Part Two- The Puppet and Puppet Master: a blog from a domestic abuse survivor
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Today we’re sharing part two of a three-part series written by a Derbyshire woman who wanted to share her experience of domestic abuse to encourage others to speak out.
The Christmas period, and this year, in particular, has been particularly challenging for victims of domestic abuse who face an anxious time at home when it is not safe.
You are not alone. You can find contact details at the end of this blog.
Part Two- The Puppet and Puppet Master
“After the “love bombing” phase, comes the abuse.
I felt like I was the centre of their world when really, they are the predator and I was their prey. It’s a trap, and once you are trapped the cycle of abuse begins. They brainwash you, crush you down, and make you feel worthless.
For me, sex was used as a weapon. I was told it was all I was good for. If they did not get it, they would threaten to go elsewhere. I basically was their object, their possession, and was only good for one thing. When this is drilled into your head, you start to believe it. Any occasions, Christmas day, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, all would be ruined.
A common trait of narcissistic abuse is that they will do whatever they can to get attention. I dreaded my birthday. One year I was accused of cheating and told I needed to show them my birthday messages. I felt scared of any messages that would come through as I knew it would come with hell.
Another year we went away for my birthday, I thought we had a lovely time but as soon as I got home I got given the silent treatment. I had not got a clue what was going on and I was begging him to tell me what I had done. Days later, he told me I had not ‘performed enough’ as I should have. The manipulation, gaslighting and projection all slapped me in the face. Once again, my birthday was ruined, once again it was my fault.
The silent treatment really is a form of torture. One minute I would be in his good books, being rewarded with good behaviour. Then out of nowhere - silence.
I would be treading on eggshells frantically trying to piece together what I had done. You ask them what’s wrong and get greeted with silence, you say their name over and over again and it's almost like you don’t exist. You aren’t there, because they just look straight through you.
Sometimes, they would look at me whilst I was crying, laugh, then walk off.
You try everything within your power to be rewarded by doing something you know they may like. Cook their favourite dinner, buy them something, anything, and I mean anything, to get them to notice you. When they are eventually nice to you, and the silent treatment stops, the most amazing relief comes over you. You cling on to this bit of reward as you know it won’t be long until the next thing happens.
They isolate you from your friends and family and subtly remove anyone that’s in their way before you know it, you are dependant on them. You stop seeing friends and family and slowly but surely you feel yourself sink deeper and deeper into a dark hole. To keep the peace, you do whatever they want, as facing the consequences of going against their wishes were far worse. You learn to put up and shut up.
I wasn’t allowed to wear bright clothes to the gym as this attracted attention from men and, of course, he said I did this on purpose. I ended up having to wear black all the time, and if I got a look from a man, I would be accused of having a thing with him.
It got to a point where I would just look at the floor as I feared the repercussions if I clocked eyes with anyone else.
I stopped using social media as the hell it bought just wasn’t worth it. A constant headache. I was not allowed to lie on my bed with my day to day clothes on, I had to get changed into dirty clothes and only then was I allowed to lie down. I wasn’t allowed to put my phone down on the kitchen surface or put my water bottle down. Every action I took, I had to think carefully about what I was doing as I just lived in fear.
I used to beg to be hit. I’d plead with him to hit me and to stop messing with my head.
I slowly sank into depression, and it took me to a place that I never want to be again. I took an overdose as I could not cope, I just wanted it to go away. I wanted him to be out of my head. I literally felt like a puppet and he was the puppet master.
Abusers seek people who are perhaps already vulnerable and what we call empaths. Empaths have a great deal of empathy and often take on other people’s pain at their own expense. I know my role of being a partner soon turned into a mother-like role, where I felt it was my responsibility to look after them.
People need to realise that abuse can actually be addictive – similar to that of a cocaine addict.
They call it trauma bonding, similar to Stockholm Syndrome. You get used to the highs and the lows when it's low you crave the highs, and when it's high you are waiting for the low. Your brain gets used to the heightened states of emotions, that the part of the brain responsible for decision making, learning and memory can be dampened.
I get why victims go from one abusive relationship to another when it’s all that’s known. It becomes normal. Sometimes you actually want to believe that the person is genuinely interested in you and that maybe this time it's real.
Before you know it, you appear to be back in that same cycle though, except this time, the trauma goes deeper bringing old wounds to the surface. Hearing the common sayings “You are crazy.” – “You are no one without me.” – “You like to play the victim.”
This just reinforces the trauma you have once experienced to the point you are sat there seriously questioning if it is you.
I understand how others can feel frustrated but it really is not as easy as saying “just leave”. It is an absolute minefield that is fuelled with games, control, and manipulation.
Any form of abuse is wrong, however, physical abuse you can see, there are signs, and for me, that was so much easier to deal with. But psychological abuse is so subtle. What you think is an argument over washing the dishes may, in reality, be something more, they may be someone like me- stuck in a predatory trap.
The problem is that it is hard to tell, and I absolutely understand that. However, as victims, as survivors, we look for understanding. All we want is to be understood. I know for me, that was, and remains the most important thing.”
You can read the Part Three – The Outsider tomorrow evening or catch up on Part One- The Voice here: https://www.derbyshire.police.uk/news/derbyshire/news/campaigns/2020/december/part-one--the-voice-a-blog-from-a-derbyshire-domestic-abuse-survivor/
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/