doesn't matter. The only thing that DOES matter is to know that it WAS abuse and that it was never OUR FAULT.

What I will tell you is how I am, 2 years on. THIS will be useful. I hope that this will encourage those that are still stuck in the pergatory that is live under the control of an abuser. I hope it will show them that you HAVE to get out.

I posted this on the Ex leaving after Christmas thread, but it gives a nutshell view as to where I was and where I am today. 2 years on.

If anyone recalls how I was 2+ years ago, feel free to tell how little, scared and helpless I was. An agoraphobic that could not look anyone in the eye, terrified of men in general to the person I am today. Happier than I have ever been in my life, stronger than I have ever been in my life.

What didn't kill me, DID make me stronger. But I know the effort it's taken to get myself here. I'm no special case, far from it. ANYONE can do what I did.

Here is the post:

"Anyway, I'll be honest with you and many can back this up, to begin with I DID just survive. He left in the February. I spent 6m shuffling through life, getting over the excruciating feeling of stupidity in the first few weeks, then just trying to overcome the agoraphobia my isolation while in his 'care', getting used to speaking to people again, meeting their eyes etc. Yes it was that tragic.

First I read Why Does He Do That - there is a thread on here about it atm, read it and read the book. If you have already read it, READ IT AGAIN. It will free you from the guilt you will try to ladle onto yourself.

Secondly I enrolled for the Freedom Programme. It didn't start till the September, so I had a few months to wait. I attended a support group for DV victims here in my village (I am so lucky to have this) But you may have something, it's essential for you to use whatever support networks you can. The more the merrier. I was so terrified of the outside and people that I had to call WA for support to get me to call the FP to enroll.

Then I started therapy, about November I think.

The way I looked at it, the way these abusers get to us, they brainwash us, bombard us with information designed to cripple us.

I realised that it would take the opposite to brainwash myself back.

All the while MN was a massive part of my recovery. I found posting to help others, helped ME see things I wouldn't have done if I was thinking about myself.

This is a fight. A fight back to you, you have to use every weapon available, you have to realise that everything is valid, that you have a right to rage, to cry, to swear.

At one point I was LIVID that I was running here there and everywhere, paying money I didn't really have to sort out the mess some bastard decided to dump all over me.

I still have my moments, but I know that I will never make the same mistake again, and that is the best thing in the world to know. You have to work hard to get there, you will be scared of this happening again, and it very well could, but not if you put the structures in place to stop it.

You need to build your self esteem, know that you may not be perfect, but you are GOOD ENOUGH. Anyone who disagrees..? => Door is that way.

This is a journey, it's tough at times, but there is no way back and the destination is worth ALL the hardships. It's true happiness, it's literally emotional heaven on earth. I know I am evangelical on this, and I'm as anti-religion as they come, but there is such a state of bliss when you get to where I am/still heading for. I keep thinking that it can't possibly get any better, but it really DOES!

Getting out is easy once you have taken that very first step. You just take another. then another."

Offred Sun 28-Oct-12 12:15:32

Excellent post hissy.

struwelpeter Sun 28-Oct-12 12:51:01

Brilliant idea for a thread. I was mulling over starting one about all the totally twuntish things an ex had done and had been allowed to do before the lightbulb moment. But this is much better.

I posted a lot under another name. Ex found me and used what I'd posted against me but some people here know who I was then.
Everyday I have a little epiphany when I realise I can do little things like be half an hour later than I said, or not cook dinner on time. I can have people round to the house ad hoc or do things with the DCs without fearing that I will suffer the consequences from him afterwards. I'm better off because I'm not supporting a cocklodger.
For me it was death by a thousand little cuts and a few really big blows, which means he is doing a DV perp course now.
Here's a little seasonal reminder of what is different now.
Where we live Hallloween and trick or treating is a big things for kids. I'm not sure I would get into it if it wasn't that the DCs and all their friends love it. So when we moved here I got the sweets, the pumpkin, a few decorations and the costumes. Ex was very, very sniffy about the whole thing. DCs had a lovely half an hour, then he came in. And guess what it was my fault that everyone was having fun and no he wouldn't look after the baby so older one could go out trick or treating. He said he wouldn't open the door when the bell rang. When we returned he had disconnected the bell.
So biscuit to him and his abusive/killjoy/controlling/grumpy ways. (And good luck to the woman who is dealing with all this now).

HissyByName Sun 28-Oct-12 13:15:34

Struwelpeter, your last comment is the most significant of the piece.

Have you ANY idea how much you have grown recently? So proud of you, chick!

SirSugar Sun 28-Oct-12 19:25:27

I'm nearly three years out, not because I left but because H died. My life is unrecognisable. I'm FREEEEEEEEEEEEE !!!!!!!!

L01S Sun 28-Oct-12 19:31:01

Good post HIssy. I am five years post apocalypse now, and the only thing that is really relevant now is that I'll never put myself through that again. It wasn't my fault, but I have looked at the reasons why I tolerated it, what my priorities were, why my self-esteem was so low, and now I know with absolute certaintly I will never tolerate that again.

BitchyHen Sun 28-Oct-12 19:50:44

I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for 15 years. My xh left me after an affair and after spending 6 months changing his mind about whether he was leaving or not. In the months before he left I discovered MN. I didn't post much but I read and read obsessively. I discovered others were going through the same things as me and realised I was being abused and it wasn't my fault.

I gave xh an ultimatum, sort yourself out or leave. He chose to go. Then I realised I had spent years holding my breath, waiting for him to get angry. My children changed too. They became happier, more relaxed.

I have been single for almost two years now. My life is my own, I earn my own money and make the decisions on how to spend it. My home is a refuge, a place where I can be myself instead of not feeling good enough. If xh speaks to me disrespectfully, I put the phone down and dont answer it to him again until I am ready.

I was 17 when I met him and never really had chance to figure out who I was. Now i am doing things for myself, simple things, like painting a room in a colour I chose, or travelling to a place I have never been before. All of these things give me a sense of pride, and are building my confidence.

SirSugar Sun 28-Oct-12 19:54:24

Dp is away at the moment and I'm missing him. A male friend of ours called round to pick something up, this would never of happened when I was married to H. I once called on a family friend and his wife along with my mother and DD - when I told H we had paid them a visit he went ballistic and said that friends wife would think I was having an affair with her H. It was insane.

I didn't use to miss H when he was away and dreaded him coming home. The first thing he'd want to do was shag me - I likened it to a dog marking his territory.

crackcrackcrak Sun 28-Oct-12 20:12:13

Great thread idea grin

I am 7 months post split.
On the positive side I'm 9 months pg and living in my lovely rental with my very lovely dd1. My house is calm and ordered and happy and fun. Without exp we generally have a fab time. Dd flourishes. She enjoys life so much and is blooming into such a confident outgoing bright child. I am enjoying being a mother in a way I wasn't able to before.
Work supported me through the split, were understanding and sent me to counselling. It's a sensitive profession anyway but I was we'll looked after and I appreciate my colleagues very much. It also helped a great deal that I work with men who are by nature, caring and relaxed and comfortable enough with themselves to not be misogynists. I desperately needed this influence otherwise I think I might be phobic of men by now.
Money stuff was scary to begin with but ended up being v empowering. As was getting legal support and advocacy - though I am able to pay a solicitor - might have been v different in legal aid. But then that's another one of a million reasons I knew I had to get back to work a year ago. Exp was naturally deeply against this. Had I not pushed in with it I would be stranded on IS now and v powerless. As it stands now, I'd notice greatly not receiving maintenance but it wouldn't lead to destitution and that's a huge weight he cannot make me bear.

On the negative side of things exp behaviour has escalated over the last 7 months to epic proportions. We have been to court several times and are due there again in the new year. He is simply unable to let life settle. He Harrass me as much as he possibly can without breaching the injunction and has become a nightmare to my friends, the staff at dd nursery and I imagine anyone who will listen to him. He cannot let me relax when he is around and aggregates the situation all the time.
I am sad and scared about how much worse this will get post baby and desperate to have her whilst he's away and just manage a few weeks bonding just the 3 of us before the court circus starts again.
I am moving handovers/contact to a contact centre soon. I wish I had done this from the beginning - feck the cost!
I am suffering just now but I'm so determined the dd's will never ever witness their mother being abused again I will do whatever it takes to prevent it.

God help her but I wish exp would find a GF. I can see why he hasn't 'hi my names *******, my ex wife has an injunction against me and she's still pg with my child....I hate her she's a fucking bitch wanna go out with me?' Or worse he's date. And subsequently abused a few women already. I don't know obviously but he seems so angry all the time now I can see him attacking much earlier in the relationship and worse sad

HissyByName Mon 29-Oct-12 13:37:28

SirSugar ew! I had the same though. Part of their 'culture' indoctrination <vom>

Offred Sun 04-Nov-12 21:41:48

Stressed out by xp today. 1/11 was the date for first CSA payment (finally - he has been delaying it since march and now has £1900 arrears) when he came to pick up dc he asked for a pen and paper and wouldn't tell me why then tried to give me £280 (the amount of first payment) and get me to sign telling me he had cancelled dd because they wouldn't allow him to pay less than £324 pm. I said I would not take it but didn't say anymore because this was all in front of dc who a couple of months ago picked up phone to CSA and asked me about why they were calling. It was entirely for the dc benefit, to make me look the bad guy for not taking his offer and to try and bully me into dropping the case which I only opened back up because he had not been paying any money in the private arrangement and we need the cash. So mad he has used dc like this and he brought their bikes back home having snapped off reflectors/lights with no apology and knowing we will have to ride 2 miles to school in the morning without the light. Totally stressed out that he doesn't look after them and can't keep them safe, he doesn't care about them, only about himself and I hate still having to deal with him and still being afraid of him. sad

dancethenightaway Sun 04-Nov-12 23:45:29

I left my stbxh less than 4 weeks ago!
I posted on here to ask for help before we left and the people who replied gave brilliant advice.
We left, in the end we didn't go to a Refuge because there were no places available near us.
So we were homeless for a while.
Then through the local housing department's deposit scheme we rented a place.
DC & I have been her for 2 weeks but we are so happy.
I know it's early days but I like the small things like being able to go to bed when I like, eat what I like, spend as long as I like in the bath without suffering reprisals.
It's only now we've left that I realise how very, very bad things were.
I don't miss him, I barely think about him. I feel as though I really habe had a new lease of life.
Money is going to be tight for a while but everything else is just fine smile
Thank you to anyone who supported us.

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