Is anyone away from their abuser but still feeling the effects?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-02-2005
Is anyone away from their abuser but still feeling the effects?
15
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 3:18am

Hello everyone,

I may have been on this board before but it may have been a long time ago. So, I'll make a long story short. I was with my abuser for 7 years and the last 14 months of that 7 years, we were married. At that time, I discovered he had a girlfriend and when I confronted him about it, he broke it off (the marriage, relationship, etc.) right on the spot. I knew this man well enough to know that if he wasn't cheating, he would have at least denied it, but he did not. During the time we were together, I was mentally and emotionally abused more than I was physically abused and treated as a possession.

This happened 7 years ago.

It dawned on me a while back that he probably had months to prepare himself (financially and maybe emotionally) to leave me for this other woman. But when the day came, the ending of my relationship and marriage happened to me overnight. And I still struggle with that. Even though, to this day, I am thankful that this woman took this trainwreck from me. I still struggle with one day being a closely guarded possession and the next day being tossed away like garbage. I think that's what hurts the most. That it went from "If you leave me, I'll kill you" to "Get the f**k out and don't come back." How messed up is that?!? This guy was a complete loser yet I couldn't keep him around and make it work. I feel there is something wrong with me. As messed up as that sounds and if he knew I felt this way, he would be happy about it. He would even gloat about it. I know that feeling this way means he wins and he still has that power over me. There are days that I'm over it and days like today, I can't. My brother was talking to me about it today and I burst into tears. I cry everytime it comes up and I talk about it.

I thought by now, I would be over this. But I can't move on emotionally. I don't have the courage to be in another relationship because the person I loved the most was the one that hurt me the most. And on top of that, I don't think my abuser ever loved me at all.

 I really don't know what to do with myself anymore and I don't trust my own judgment to not end up in that situation again. I didn't know I was being abused until after it was over. And I'm having a hard time forgiving myself for letting it go on for as long as it did. So does anyone relate to what I'm talking about? Or is this a choice I made because I'm too scared to drop my guard?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-2008

Allow me to give you a little internal peace on this particular issue...  

My abuser, andmy children's abuser, was sentenced to prison in August of 1999.  This is August of 2012 - 13 years later - and I STILL have moments where I freak out, burst into tears, hide in a corner, etc... because of the after effects.   I still, 13 years later, beat myself up because I didn't get the kids out "sooner."  

We are our own harshest critics.   Years of having someone drip soul destroying acid down our individual ears has taken its toll and when something happens which reminds us of that time, no matter how vague the reminder is, we are sometimes left questioning ourselves and second-guessing ourselves.   How do we stop it?  I don't know.   I haven't managed to come up with a "sure fire cure" for myself in the last 13 years and I don't know if I will come up with one in the next 13 years either.  

I do know distraction helps.   Instead of associating new memories with memories of my abuser I strive to associate those new things with HAPPY times and places in my past.  I'm not always successful but I am trying.  Counseling helps more than I can ever say and I still go to counseling when I need to.   Some "experts" in abuse say it takes a child twice as long to recover from abuse as the length of time the abuse lasted.  If that holds true for adults who are abused as well I'm in for a few more years of counseling.  If that's what it takes...  it is what it is and I will carry on.  

These days it is not unusual for me to ask myself "What's the worst thing that can happen" when I am trying to decide something important/dangerous.   The answer is always "You could die" and frankly there were a few times he had me looking into the gaping maw of the spectre of death so I shrug my shoulders and say to myself "Well, we all have to die sometime - might as well have fun doing it" and carry on.   That particular question has got me through a lot of things I never thought I would try...   taking flying lessons, climbing mountains, going whitewater rafting, spending 6 months living in Saudi Arabia...  

I know one thing about you just sitting here...   I do know that you are a SURVIVOR.  You've already survived what was done to you.  You became a survivor the minute you packed your bags and left.  You have DONE the hardest part.   Surviving and getting out are the two most heroic things any of us will ever do... and each of us must do them alone.   In our individual time.

Looking backward at the past with perfect 20/20 vision is a choice...   Looking forward to a bright shining future free from abuse is also a choice.   I choose to look forward most of the time because looking backward gives HIM control and he's controlled my life enough. 

Dating?  Meh... go slow... use caution...  spend $45 for a year's subscription to one of those sites that does background checks on people.  I figure my LIFE is worth at least $45.   Choose "double dates" with friends rather than going out with a stranger by yourself (and hey if ya want some really subtle ways to double date without appearing to double date - let me know... I may have created a few new ways to do it  :smileylol: ).  Most of all...  when you meet someone new... TRUST YOUR GUT. 


Renee/Seli

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2008

Hi and great post from Renee

I also wanted to say that yes to you whosurmami that yes like me and others you are a true survivor and you seem to have a grip on this..but did something trigger this? A few weeks ago I had to go back to my old marital home which I left 6 years ago. I left home and my exH abuser. He told me he was moving and renting out house to strangers and that I needed to go and get the rest of my things. So I did and it brought back old memories and other things. I so loved that house so much but it brought back the ptsd and other feelings. I knew though that If I dwelled on those times and stayed in that space in my psyche I wasnt as healed up as I thought. I did well with it all and I didnt dwell on any of the emotions too much.

Although like Renee I dont have any answers as to why at times the after abuse still does affect me and its been 7 years since I walked out the abusive marital door.. I have days where I will still cry or wonder or think I did something wrong like when I know ex is  moving in with his gfriend and why she is putting up with his abuse. I am assuming he abuses her and friends have told me and I even experienced it when I had to live with him when we were divorcing (long story).. but I cant stay in that space and place too too long becuause it will undo all of the hard work I have done getting out and staying out and remaining abuse free and victim free.. So although I might go to that dark place I wont stay there too long for my own emotional health.

You are doing well and yes dont be so hard on yourself and know that you can also see a counselor or a support group for re validation. I think we all need that from time to time. Heck I still read books on abuse and read the boards and talk it out sometimes with friends.I always forgive but never forget.

As far as dating I am old now (58) (lol) and have had some dates since 2008 and I do trust myself and my gut and instincts so I dont think that would hinder my dating.. My intuition and gut are on all time high and I use them all the time and they are always right. They never steer me wrong and I know better so I dont think I would have a problem figuring men out anymore.. Not that I get the chance but if I ever did I dont think I would be picking another control freak and abuser.

Take Care

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-04-2000

If you knew then what you knew now you would have made other choices...YES. BUT you did not know then what you are judging yourself with now. Try to remember what you DID know at the time and judge yourself only on those things.

Those of you who ARE struggling with these issues, I highly recommend counseling. If you already had counseling, you either need more or additional counseling or the counselor you did have may not have addressed everything before concluding your sessions. Sometimes that is the insurance fault since the insurance is good at deciding exactly how many sessions it will take to heal you, even though everyone is different and each situation is different.

Also consider asking a counselor if possibly you are struggling with PTSD. Yes that is a diagnosis that is thrown around a lot lately but for those who survived physical and mental and emotional abuse it can be a very real consequence. PTSD can be helped with EMDR or Neurofeedback. So check into those kinds of treatments for yourself. I can warn you that Neurofeedback is very expensive but the treatments are only for a few months then unless you put yourself back into a similar type situation will be longer lasting than if you take medication to help with the symptoms....EMDR uses motion and sometimes lights and or sounds to help reconnect the communication between the memory brain and the logic brain. During a traumatic event memories are stored in the brain but because of the type of event the memories often get split up into different parts of the brain so when a memory is stirred up it is difficult to recognize it is a memory rather than a current event. EMDR manages to reconnect  those memory pieces so when it surfaces your logic can recognize it is a past event not a current event...

I know that is all complicated but I wanted to try to explain PTSD in a way that might make sense to everyone so you can see it is NOT you or your shortcomings but a very real situation and not of your doing.

All that to say I encourage anyone who is struggling with healing from your abuse, regardless how long ago you left, that counseling is a definite thing to consider for yourself.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2008

wow. I am so curious as to how you wound up in Saudi Arabia? Do you live overseas now?

I am in NY and I managed to live in Nevada, Florida and NJ and that was about it.. Although the times were great and they were perfect for that time I wound up back in NY... I visited many places overseas and visited many states but I have never thought of living anywhere else anymore.. As I age right now I would love to travel around country in an RV but that aint gonna happen cause I am not doing it alone and most people I know work full time and have lives. (lol)

Anyway; I am so thinking of moving to a much less expensive area in NJ again but we shall see.

take care

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-2008
I work doing environmental and safety inspections on gas and oil production facilities. For about 18 months after I took the job the company had me spending 2 or 3 months in various locations around the world learning how the inspections we do are conducted in other countries. Eight countries other than the US all told. We were in Saudi Arabia the longest.

I finish my Master's in Environmental Science next December (2013) and already have a couple of job offers - but I have no idea where I will eventually wind up working when I am done with this degree. I do know that I would take a job that paid less and had less benefits IF it also allows me to make a difference in both the lives of people and the environment in which we live.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2008

wow.. that is totally awesome and good for you..

So I am assuming your kids went with you?
I know I have done such low paying jobs most of my life like travel and tourism and recreation jobs and the pay is so bad but I loved those jobs and I was happy.. Now I suffer because as I age there are no jobs and I have been unemployed for over a year. . I would love to just retire and look for just part time work which I am but nothing is coming about yet but I have hope (lol)

thanks for the post..

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-2008
The kids went with me for a couple of reasons. First I wanted them to be exposed to more cultures and attending local schools in the various countries helped to expose them to those cultures. Second, I felt that the educational opportunities for them were significant.

it turns out that the educational benefits were extremely significant. in most of the countries we lived briefly in children are not promoted through grades because of "social factors" but rather because of academic performance. Promotion based on academic performance rather than social factors was very good for the twins - it allowed them to excel without being hampered by the name-calling and bullying which is done in schools here. By the time we came "home" they were a couple of grades ahead of their age mates because of their academic performance.

My advice on the job... find something you LOVE to do and which makes you happy... then *create* a job for yourself. For instance, you enjoy the travel and tourism areas... so why not, if you are VERY familiar with the area you live in, consult with companies who are planning business meetings in your area or groups who are planning conventions in your area and (for a fee) clear up the local legwork which NEEDS to be done for those types of things. (All of that was just an "off the cuff" idea - and it wouldn't take much money to get it started since most companies and most groups have email addresses. )
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2008

thank you and I have always thought of doing something like that.. I just dont know where to start.. I do live in a very touristy area so I could do that.. Only thing I would be competing with chambers of commerce and all. We have so many here in NY but yes I love that idea.. thank you..

I could go and visit a womens center where they have counselors for this sort of thing but I have been there before and they were kinda not so friendly and rushed me out really quick and were sort of nasty and all...it was I was wasting their time but that was years ago.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-02-2005

Thank you all for your responses and your support, it means so much to me.

@freeatlast2008, I would say I did have a trigger for all of this. Like I mentioned before, it was something my brother was discussing with me. The reason why he brought it up was because of a Facebook page I've been following lately about DV. I don't know if this sounds odd but this young woman on the site asks a lot of questions and people shared some experiences with her, myself included. I think when I discussed specific incidents (instead of the generalized stuff like I posted) it was a trigger also. Some things I have discussed with a counselor before and some things I have never told anyone, ever. The reason why I say it might be odd is because I didn't see a counselor until 2 years after the abuse ended, and it helped tremendously. Now when I talk about it, it makes me worse and I dwell on it.

@frustratedwith3, I would like nothing more that to go back to a support group and see if I can have the same affect as last time but I live in a small area now and don't want to be around a group of people I know and don't get along with (the last group I was in was in a different town 90 miles away from where I am now). I have insurance and would like to go see someone for private sessions but my insurance only covers psychiatrists and not the counselors I would rather see. I don't want meds to ignore what I'm feeling, I want to work through it and get past it for good. I don't mean for that last part to sound angry but the last time I was down like this, this was the runaround I got and that made me angry LOL. Anyway, I have looked into the PTSD possibility previously and I admit it is frightening. I have a doctor's appointment next week and I will see what they could suggest or what direction they can point me to because last year when I asked my doctor about PTSD, she basically gave me the blow off.

@mischeviousangel, I read your story in the other post and I can't even imagine the terror you and your children felt and what you still feel. I try to remember that I am a survivor, that we all are, but some days, it isn't enough to keep me grounded. I am trying to be brave enough to move on. There have been men in my life since all this happened but I never let them get close enough to get inside my head or my heart. But you are right, I need to make a more conscious effort to not go back to "the dark side" of my mind and remember what I have now. Now what I had in the past. I thank you for reminding me of this. I am certainly more clear-headed today than I was when I wrote my initial post.

Wish me luck ladies, and I do wish you luck in return. Thank you again for your support and kind words because I needed them so much. People who have not been in our situation do not fully understand what we've been through and how it makes us feel. People don't understand that there is no "just getting over it" and that "just leaving" is easier said than done.

Community Leader
Registered: 10-22-2001

I think I still do but each day gets a little better...

 

Nightangel

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