A Time for Honesty…
About this time last year, I was fiercely writing away like my life depended on it. I felt like I was churning out loads of stuff (partly because I had never written my own blog before, and it was all in a relatively short amount of time).
Then – nothing.
I suddenly had nothing to pour out to anyone, or so it may have seemed…
…I had always wanted my blog to be very honest and open to everyone but had wanted to ease into my background gently. I don’t think it would come as any kind of surprise to anyone who may be reading this that I have in one form or another experienced Domestic Violence. However, it came as quite a surprise to me when I learned this, as I just plodded along with a view that everything was just normal. I do not pretend that I suffered great injuries physically, but mentally I was left scarred. What may be new news is that with this experience came another that was completely unexpected and here, I most certainly had the view that ‘it could never happen to me’. What so many women do not realise is that with DV come the social services.
My situation definitely called for them to act, I had followed one abusive relationship directly with another, although the form of that abuse was different each time. One liked to mess with my mind and the other liked to use brute force. With the first partner, I birthed a daughter, with whom I have a fantastic bond. It’s amazing that we have this because the treatment I sustained whilst we were both living with her father left me weak and useless as a mother. Of course, with having had that child there came the realisation that I needed to be away from my partner. I knew things were wrong and causing damage to myself and daughter, however, I had a very broken and distorted view on why it was so. With a battered self-esteem and constant self-hating mind I set off on our journey to ‘freedom’.
What I did so horribly wrong was to ignore and dismiss all I had experienced for the sake of having made the move to single-parenthood. The effects were disastrous. My Ex still had a massive hold on me knowing exactly how to manipulate and torture me, whilst I was stuck in total conflict of independence and utter submission. I suffered depressive moods, major mood swings, frustration and an extreme desire for affection and to be noticed. Underneath, I think I probably knew all the information, I just had no idea how to utilise it and help myself.
Subsequently, after only a few months of being single, I met another who managed to convince me swiftly that he was better, more loving, more caring… and boy was I wrong.
This ‘man’ was a monster. Within one month of dating, he committed the most horrific crime. He hurt my baby girl, and lied about it. He put her to bed and covered up what he had done and put her at even more risk. This left me open to suspicion and trapped in the largest battle of my entire life.
Within the last 4 years I have had to face up to so many personality traits that contributed towards this event and have taken responsibility of the actions he took. I have taken courses on safe parenting, talking and communicating, CBT, protective behaviour, The Freedom Programme and had to see a psychologist in order to prove that I was of capable mind to have my own children.
He obtained a criminal conviction for what he did, but he still roams free, impregnating other women and shouting his mouth off at anyone within earshot.
One amazing thing that came from that relationship was the birth of my second daughter. It was both the worst and the best thing I ever did with him. The worst because this innocent child got tangled up amidst this awful battle already in progress and the best because she was the one that helped me gain so much understanding of myself that in turn has held the bond between me and my first daughter.
During the pregnancy, I found out exactly what was lurking under the surface of that monster. He turned violent and abusive, he threatened and he lied. Compulsively.
Following my experiences during my pregnancy and after I gave birth I was whisked away, with newborn child, to a ‘prison’ disguised as a safe house for mothers and babies. I spent 8 months under surveillance and supervision. I was assessed and probed, questioned and confined. I wasn’t allowed to see friends or family unless they booked an hour’s visit and I was allowed out for 2 hours a day for free time. During this time I attended courses on parenting and counselling. All of which came provided by the place I was staying at. The parenting classes were helpful by providing many tactics to handle difficult behaviour etc. But the counselling was nothing short of useless. At the time I found the woman to be helpful, but since I came home and attended the Freedom Programme, I grew to realise that all she really did was talk about herself and patronised me and made me feel like an idiot for getting myself into the mess. The biggest irony through all of this is that the system that maintains its pride in protecting and safeguarding women and children, is the same organisation that isolated me, cut me off from support networks and poked and prodded me to see when the cracks would appear and where my weak spots were. This same organisation put no actual safety measures in place for me, the ‘victim’, when they dismissed me from the safe house and sent me home, alone.
My first daughter had to go and live with her father, the original mentally abusive partner, and after the 8 months of living in the ‘safe house’ my second was placed in foster care and I was forced to get on with life alone and battle against the social services for a further year and a half. I was proactive and determined and did as much as I could. I never once failed to attend a contact session with my daughters and I never once failed to attend meetings with professionals. I enrolled myself at a women’s centre and that is where I discovered the Freedom Programme. This course opened my eyes to what I had really been experiencing and made me see what I refused to accept about myself. One of those things was that it wasn’t my fault. I had spent so much time allowing myself to be blamed for everything, being abused, my daughter getting hurt by someone else and for all the mess that followed. But what I was finally able to accept was responsibility. Blame and responsibility are two VERY different topics and neither should be used lightly. Blame is the world’s worst enemy and the root cause of most problems. Responsibility is very shy and all too often forgotten and dismissed. Responsibility is our friend, when we know how to respect her. Once I learned this, I made my slow and very agonising climb to success.
My youngest daughter came home to me in November last year and during the previous months leading up to that I fought the backsides off the ones who were determined to beat me. I had mediocre representation at court (it would shock most to hear what your representation will not allow you to fight for, speak out about or even do) and I decided to write all of my own statements for court and fought my own battles there. I won my own child back with a force of sheer determination and undamaged love for my children. I have accepted that I will have to wait for my other daughter to come to ours but that is down to adjustment and patience and fighting against an abusive man who likes to have control and a weapon at hand to keep me at bay. But I know our time will come.
And so, that is why, over a year down the line I am finally emerging out of a new shell. It’s been an incredibly busy year with many, many twists and turns. But finally, the tables have turned for us and for once, we are the ones in control and we are the ones who are happy. I decided to open up about my history now, because it explains so much of the reasons why I write what I write. I have seen what possibilities there are out there, but I have also seen how they are almost withheld or made difficult to attain, I’ve seen outcomes that have floored me and made me question the social services and their methods. I’ve seen them exploit and treat women in manners that don’t stray too far from those, which resemble abusive relationships. I don’t just want to help protect women from abusive men; I want to try to encourage women to protect themselves from their own repetitive behaviours, their influences and their peers. If young women can gain an understanding about what really goes on before, during and especially after DV takes hold, then they can equip themselves with the strength to protect themselves. Suffering through abuse is bad enough but punishment for it is a far too heavy weight to carry on top.