I am one of the one in three women who have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence at some point in their lives.
In my case it was emotional abuse for eight years.
I was so naïve and vulnerable and he was so masterful that I didn’t even realise what was happening to me.
Slowly he chipped away at my core. He took my sparkle – I let him take it, maybe I even gave it to him.
Emotional abuse is a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour. It can be subtle and nuanced but it gets under your skin.
For eight years I was led to believe that everything was my fault, that the way he reacted was because of me and how I behaved.
He’d give me love then take it away as punishment for “unacceptable” behaviour.
He told me he would kill me and kill himself if I ever left him.
The self-doubt I carried from high school got worse. I felt worthless and guilty. I thought if he didn’t love me, no one would – not even myself.
I thought I deserved to be treated this way.
It wasn’t until after I finally found the courage and strength to break up with him several years ago and analysed the relationship and what I had become that I realised it was emotional abuse.
My first reaction was shame. How weak and pathetic was I to allow myself to be manipulated like that? How useless was I to have not even realised?
That shame became my new identity and there are a lot of friends and family I haven’t told. I’m sorry.
I made myself out to be a victim. I gave him the power.
But I am stronger than that. Every one of those women who have experienced domestic violence are stronger than that.
So today on International Women’s Day and coinciding with No More Week against domestic violence and sexual abuse, I find my power, my strength, my voice to finally speak out.
EMOTIONAL ABUSE IS UNACCEPTABLE.
For anyone experiencing or who has experienced emotional abuse, you are not alone.
You are worthy and valuable and special regardless of what the abuser says because your worth comes from you, not from them.
And you are strong and you are beautiful.
And you are resilient.
Say NO MORE to domestic violence and emotional abuse.
#Internationalwomensday #IWD2022 #beboldforchange #nomoreweek
I am currently fundraising for SafeLives, a UK charity that works to end domestic abuse, while I sail around Great Britain with my new and wonderful partner. Please donate to help end domestic abuse.
Click here to donate https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/markandkatrina .