Opening up about my Abusive Relationship

11:13

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I spent 3 years dedicated to keeping it a secret, I look back now and I can't even understand why. For some reason, I felt that it was our secret. Like I had made my decision to not tell anyone after the first instance of violence and from then, there was no going back, I was commited to hiding this secret as much as he was. Similar to the 'perfection' which social media promotes, I didn't want people to know the horrific reality of my life and instead, chose to concentrate on all of the good aspects of our relationship and people fell for it, most importantly I fell for it!

So when the secret finally came out, was when for me, I knew that that was it, it was over! Everyone has a breaking point and that was mine. It came as a massive relief but also the aftermath was the hardest. People asked me how did I deal with that, but for me, what came afterwards was a million times harder. I had convinced others that our relationship was 'normal', by doing that, I also convinced myself. After it was over, I was left to face the reality and accepting that was the hardest thing, let alone explaining it to others, something which not even I fully understood myself. Because that is the reality, I had to explain, because not many people understand. I could not just say it in one sentence, I had to go into a deep explanation, to explain myself, explain my situation, defend myself and my actions. Understandably, it took a while to open up or to even know what to say.

The first person I told, was someone who actually heard him attacking me first hand. This made it easier because they knew at least part of the story. For everyone else, I didn't know where to start...do I tell the 'story' from the first time he turned violent or should I give a vague contextual sentence summing up his violent tendencies...would that be enough, would they understand, or should I give detailed recounts of the injuries he had inflicted on me over the years, to really show the extent of it...the bruises, cuts, kicks, bites, punches, bleeding nose etc.

I remember gearing up to tell one of my friends and being so scared, there's no easy way to say it and equally there's no 'calm' way to react. The reaction is always one of shock and disbelief, full of questions and curiosity; which makes it all the more difficult. It's extremely hard to acknowledge, it's not something which can be briefly mentioned, it's something which requires a deep conversation. Having to revisit it is difficult. Equally, keeping it a secret, even afterwards is impossible and will eat you up. Before, it felt like it was our secret, afterwards it feels like mine and mine alone and if I don't let it out, it will destroy me.

Telling people about it helps...a lot! To see the reactions, is reassurance that I am on the road to recovery, that I did the right thing, that I am better. I don't mean telling 'everyone' because like everything, there are people who you just wouldn't tell such personal things to, for many reasons.

At first, I was struggling to come to terms with it, I couldn't function. To the point that I went to a counselor, something which I've never done in my life. I was so anxious about having to speak about it that when I sat in the waiting room, I fought back tears and felt that I was going to break down. When I got into the room, I did. I could barely speak. I felt a tremendous pressure to get everything out and explain the whole situation. The session was 50 minutes long, which I thought was plenty of time but I didn't even touch the surface. I now have one counselling session every other week and it is such a great release. It allows me to address the issues, it makes me realise that it's OK to still not be 'over it'

The very scary thing is that even when I eventually did walk away, there was still part of me which wanted to stay. Even now to this day, I sometimes have the niggling voice in my head saying...'maybe...what if'.

BUT equally, I never thought that I would be able to get out of that, I thought that that would be the rest of my life. I had accepted that, I cried for my lost freedom, for my lost life, my lost youth but now I have got them back and for that, I am happy.

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