Hey Ava, I agree, those "subtle" little remarks can be very triggering for me! I am hyper-vigilant about what people say. I feel like for me anyway, I worked very hard in my marriage to "make it work" and I trusted my ex-husband to do the right thing and be a good person during our marriage. I never saw any "red flags" until way later into my marriage. And I feel really bad about the fact that the abuse was happening and I didn't even see it. So, now, I am trying REALLY hard to look for any red flags before they are a problem. I also ignored many red flags. I don't want to make the same mistakes again. So, my level of trust with a guy or anyone is really low. I don't ever want to miss any red flags again!
I guess I am just super sensitive at this point and I am ok with this. Taking things slow is working for me too!
I will get to that same place you mentioned of "stopping looking for signs". I haven't stopped completely , just don't trust anyone including myself at this point to not get sucked in.
I am glad you are healing and letting things go! That is all a good thing. One day at a time, one hour at a time! I think you are doing great!!
Just a little update. My fiance and I have made the decision to move after the wedding, closer to where her parents live. It's only about 30 miles away, but with everything that's gone on recently with my ex and the girlfriend, I think it's the best decision for my peace of mind, and my fiance's too, if we aren't living in the same town. My ex approached my fiance last week, got into her face and all she said was, "tell HER to stay the f*ck out of my business." I came home from work and she told me about it. My fiance puts on a pretty tough front but I could see that it shook her up a little. I reported it and the police went out and gave my ex a "stern warning" (their words). My fiance said she'd file a restraining order for herself if it happens again, which I'm happy about. But it's been a year now since we moved back here, it's a small town and running into my ex even "just" once or twice a month was exhausting to be honest. And since I spoke to her girlfriend, it's just gotten worse. I know she knows the girlfriend and I chatted. She has to know. I've run into her 3 times since then, and though she didn't approach me, she saw me and she GLARED. I can kind of brush it off now but it's a look that used to send shivers down my spine. When I was with her, if we were out in public and she gave me that look, I knew I was in deep shit when we got home. I know she's just trying to intimidate me but I just can't deal with the negative feelings that come when I see her. And my fiance and I do want to start a family in the next few years and there's no way I would want my ex anywhere near my kids. As much as I hate the thought of being "run out", I think it will just be much more peaceful if we don't have to worry about running into her.
you are such a smart, caring, and courageous person. You did the right thing. Both times. The first time when you supported another victim of domestic violence, and the second time when you realized what your boundaries are and where your involvement ends. It is up to this girl now to protect herself and her baby. There are shelters. There is free maternal care. She will be ok and find her way.
I am so proud of you. Like you, if a current girlfriend of my abusive ex was to reach out, I too would talk to her. And then set boundaries and decide how far I'll go.
VERY good call on not driving to pick her up. My guess is she didn't even mean to ask, but must be desperate and severely traumatized at this point in time after years of abuse. Plus the pregnancy.
You kept her and the baby safe by being honest. The rest is not in your hands. You did well. oxoxoxox
And then the BEST part of it all was of course you singing that song!!!!!!! "I Don't Think About You" by Kelly Clarkson
Way to go!!
And I continue to see such a healthy and positive dynamic between you and your fiancee. THAT'S how love is supposed to feel like. THAT is your future. Your PTSD probably did flare up due to triggering all those memories by talking to your exe's current victim. That is very very normal. Do seek out counseling if the symptoms last for more than two weeks and interfere with your well-being and daily function. Sometimes we all need a wee bit more support to digest whatever may have come up. I remember you said your college counselor was quite good, and there are more good ones out there. A shelter or other organizations also offer free short-term counseling as well in most U.S. states.
You go live your life. You have done your job.
It will be ok and you are safe. It may not always feel like it, and sometimes it is good to remain a bit vigilant. But the sad truth is this girl who just left her is going to be the number 1 target. Until the next victim shows up....and the next....and so on and so forth.
And as far as the triggers go....I hear ya. It was in 2009 when I left my abusive ex....and i STILL feel very sensitive towards abuse, coercive behavior, sarcasm, and other things that people who didn't experience DV would never even think twice about.
It's ok to be where you are. It's ok to be who you are. Right here and right now.
You will continue to heal....and I can promise you some day this is nothing but a distant memory. It gets better with time and talking and tears. the three T's of trauma recovery.
We are always here, and I plan on checking in more often after some absence due to a (harmless but time-consuming) medical diagnosis.
Lots of energy and courage your way. Chest out. Shoulders back and down. Deep breaths.
So, I really thought this saga was over, but no. The girlfriend contacted me again yesterday. She said she went back to my ex a few weeks after her baby was born and not a month later, my ex put her in the hospital. Beat her unconscious. So now my ex is back in jail and has been charged with felony domestic assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The baby wasn't hurt but the GF was holding him in her arms when the assault began, so that's where that charge is coming from. So anyway the story is that while she was in the hospital, her son was placed with her parents, and now she is dealing not only with my ex and an upcoming trial, but her parents, who don't accept her sexuality, are fighting for custody of her baby, calling her an unfit mother for going back to a dangerous situation.
Anyway...she wanted to meet up in person this time and I told her I couldn't do that, so she asked if we could just talk online like before. She said she has no one and she needs support, she asked how I got through when I was going through this with my ex. I feel terrible, and I know I was very lucky to have a supportive family, but I didn't know what to tell her. I told my fiance and was she very upset about it, she asked if I really wanted to get back into this and basically begged me to block her. So that's what I did. I recommended to the GF that she reach out to the shelter she was at, request a court advocate if she doesn't have one, contact a legal services agency to inquire about pro bono services for the custody case, I put every resource I could think of out there for her...and then I hit the block button. My fiance thanked me over and over again, and I admit, it was a huge relief. So why do I feel badly, like I left the GF hanging when she needed me? It doesn't make sense, I know. I don't know why I feel such a sense of responsibility to her, this isn't my situation to fix, I know that. I have a bigger responsibility right now, to my fiance. We are getting married in 6 weeks - I just bought my dress, my fiance has been back at work, she's seeing a counselor she loves and she's finally feeling and acting like herself again. Life is GOOD. I just can't have this back in my life right now. I know I did the right thing, I just wish I could stop feeling guilty about things I have no reason to feel guilty for. I think it's just one of those things that I haven't been able to shake from my abusive relationship. I always felt like I wasn't trying hard enough, I wasn't doing enough, I was being selfish for even thinking of putting myself first. A couple of months ago I forgot to do something my fiance asked me to do and though she said it was no big deal, I felt guilty, like after everything she's done for me, and after what she had just been through, the least I could do is remember to do what I promised to do. I just didn't think I'd still be fighting those crazy thoughts almost 4 years out. Anyway, I think this actually is over now. The GF is blocked and I hope only for the best for her, but I have to move on.
Hi Ava..so glad your ex is in jail. It is the best place for her, hope she stays there for good. That is just awful what she did to her girlfriend and almost to that baby.
It sounds to me that you are setting a good limit and boundary for yourself. Reaching out to the shelter is a great option and all the things you directed her to do..all good suggestions.
A lot of what you describe...about guilty feelings and feeling responsible for what happens to others..that is all "fall out" from being abused. I call it my "abused brain". It is those thoughts and feelings that are still triggered even 4 years later. Our brains don't know if our response is from something that happened 4 years ago or 4 days ago. In some ways, it is all the same to the brain.
I know you did the right thing for you and your partner and that is what matters the most. You have moved on from the past, sadly this girl is suffering at the hand of your ex-abuser. She still abuses, she hasn't changed. You have, you have found love and joy and happiness and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You deserve to be happy and to celebrate your love with your fiance' in 6 weeks and for the rest of your lives.
This girl needs to find her own path. A shelter with a court advocate and counselling is what she needs. She has to find those answers on her own. AND you have given her a lot of your time and energy already. You have been a great support to her. She needs to take your suggestions and begin to find her own way. You have done more than many would do. If you are a praying person, then lift her up in prayer. I for one believe that if I can't do much else, I will pray because there is a much bigger thing called God..that will continue to put people in her life who can help her.
So happy for you and your fiance' that your life is so so so GOOD! Smile and be happy Ava..you have worked so hard to be where you are and you have been very giving to this girl! Time to focus on AVA..it is time for her to be happy!!
Ava, you did the right thing. There is NOTHING else you could have done for her. She needs professional help and you pointed her in the right direction. That is where it ends for you, and for good. oxoxox Now you go and enJOY your life....and your upcoming wedding and all that is good and coming your way. You fought hard enough to get here and deserve a break. More than that, a break is what I'd be prescribing you right now if I was a doctor.
Those guilty feelings will go away. It won't always feel like this and other experiences and feelings will replace all of this.
And on a final note...Thank God this woman is in jail where she belongs. May she rot in there and never ever get back out. Enough harm has been caused.
I am so glad you are free and healthy and safe.
Good things are coming your way now.
PS: And I am also very very happy to hear your sweet fiance is healing. I've been thinking about you both each time I see my students who are more or less your age. Fun and lightness will be your life now, and may that last for a long long time. You both deserve a break.