He called me broken.

A man called me a ‘broken woman’ not long ago. It was in response to my decision to disengage myself with him. It wasn’t personal, just one of the first times I prioritised my wellbeing over someone else’s wants.

I’d be offended but I’ve called myself this many times before. When I met him for a few dates years ago I probably described myself that way at least in my head.

Broken by abuse. Shattered through fear and violence, threats and intimidation. Cowed and controlled by manipulation, deprivation, degradation.

A broken woman.

Here’s why I disagree.

I’m not broken I’m strong. I have life experiences I wouldn’t gift to anyone but I’m not a fragmented shell of a wrecked woman.

I thought I was. I was wrong.

Instead I have allowed myself to feel the painful depths in counselling and through self motivated education. I have willingly flooded myself with truth and dark, bleeding trauma a little at a time until I can confront the source. I didn’t bandage up the broken shards and cross my fingers for healing.

In the past I’ve hit one trauma blindly from another, I’ve crawled barely alive from one harrowing event or person to another crushing blow. I’ve raised my head only long enough to blearily peer ahead then run into the next misery.

Not now. I shoulder slammed the unforgiving walls of persistent abusive relationships more times than I can count. With private and professional support I smashed a fracture in the barrier and squeezed, bruised but whole into life beyond control and hidden abuse, rape, violence barely cloaked in excuses.

I can’t lie, from here I can still see the tilted velodrome prison designed to keep me sliding helplessly back each time I try to climb out. I’m not far enough away to be out of sight from the looming monstrosity but I am moving steadily away into the dazzling possibilities beyond. I don’t have a fixed view of my life beyond yet but there’s contentment in moving.

Velodrome prison

I’m not broken though, I haven’t yet erased the blot on my horizon from everyday life but I have grown in strength and self belief.

Broken was staying, resigned again after another failed attempt to escape saw me slide, scrabbling pointlessly to the false calm in the eye of the storm again. One step out of place threatening to take me off my feet again. Broken was years of disconnect and autopilot.

He’s wrong, the well meaning man who called me broken. I’m not. I’m more solidly myself than I could conceivably be.

Can I skip to the end?

Insomnia has my gripped in its steely fist

Depth unknown.

My eyes are burning and my mind blurring with exhaustion but I do not sleep.

Just when I begin to figure myself out a fingertip search uncovers further underground warrens. Twisted, dark, depth and distance not yet known.

Mostly I accept the inevitability of this, the damage from trauma piling damp over trauma. Glimpse under the surface, the interconnected network freezes my blood cold.

This evening I want to sidestep, tiptoe over the maze beneath my feet. If I could step, cautious feather-light barely touching the earth I’d hold my breath and stretch a slow foot to the end.

It doesn’t work like that. Healing waits patiently when I’ve side stepped. I’m smugly standing a breadth from the goal but beneath my cheater feet the earth begins to crumble.

The earth falls back leaving twisted roots and bright, hidden pain. I have to follow it to get to solid ground again.

And so it goes on. Years and years pass. I see the cheerful lights on the horizon, the ones I’ve made my goal.

Just another marker on the way. Another minor celebration of the arduous recovery I’m determined to shuffle forward in even as my feet disintegrate the pseudo solid ground underneath.

It’s never done, finished, complete. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been yet my frustration sizzles the tiny hairs from my skin.

I can’t pick my way to the finish line if the line moves alongside in my rhythm. I’m probably exactly where I’m meant to be.

There’s no side step enabled in true, long term recovery.

Why would anyone escape then go back to their abuser?

The calm is so unaccustomed it’s a different kind of pain, a single possible reason of many.

For the first time I’m living a drama free life, no rage, no knife edge terror. The happiness in the small things hasn’t abated with time I’ve been free.

I love where I’m at but I have a way to go in recovery. I’ve lost ground through lockdown, stopped caring about myself. When I ceased to invest in my wellbeing I didn’t see my self esteem crash then shatter around me. Is it overly dramatic to say I’m not sure how to pick my way out from the jagged shards without cutting myself deeper? Probably.

I’m seized in place by uncertainty and fear in nauseating undulations.

I’m an old hand at managing crisis, of staying calm in the howling face of danger. Second nature in trauma and putting on a game face. It’s almost comically sad that the aspect which has thrown me is the safety.

I haven’t got a minute of lived in prior knowledge on how to handle ‘safe’, ‘calm’. I’ve never had the opportunity to be bored with life before.

Recently the monotony and mundanity of domestic life has been grinding me down, almost a wanting to turn myself inside out with unbearable itching feeling. It’s only beginning to dawn that this is life without the adrenaline and cortisol. It’s life without danger and pain induced endorphins. This life is far from the cycle of highs and lows, fear dipped drops which abruptly drop into a reprieve when the magic phrase or word was said.

I have no desire to hurl myself back into the cyclone of abuse but I can see how security and safety drives people back towards the life they know however painful it may be. It sounds counterintuitive to escape and be swayed back. I feel that freedom, once it’s settled, is a new kind of torture. An eternal wait on high alert for the next trauma. When the trauma doesn’t come the tension builds higher and further. Bitter experience tells me the crescendo hurts but each time, provided I survive it, I’ll be safer for a while in the lull.

Without the terror there is no reprieve. I’ve lived it for so long logic holds no sway in breaking me from the circuit.

I wonder if realising why I’m on the edge will help with the desperate feeling and avoidant behaviour. Could it be contributing to the extreme insomnia clinging to me each night? Or the binge and purge cycle I’m finding myself a helpless voyeur of, seemingly without the ability it alter the course? Will it perhaps dial down my overwhelming anxiety? Is knowledge power?

Domestic abuse is so complex. Victims of violence and abusive relationships are kept in place through fear, threats, intimidation, lack of funds, understanding. Through society and media and threats of the court systems. Still more reasons than I can list. Crucially the erosion in the belief the victim that they can cope or trust their own mind. I know the theory behind a sort of addiction to the painful, frightening drama of it all but I haven’t given it a great deal of thought. I hadn’t got that far before, I suppose.

I will ask for professional help. Sometimes my strength is in overcoming my worthlessness just long enough to ask for help.

Sorry, Bitch.

I’m sorry if you are over sensitive,

Sorry that you can’t take a joke.

Ain’t my fault it broke.

Grow up pathetic, Bitch, no hope.

Look, it wasn’t that bad anyway.

Play the victim, fuckin’ drama queen.

Make sure you make a big fuss.

They’re laughing at you, Bitch, not us.

Make it big, you’re mental, scene.

Look, I said I’m sorry, get off the floor.

You shouldn’t wind me up, that dress

Bitch, you flirting got you in this mess.

It ain’t my fault, I told you no before.

Now you got yourself hurt, fake your address.

I wish you didn’t make it this bad.

They don’t geddit Babe, they misunderstand.

Look, I’ll do better, I love you.

Nobody sees the provocation I had.

Mate, I barely raised my Goddamn hand.

She’s a liar, mental, none of it’s true.

I released another hold he had over me. I’m lifted.

I’m finding my outrage, really allowing myself the anger, suppressed for so long, to surge forward for the pain and suffering caused.

I saw an old photo of one of my abusers smiling face recently, such a facade from him.

His smile is the most dazzling optical illusion. The look he cultivates of benign kindness is boerwulf bared.

No flicker of his manipulation pulled me into excusing his atrocities this time.

For the first time I met the ingrained excuses with facts and evidence. My truth didn’t budge an inch under his pixelated scrutiny.

I see this as progress in an understated, quiet way.

One more chain clinking heavily to the floor as I step away. I’m not naive, I have a way to go but the weight of the constraints just dropped a little.

With the oppression lightened my drive to proactively follow my passions and enrich my life experiences soared a little higher.

After months of survival, hiding out in lockdown-domesticity I feel, so tentatively, my fight in supportively leading my family renew.

I can’t wait. I’m so grateful for my freedom and the people in my life.

5 big warning signs he’s abusive.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, there are so many more signs but here are 5 big fat massive warnings that this amazing new man is about to become your worst nightmare.

1) Rushing ahead is a red flag.

A massive, huge, wafting in the breeze, red flag.

It sounds ridiculous but in once case he told me he loved me before he actually met me in person, he seemed so vulnerable and stressed about it that I found myself reassuring him that I felt it was one in a billion special too. I was berated into using those three powerful words really soon. Then I felt I owed him. I’d caused this somehow.

Just a few months in I was pregnant, coerced into it in one case and tricked into it in another.

They trapped me by forcing me to invest too much too soon by any means necessary.

2) Jealousy is another red flag with a neon arrow pointing to it.

Just a few weeks in I found myself hastily defending myself about what I was sure was a misunderstanding. Before I’d even met him. He was spitting anger into my face whilst I was pinned to the bed about a month in because I hadn’t fully disclosed a relationship before we met (it hadn’t come up yet.) I naively walked straight in to trying to clear up the ‘misunderstanding’, I didn’t know what hit me.

The other time I vividly recall my embarrassment when walking home from a work thing he hadn’t been invited to, but had crashed anyway, with colleagues he got the hump about me walking with a male colleague/friend. I ended up placating and consoling away from the group. I thought he must’ve misread the situation.

Jealousy isn’t a sign they care, they want to control you. To own you.

3) Sharing too many of your interests and dropping their own after you meet isn’t normal.

Well adjusted people like to share there interests and experiences with the people they begin relationships with but if he drops everything he said he likes morphing into your life without gaps it’s a warning sign. At one time I was excited to share a love of poetry or art, running or yoga it was flattering that he enjoyed my company so much he’d come to everything with me. Until I realised I could do anything alone anymore. Until I understood I couldn’t speak to anyone else in my life because I was trapped holding his hand away from the people I usually connect with.

It’s no fun anymore when there’s really no way to say ‘hey, I’d like some space.’ Or ‘thanks for the offer but I’d like to see my friends this time.’ At least, no way to say it which doesn’t include days and weeks of arguments and fear and intimidation. Or bruises.

Anyway, if they were to leave you alone for a nanosecond with your friends or family there’s a risk someone might see through his strengthening cage and let you know it sounds abusive. Someone might question one of the many, many boundaries he’s managed to erase without you realising you’re conceding them.

4) The ‘psycho ex’ usually isn’t the person he’s telling you all about.

The ‘psycho bitch ex’ who’s bitter and twisted and causing trouble for the sake of it. The ex who isn’t over the relationship and just wants to break up the new couple isn’t his ex, it’s him. He’s likely still reigning a fear campaign over her too but you’re next.

Add several more flashing neon signs and automated warning messages if there’s more than one ex in this category. They aren’t going to come clean and tell you the ex is stopping access or spreading rumours because they’re the victim. The are going to lie, she made it up. Maybe the ‘bitch’ even lied and got him arrested/investigated. The thing is, I’m sure it happens from vengeful exes getting revenge but it’s much rarer than you’re being led to believe. More likely it’s a warning. Certainly in my cases.

5) He doesn’t have many good, long standing relationships.

If his relationships are littered with arguments and resentments and grudges it’s another red flag flapping in the breeze. His relationships with his parents are sometimes a giveaway, though obviously fallouts happen to good people too. If it’s part of a bigger picture where nobody meets his standards or perhaps he falls out with the people closest often there’s something amiss.

Generally speaking decent people hold down significant relationships with people around them. Parents or siblings and friends who go way back.

In my experiences each relationship with their own mother should’ve given me cause for concern. Neither were close, one used and abused his mother controlling her through fear and emotional blackmail and manipulation. The other cheated his from her life savings but still somehow stayed the apple of her eye. Both mothers admitted they ‘know he’s hard work/angry/unreasonable but he loves you.’ Or ‘I don’t know what he’d do without you.’ Not their fault, they’re being abused too. But their man-child refusing to take responsibility for his actions should not have been my burden to bear.

For the record each managed just fine without me once the threats, intimidation aand emotional blackmail stopped serving a purpose each moved on to their next victim fast.

I hope the poor women trapped into the same situation I was are okay. I hope they use Claire’s law (in the UK) to find out about previous convictions. If not, I hope they are safe and know how to get support should they need it. The guilt that I can’t save the next person the trauma is hard.

I will follow this up with a further warning signs post sometime since this is just the beginning. feel free to let me know your red flags and experiences too.

Milestones and vigilance

I hit a freedom milestone in the last week. I tried to concentrate on the thousands of moments of gratitude I feel to be free and autonomous. I tried to celebrate how far we have come.

Slow fade to change

I did, to some extent but I already celebrate the happy moments every day. I’ve posted before about the freedoms which take me by surprise in every day. I’ll try to link it here.

Mostly I found myself reflecting, I allowed memories to briefly surface but brushed them away. There was no big celebration moment, no fanfare or excitement. I suppose that’s more real, more honest. The trauma doesn’t lessen on an arbitrary date and time but piece by piece life grows stronger around it.

Coincidentally I had a counselling session that day. For the first time in weeks, sitting across from my counsellor I felt overwhelmingly tired, struggling to keep my eyes open in a social situation tired. Embarrassingly tired, I’d finally let down my guard, I didn’t have my children with me for the first time in many months, they were safe with family for an hour. I’ve been on high alert.

Hyper alert to protect my children from invisible threats and crucially also worried I’d miss a moment of them needing support.

I’ve ploughed so much vigilance into protecting them, particularly emotionally, that I’ve barely slept. My nightmares revolve around it. I’ve exhausted myself to my knees except…

…they didn’t need me to.

It’s my fear driving it. The physical threats, once very real but not now, not for a while.

Our home is safe. Along with my children’s security comes their need to process. I’m petrified I’m not there for them, not enough for them. What if I can’t protect them from the memories they are reliving now? How do I reconcile the things I did not know and the lesser things I did know? How do I live with the decisions I made? My voice cracks and tears come describing my worries they might experience fear or distress alone without comfort.

After the session I see they’ll be fine. They know how to get me if it’s too big for them and they know I’ll listen and care always, without fail. They also need to be afforded the opportunities to figure things out for themselves. They can develop coping strategies without me, actually, they need to develop them without me.

I cannot save them the pain of healing but I’ll be there in every way I can, no matter what. Being there for them doesn’t mean 24/7 switched on surveillance of every scene. It doesn’t mean guarding the perimeter in a constant march.

For the first time in months I slept.

Teetering on the edge of another painful leap.

For the first time in a few weeks I’m finally able to take a moment to reflect.

I can’t lie, I’ve tried really hard to avoid and deflect.

This evening I’m overwhelmed with unexpected sadness, I’m unsure of the cause.

I feel the tears prickling begins my eyes and my heart has been dragging.

I haven’t taken stock for a while while I’ve been as fully engaged as possible in supporting my family.

I feel like recovery is about to take a painful leap forward but I’m not sure how or when. It’s difficult to balance with supporting the most important people in my life.

As I’m writing this the tears are welling in my eyes, I feel it would be best to allow the feeling and let the tears fall but instead I’ve dashed them away.

I’m not ready yet to open myself to this fresh pain.

I’m grateful to the people who support me both in real life and here on my blog. The kindness boosts me when I forget I am worthy of care. Right now, I’m going to try to tell myself this on repeat until I believe it even a fraction.

Recovery – family affair.

Ridiculously I’m posting right now to say I’m not posting. Or rather to say I am posting but I’m grappling with too much inside my head to convey out here.

My children are further exploring their trauma right now. The security of a loving family home without fear or even, thanks to Covid-19, anxiety from the outside world lends itself to processing the scary bits I suppose. I’m answering questions with careful honesty and as factually as I can. It’s tricky to gauge age appropriateness for a subject matter they shouldn’t know in the first place. The children nicknamed this process ‘Chats and Cuddles.’ Both too simple a name and exactly correct. Understandably it’s hard emotionally and the family dynamics are shifting constantly to keep up.

I’m putting all my energy into supporting them and keeping myself afloat too as each of us differently relives the darkness in short bursts. I’m knocked sideways and raw all over again but I do have support too. I talked for hours yesterday on the phone whilst the children were asleep reviving the abject misery of being under control and giving voice to a little of the destruction I suffered. It helped.

I’ll write more soon.

I’m wrong but I’m here, probably.

….

I’m probably wrong,

It didn’t happen that way.

I always mess up,

My memory lost grey.

….

I’m wrong I guess.

Messed in the head,

Just gotta see me,

Crying, snot smeared.

I got it wrong, probably.

Exaggerated it all.

Probably muddled,

Where head met wall.

….

I got it wrong I think,

I thought you attacked.

I misunderstood I think,

You just wanted me back.

Loved me so much,

I got you so wrong, right?

You didn’t mean it,

You held my shoulders tight.

Explained it was my fault this time,

And the other night.

….

You just love me too much,

More than I deserve.

I got it wrong again,

I mean, I think I did.

With my stupid brain,

My stupid ears.

I misunderstood that shove.

Made a mountain of a tiny mistake.

….

I’m probably wrong but,

It still smells of fear.

Tastes like blood.

I’m probably wrong but…

I never meant to be here.

Is this part of the key to lessening my PTSD?

PTSD triggers today:

A cardboard box getting enthusiastically thrust into my face. The darkness inside was in my field of vision rapidly engulfing.

An extra long hug which I was offering despite wanting personal space. I wanted to provide comfort more than I was adverse but only by a margin. It was hard not to pull away.

Heartfelt rage and injustice over a sibling row. From the children, not myself.

The tears which followed.

The roar driven by frustration from the child being goaded by the other. It resonates, the helplessness of it.

Listening fully with the whole of myself as the inner pain leaked from each then soothing them all and talking it through. Knowing that the fault for some lies in their own trauma.

Being climbed on by an overly enthusiastic boy whilst reading a story (of adventure and excitement.)

A song on the radio which transported me momentarily back to a drive home in tears, pregnant and scared.

I find myself retreating palms up only to back into another burst of pain. I’ve never managed to see myself this objectively before. Exposed neves woven through all aspects of daily life. In seeing it, I wonder how I can change the course of the day and night to follow.

With my eyes open at a distance I can perhaps direct myself away from the web of torment into a place less densely packed.

Usually I’d anticipate flashbacks here but actually I’m tentatively alright. Previous experience tells me this evening is set aside for fraught flashbacks into my most traumatic times. What if I can alter the course from my new vantage point?

I’ve written today’s account in curiosity, for myself to look back on. I hope I’ve found a control of sorts. Perhaps a ‘slow down’ even if not a hard ‘stop’ break lever.

In five minutes of calm in a day of firefighting the enormity of my children’s big feelings maybe I’ve reflected on something fierce. Perhaps it’s allowed me to lead Fierce to a calmer place as it sheds it’s defensive aggression.

Let’s see, I’ll report back.

A happy revelation in my bed.

I don’t sleep perched at the extreme edge of my super king sized bed anymore.

I starfish in the middle taking up dancer positions through the night.

Bed angels in the save haven of my sleep.

I don’t hold myself rigid, occupying as few inches as humanly possible in my bed anymore.

Years and years later I held myself balanced at the precipice more frightened of the bed than the monsters under it.

Rather than occupy the yawning empty space behind me, stretching…

…whispering about the comfort I’m missing.

I don’t know if my soft bed has built a long campaign imploring me to relax myself,

Telling me I’m safe here.

It will hold me secure and if I just ease my stiff muscles into her luxuries she’ll help me sleep.

The last week or so for the first time in maybe fifteen years I ungrit my clenched teeth as I lie in my bed.

I unfurl my limbs from the tight stress position held in dangerous and frightening times.

I flow across my bed through the night in unconscious letting go.

I woke up smiling diagonally akimbo, bed hair and covers off this morning.

I don’t hold myself on the extreme edge of danger in my super king sized bed anymore.

Feeling less anxious during lockdown. When Covid-19 isn’t the worst threat waiting out there.

Covid-19 hid my anxiety. I’m feeling calm and safe and…cosseted inside my home.

Fooled myself into thinking my anxiety had all but been eradicated.

My anxiety is quiet, waves gently lapping at the sea shore.

It’s easy to be secure at home when lockdown keeps me from the outside world but also keeps the outside world from me.

Away, a distant problem the other side of my locked door. A different world I once knew. Familiar but frightening.

My fears are a childhood nightmare, I know it intricately but it’s gone. I’d know every twist and turn if I went back there. The wolf sniffing me out and hunting me down as I hide, barely breathing beneath a sleep-made bed.

As the Prime Minister eases the restrictions I find pockets of worry surfacing. I remember the virus isn’t my only threat. I consider my abusers’ wounding intent, especially with the probability they have fast boiled a frustrated rage inside without distractions from themselves.

I could leave for the first time today but I face excuses I’m making to myself. I could visit a shop and buy fresh bread or an ice cream for my children but,

Excuses.

Maybe tomorrow?

Or the day after that, or that.

The lockdown hid my anxieties from view but today I realise, they are still there. They were waiting the other side of the door. Waiting for the lift to laugh in my face.

I’m scared I’ll be hunted down. I’m ruminating on the repetitive threat to use acquaintances to teach me my lesson; a gun in my head – for fear not fire but how would I know. Or, the instruction to maim, to incapacitate, to kill me for daring to go. The court order can’t protect me if I’m dead.

Irrational fears collide around these. It’s a chaotic multiplayer pinball in there. On collision with threats and fear are illogical worries, I can’t enter a shop because I don’t know how it all works now. I won’t go out because I’m a bit tired and besides maybe I don’t know all the rules yet? I mean, was I even listening to the update on the four times I played it through?

It’s an uncomfortable shift in my contented, cosy low-lit room. That when the lights go on in the stark, naked daylight…

I’m just as scared as before.

Leaving domestic abuse.

I haven’t written for a while during lockdown. It’s hard to find uninterrupted time and space.

I had a nightmare last night. It’s one I’ve had before, I had variations of this for years peaking before I made our slow, tangled escape. I’ve led us to safety twice before. Once after a decade long marriage and once after an 18 month life altering torture before my eyes opened.

In my nightmare I live with the abuser in a flat above a disinterested landlord below, she takes a brief interest. At times in my nightmares she locks the door to protect us and in other variations she locks us in with the abuser as I beg for help. In every version I have my children to protect and save.

I hide us in a cavernous bathroom cupboard this time, we are usually discovered – sometimes after a labyrinth cat and mouse navigating ever changing landscapes. Rooms, houses and grounds that morph and shift, never ending.

This time he laces the flat with deadly allergens. He forces me to run with them. I reach a school and take brief refuge there. Need to escape. New area. Fear. Need help. Friends help us to a border, police bar our way. In the most disturbing of my nightmares he collects us with mock concern and locks us back into the life I tried to break until the next time.

In real life when I left the first time after more attempts than I know how to count. I danced a painstakingly careful tiptoe to leave. Careful back and forth, subtle sidestep, back step. Can’t alert him to the faintest whiff of my treacherous urges. I had to dead pan, poker face. I’m not good at this. I was forced to take fast, desperate action when the ever increasing violence and control surged over onto my children. I stood as tall as I could between two of my little ones tucked behind me and him, enraged beast. The day I left, I realised in that moment, I cannot keep them safe from him. Their terrified faces are etched into my core for life. They cowered behind me and I knew in an instant if he wanted; I would be dead, and I could not protect them from him.

Frantic effort under the surface, fear radioactive in my veins. Saying whatever kept us safe on the surface. Looking as much the same cowed, dominated woman as ever as I seize our freedom by slow degrees. My beautiful children are supported professionally and privately with the damage he inflicted. He took revenge once we were finally free which almost broke me. I have wished at times that he had murdered me there and then. I will fight to be there for my children no matter what. I will never willingly leave them for fear for their future without my protection. I have lived, first hand, through what he is capable of and I will never leave them vulnerable to him.

The second time I escaped it took the efforts from family, friends, health workers, a full professional body and ultimately the police for me to see the severity of the truth. I needed help to escape. I’d tried already more times than I hold in my memory. Within my attempts to escape people had been hurt. Physically, my beautiful Mum (who was verbally fierce in defence, that instinct burns forever then), myself, my newborn baby and emotionally; my older children and his were damaged deeply. His mother lives in the shadow of his abuse still, she sees no way out. He’s all she has and I wish still that I could rescue her. I want to offer her some genuine love and care to offset the way he treats her. I wish I could reach out to her and pull her into our safety net. It’s too dangerous though. I cannot antagonise him, knowing too that she can’t give up on her only child.

He stalked and harassed me. He hounded me in a real time run for our lives across the country. I’d snatched our baby back from the jaws of his unhinged threat and he hunted us. Once the legal protection is lifted later this year I fear our future again.

His abuse of his older children confirmed my resolve. His deliberately inflicted emotional trauma particularly during our break up concreted my boundaries forever. I will never allow him back into our home. I lost any trace of misguided love in that moment. He refused to allow me to comfort the children he shares with his ex but whom I’ve had the pleasure of loving. Particularly as his disinterest in them intensified. He seared them with atrocities, I hope they are able to engage with therapy to lessen his wounding. I love them and they did not ask for this.

The damage to me is vast and often consuming. I’m choosing not to focus on it unless I feel the need to voice it. Unless I need to frame my truth in words to recategorise or process. I’m looking at recovery. I’m so grateful for the chance to have a free future.

Nightmares about escaping will never match the horror within the waking life. Statistically leaving and the aftermath is the most dangerous time for a domestic abuse victim, I feel that in my blood. So too, do all the victims each written off as collateral damage.

Still on my mind.

I wish this was ingrained into our culture.

It’s still on my mind. Rape that is.

I’m still hurled into the vortex,

Lurching over and over the times I said no.

He took yes. Through tears and misery.

He took yes knowing well the force.

Over, over, over all the times,

His power greater than my ability to dissent.

I hate myself, how many times I gave up,

Disgusted with myself for my surrender.

Day after day, night after night,

Never enough, if I gave willingly he’d use force to hurt until,

Until my pain, my change of heart gave him pleasure, I have to lose the fight.

My body still hurts,

I’m disconnected months on.

I don’t touch myself, I let no one else near

I hate myself for taking the only path I could,

I am disgusted for abandoning my boundaries to…

…dial down his fury just a little, please, don’t make me.

Sick at the violence he inflicted because I liked it, he said,

Tears silently mocking his words. Blood sometimes, bruising often.

Blindfold and humiliation, deliberately shattering my trust.

He tore my hair out in clumps again and again,

Videos and photographs taken cheaply without consent,

Taken without knowledge, deprived of senses, I only suspect.

Rape is still rape when it’s several times a day,

it’s rape when she’s crying desperate to get away.

You raped her when you persuaded her, cajoled, wheedled, whined.

It was rape when you touched her over and over as she said “No, I’m too tired.”

It was rape that time you ‘surprised’ her as she slept and deaf eared her protest.

You raped a woman over months and years, you need to hear this.

I want to shout it, it’s rape if you sulk and intimidate, or cry or shout.

It’s rape when you threaten suicide over the rejection until she relents,

exhausted and unwilling and you force her harder;

You make it hurt to pay the bitch back.

When you teach her a lesson for smiling at that guy, for looking up.

When you force her to fuck, you talk dirty fantasies she’s not into, even when she’s begging you to stop.

You berate her for enjoying it too much and bring it up for months as evidence of her degradation. But…

she just faked it, she hoped you would stop, reviled, hated the words you said.

She loved you once, just wanted consensual.

She wanted to love and be loved.

She wanted sensual.

You raped her.

No always means no.