Nobody goes into a relationship wanting to be abused. Everyone hopes for the fairy-tale ending – a prince charming who will sweep me off my feet and give me my happy ever after.
And at the start, he often is that prince charming. Calling and texting you all the time, “Oh he must be keen”. Wanting to spend every minute of the day with you, telling you that you don’t need anyone else; you have me what more could you possibly want. “Oh, he must really adore me”.
He gets jealous if you talk to another guy or even look in their direction “Oh he’s just so protective, it’s really sweet”. He says not to wear that skirt or your hair like that and you agree, “he’s only saying it because he really loves me”.
Deep down, however, you have a feeling that something’s not quite right – but, “I’m a strong woman – no man will ever abuse me”.
Over time, no matter how strong you are, he will grind you down and he will change the way you see yourself. You start to feel anxious all the time, you feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells, blaming yourself for his behaviour ‘If I just cooked the dinner right!’, ‘If I didn’t look in the direction of that guy in the shop!’, ‘If I just didn’t say I didn’t want sex tonight!’ things would be different.
The truth is it wouldn’t be different. The abuser will always find a reason. He knows the first time he hits you, you will start to blame yourself. He’s a professional manipulator who can groom the strongest of women.
But no matter how many times he tells you “you are not strong”, “you are weak”, “you are the crazy one”, “no-one will ever believe you”:
YOU WILL BE BELIEVED
With support, you will start to build that self-esteem that he has invested so much time and energy in to destroy. You will start to recognise the ‘you’ you once were and you will start to feel ‘strong’ again!
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or is affected by any of the issues mentioned above phone COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service at 091 565 985 (24 hours)