Part One- The Voice: a blog from a Derbyshire domestic abuse survivor
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This year has been challenging for everyone, and especially for victims of domestic abuse who face an anxious time at home when it is not safe. Christmas can also be difficult for victims, who find tensions are higher at this time.
Over the next three days we’re sharing the story of one Derbyshire woman who’s kindly written about her experience in the hope it will encourage others to seek support.
You can find contact details at the end of this blog. Remember, you are not alone.
Part One - The Voice
“When I used to hear about domestic abuse, like many others, I’d think of physical violence. It’s a term which is so misunderstood by others, and it used to be by me.
Throughout my 20s I was in abusive relationships but because it was the only types of relationship I had, to me it was normal. I have been in relationships where there have been various forms of abuse, and the worst for me was psychological.
I call it the silent killer. It’s subtle, discreet and well-hidden. No one but you knows the true extent, but even when you are tolerating it, you still don’t see it as abuse.
I never felt I was able to report it to the police. I felt like I wouldn’t be believed, especially the psychological abuse- it felt so hard to prove. If I told someone we’d had an argument about hanging the washing out, that they would just see it as normal. But it went deeper. It was an argument that had a whole load of control and manipulation around it. I had so much fear around if I hung it up wrong, and what would happen to me.
I didn’t report what I experienced, even with encouragement from my friends and family. Explaining this and understanding it myself was so hard. How could I explain it to the outside? How could they understand, when even I couldn’t?
When you are in the situation you don’t realise what it is. It is only when you are able to finally break free, sometimes months or even years later, that you recognise the abuse.
For me, my justice now is to speak about my experiences as I shouldn’t be ashamed. I work with victims of domestic abuse and I can sometimes hear myself as I listen to them. I feel empowered to educate and inspire others, and to provide a voice for those victims who, like me, struggled to speak up, and struggled to see the abuse for what it was.
Luckily, I decided to have counselling as I was convinced the problems in our relationship were down to me. Through that, I realised I was a victim of manipulation, gaslighting, and projection.
Gaslighting is where the abuser manipulates someone to such an extent that they question their own sanity. It’s used to plant seeds of doubt which results in you not being able to trust yourself or your thoughts.
Projection is where the abuser puts what they think of themselves on to you, in a subtle way. All the uncomfortable feelings they have they throw onto you. They make you feel guilty about who they are and what they are doing. They project any blame you place on them back on you. Everything is your fault.
I learnt I suffered from narcissistic abuse. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, so I decided to do some research. It felt like I was reading a book on my life.
It started with love bombing and so many compliments. I saw their nicest side and they made me feel like I was the one. They said everything I wanted to hear, things like: “I have never felt like this with anyone before”, “All I want to do is spend time with you”, and “I love everything about you.”
These are common phrases an abuser will use to hook you. I’m not saying everyone who says them is an abuser, but they are commonly used in abusive relationships.
I was bombarded with texts and calls. It was flattering; I didn’t see any red flags. I was just getting sucked in. They would turn up at work with flowers and surprise me. In the beginning, they were nice gestures, but now I realise it was to get me exactly where they wanted me. I saw a charming and sweet person who really liked me.
They saw my vulnerabilities and a fuel supply for their ego.
A few months in and things got serious, quickly. Everything was so intense, but by this point I had strong feelings. My family and friends were telling me to relax and not rush, but I didn’t listen because I was already invested. You are under their spell and don’t realise it.”
You can read Part Two – The Puppet and Puppet Master tomorrow.
If you are a victim of abuse or if you have concerns about someone you can report it online here, www.derbyshire.police.uk/reportdomesticabuse or by calling 101. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service on 18001 101.
You can also contact us through Facebook, send us a private message to www.facebook.com/DerbyshireConstabulary or direct message our contact centre on Twitter, @DerPolContact.
In an emergency, or where life is in danger, call 999 immediately. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.
There are also partner support services local to Derbyshire who can help you. You can find their details on our website here: https://www.derbyshire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/support-helplines/