Breaking the Abuse Cycle 

What is it like to realize you are married to an abuser? Life changing. Life shattering is a better description, but realizing and acknowledging that the person you love is an abuser is the first step to breaking free.

I remember when I lived in my abusive marriage. For many years I did not want to admit to myself that my husband was abusive. It was painfully impossible.   I hung on through the bad times and just prayed that in time things would get better.  I survived watching him throw chairs across the dining room in a rage or throwing our recliner across the living room because our girls were playing “too loud.” I survived the two year affair and the pushing down the flight of stairs when I was seven months pregnant.  I held on through all of it because…..well because I loved him and I was caught in the abuse cycle.

Part of seeing that the one you love is an abuser is learning the abuse cycle.  There are three parts to the cycle; the Tension Building Stage, The Incident and The Honeymoon Stage.

abusewheelThe Tension Building Stage is when you feel like you are walking on egg shells, waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak.  You, as the victim, know the abuse is coming you just do not know when so you walk softly in your life hoping not to rock the boat.  For the abuser the tension is building in him/her.  They will actually create incidents in their mind to be angry about, incidents that are minor to anyone else but they will blow them up in their mind so that they have a reason to explode.  The abuser will set the victim up in a situation where they tell themselves they have a rite to explode and they will do just that; explode. The incident  in the Incident Stage is never the same thing twice.  This unpredictability keeps the victim on edge and gives the abuser control over them.  I will give you an example.  One night, in my abusive marriage,  I made Hamburger Helper for supper.  I cooked the ground beef and drained off the grease, like I had so many times before.  When my ex started eating he suddenly exploded, yelling at me that there was too much grease in the supper and he started throwing forks and knives at me.  He then got up and stormed off to the basement leaving myself and our children in a stunned silence, shaking in fear. In his head he needed to explode.  He needed to release the tension that had been building in him.  He created an incident in his head (too much grease in the meal) that justified exploding and he did just that.  A few weeks later I made the same dish again.  This time I was shaking as I made it, worried that he would explode again.  I was really thorough, almost too thorough when I drained the grease, I did not want their to be a spot of grease.  We sat down for the meal and I held my breath as he took the first bite.  This time….nothing.  No explosion, no angry words, no throwing of knives, nothing,  but the meal was exactly the same! Do you see what he did?  He created fear in me by getting angry about the grease, he then controlled my feelings and actions the next time I made the meal as I was extra careful in how I made it out of fear of him exploding again.  He had complete control over me.

Following the Incident Stage or Violence Stage is the Honeymoon Stage.  The abuser will often show remorse during this period.  Many apologize and make promises that they will change and it will never happen again.  There is a period of calmness as the victim enjoys the peace and the abuser is feeling calm because he has released all of that tension.  Sooner than later though that tension will build again and the cycle will start all over again.  As the abuser gains strength and feels more powerful each stage of the cycle will happen quicker and  quicker and in turn will become more dangerous.

Breaking the abuse cycle is not easy.  In fact, given the dangers around abuse, I believe it is the hardest cycle to break, but breaking it can happen. With proper support and understanding of the cycle you can break free.  If you find that you are stuck in this cycle I encourage you to study the dynamics in an abusive relationship. Read books, google it on the internet and seeking counselling or a support group can all be helpful things.  Empower yourself with knowledge.

In the end I did break free from the abuse cycle.  It took many attempts to finally be free, but I did it and I could not be more proud of myself.  Be proud of you.  Do it.  I BELIEVE in you.

Peace,

Janet

PS.  If you are planning to leave your abusive relationship I encourage you to create a Safety Plan so that you can leave safely.  Please follow this link to download a Safety Plan.  Scroll to the bottom of the page that initially opens to download it for free

 

I’ll just be over here laughing

As I head into the New Year I am realizing there is a shift in my healing from my abusive marriage.  What is the shift? I am laughing at my ex. Yes you read that correctly,  I am laughing at my ex.

I used to live in a world that was full of fear.  My ex enjoyed terrorizing me, raping me, physically abusing me and our son and abusing my daughters in ways that I cannot put into words.  I feared him. A lot.  He liked that I was afraid and that I was hurting.  Even my Lawyer, from talking to him, noted that my ex really enjoyed knowing I was in pain over what he had done.  As our family doctor put it in Court, my ex is mentally unwell and is an undiagnosed Sociopath.  So yes I have had every right to fear him.

So why am I laughing? Well I am laughing because my ex can no longer hurt me.  His only contact is his pathetic bashing of me online.  I will admit when I first found out he was attacking me on-line my PTSD kicked in and I was……well unsettled.  Knowing he reads my facebook page or this blog used to bug me.  I did not want him to be able to touch any part of my life.  Now though……well now I really do not care.  I see what he says online and I see it as pathetic and extremely predictable.  Abusers will do this when you leave.  They will trash your name (see my blog The Smear Campaign) to deflect from what they have done and they will watch you online because they still think of you as their property and something they own.  This is what they do. Now that you know that and I know that it almost makes what they are doing pathetic don’t you think? There is nothing special in their actions, they are simply like every other hum drum abuser (is that too crass??!!) It kind of takes away their power doesn’t it?  Well it certainly has for me.

So to my ex, and all of his minions who also follow me online, read away.  I hope you have fun going over what I write, how I share what he did and in turn empower other Survivors to break free.  Please enjoy my work.  I’ll just be over here in the corner laughing at your predictability.

Peace,

Janet

 

Loving and the unlovable

My ex has never shown any remorse for what he has done. He has never taken any responsibility. In fact he is quick to blame me for what happened in our marriage. This is classic abusive behaviour. Waiting to forgive my ex till he says sorry is like sitting and watching paint dry. I know I will be waiting for a very long time. I don’t want that long. I want to be free.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard especially when you are trying to forgive someone who has hurt you so deeply.  I wrestle with forgiving my ex for what he did to me and our children.  In fact this is an issue that I often pray about and have been working through with my family Priest. Let me tell you that this has not been easy.  I loved this man purely and all he did was turn evil on me. How does one forgive that?  How do you forgive someone who raped you, terrorized you, threatened you and hurt your children? How to do you forgive someone who doesn’t appear to take responsibility for what he has done, let alone be sorry for it? That is what I have been exploring because I do believe it is integral to my healing to forgive.

Forgiving my ex does not mean I have to let him back into my life. Forgiveness means that I no longer need to carry what he did to me.  I can offer it up to God and ask God to deal with my ex in his Godly ways.  In that I can find peace and I can move forward.

I am reminded of the Bible story about the prodigal son.  He has left father with his inheritance and caused much destruction.  Upon the sons  return his father embraced him before he even knows if his son is sorry. He loves and forgives his son not because his son has earned his forgiveness, but because God asks us to love our neighbours as ourselves and in that love is forgiveness.

In following the Commandment; Love your neighbour as  yourself,  I am asked as a Christian to love my ex as I love myself.  I have been working hard at loving myself. Let me say that loving myself has not been an easy idea or act for me to do.   When you are in an abusive relationship your self worth will be attacked by your abuser in order to weaken you. The abuse will weaken your self esteem and  you will start to believe all the horrible things your abuser says about you.    My ex called me many horrible names, especially in the final years of our marriage.  Whore, idiot, stupid, bitch and slut were among his favourites.  Over time I believed  I was those names.  By the time I left the relationship I did not believe I was capable of anything worthwhile and it took a supportive group of family, friends and my faith in God to help me see that I was not any of the names he called me.  In time I remembered that I am a child of God, that I am worthwhile and that I have so many beautiful qualities. I began to love myself.  Now that I value me, now that I love me I find God asking me to follow His Commandment and love my ex.  Not as a lover, but as a child of God and in that love there is  forgiveness.

My ex has never shown any remorse for what he has done.  He has never taken any responsibility. In fact he is quick to blame me for what happened in our marriage. This is classic abusive behaviour. Waiting to forgive my ex till he says sorry is like sitting and watching paint dry.  I know I will be waiting for a very long time.  I don’t want that long.  I want to be free.  So what is next? Well in the words of Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness” (that I will leave you with) I am learning to love the unlovable and asking God to help me with the impossible; forgiving my ex.  May your journey bring you peace.

                                                    “Forgiveness”

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Peace,

Janet

Breaking free from the denial of abuse. You can do it!

A victim of abuse will live in a level of denial. You fall in love, you think he or she is all you ever wanted and then you start to see a dark side. A side that snaps at you or yells at you. Maybe he or she breaks something when they are angry. All red flags if you look at any “Are you being abused?” documentation, but as a victim you just don’t want to see it. You want to live your fairy tale. You want to believe that he or she loves you and is just a troubled person who needs more understanding than most. You don’t want to go through a break up so you hold on through the bad times and cheer during the good times. Over time the bad times happen more and more and before you know it there is barely a good second in your life.

It was slow and insidious at first.  I didn’t realize what he was setting me up for.  I thought he loved me, but he didn’t.  Instead, to him, I was something he owned.  I became an extension of him, like his arm or his leg.  He did not know how to deal with his own emotions so he set up a cycle where he released his feelings through abusing me.  This was my life.  This was my marriage.

At first his friends warned me that he had a temper.  I told them that I could handle it.  I figured that if I loved him enough his anger would go away.  He had had so many people leave him, his dad had died, his mom ignored him and the rest of his family was distant too.  I felt sorry for him.  I resolved that I would love him like no one else.  What I didn’t know was that they saw his temper.  They saw his violence and they didn’t know what to do about it, so they kept him at an arms length.  What I also didn’t know was his temper had put a kid in the hospital when he was 16.  A fellow teen ended up in intensive care and he had a restraining order against him.  He spent a lot of his time in and out of the police station.  It was an issue.  An issue I didn’t want to see.  I only wanted to see the quiet, tall, dark and handsome man that I had fallen in love with.

A victim of abuse will live in a level of denial.  You fall in love, you think he or she is all you ever wanted and then you start to see a dark side.  A side that snaps at you or yells at you.  Maybe he or she breaks something when they are angry.  All red flags if you look at any “Are you being abused?” documentation, but as a victim you just don’t want to see it.  You want to live your fairy tale.  You want to believe that he or she loves you and is just a troubled person who needs more understanding than most.  You don’t want to go through a break up so you hold on through the bad times and cheer during the good times. Over time the bad times happen more and more and before you know it there is barely a good second in your life.  I lived in that denial.  I lived in that denial for almost 15 years.  Then I woke up.

A moment will happen in a victims life that will jolt them “awake”. They will no longer be able to live in denial and they will see what is happening in their life is abuse.  They will see that the man or woman they love has abused them in many different ways.  It will shatter them and they will not know, at first, how to pick up the pieces. Everything they thought they knew will be questioned.  Many fall into depression or they may become suicidal.  It can become a very scary time for a victim or as I like to call them, a Survivor.  I know that when I “woke” up my world was rocked to the core.  I no longer trusted the world around me.  My waking moment was when I saw him physically abuse our toddler son.  He thought I had turned my back but out of my peripheral vision I saw him push our toddler son on the stairs so that he fell forward and smacked his head on the laminate flooring.  I screamed, “What are you doing?” and ran forward to grab my screaming son. My now exes response was, “I didn’t push him that hard.” No apology, no concern. It was in that moment that I saw who my husband was; a cold uncaring man who was out to hurt his family.  I knew in that moment that I had to start protecting myself and my young children.

Every Survivor’s moment is different.  You, as a bystander, may already know that their partner is abusing them.  There realization may come as no surprise to you, but please understand that to them their world is falling apart. They need love, understanding, patience and just someone to “be” with.  Someone who will listen as they sort our this mess.  It won’t be easy as a bystander to watch any of this.  You will worry about them, you will watch them cry and you may even watch them go back.  It plan out sucks to watch.  All I can say is please try to hang on.  They need you.  They are full of self doubt, little or no self worth and they need someone who is just there, loving them through it all.

If you are the Survivor having your “waking” moment let me say that I know it hurts.  I know that this is horrible and is totally not what you wanted.  I know you wanted what you see other people having, love and caring from a special person, but let me tell you abuse is NOT love. Never, ever is it love.  You deserve so much more than they are giving you and you are not any of the worthless things they may have told you , you are.  I know that breaking this denial, making these changes is hard, but I do believe that you can do them.  I didn’t think I could.  I figured I would be stuck in my abusive marriage forever.  I would never be able to afford to leave and wouldn’t I be a horrible mother splitting up my family? Then I realized that he had already split up our family when he started abusing us.  We were already broken. By leaving I was just doing what needed to be done to protect myself and my children from further pain.  I was doing the right thing. Yes there have been hurdles, but I faced each one head on and was determined to survive.  You too can survive.  You too can do it! I truly believe in you.  So break the denial, see the ugly for what it is, hold on, pray, reach out for support and reach for a better life where you are valued and loved.

Peace,

Janet

PS. If you are thinking about leaving your abusive relationship please know that your priority needs to be your safety.  Do not tell your abuser that you are planning to leave as the abuse will often escalate.  The most dangerous time for a Survivor of abuse is when they plan to leave or have just left.  To help you plan a safe escape I encourage you to create a Safety Plan.  Please follow the link below and scroll to the bottom of the page that comes up to download a Safety Plan for free.

http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-to-stop-abuse/safety-planning/

 

 

Holidays, PTSD & …….tears?

It’s Boxing Day and I don’t know about you, but I am Exhausted. Another Christmas Day has come and gone.  For me the day was a busy  and overall a good day.  It was the first year that my 7am alarm was what woke my family up! I was surprised, but then again my youngest is now 10 years old so perhaps the 4 am – creeping –  into – my -room -to -see -if -I -am -awake -and -can -we -open -presents moments have  come to an end. Sigh.  Anyways my day started with our little family opening our gifts, followed by prepping for Christmas supper, a nap, feeding my horse and then supper with my fiancé’s sister and family.  It sounds pretty nice doesn’t it?  It was, but then why did I end the day quietly crying in the dark in the quiet of my living room?

 Recovery from abuse sucks and it’s suckiness can creep up on you at the most inopportune times.  For me it was late on Christmas Day night.  I find when holidays come memories of the past creep into my mind.   This year they were not as powerful as they had been in the past.  I did not have any full blown flashbacks or panic attacks.  They were more like an annoying tap on my shoulder saying, “hey do you remember me?” My response was, “yes I remember, but you will not have a hold on me today” and I just kept swatting them away.  I was pretty proud of myself, yet still I ended up in tears.

  PTSD is not an easy road.  You are constantly on high alert.  Adrenaline is pumping through your body as your whole being prepares to fight or flee.  Your heart is always racing, as are your thoughts and it is bloody exhausting. You are constantly on the lookout for danger.  I need to remember that all of that was happening to me underneath the Christmas supper prepping and present opening.  I often forget that in my recovery.  I carry forward like I do not have PTSD and think that I should be able to function like I don’t have any disabilities, but I do have them.  They are often unseen to the outside world but they are there.  So really, is it any surprise that before my guests had left I had collapsed on my couch and was later crying in the dark?  I think not.  My nervous system had a lot to process yesterday; extra people in my house which would result in my whole being subconsciously assessing whether I was safe.  I also had those annoying memories tapping me on the shoulder.  I will be honest I was also trying really hard not to let anyone know I was going through all of this.  So yes I do understand why in the end I ended up in tears.

  I love my family, both extended and non extended.  They are a huge part of my life and I would not change having these gatherings.  I am glad I was able to see everyone yesterday.  Upon reflection I just have to be mindful of my disabilities and perhaps be more open with my family as to what I am going through. Save myself from collapsing at the end of the night.      Communication with loved ones is key as you recover from abuse and battle PTSD.  You need a good support system to make it through the good and bad times.  At the end of the night, as I cried,  I was grateful for two people in my support system; my fiancé and my oldest daughter.  My daughter heard me crying and came into the living room to see if I was ok. At that point I could not put it into words so we just sat together and then my fiancé joined us.  They both held my hands and we chatted about everything and nothing all in one.  It was a blessed moment.  My fiancé reminded me that in this family we always have each others backs and that I am loved.  I will get through this battle and my friends so will you.

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  Peace and Blessings to all of you during this Holiday Season.

 

Janet

 

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The Smear Campaign.

The Smear Campaign. Ugh. If you are a Survivor of abuse expect your name to be smeared by your abuser.  It’s an ugly part of the game that abusers play, but I have learned, a very expected one.

When you are being abused your abuser wants you to live in a world of silence.  They, for obvious reasons, do not want anyone to know that they are hurting you.  If anyone finds out they could be in a heap of trouble legally and would probably lose friends and family and possibly their job.  They have a lot to lose so they will do whatever it takes to protect themselves and that includes smearing the name of their victim. It’s all about deflection.

Deflection  is a  move that many of us learn as children.  For example your child breaks the heirloom gift Great Aunt Susie gave when they were born. As a parent you are upset and the child is afraid of what the consequences will be if they tell you the truth. Instead they make up a story and blame the dog.   Suddenly the dog is being punished and being told it is a bad dog.  Everyone is so busy scolding the dog that no one looks to the child anymore. They may even feel sorry for your child.   Abusers are experts at deflection.  Under no circumstance do they want anyone looking directly at them for what has gone wrong.  It is always someone else`s fault, mainly yours and they will make sure everyone remembers how `bad`you are by smearing your name.

My ex has recently taken to social media to smear my name.  He has started to publicly call me a liar, accuse me of parental alienation and that he is my victim.   I have watched this from afar and I`ll be honest I do not expect anything less of him.  He is an abuser and this is what abusers do.  They smear their victims name so that others feel sorry for them and don`t look at the damage they have caused.   It is classic textbook abuser behaviour.   If anything his online behaviour proves once more that he is an abuser.

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So, if your abuser starts to smear your name take a deep breath.  Know that this is part of their abusive behaviour, but you are better than this childish behaviour.  Remember that you know the truth and deep down so do they.  They can deflect all they want, but in the quiet of the night I will guarantee they are the ones having trouble falling asleep.  They know that they  hurt you and your children in unspeakable ways and they have to live with that.  You, on the other hand, can heal. You can and will rise above all of this.   You can be happy and most importantly you CAN be free of their abuse.

Peace,

Janet

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