*Content warning: Abuse (physical, emotional)
I left an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. He seemed perfect when we first met, and I believe he loved me. However, as his mental health and wellbeing declined, so did the way he treated me.
I can see, looking back, that the red flags existed from the very beginning. Unfortunately, I was so adamant about finding and holding onto “The One” that I chose to not see them. He would constantly put me down, pick my flaws, and gaslight my thoughts and feelings to the point that I believed his version to be the truth.
He also laid his hands on me a few times. After these incidents, desperate apologies would follow, which seemed sincere in nature. Declarations that he would change for me and us. And I believed it.
I was in this vicious cycle for 18 months. I tried to leave a few times, but his behaviour escalated, and going back just seemed like the easiest thing to do. Not to mention the shame spirals I experienced upon returning, after I had told my loved ones I wouldn’t under any circumstance.
A turning point occurred one day, when telling my therapist a story about my partner. I honestly thought that the details of that story were insignificant, and not the cause for any alarm. Once I finished my story, my therapist looked at me directly and said, ‘I am anxious for your safety and would like us to begin planning for you to leave.’ It was not as much the words that impacted me, but that his face showed genuine concern and care. That mental image will be implanted in my brain forever.
I can now see that relationship was incredibly toxic and abusive – but at the time it had become my norm, and I lived it day in and day out. I have so much appreciation for the services and people who dedicate their efforts to supporting people in violent relationships and homes. There were moments where I would second guess myself and doubt my resolve. In these moments of vulnerability and loneliness, I needed to reach out and have someone tell me that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t going crazy. I needed to know that my feelings were valid, and what I had been through was real.
I have been given back my voice.
I now have a story to share and believe it is important to connect to supports and services that specialise in domestic violence and can provide safely guided support.
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.
To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/