This article was written by @PlanetAshleighBlog
Anyone who knows my past knows I’ve been in abusive relationships. I don’t post about it often because it is no longer a part of my life. It hasn’t been for a long time. But it’s still close to my heart. Thinking of everyone in lockdown and isolation with their abusers right now has been weighing heavily on my mind. I know people in toxic and dangerous relationships. And even if I never met someone in one again, I know too much. I know in dark corners, behind closed doors, away from where anyone can see- this is happening all the time. I wrote this a long, long time ago, when I was still in the thick of my situation. I know it will resonate with some of you today.
An open letter to his next girlfriend,
I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t save you from what’s coming. You’d never listen to me even if I tried to tell you. Just as I didn’t listen when I was warned, and just as the next one won’t listen to you.
It starts with the love bombing. You probably feel like a queen right now. You’re probably being showered with gifts and compliments. They tell you you’re ‘different.’ They didn’t know love before you. And I bet you’re in love already. I was too.
But when they start telling you how to dress and how to wear your hair, I want you to remember to be yourself. They don’t own you.
When they start to say awful things. Evil, unthinkable, inhumane things. When they begin throwing insults faster than you can catch them. Don’t believe them. You aren’t those things. They are.
When they mock you as you cry, leave you as you plead for them to stay. When they treat you like they don’t respect you and like you don’t matter to them- believe them. That’s how they truly feel.
Keep an eye on when you find yourself being pulled away from your friends and family. When you realise they’re driving a wedge between you and your support network. Try not to let them, because you will be needing them soon. More than you’ll ever know.
The day they first lay hands on you- and they probably will, I want you to know you didn’t deserve it. Under NO circumstance is violence acceptable. I want you to know it will get worse, they’re not sorry, and it won’t stop. It doesn’t have to be a punch to the face. My first time was a kick to my knees. I fell to the ground and I didn’t know it was abuse. It can be anything.
When the time comes that you’re miserable more than you’re happy, I want you to remember that just because you spent a long time trying to fix this mess, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in it. It can stay broken and you can leave it there. Stop flogging the dead horse. You don’t need closure.
When they threaten to kill or harm themselves if you leave, remember it’s not your responsibility to save them. And it’s likely an empty threat.
When you find messages from another girl or you hear the whispers on the street. Believe it. It’s true.
When they lie to you, manipulate you and blackmail you, I hope you can see through it. I hope you see they are trying to control you with threats and fear.
When they threaten to kill you and you feel afraid, alone, isolated and so, so confused as to how you got so deep into this situation…
When you are a prisoner in your own home and you’re too ashamed to tell people what’s really happening to you…
When you watch your every word, tread around on egg shells so as not to set them off and sleep with one eye open, I hope you find the strength to escape. I hope you find the courage to ask for help. I hope you can walk away before this becomes the rest of your life. Or it ends your life.
Despite what they tell you, you are worth more than that. You didn’t do anything wrong. You were just a woman who fell in love. You couldn’t see the red flags because you had your love goggles on. As did I. And as anyone who has encountered an abuser can tell you, you weren’t to know who this person really was. They are masters at what they do. You aren’t their first victim and you won’t be their last.
When you finally remove them from your life, though they won’t go without a fight, they will replace you almost immediately. They need their supply. And it will hurt. But that’s when you know you can feel a little safer again. If you’re lucky, though it comes at the cost of another beautiful woman, you are free. And maybe it won’t feel like it right away, but it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you.
You’ll come out stronger. A survivor. Like I did. Hopefully now you will never again settle. And that’s when your life really begins.
Moving forward, remember- You are not to blame for what happened to you. You are not to blame for the things you did in survival mode as a response to their abuse or to protect yourself. You are not to blame if you have found yourself in more than one abusive relationship. You are not stupid if you go back. You are not foolish if you miss them and grieve the loss of them. You are not an idiot if it took you a long time to see what was happening to you. You are not paranoid if you feel you have to watch your back. You are not weak if you’re depressed, anxious or experiencing PTSD. You aren’t a bad person for feeling judged by your loved ones trying to help you. You are not wrong if you can’t leave yet. Or don’t even fully want to. How you feel is valid. I just want you safe, and I want you free. There is no judgment here.
Someone who understands.
*Leaving is the most dangerous time for a woman in a domestic violence situation. Standing up for themselves or having someone step in and defend them can sometimes create more danger than good. Sometimes kids are involved. It is rarely safe, or as simple as ‘just leaving.’*
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence:
Police if in immediate danger- 000
Beyond blue- 1300 22 46 36
Life line- 13 11 14
1800 RESPECT: DV connect women’s line- 1800 811 811
The Orange Door-