Well where do I start? I suppose the beginning would be a good place.
My name is Anne (not my real name). I am 54 have a beautiful daughter and two gorgeous grandchildren whom I adore and if it were not for them I would not be writing this blog.
So this is dedicated to my daughter and her children for saving me.
My journey with abuse began a long time ago back in 1986. I was 24 years old independent, had a good job, my own home and I was a gym buff and into powerlifting and weightlifting and I am proud to say quite good at it. I could look after myself and I had done some Door Security work.
I met my future partner at the gym I frequented and we were introduced by a friend and we hit it off straightaway, you could say it was love at first sight.
Well before long he was living with me and talking a future, marriage, babies you know the kind of thing.
Before long we were married
We got married, had a honeymoon of sorts which involved us doing runners from restaurants because he was too tight to pay, so I stopped going out and he went out instead bringing women back to our hotel and having sex with them in the room next door and pushing little notes under our door telling me to come and join in and that I was frigid and old fashioned.
I hated every minute of my honeymoon if you can call a disaster like that a honeymoon.
I could not wait to get home and stuck it out it for ten days trying to appease him in anyway that I could whilst not getting punched or kicked. I thought thats it, this is my life now.
I don't know why I did not fight back or go home or confront him, I just didn't.
So we got back from honeymoon in one piece and I went back to work and shortly afterwards i discovered i was pregnant and looking forward to having a nice life, returning to my job after the baby was delivered all looked rosy.
That was until I told my partner I was pregnant.
He was at the gym when I told him excitedly over the phone.
He came home and threw me on the floor and kicked me in the stomach.
Then disappeared for two days.
I was in such a state of shock but I thought to myself you know what just carry on and we never spoke about it again.
I guess the battlelines and our little secret was forged right there and right then. I was consumed with guilt what had I done? What had I said ? Did I deserve it?
That little voice in my head kept asking those questions and I answered guiltily to every question, Yes you did something wrong you must have, you definitely said the wrong thing and yes you deserve it.
These questions still reverberated through my mind many many years later but I will talk about that later on.
Everyone was really pleased about the forthcoming birth except him of course. I had a threatened miscarriage at 6 weeks and the doctor visited me at home and told my husband he must stay with me and give me complete bed rest and wait on me hand and foot and with that my partner disappeared ...again.
Scroll forward nearly 8 months and our beautiful daughter arrived safe and sound and I instantly fell in love with her.
It was not until she was about 2 months old that I had a visit from my father in law who told me that I was to immediately stop breastfeeding because his son did not like it.
I said nothing and it was never mentioned again until my partner came home from work one day shouting and roaring about something and i asked him to be quiet and i got a 6 pack of lager thrown at my head for being cheeky.
I rang my Dad who immediately blamed me for doing something wrong that is when i had that feeling. You know the one when you know you are on your own, that sick, heavy weight right in the pit of your stomach and the tightness around your throat when everything goes as dry as a bone?
So I cleaned the house up and filled the holes that had been left in the walls and carried on. I had a newborn baby, we had just moved house, I had a dog, where was I going to go? Not to my parents they had made it very clear that i had made my bed and i had to lay in it.
I took three years off work and did not go back to my old job. He threw the odd £30 at me for housekeeping and worked away most of the time so I coped not having him around and began my independence without him.
Well as you can imagine we had our fights over the years mostly me being battered senseless, numerous house moves and everyone smashed up by him, I don’t think I had a piece of furniture or a piece of clothing that was not ruined and the amount of polyfilla i got through was unusual to say the least.
We even went on holiday again but he was arrested and taken to the police station by armed police because he had hit my head against a lamp post for buying a doll for my daughter from a street trader.
That was the last holiday we went on. We still functioned as a family me and my daughter that is. By this time he had changed his job and yet again we moved house. We stayed in this one for 2 years and moved when he smashed it up again and battered and killed my dog.
I still stayed.
The only way I can explain it is some form of paralysis. I was on automatic pilot. Even the beatings did not hurt me anymore and nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors. It was about this time that i decided that i was going to call the police.
The police came took one look around the house, looked at me and my daughter and told me that i needed a holiday and i was lucky to have such a lovely home. There it was again that feeling......I am on my own....just deal with it.
Various incidents took place over the years including chucking us out on the motorway hard shoulder, driving at brick walls at 60 mph threatening to kill us all, promising he was going to kill me, threatening to go to Thailand and get himself a "proper wife", numerous affairs, numerous violent outbursts, ruined Christmases, birthdays and social events due to his temper and still i stayed.
By this time i had got so used to him that i had decided that i was not going to leave and made it my mission to make him leave either that or he was going to kill me.
So we moved house again and by this time it was 2000.
We went out with friends to celebrate the new millennium and had a really good time until i made the fateful mistake of telling my partner that i was taking our daughter home early and would he get a taxi back home......I got to our car and carefully placed my daughter in the back seat fast asleep and started to drive.
He opened the passenger door and got in and was obviously very angry at my leaving early and proceeded to punch me in the head until i could not see so i abandoned the car in the middle of the road and he chased me up the path and started hitting me with a brick. I remember everything slowing down, i could hear my daughter screaming and saw her running away for help. I only remember my earring came out, thats all , no pain, no tears, no panic or anger just my earring.
I managed to get up off the floor and started walking back to the club where all of our friends were and by this time my eyes had swollen shut and i realised i was covered in blood and mud and bits of someone's garden.
I was really confused.
My friends took me back to their house and i comforted my daughter and rang the police.
This time which was about the fifth time i had rung them for help they actually listened probably due to my injuries.
The issued a restraining order and eventually we went home.
I thought thats it we are free.
One night about two weeks later we went out to a friend’s house and when we got back home had a strange feeling that someone had been in the house. I walked around my living room and saw some rubber strips hanging off the back of a dining chair.
I had not got a clue where they had come from and so i walked upstairs and there he was fast asleep in our bed like nothing had happened.
It turned out there had been a fire engine in the locality and he had told the firefighters that he had lost his front door key and they had helped him gain access to the property by removing the rubber seals from the upvc double glazing (before the days of internal beading).
I was gobsmacked I rang the police they removed him again.
When was this going to stop?
Through all of these incidents there was no resolution, no making up, no words or sorry, nothing. I had slept in separate rooms for years for all intents and purposes it was a sham. If i mentioned it to anyone they just laughed at me and did not believe me because he was a sociopath, he could charm the birds out of the trees.
That was when i realised that i had to change and I stopped caring, not for myself or my daughter or my dogs but for everything else, i just stopped feeling.
I stopped crying.
It worked. I grew stronger. I went for divorce and everything changed, he changed stopped the physical abuse and then worse to come was the mental abuse but i dealt with it it my own way, i may have gone off the rails for a while but hey i think any sane person would have done.
He started buying me things having the house decorated, new cars clothes, holidays perfume, you name it it was thrown at me, but it was too little too late.
I put the house up for sale and sold it and moved into my new home and i have been here for 15 years.
Got my divorce settlement now and its time to move on.
I took my daughter on holiday in secrecy, or so i thought. The travel agent was a friend of my sister in laws and she told him where we were.
He came to the hotel beat me up, broke my foot, took our money, passports and tickets and disappeared leaving me looking like the elephant man and my daughter, my daughter i pieces psychologically.
We returned home and tried to get back to normal.
My daughter then started reacting to everything that had happened, not eating, suicide attempts drinking, drugs and only 14 years old. I felt terrible, we felt terrible but we got through it with the help of a wonderful child psychologist who interviewed me and my partner and she swore that she would not be left in a room with him as she considered him to be "very dangerous".
At last someone else had seen through his veil.
That was the point when i felt empowered enough to take on the world.
He was never allowed to see his daughter again and to this day is not in her or her son's lives.
Wind forward to 2007 i had just got promoted and had a new job and new friend’s really exciting times.
I was also actively involved in a Trade Union as a Trade Union representative and i loved it.
I was not scared of anything, not managers, not disputes, not conflict after what i had been through, piece of cake. I was a strong, assertive, grown woman who knew how to stand on her own two feet and was totally independent and self-sufficient.
Therein lies the start of it.
To some i was too confident, too assertive, too knowledgeable, too sure of myself and bloody excellent trade unionist to boot and the bullying started.
Not full on violence as i was used to, no, very subtle subliminal bullying which made me start to question myself as i had done before, have i said the wrong thing, have i done something wrong, those niggling fears started again ( you know what i referred to earlier and said i would speak about later)
My boss who was a man and looked like my ex husband and acted like him aswell, very aggressive and very mean looking was not giving me a good time at work to say the least he was definitely bullying me. He had the traits of a posturing silver back gorilla !!!
After nearly a year of this treatment I sent him an email telling him how he was making me feel and i went off sick from work for over a month, I was suicidal, i was right back there being abused, having flashbacks, thinking i was going to be killed, reliving everything that i had been through for 15 years it all came flooding back with a vengeance to say the least.
I got help from my GP and they referred me to the mental health team who sent me to see a psychologist who i can only say was an angel in disguise.
My first visit was a getting to know you session. I left feeling very numb and thought there was going to be no end to these feelings that i was having. It was like i was under siege every second of every day.
I could not go out of the house except to the doctors surgery which luckily was very close to my home within walking distance in fact.
I stopped eating, washing, brushing my teeth, just stopped functioning entirely. Every knock at the door had me running for cover, every car speeding by had me sweating and shaking and looking over my shoulder.
I could not stop my head from racing and my heart from pounding and i thought i was going to lose my job too.
My second visit to the psychologist was a questionnaire session where she handed me 3 large booklets full of writing which i could not take in but promised to complete them ready for next week.
Third session i had filled in all the questionnaires including telling her some of the most intimate details of my marriage and the violence i had experienced and what was happening at work.
That is when i was told that you have PTSD and OCD and you are going to have 14 weeks intensive EMDR therapy and we are going to help you.
I went straight home and googled it. It was talking about Gulf War veterans and the Falklands and stuff like that.
Why do i need EMDR?
Well i am telling you it is the best thing that has happened to me.
My therapist explained that she was reprogramming my memories and they would be stored back into the memory banks where they should be and not still hanging around being relived and regurgitated on a daily basis affecting how i am functioning.
i had to write down some very bad events for the first time which i found to be quite cathartic really.
Each event was discussed over the coming weeks and i was asked how i felt when i remembered these events, i was allowed to feel that feeling in safe surroundings, just me and my psychologist and when she told me i was safe she moved her fingers in front of my eyes and i followed her fingers from side to side and felt safe.
This treatment continued for 14 weeks and at the end of the sessions i was discharged and i went back to work.
It was not a smooth transition and today i am still affected by what happened at work nearly three years ago now.
The only way i can describe it is the gates of hell opening up and spewing out all the evil in the world then closing behind itself and not letting anything back in. There it is out in the open all that anger ,sadness, despair, blood ,all that fear, all the tears , me reliving every moment of everything that had been in the past, constant surveillance of my surroundings, constant fear of being attacked, constant hypervigilance, coping on my own, being beaten, being scared, being alone.
That feeling down there in the dark pit of your stomach and the dry mouth almost choking you.
Thats how close it was and still remains under the surface but i can cope with it now. i am a different person, I am the same me just different.
I have relapse blueprints and several coping mechanisms that i still use all these years later, i still take medication and sometimes i feel depressed and scared like i did before and i use mindfulness to help me along with podcasts from the mental health foundation to relax me. I am a bit short tempered and moody but i put down to the menopause and i have a residual symptoms of PTSD which is Tinnitus.
I have a safe place it is my home and garden whenever i feel stressed and anxious i sit in my garden and just feel safe.
Subconsciously i tell myself everyday that my mind has been scarred and it operates under a different operating system now, it hurts when people shout or are aggressive or i witness physical violence, i can’t watch some TV programmes because they hurt too much and i was even successful in getting an advert removed from the TV because it upset me so much. But, I have survived and i know this that even when you feel as though you cannot cope if you look deep down inside you will be amazed at the strength you will find.
Your mind is the most wonderful thing but when it’s been hurt and the scar is still there it can lead you to those very dark places where you feel alone and frightened and there is no way out.
Trust me all you need to do is ask for some help. That is what I did and I got it and it has saved me.
They say what does not kill you makes you stronger........I really believe that.
If you wish to contribute to the Milk the Cow Community EMDR fund so more people like Anne can access it and come to terms with their trauma then please contribute here: http://www.milkthecowpodcast.com/donate/