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This article contains themes of domestic abuse and rape. If you are affected by anything in this story please follow the links for support.
A brave survivor of domestic abuse has a message for those currently suffering, and a reminder that abuse is not always physical, and not always immediately clear, as your abuser may manipulate you into questioning your judgement:
“It’s so difficult when the physical abuse is non-existent/ minimal because you might know that their treatment is abusive, but you feel like ‘what can I say to people? They call me names? They ask me too many questions?’
“When you see how they get you to that point of vulnerability and the clever work that goes into grooming you to be the perfect victim, it’s scary. Not least because they use tactics that decent people use; ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get your tea for you’, ‘it’s ok, I put the fuel in the car’. Those small things many would assume are kind gestures, but are far more sinister when from someone with negative intent. It’s not kindness from them, it’s doing everything for you to make you feel like you’d never manage without them, it’s raising you on a pedestal ready for them to kick from under you- a pedestal that they’ll return you to over and over and over, just so that they can kick it from under you again.
“And what so many people don’t comprehend, is that they don’t just groom their partner. They groom their friends and family as well, so that when the victim opens up to loved ones about the treatment, their response is ‘don’t be silly, they clearly worship the ground you walk on’, ‘I’m not surprised they lost it with you, you have been a bit difficult lately’, ‘nobody’s perfect’, etc.
“It is such an intrinsic, carefully woven web that’s almost impossible to accurately identify when you’re emotionally involved.
“To anybody out there who’s still caught in that fog; trust your instincts no matter what others say. If somebody is making you feel unworthy, paranoid, like you’re losing your mind, and like you can’t make decisions without their input - seek professional help. Contact a refuge, speak to a specially trained DV officer, speak to a medical professional, reach out to a random stranger if you have to. Just speak out. Ask for help. You deserve to be treated kindly and respectfully and you NEVER deserve to be abused in any way.”