The most amazing thing has happened since I started speaking out about what I endured—. women and men are writing in and speaking up. I'm so honored to read their stories and I really value and appreciate the courage it takes to face it, let alone write or speak about it.
I'm sharing a Q&A between myself and another brave soul/surivor who happens to be a friend from my hometown in Ohio. If you would like to share your story, please let me know. I'm happy to share yours here on the blog, either anonomously or with your name attached. The more we share, the more we learn about the patterns and warning signs that occur in these types of relationships.
Shelley, can you give us an overview of what you went through in your 5-year relationship with someone who was emotionally and verbally abusive? What are some moments that stand out in your mind?
As with most relationships, it started out beautifully. He was very caring, supportive, loving, and funny. He was everything I was looking for in a man. Things progressed quickly because I thought I had found the man of my dreams.
I wanted to purchase a home for myself and my daughter, but he kept telling me I should just move in with him for a while and save up money. Logically, it made sense because we would both be saving money so I agreed. After approximately six months, his whole personality changed. Here are some examples of what I endured that I never saw coming:
We have talked previously about how it seems the abusers are handed the same handbook—they all seem to behave very similarly. Much of what you’ve already shared resonates with me personally, especially the memory of not being able to have contact with men without some sort of blame/shame/argument.
How and when did you fully realize what you were going through was abuse and how did you get out?
It wasn’t until the last two years of the relationship, that I realized I needed to get my act together financially and mentally. I needed to prepare myself for the day that I would have to leave. I knew it would come to that. I never planned an actual date, I just knew it was wrong and that one day I would have the strength to just do it. That's exactly what I ended up doing. I woke up one day and left. I visited one apartment complex, signed the paperwork, and put money down immediately because I knew if I didn't do it right then and there, I never would. I would never have the perfect opportunity like the one I was being presented. Plus, I finally had the courage to stand up for myself and I wasn't going to let myself fall back into the old routine again. I was done, especially I saw my daughter run from him because he scared her with his yelling fits.
Did you run into issues with him after you left? I know you work for the same company.
Yes, we do work together. Overall, there was a pattern of manipulation and control after we split, as well. He would find reasons to not let me gather some of my things that were left at the house. He was very slick about covering up everything he would do after we broke up. Emails and texts would be civil, but face to face meetings would be verbally and emotionally abusive. I had to block him from calling and contacting me.
At work, he would find ways to stalk me. I was always looking over my shoulder because he was (and still is) ALWAYS there. Friends, co-workers, and supervisors saw what was happening but no one could really do a whole lot.
In addition, he sent threatening messages to me that he would hit or run my fiance off of the road if he ever caught him on his motorcycle.
He is now telling half-truths and flat out lies about me, which seems par for the course with what I’m learning about narcissistic abuse. He would tell a small bit of a story so as to look like the victim but if the whole story was revealed, he would in no way be considered a victim in the situation. He always plays the blame game with me. He would turn the tables and nothing was ever his fault.
You’re a strong, independent, smart woman. It’s likely why he was attracted to you in the first place. Looking back, how did his behavior and abuse affect your demeanor and self-esteem?
He was always getting into confrontations with everyone that came across his path. I found myself absorbing his personality and attitude, mainly because I was so miserable and guilty about my actions. I felt like this was my own Karma for past behavior and that I deserved all that was coming to me. I made excuses for all of it whether it be him, me, or the situation in general. I felt I had made my bed so I had to lie in it.
He made me feel worthless—I began to feel I had little confidence to do anything on my own. I couldn't survive without him. I still don't know how this happened because he never directly told me I was bad or a “piece of shit” or anything like that. It was just something that I feel I became conditioned to over time after the initial honeymoon stage was over and he started tearing down of who I was inside.
If we were speaking to a group of survivors of this type of abuse, what would you say to them in regards to what has helped you heal the most? What is your advice to them in general?
If I could give any advice to someone dealing with someone similar to my ex-boyfriend, I would tell them that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. You have to realize that you are strong enough to fight back. That you are worth it. Life is too short to wait for happiness that will never come no matter how loyal you are, how long you wait, or how you think he will change. None of it will ever happen.
Quit focusing on all the reasons why you can't leave or what could go wrong, and start focusing on what could go right. I believe that having a couple great and supportive friends, changing your own attitude towards yourself, and teaching yourself that you deserve better makes all the difference. Being your own biggest fan and supporter changes everything. We are only as weak as we allow our minds to believe. We will rise.