Just posting as I feel a little down today, just completed another freedom session with safer families today...'the sexual controller', I found this tough and I think because I didnt expect to. I feel disgusting and dirty for letting my ex-husband pester me to the point I would give in to sex to keep the peace. Why did I allow this to happen, why!! He bullied and sulked and did anything he could to make me feel bad and then I still allowed sex....hate myself today, feel disgusting.
Especially with intimacy and can be difficult to look back and see they were controlling monsters all along. We literally let them in and they never loved the way we did. That hurts.... Just know you never wanted to be abused- you tried to keep peace to be safe. Marital rape is a very real thing and controlling technique these men use. It says all about him and nothing about you. I thought too my Ex might have given me diseases and I felt disgusted by the thought we ever had sex...but these thoughts go away. You will feel whole again and realize how resilient you are and how you will bounce back from this more and more.
Abusers know sex is different for women and can create a stronger bond, that is why they will force you and coerce you into it. What helped me was to learn a new sport and slowly get to now my body again and see how my Ex never "infected me or made me dirty" .... but there were many moments of fear while I thought he may have given me an STD or so as I assumed he cheated. I swore myself I would find and kill him if he gave me HIV for example....but that also did not happen.
I think it is in many ways what this stands for- we let them in....and that hurts. As we invited them into our most private areas and they abused us.
Take a nice walk...anything to get your mind off. That session must have been very educating but also difficult to digest...
we are here if you need to get more off your chest
Thanks Janine....im feeling all those things you've mentioned, been thinking about the women he was either going to cheat on me with or did cheat on me with, never did get to the bottom of it all, just know he was a lying cheating disgusting man...and that makes me sick!! I am dealing with things quite well but then it all comes back and I feel all those negative emotions again. Court is soon too and im praying for a conviction so that my life will be better, no more stalking and harrassing me would be nice.
You are strong and he never got to your core of who you are. I felt back then my emotions could take over some days, and others I felt fine. It is ok and normal to see them come in. Like trains...watch, observe with a neutral eye...and see them depart, knowing an emotion or feeling changes.
When is the court date? We can talk about supporting ways to make that day a lot easier. I had someone from a shelter help me and a good friend too. It is a very anxiety producing thing to go through but-- you WILL be ok and get through it!!!
How exactly is he still stalking and harassing you right now? Maybe we can think of more ways to keep you no- contact. I will be praying for less weight on your shoulders as well. Just know, you have already all it takes inside of you to get through this. You have accomplished so so much in the past- getting away is one of the most difficult things to do...give yourself credit for the stepping stones along this road of recovery.
Is there anything that you would like to focus on particularly? Maybe some breathing techniques for panic attack moments? (I had to learn those as back then my body would switch to flight or fight within seconds)
You will be ok. Write us anytime you feel - we are here. You are not alone.
Thanks for your reply...I have my safer families support worker coming to court with me which is a help. I was quite confident until my mother pulled out and now the case is weaker, I just dont want him to get off with it or my life will be back to the way it was being stalked and threatened and having to start all over again with police......I have such self loathing going on that I don't enjoy myself when im socialising any more. It was my friends wedding yesterday and I was so self conscious it ruined the day for me. .feel disgusting etc I don't know its hard to explain but I just feel repulsive. ..
That is nice the safer families support worker will go with you. It makes it easier.
You know one thing I found to be true was that after my abuse I was ALWAYS in my head. I thought people could see the disgust and shame I felt about myself and my body ....but.... They never did. Nobody really cares that much about others as much as we think when we are self conscious.
I think attending a wedding now can definitely be an emotional trigger. And what you felt was very normal- I would think things like: "Oh ok...here we go. EVERYONE else but me must live a decent "normal" life and look at me....the dirty, abused woman. With her broken family and crazy mother who never cared to even help her get through the court things."
Time does heal wounds...it is hard to attend social gatherings that make people without abuse experience feel already odd- I BET sooo many people at the wedding were in their heads. Thinking stuff like:
Why am I not married yet? God, I hate I am divorced. Ill never be this happy ever again. Why did he marry her? I love him. Why did she marry him and not me? I love her...
All humans deal with vulnerability and things like weddings, babies, deaths, etc. are anxiety provoking events. We just all are made to THINK we SHOULD feel nothing but joy and happiness when we witness something like that when in reality....it takes time to get used to a friend getting married, having a baby, moving away...because in a way it seems something that was will never be again.
And let's face it-- when I am miserable inside, how much do I NOT want to be around people that seem so happy because it feels like a mirror that shows much just how MUCH my life is not ideal....YET.
And here is the best word ever.....: YET.
You are not in a happy place, yet. You are not over the abuse he put you through....yet. You have not YET gotten that court date over with....
It implies that nothing is permanent. Not even your suffering right now!!
Something that helps me even now when I feel like my life is not normal (and I have to say most days I am just happy and fine, now years away from the abuse and after some very good counseling) I try and focus on the things I do have and am grateful for. This could be just one good friend. The fact I am alive....breathing ...because that alone means I have hope and change CAN happen. I also enjoy mindfulness activities that you find often in combination with Buddhist world views.
One good book I can recommend you (it is non denominational so whatever your religion or belief system is you can still read this and take a lot of good stuff from it) is called "Buddhist Boot Camp" --(sorry if I recommended that before to you and forgot) It is easy to read, rather cheap to get and the messages are just simple and powerful to slowly take control back over your life and emotions.
Nothing replaced good counseling though with a mental health professional that is experienced in DV and trauma recovery.
Hang in there....you will not feel like this forever. It just feels like it when we think we are in the tunnel and stuck forever.
Now to kick off the Sunday vibes (Sundays and evenings were always the worst for me back then in terms of feeling depressed) name three things or people you are grateful for. And think about them (it can be pets, a favorite food, maybe a relative you love (dead or alive) anything really or anyone you would not want to miss in the world. Sit for 5 minutes with those thoughts. It is ok to be distracted and see how other thoughts come to mind to...but try and just reflect on the goodness of that pet, person or thing.
One great method for those lonely moments is also guided imagery therapy i think i mentioned before. You can easily download one or two audio files from Belleruth Naparstek's homepage to listen to when fear or depression or trauma hits.... Those are not your usual self help pep talk things- it is a proven and nationally approved cognitive therapy that for example US soldiers use in the field. The "trauma" imagery is very powerful. And healing. You can maybe see if that is something for you. I usually recommend that and then the "sleep" imagery which helps you relax and put your mind at ease at night.
Janine youre so good at replying to us all on here, you should be in the counselling profession. Thank you for replying, it is really helpful. I decided to go shopping today and after trying on 3 outfits hated my body so much I came home, im finding it hard to see how I was once so slim and always getting plenty of attention to a now older fatter version of myself, I still get some attention but I dont feel attractive, I still receive compliments but its not the same...I want to look how I did even 10 years ago, been on the treadmill trying to shape up to make myself feel better but my body is just staying the same at the moment and its not lifting my mood...I always have a better day when I like how I look, it may sound vain but its just a part of how I am. Maybe the counselling will help me with that too when it starts...
You know what- I think most of us go through that as well- aging and gaining weight is never a happy thing if we let it become a negative force. I have been there for sure many times.
But...what helped me is definitely a good counselor with trauma experience and in general a lot of experience. Because if you look at the pattern- maybe now you do not have a partner anymore who controls you, but, is there something else that controls you from feeling content, happy to be alive and hopeful?
Again it is so normal but it sounds like you really want to feel free, alive and hopeful about the years to come. Because they will be good!! But after abuse I find depressive thoughts come along often automatically. I used to beat myself up about my career plans etc. and how I was not yet living in a big house, white fence .etc.....
Besides therapy I think "mindfulness" is a wonderful approach to appreciating life and first and foremost your very own life more. I still need to practice and learn every day about it too- and find it has helped already a lot. That doesnt mean you have to put aside plans to get fitter or so- not at all. You have every right to want to be fit no matter what age. Go start the running again or whatever you liked doing. Maybe even start off with a few days in nature if you can- hike, kayak, swim, walks on the beach. Something where you fall back in love with your body, your oldest and steadiest companion. He has hosted your soul for so long and - i like to think my body likes to feel loved too!
Also, of course it is normal to want to feel attractive. But what is dangerous about craving outside attention? From other men or women or humans in general? It leaves you with no power over the decision of what you are worth. It can be taken away at any second and leave you feeling empty and devastated. That is how I look at it now more and more.
And it is not vain- it is how most women (and men) grow up in western society. We are surrounded by false body images and when do you really learn that your body is a friend you want to treat with love and care? They did not have classes on that at my university at least.
If you are open for mindfulness approaches that are non-denominational (meaning simply there is no major religion behind it that is trying to convince you to believe what they do- rather it is an approach that focuses on combining loving teachings from different religions or individuals and gently show you how to reprogram your mind to not walk around with self hate and need for external approval) One example I can recommend and working with right now is: "Passage Meditation" by Eknath Easwaran
And then one line that helped me when I felt overwhelmed with death/aging/feeling fat etc. was to just say to myself:
"Today many people younger than me died. It is a privilege to grow old, denied to many. You have work to do and are needed, so get out of your own head. Love yourself now and appreciate the gift of life."
For some reason I read that somewhere and it helps to look at maybe younger, "prettier" women and not compare and be harsh to yourself, but see how we are all in this. Life is not always easy. Death and aging and feeling unattractive are happening to all of us. Even the ones we consider sooo much prettier than us- also compare themselves to even more apparently attractive or richer...or...
it is exhausting! The list never ends if you allow yourself to enter that waterfall competition.
Just know you are not alone with that thought. It might also evoke feelings like:
I lost my best years to this abusive bastard.
And it is ok to feel that way too for now- because you are at the start of your healing journey. Let us know how counseling is going once you start- if youd like to. If you find a good one it can be a real lifeline. You'll learn how to trust yourself, rely on yourself, listen to yourself first and find answers within-- and to not need outside validation as much anymore.
Thanks again Janine, I have been thinking alot about death, ive been quite morbid...and have suffered with body dysmorphia when I was younger and maybe im having moments again...I dont know, ive got myself exhausted lol
It sometimes feels as if the court experience is this win-lose thing where the world is judging whether or not your abuse was "legitimate" or "bad enough" to merit punishment. I encourage you not to think that way. My suggested framing is this: you have called him out and showed him that you're not afraid to take him down and put him in jail for his crimes. Even if he is acquitted for some reason (and remember being acquitted doesn't mean he's innocent, just that they couldn't say for ABSOLUTE SURE that he's guilty of a crime), you have still sent your message that you are no longer intimidated by him. This has been proven to increase safety, even if the person is only arrested and released the next day. Arrest is more effective than any batterer program in reducing the likelihood of another attack. So in a sense, you've already won, regardless of the court outcome.
It sounds like you are well supported. Many survivors find it terrifying to contemplate testifying, but sometimes report feeling surprisingly relieved after telling their story in a public forum. It can be validating to say this stuff out loud to people who don't know you and see them nodding heads and writing notes and taking you seriously. Sometimes it also really reinforces the seriousness of it when you say it out loud in public. You hear yourself as you imagine others are hearing you, and you say, "Wow, that really sounds AWFUL, doesn't it?"
I also get the feeling of being somehow contaminated by his sliminess and feeling you have been conned and gone along with his manipulations because you wanted to minimize the conflict. It is a very common reaction. But remember that YOU did not do anything wrong. He was the one using the sleazy tactics. You may regret having given in, but it may also have been the smartest move you could make at the time, and perhaps ended up protecting you from more serious kinds of abuse. In any case, you did what you felt you needed to do in the moment, but that moment was set up by him intentionally to make you feel crappy. I encourage you to forgive yourself and realize that you did the best you could in a tough situation that was not your fault. The person who SHOULD feel slimy and disgusting is HIM! So don't take that feeling - give it right back to him where it belongs. If you find you are feeling disgusted with yourself, I suggest you say right out loud, "NO! I am not the one who should be ashamed. HE is the one who is shameful and disgusting, and I won't let him make me feel bad because of what he did!" Say it loud and often as you need to until it becomes internalized.
It really was not your fault. Guilt feelings and remorse are totally normal, and I'm not saying you shouldn't have them, but I am saying that you don't have to let them take you over. You can regain control of your thinking and emotions and give him back anything you don't want to take on.
I hope that is somewhat helpful. This is a very tough time, but I am sure you will come though the other side, and things WILL get better!
P.S. I've had times in my life when I've thought about death a lot, too. Sometimes it seems like a hope of a less painful life. And at other times, I use it to remind me that I only have so much time left, and I don't want to waste it feeling bad about things that are over - I want to live NOW and enjoy myself. The second kind of thinking leaves me feeling much more positive!
Thank you Steve, your words are very comforting to me especially as im struggling so much lately. I have so much in my life to be thankful for, my beautiful daughter, a wonderful man in my life now, lovely friends and I am lucky, I just go from one extreme to the other a lot. I'm going to try saying those words every time I feel the guilt and shame creeping in, im sure it will get better too just needing some extra help at the moment. Its lovely to have support.
You know what- I felt this extreme up/down a lot too after I left my abusive Ex. Even for a few years on some days. But it does get better....sometimes it helps to just see "ok here is THAT feeling again, welcome you little bugger." And then kindly ask it to leave as it is not invited right now into your mind.
It is also great you acknowledge you might like some extra support right now. Ever since my friends and I opened up more about who had been to counseling once before in their lives it turned out- MOST did....the mind and heart and gut are connected and it is ok to feel something is out of balance. Your body and mind are friends, trying to help to shift attention.
Sometimes I feel as if the way I worked through abuse was also very nicely organized by my mind and heart and gut. I was NOT ready right away to deal with it all. I had to function in graduate school under many obligations that were connected to my scholarship, keeping excellent grades and working a lot besides from taking demanding classes. My body knew that and respected it.
Once I was better able to handle the load of work and felt more comfortable....I broke down and decided I needed counseling.
Well im hoping that counselling will help, ive coped all through my life without it and although I know im strong, i'd like to not feel like I always have to be, so im hoping the counselling will take some pain away or at least divert it to another place instead of interrupting my day lol
One upside of the spam is this comment thread went to the top. Good advice given.
How many abused women are forced into unwanted 'sex' with violent 'husbands' and then others have the audacity to call it 'marriage' not marital rape?
It seems anything less than a knife held to the throat or a gun held to the head is not considered sufficient 'force' to qualify it as rape, but if the violent 'husband' has nearly killed you before, talks about you as a corpse and rages and credibly threatens to kill you, I think it qualifies as marital rape, as you only 'submitted' in hopes of being harmed less.