In the early days of our relationship our Power and Control cycle ( see attached below) started off as maybe every 2 – 3 months.
You see I was stuck in vicious circle of repeated behaviour; I was being drip fed just enough charm to keep coming back for more ( and I mean it was amazing and so believable… the stuff of fairytales).
After the downward slide and flare up would be the honeymoon time.
Towards the end of my relationship this cycle was every 1-2 weeks.
Every time I brought up our issues ,there was an escalation in control (financial, emotional, social) and complete lack of any ownership of blame or responsibility on his part. It was me, I had issues.
I was moved house or isolated even further from family, friends or a social life. It was his way to disarm my strength of will so I had none left to defy him and challenge his control. Like tightening a vice.
I attempted to resolve them with a professional therapist either alone or in joint sessions , there wasn’t too many joint sessions I gotta say. I didn’t seem to get very far in these early days but I didn’t give up.
Despite giving into his every whim ,his intolerance escalated and his anger and aggression became more directed at me and my oldest child, which led me to join a parenting course for blended families.
It was in this setting after I had shared my experiences with the group, I found myself in shock at the reaction of the members (both men & women) and the facilitator running the course:
“He clearly has issues. I am worried for you and your children.” Huh?
I had enough excuses and empathy to convince them all they were wrong, he told me he suffered abuse in childhood so therefore he can’t help it.
“Oh no he’s not a violent man, It’s not his fault. He’s a victim and needs my love and patience.”
I was in complete denial and ignorance ,or maybe I just didn’t want to it to be true.
But they did succeed in planting the first tiny seed of doubt that day.
It lay dormant for about another 12 months of struggling along, I went to two different counsellors over the next two years both whom I asked assistance to leave this relationship before the session started.
This setting is where he would thrive as a manipulator and present a different version of events. Persuasive enough for me to look and feel like I was losing my mind ( sometimes act like a lunatic too).
I felt stupid, completely overpowered and intimidated at the time so I would renege on any accusations.I was convinced by one of these counsellors that it was in my best interest if I wanted my relationship to “work” (I think she meant “be safe”) I was to send my oldest child to live with his father instead of with us.
So I did. I was devastated. And despite everything it is still the only regret I have to this day.
Yet I still didn’t feel validated in leaving this relationship. Who the #*@$ knows why!
We went to our last therapist (#5 or 6 but who’s counting ) together just once , as a referral and last ditch
attempt ( well only in my head it was).
Unbeknownst to me and him she was a DV specialist.
She saw through his facade ,we never saw her again together as she could recognise the potential danger I was in. Finally I felt there was someone who believed in me.
She is still in my life as a support person, I am so grateful I met her when I did.
After a very steep learning curve on my part ,she has opened me up to the not so wonderful world of DV.
My first step was AWARENESS.
Learning the signs and behaviour and to recognise it in my partner, regardless of the back story they tell you. Educating myself took me a while, months of therapy to get my head around it. I was in denial, afterwards a whole rollercoaster of emotions followed. Unanswered questions as I tried to grapple with my reality.
Why me? How did I get here ? How did “I” let this happen? What am I going to do?
I needed not one person but a collection of people to voice their concerns to validate my doubts over time. The more I opened up to the right people and told the real truth behind the facade , the more relieved I felt. It wasn’t in my head, I wasn’t making it up, this isn’t normal despite being told repeatedly by my abuser.
I have since learnt: On average it takes 7-10 attempts to leave a domestic violent relationship.
Are you a victim? If you are reading this there’s a good chance you are or you know someone who is.
We are here to help guide you YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
What is “Finding Me”?
The “Finding Me” support group is a facilitated recovery based program. Our upcoming program will be running for 12 weeks. “Finding Me” aims to support women to recover from domestic violence by providing a safe, non-judgmental and inclusive environment where women can access information, support and connection.
What does “Free to be Me” aim to achieve?
- A therapeutic environment in which survivors of domestic and family violence work through a 12 week program led by supportive facilitators.
- Mutual support and respect amongst the group.
- An awareness and knowledge of women’s basic rights.
- Self-education that provides knowledge to reduce the risk of engaging in future toxic relationships.
- A safe and supportive space that encourages participants to share their personal experiences.
- A sense of connection to others who have had similar domestic/family experiences.
- An opportunity to have existing beliefs about relationships challenged and reframed.
- Increase in self-esteem, self-determination and empowerment of participants.
To find out more about our Recovery programs, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also phone us 0468 445 820.