Are You A Victim of Gaslighting??

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Are you confused? In a daze? Constantly second guessing yourself? Questioning your feelings or your perception of reality? Do you feel like you are going crazy? Having trouble grasping on to who you really are? If so, you just may be a victim of gaslighting.

 

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. It is a sophisticated form of manipulation. It is used to cause doubt in an individual in hopes of making the victim question their perception of reality, their memory and even their sanity. The abuser’s goal is to have their victim second guess their every decision so that the victim is more dependant on the abuser. The more dependant the victim becomes, the harder it will be for the victim to leave. One method an abuser uses is to ignore the victim, then give them attention and ignore them again. Gaslighting often comes after other forms of emotional and physical abuse because the victim is most likely to stay in those situations as well.

 

Gaslighting comes in stages. Disbelief, protection and depression.  The disbelief comes into play when the signs of gaslighting first happens. You write the signs off as nothing more than weird behavior. Protection or defense comes in when you start defending yourself against the gaslighter and their manipulation. You could even say that the defense comes in when you also defend the gaslighters behavior. You begin making excuses for the things that they say. The stage of depression begins when you notice a lack of joy and you begin to notice that you are not yourself anymore. You feel cut off from family and friends. In fact, you feel like you’re cut off entirely from the world.

 

Psychoanalyst Robin Stern Ph.D lists the examples below as signs that someone may  be a victim of gaslighting:

 

  1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  2. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
  3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
  4. You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
  5. You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  6. You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
  11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
  13. You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  14. You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.
  15. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.

 

If you feel or think like any of the above listed examples you are more than likely a victim of gaslighting/emotional abuse.It is a tough pill to swallow when you realize that you are being abused. It is extremely difficult and very emotional to acknowledge that someone you respect love and trust is hurting you. The only way things will change is when you’re ready to face the facts. Again, yes it is hard to admit. We start asking ourselves how we let this happen, how did we allow this person to gain so much control?

 

It is important for the victim to know that it is not their fault! Emotional and verbal abuse starts off so settle that it is easy to dismiss it. That is how gaslighting works. It eats away at you slowly. Your brain is very fragile. It believes whatever it is told. So if it is told negative things repeatedly, it believes it to be true and vice versa with positive things. That is why it is a good idea to get into the habit of daily motivation. Motivate and empower yourself. It can be something as simple as “I am strong”, “I am confident” or “I am beautiful.” Take the negative things that were told to you and say the opposite.

 

When you begin doing this in your healing process you will also begin to reclaim your reality and identity. Most importantly, you have to come to the realization that this relationship is unhealthy. No matter what the abuser may say to you to try to get you to stay or come back. Things will not get better and they will not change. In fact, the situation(s) will more than likely get worse. You owe it to yourself to be safe, healthy and happy.

My Walk Through The Fog(Gaslighting)

When you are a victim of gaslighting it feels like you are walking through fog. A never ending, dense fog. Trying to grab a hold on to reality. Asking yourself what reality even really is any more. Even more important, trying to grasp onto your reality. You are faced with trying to identify who you are. What is your purpose. Constantly questioning your insanity. The abuser says things like “You’re crazy” or “What are you talking about? That never happened, you’re making stuff up.”

 

Looking for somewhere to turn, somewhere to run. How can I get out of this fog. I can’t see in front of me or either side of me. I surely do not want to try and look behind me. Unable to get a sense of direction, I turn to the only person I have for guidance. I have nobody else, they are all gone. The same person I run to for guidance is the same person who has me blindfolded by his lies. My mind is being suffocated by his poisonous tongue.

 

It’s my fault. I can never do anything right. I’m crazy he says. So he must be right. He’s always right. He knows me better than I know myself. Who am I? My identity seems to have slipped through the cracks of my fingers. Through the cracks of my mind. My identity is not my own. I watch as it slips through the cracks of time.

 

Walking through the fog, in search of my identity. Searching for a glimpse of who I once was. Searching for hope. Searching for a promise. A promise that time and time again has been broken. Searching for truth. Searching…searching…searching! Each day hoping to find myself. Each day hoping to find clarity. Every time I seem to get a step close to who I am and where I am, he seems to be right there pulling me back even deeper into the dense fog. I want to scream for help.Yet I know no one would hear me. I’m all alone. I’m all alone…

 

The fog thickens around me. I feel myself weakening the longer that I am here. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want to give up. Time to throw in the towel. Fighting only wastes more energy. Maybe this is where I am supposed to be. Maybe this is who I really am. Maybe it’s who I’ve always been? Oh my god he has been right this whole time? I don’t know how much longer I can last. How much more can I take? I begin to raise my white flag to surrender.

Just as I was about to give up. Right before I raised the flag, I saw a glimmer of light breaking through the fog. HOPE! Hope has found me! Hope has come to my rescue! The fog starts to dissipate. I begin to feel my strength slowly return to me. I am becoming more alert of my surroundings now. I begin to see the reality for what it really is. I realize that this is not where I am supposed to be. This is not what I deserve. I deserve so much more. I have to get out of here. I have to break free. He is aware of it all. He sees that I am catching on. He again lures me back into the fog. Damn! I can’t believe I am here once again. How does he do it? The process starts over again. Again…and again…and again. In the fog, at the edge of the fog. Back and forth. It’s like a revolving door.

 

It’s hard to get out. It’s hard to escape. Always questioning yourself, always second guessing your thoughts, your perception, your memories. Then one day you realize you are not the same person who you once were. You are an empty shell. We need to listen to our instincts. We cannot stay in this same place. We have to walk out of this fog and not look back. We have to have hope and know that there are clearer days ahead of us. We can make it out and we will make it out!

Gaslighting- What is it?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!! With that being said, I wanted to start off with bringing awareness to gaslighting. I plan on writing a few blogs on this one topic before starting the next. What is gaslighting? Giving examples of gaslighting. As well as sharing my personal experiences with gaslighting. As always, I invite my readers to comment, share and make suggestions on my blogs. So let us get right into it!

 

Do you know where the term “gaslighting” comes from? It comes from a 1938 stage play titled  Gas Light, Where the husband tries to drive his wife his wife insane by messing with the lights which in those days were controlled by gas. He would dim the lights and when she would notice it and say something to him he would tell her that the lights didn’t change.

 

So what is gaslighting exactly? Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, where the victim begins questioning their own sanity. They begin questioning their reality and their emotions. This form of abuse gives the abuse an immense amount of power over their victim. As we know, abuse is all about control and power. Therefore, once the abuser manipulates the victims reality, the victim will be less likely to leave the abuser. Gaslighting is something that tends to happen gradually, it is not something that happens overnight. As time goes on; a victim can become, depressed, anxious, confused and even isolated to the point where they lose sense of what is actually going on. This in turn can lead to the victim relying on the abuser more and more and becoming more dependent on them defining what reality actually is. This creates a difficult and possibly dangerous situation for the victim to escape.

 

Below are examples of several gaslighting techniques. Is your significant other using any of these?

 

Withholding: This is when the abuser refuses to listen or acts like they don’t understand. Example: “You’re confusing me!” or “ I do not want to hear this again!”

 

Countering: The abuser starts to question the victim’s memory or thoughts. Regardless is the victim remembers them accurately. Example: “You never remember things correctly.”

 

Blocking/Diverting: When the abuser tries to change the subject or questions the victim’s thinking. Example: “Did you get this crazy idea from (persons name) again?”

 

Trivializing: This is when the abuser makes the victim’s emotions seem unimportant. Example: “You’re too sensitive.”

 

Forgetting/Denial: The abuser acts as if they have forgotten what has actually happened or denies things like promises they made to the victim. Example: “You’re making stuff up.” or “I don’t know what you are talking about!”

 

SIGNS THAT YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER IS GASLIGHTING YOU:

 

  • Always second guessing yourself.
  • You ask yourself multiple times a day if you are too sensitive.
  • Frequently feel confused or even crazy.
  • Constantly apologizing to your significant other.
  • Lack of understanding that with a lot of good things in your life you still aren’t happy.
  • You often make excuses to your friends and family for your significant other.
  • You withhold information from your friends and family in order to not make excuses for your significant other.
  • You are aware that there is something horribly wrong, but you can’t seem to express it, even to your own self.
  • You start telling lies to avoid put downs.
  • You have difficulty making even the simplest decisions.
  • You sense that at one point you used to be a confident,loving, carefree and more relaxed individual.
  • You feel hopeless.
  • You feel like you can never do anything right.
  • You start to wonder if you’re “good enough” for your significant other.

 

Gaslighting is a serious form of emotional abuse. It leaves the victim in a “fog-like” state. What was once their reality no longer exists. What was once their identity has been stripped from them. The victim’s reality has literally turned into a horrible nightmare. If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of gaslighting, I urge you to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline which is exactly where I got the above information from.You can chat with one of their advocates online via the above link, or call and speak to an advocate at 1-800-799-7233.

 

The Phoenix Never Dies

It’s a rough road. For those who are going through or have gone through any form of abuse. The task of surviving day to day. As the one enduring the abuse. The unknown of whether or not we will make it out alive. The unknown if we can ever escape. The unknown of what will happen to us if and when we do escape. What will he or she do if they find out? What will happen to me? For those who have children; it ups the ante 100 folds. Why don’t people leave right away? It’s easier said than done, there are so many factors and reasons. Some may call it excuses, but as a survivor I tell you, it isn’t that we are making up excuses. It is due to the immense amount of fear we have towards this individual.

Then one day. It happens. Literally. Maybe it doesn’t just happen overnight, but because we are so brainwashed and have no self-control we don’t quite recognize it until it is practically boiling over. This fire burns inside of us. An unstoppable strength, After being beat and torn down for so long we don’t quite understand how we got this strength or where it came from. It is as if something inside of you just wakes up all your senses.

For me, it happened after my ex choked me and I passed out. Now, for the critics out there, you must understand that before physical abuse occurs usually mental, verbal and/or emotional abuse have already been set in motion for quite some time. No I didn’t leave after the first time he physically or sexually abused me. Why? Because he had already gained control of my mind. I was a prisoner in my own body. The daily verbal beat downs. Being told that no one loves me, or that I am not pretty enough. Being told that I get what I deserve.. The threats of what he would do if I try to leave, threats he made to me about hurting my family. No one wants me. No one loves me. I am nothing and will be nothing without him. Being reminded of how my biological father abandoned me by saying things like “Your own father doesn’t even want you”. The list goes on and on.

So on this one particular evening, we had not been on speaking terms for a couple days at this point which was pretty much the norm for him. I had the day off so I had spent the day doing laundry, running errands etc. I was sitting on our bed, watching t.v. when he had come home from work and entered the room. I didn’t like when we were not on speaking terms, I knew I had to be the bigger person and start some sort of conversation with him. I simply asked, “How was work baby?” He slams the wardrobe door shut, I look up at him and see his teeth clenched. I knew exactly what was about to happen next so I got up from the bed, thinking I would just walk out the room to avoid any more confrontations. It didn’t work out that way. He grabbed me by my arm and pulled to where I fell on to the bed. Like any other time, he pinned me down and punched the bed on either side of the bed. Like so many times before he said. “If you move and I hit you it’s your fault not mine.”

I thought I had memorized the whole scene. Every move he made I knew by heart. Then the scene changed. He got behind me and put me into a choke hold that I could not get out of. I passed out. For how long? I do not know and will never know. When I came too, I woke up with my head in his lap. You want to know what he was doing? Playing video games. As if nothing had just happened. It was as if I had fallen asleep there. When he had realized that I had woken up he began laughing and petting my head as if I were some sort of lap dog. It was in that moment that I finally realized I had to go. It was in that moment that I had realized that things were never going to change but that they were only going to get a whole lot worse. If I didn’t escape hell that night or the very next day, I would become a statistic. I had to fight and subconsciously I knew that I had to fight for others who were/are in a similar situation.

When it was time for bed, he told me to sleep with my head at the foot of the bed (as if I were the one that did something wrong). My rage boiled over. The phoenix within me was starting to wake up. I looked at him and said “I ain’t your dog, and I will NOT sleep at the foot of your bed, either you can sleep at the foot of the bed or you can sleep out on the couch, but me? I ain’t moving. Good night!” I had found my voice again. He was the one who slept with his head at the foot of the bed.  In something so small and simple as having the good spot in the bed, I felt victorious. My power had returned to me. That there was the first time I realized the strength I had within me. I stayed awake for a while until I knew that he for sure was sleeping.

The next morning I woke up pretty much just as the sun was rising. I had probably slept for only a few hours. I quietly and softly got up out of the bed, grabbed my towel and my cell phone and headed to the bathroom. When I got into the bathroom I looked at myself in the mirror and could still see my ex’s fingerprints on my neck. I ran the bath water and sobbed as I dialed my sisters phone number. It must have been around six o’clock so I knew she would be up. If she wasn’t heading into work, she was at least getting ready. When she answered the phone she had just entered her work place. I told her I needed to talk to her that it was very important and then began to explain what had taken place the previous night. She told me she would be right on her way and to begin packing everything that I possibly could. After we got off the phone I stayed in the bathtub a little longer. I had so many emotions raging through me. I was scared. I was hurt. I was nervous. I was angry.  I began crying again. I was doing my best to not cry loud enough that someone in the house would here me and come to the door.

I got out the bath, got dressed and walked back towards the bedroom. While walking down the hallway I was praying that he was still sleeping. While opening the door to the bedroom I literally held my breath. As I entered U looked over to find him still asleep. Thank God! I went to the kitchen for some trash bags and began emptying out the closet, stuffing my clothes in the bag. When one bag was full, I tied it and put it in front of the apartment door.

My sister kept me up-to-date with her location. I think that was her way of making sure I wasn’t in any type of danger. Whenever I heard him move or breathe different I would freeze. All I could think was what will he do if he wakes up?

I had almost finished getting all of my things when he woke up. I must’ve looked like a deer in headlights. He turned his head and looked at me saying “Shauna, are you leaving me?” It felt like my throat was closing up. I mustered up the courage to tell him yes. I told him my sister was already on her way and should be here any minute. He got up, and I prepared myself for what I thought would happen. I was expecting him to either hit me, punch me or even drag me around the room. I was expecting him to do all the things he had threatened to do to me. All the times he said I wouldn’t make it out the front door unless my legs were broken. Telling me I was lucky if that was all that happened to me. Every time I would look at him, I would have flashbacks from the night before. Flashbacks of when he clenched his teeth together and then lunged at me. Flashbacks of him putting me into a choke hold and then of myself waking up with my head in his lap. He had grabbed his towel and gone to the bathroom. While he was in there I started grabbing everything of mine that I could and continued placing the bags by the front door. I called my sister to see how far away she was and told her that he is awake and in the shower. She said she was just a few minutes away.

When he came back to the room he finished getting dressed, grabbed his keys and with his back turned towards me he said “Goodbye Shauna”,  and walked out of the apartment. I stood there for a minute kind of dumbfounded. Maybe even in a bit of shock, I didn’t expect it to happen that way. I didn’t expect him to react in that way. All the thoughts I had of how everything might play out when this day comes, all the fears of this day that kept me from leaving sooner. It crazy to me. In the back of my mind I still wondered what he may really be up to. Would he be outside the door waiting for me to leave? Would he be sitting in his car to follow us and see where I was going to be staying?

My sister called me to tell me that she was outside of the apartment building. I let her into the building so we could grab everything in as little trips as necessary. We gathered all my belongings, put them in the back of her truck and we were gone. My sister called my mother to tell her that I am safe and with her and even told my mother how I had marks on my neck still. I looked out the window as we drove off. I was free I thought to myself. Little did I know that the real battles were just around the corner.

Physically I was free. Mentally and emotionally I was still a prisoner. It has taken me years just to be able to talk about this, let alone start to heal from it. It is a long road. It isn’t a lonely road because I have learned from first starting my blog page that I am not alone and that there are many people who are there for me when I need them. I do not have to feel ashamed when I experience something for the first time. I know there is someone who has experienced it or something similar to it and they will help me thru it.

When I feel weak, when I feel defeated. Those are the times that the phoenix inside me burns brightest. The Phoenix never dies. It is apart of us, it is one with us. The phoenix is our inner most deepest strength and courage. It may seem like it escapes us but it never leaves us. It waits for its moment to shine in our lives. It waits to be called upon in our most desperate of times.

Like a Phoenix, she will rise from the ashes of despair and soar.”

Angel

 

My Broken Pieces

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When your biological father doesn’t love you, it cuts you deep.

It leaves you vulnerable and weak.

Leaving you open to predators

Who seek to do nothing but devour you.

When your father doesn’t love you

It leaves you searching for it in the wrong places.

It leaves you craving it.

No matter how it is that you taste it.

Love is all that you want.

Love is all that you long for.

To be loved.

It is all you dream about.

You fall for all the lies.

No matter how big or small.

You will go through it all.

You stick with the bad and go through hell.

You let him continuously keep you under his spell.

Because nothing else matters when you are being given what you so desire.

Whether it is real, or all a fantasy.

It satisfies your craving.

Even if it is only temporarily.

 

My broken pieces I’m left alone to pick up off the floor.

On my own to make myself whole.

No one but me.

Me. Myself. And I.

 

When the first man you ever loved.

Shows his true form.

Things you said you would never allow,

Now have taken your freedom.

He uses his tongue to cut you deep.

You lay in the dark afraid to sleep.

He wraps his hands around your neck until you pass out.

He has no fear in killing you, have no doubt.

 

My broken pieces I’m left alone to pick up off the floor.

On my own to make myself whole.

No one but me.

Me. Myself. And I.

 

 

 

 

The Lost Wanderer (Part 2)

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A few minutes later she was finally gone.

Out of hell she escaped.

Without nothing, not even a scrape.

The butterfly had found an opening in the window.

And started to fly towards a better tomorrow…..

On to brighter days she thought to herself,

Not knowing that there would be new obstacles.

These obstacles would be different though.

The obstacles of the mind.

She wanted all memories erased.

Unfortunately she realized this would not be the case.

It took a long time for her to be able to function properly.

Years of torment, years of abusing herself.

Years of hating herself.

Seeking for love by any means necessary.

The lost wanderer, searching for her place.

Trying to figure out life on her own.

Through trials and tribulations she endured.

She survived.

For so long she hated the word survivor.

It wasn’t until years later she wore it like a badge of honor.

The butterfly now soars sunrise to sunset.

Freely to higher heights.

She found her path and destiny.

Each day comes with its own set of challenges.

Each day she continues to grow and strengthen her wings.

No longer lost, she now wanders with love, hope and courage.

Searching for those who are in the same space she once was.

Searching to empower, searching to encourage and searching to inspire.

The Residue of You

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The residue of you.

It doesn’t take much to remember the pain of you. The first man I loved. My first hero. My first heart break. You are the reason for a lot of my firsts, but you were never a part of many of the important ones. Shit, you never even came to my graduation ceremony they held for 6th graders going on to junior high. You sent your girlfriend. You replaced your children with whatever bullshit you felt was more important to you at the time.

The residue of you, is why I think I have so much trust issues. Not just with men, but people in general. My sisters used to say I was “daddy’s princess” when we were growing up. Man, did you prove them wrong. You told me I was a mistake.

People say to forgive and forget, how much easier it is to say then to do. I find it incredibly difficult to forgive the one man who is supposed to protect me from most of the things I have had to deal with growing up. Then again, how can a man teach his children how to protect themselves from men like himself? How can a man like himself teach his children how a man is supposed to treat his daughters?

You were never there, therefore YOU DO NOT GET CREDIT, in the process I went through in becoming the amazing woman I am today. You do not get to say that you are proud of me for my achievements when you were never there to guide me. NO! You do not deserve to bask in my success. You have no part in it, therefore you will never reap from it.

I used to always want to ask you why. I used to think maybe that would help me get over it. As I got older and wiser I realized that not only would I most likely not get the truth, but that it also just didn’t matter. The truth is that you are a selfish human being. The truth is that you just don’t care. The truth is that you are exactly like your own father. Irresponsible and selfish.

I am now in my thirties, have not seen you since I was about ten or so. The last conversation we had I was days away from turning twenty-five. As far as I’m concerned that last conversation is just that; our last. Again, I fell for a chance to reconnect with my father. The hopeless little girl inside of me got the best of me. All that got me was another let down, another scar tatted on my heart. You had the chance to talk to one of your daughters after all these years went by. Even though you didn’t deserve it. What did you do? Instead of talking to her, you said you had to get off the phone because you were crossing state lines. That sir, was it. That was the last knife I would ever allow you to stab me with. That was your last chance.

I have gone through so much and have grown even more. Yet, the residue of you still remains. We nicknamed you the seven year curse, then it changed to the three year curse, because you seem to come around every seven years then it turned to every three years. A curse because with you, comes nothing more then bad memories. With comes so much hurt and pain. With you triggers a whole lot of different things that none of us want to remember.

Triggers: I seen someone who had similar features to yours. Well, what I can remember of you. I instantly got angry, I was instantly reminded of all the lies and false hopes of you.  All the verbal, emotional and physical abuse that was done. The best yet, remembering the fight I fight each and every day to prove to myself that I do it all on my own without you or anyone else. The fight I fight because I know that I am better off without you. The fight I fight that because of you, I learned self-love is the best love.

So no, you will never be given credit as to the woman I have become. I am who I am because you were never around. I am who I am because my mother is all that I had. I am who I am because I witnessed first hand the strength and endurance of my mother. I learned how to fight through life because I watched her fight.

The residue of you, won’t be allowed to set me off like it has in the past(I’m working on that) but the residue that you left behind I will use as a reminder that I am only me because of those who took time and sacrificed in order for me to get here.

 

 

The Lost Wanderer (Part 1)

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She was lost in her own hell.

Barely holding on.

She thought she knew better than to sleep with the devil.

His lies kissed her lips and she was gone.

His masked disguise left her blind.

Her strength and courage was sucked right out of her.

She was a dead woman walking.

Scared to cry out for help.

Scared to run away.

She held back her tears and carried on each day.

Not knowing how much more she could take.

Not knowing if tomorrow she would awake.

Walking on eggshells.

Plotting every move.

Who could she tell?

Life was what she had to lose.

She was lost in her own hell.

Not some fictional fairytale.

This was real life.

Every day was a new fight.

Fighting for another breath.

Fighting until there was nothing left.

He beat her down with his words.

His tongue was like a double-edged sword.

Her self-confidence.

Her self-love

Her self-control

All of it stripped from her.

She no longer had her identity.

She saw herself through the eyes and the lies of the man she once loved.

Her self identity became his insecurities.

Her pureness in his eyes were now impurities.

Until one day.

She woke up.

Woke up determined to break free.

She had had enough.

No longer blind

She mustered up enough strength to fly.

She was determined to survive.

Her soul revived.

Her heart strived.

She was born again, she had had come back to life.

She made a plan of escape.

Taking every precaution.

She was going to leave no matter the fate.

She was willing to claw her way out if she must.

The day had come.

Last night was the final straw.

He had choked her until she passed out.

She couldn’t take anymore.

Her life in his hands.

She knew his final plan.

She made arrangements early the next morning.

As she started gathering her belongings.

Scared for her life

She was ready to fight.

He was sound asleep

As she started packing her things.

Just as she was about to leave

He opened up his eyes.

He saw all her things and said

“You’re leaving me?”

In an instant flashbacks of past threats flooded her mind.

But she had already decided

Not this time.

Her inner warrior had awoken.

She finally stuck up for herself.

She told him she was leaving and that was that.

He slowly got up.

Her eyes followed his every move.

Her ears in tune with every step.

What was he going to do?

Out of all the things he had threatened.

What was going to be his first move?

He showered and dressed.

Not saying a word.

No sound was made.

No sound was heard.

He grabbed his keys and as he turned to leave.

He turned back around and said

“Good bye (Name)”

Goodbye? That’s it? She thought to herself.

As she heard him open and shut the door.

Something must be up.

She phoned her ride and explained that he had left.

A few minutes later she was finally gone.

Out of hell she escaped.

Without nothing, not even a scrape.

The butterfly had found an opening in the window.

And started to fly towards a better tomorrow…..

(To Be Continued…)

Thinking Out Loud

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So as you all know I started writing my book about my experience with domestic violence, the chapter I am currently working on so far is one of the most difficult chapters. It has taken me a long time to write what I have written so far. It has opened up a wound I thought was healed. I have realized that there has not really been full closure on this aspect of my life. Many tears have been shed while writing previous chapters, so many unanswered questions. So many “Why’s?” and I know those will never be answered, and even if there was a chance for those “why’s” to be answered I know that they would not be truthful answers anyways.

This book is not only about my experience with domestic violence, this book touches on so many sensitive subjects in my life. It is graphic and detailed. I want the readers to feel what I have felt. I believe that that is the best way a writer can write. To bring the reader back in time and travel with me through my life as if they were right there with me.

At the same time I am struggling right now, I am facing things from my past that I never fully dealt with. Emotions about things that have happened and am wondering why I have these feelings. I try to continue typing through this chapter, I get one or two sentences out and I shut it down.

You know, I go through life looking at where I am now and where I came from. Amazed at how I got this far. I get through day by day with a smile on face just loving and enjoying every moment. I look at my dreams and see myself achieving them and see doors of opportunities starting to open. I’ve connected with amazing people all over the world through this blog and other social media. Yet I feel stuck. I usually write blogs to inspire and encourage others but right now I could really use some inspiration and encouragement.

I guess this blog is just a venting blog.

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Domestic Violence & Mental Health

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It has been in my head for a while to blog about domestic violence and mental health. I know I have touched on P.T.S.D. in a previous blog (P.T.S.D. and its triggers) , but what about depression, suicidal ideations and substance abuse? Those of us who have experienced the aftermath of the psychological effects of domestic violence know all too well about how the trauma affects us on a daily basis. Depending on the severity and duration of the abuse, some may “bounce back” faster than others. Which leads to the reason why I always say to take your time with your healing process and do not rush it. We all heal and deal differently. It is a fragile process that takes a lot of time and effort. If you are in need of resources please click on this link.

Mental health illnesses are not something to be taken lightly. They are also something that has really been recognized when it comes to domestic violence survivors. Before recent years, P.T.S.D. was most commonly known to be linked to war veterans. Over the years the diagnoses of P.T.S.D. has been revised. The most recent revision I have come across was in 2013. (National Center for PTSD)

When looking at depression, at least one researcher refers to domestic violence as the “hidden epidemic” of mental health conditions. (Domestic Violence and Depression – Breaking the Cycle). From my own perspective, depression is inevitable. It is fair to say that as a survivor of domestic violence I wholeheartedly agree that when a victim, it’s your self-worth, your integrity, your self-esteem, and more importantly your identity that is constantly under attack.

After a constant beaten on one’s mental and emotional being, it should not be shocking that a victim of abuse becomes depressed. With all the negativity that has been drowning the victim, the only thoughts they can conjure up are negative thoughts. In extreme cases of depression one can also experience suicidal ideations or suicidal thoughts. Domestic violence is not just about physical abuse, it is not just about the black eyes, bruises and scars that one can see with the naked eye. It goes so much deeper than those wounds.

Emotional abuse is any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”1 Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse or as “chronic verbal aggression” by researchers. People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes (such as becoming withdrawn) and may even become depressed, anxious or suicidal.” (See my blog on Verbal/Emotional Abuse)

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The flashbacks, the nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts and anxiety is what we as survivors are left with when we first escape the abuse. We are trying to recover ourselves, recover our identity; recover who we once were. It is a process, and an exhausting one at that. Coping with the effects of domestic violence can be extremely overwhelming; many times since the survivors control over the situation has been ripped away from them by the abuser, the survivor can turn to self-medicating. No longer wanting to deal with the pain head on, no longer wanting to remember those events that have taken place and no longer wanting to deal with those flashbacks and nightmares. They may also engage in self-harming behaviors which is another way to feel like a sense of control and also as a way to release their pain.

 

Domestic violence can also take away one’s sense of safety and security. Making it difficult for the survivor to trust others. Remember, the survivor had trusted this person with his or her whole being, their trust was taken for granted. Survivors may feel like giving up, they may feel unmotivated and empty. They may not want to reach out for help because they feel like there is no point in doing so.

One thing we as survivors must remind ourselves and other survivors is that we are broken but not damaged. We can and we will overcome the effects that the abuse has left us. With each other we can make it. With the right resources we will overcome it. Keep pushing, you deserve to have A Life Worth Living For.

 

Domestic Violence Summit 2014

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I was looking for a video to post while I finish writing a blog I am working on and came upon these videos. The domestic Violence Summit 2014 hosted on the Dr. Phil Show.

It is a seven-part series and I just had to share them with you. Let’s raise awareness. Let’s connect. Let’s Inspire and Let’s Come Together!

As My Thoughts Escape My Mind…

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As you all know from my previous blog, I have started writing my book. It’s really hard, remembering details from my childhood as well as details from my relationship. I must admit I’ve already shed some tears and this is just the beginning of the book. Remembering things I worked so hard to erase or cover up. To bring them back to the forefront has been difficult at times. Some things I actually did completely block out of my mind and couldn’t really write in complete detail about. Even with some of those details that I cannot remember, it brought me to tears. To me, I felt like those details were not erased by me and should not have to be something that I should forget.

It has been challenging but also therapeutic at the same time. This book needs to be written, and I hope that you all can relate to it. I thank you all for being a part in this journey. Thank you for your support with this blog page. If it wasn’t for you this book may not be written. It was with this blog page that I had hoped to share and connect with others and make a difference in someone’s life. The connections I have made shown me that I really do need to put this book out there. You all inspire me more than you could ever know.

Continue to pursue your goals. Continue healing. Continue striving. You are on this earth for a reason. Do not allow your past to make you think or feel any different. You have a voice and deserve to be heard. Break the silence. Let’s raise awareness and let it be known that enough is enough!

butterfly is proof

 

 

Triggers and Flashbacks are not Setbacks

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Hey everyone, first let me just apologize for being absent as far as blogging, I know I have some very supportive readers and followers who look forward to my blogs. After reading this particular post I believe it is safe to say that you will all understand why I have been absent. It was difficult for me to start writing this, and took me a couple weeks to even begin writing gain.

Triggers and flashbacks.

I hate them.

I mean i really HATE them!I had a trigger on Sunday June 20th 2016. I was on the train headed home from work and it happened. The train stopped at the station behind the apartment building where I used to live with my ex, our bedroom window faced the station. I had looked up from my phone and out the window, when my eyes locked dead on to one of the windows of the apartment where I used to live at. I was overwhelmed with emotion, after all these years. I got chills looking at these windows. I literally got goosebumps all over, and I could feel myself starting to panic. When I looked at the windows there was this dark eerie look to them, yet the sun was still shining bright.

It was like every single emotion I had ever felt in that place came rushing at me. Flashbacks of him clenching his teeth. Flashbacks of him choking me. Flashbacks of him pushing me on to the bed and straddling over me, punching the bed close to my head telling me if I move the wrong way and he hits me it is my fault. I could hear him. I could hear all the disgusting names he used to call me. All the things he used to accuse me of. It had all flooded my mind in an instant. For a time I was angry at myself for even allowing it to effect me the way that it had.

The one thing about triggers is that they can honestly happen at any given moment. Certain things may always be something we know as a trigger (scent,smell,sound) while others may not be so common but can abruptly cause a trigger; especially when someone is under a huge amount of stress, and believe me these last few weeks at work have been mighty stressful.

But this trigger was different, and maybe even one of my worst ones yet to date. It felt like the air had been knocked out of me. I was practically choking on my tears fighting them from falling down my face until I got off at my stop. My throat felt like it was closing up and my heart was beating at an incredible rate. My hands were shaky and sweaty. As soon as I stepped off the train at my stop the tears began to fall. I could no longer control it. Getting into my mothers car she asked me if I was okay. I told her “I will be okay.” One thing I love about her, she will never badger me for information; if I say “I am okay”, even if she knows I am not she knows that eventually I will come and talk to her.

Trigger definition

(from http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-trigger/)

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. She/he will react to this flashback, trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the time of the trauma. A person’s triggers are activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

The senses identified as being the most common to trigger someone are sight and sound, followed by touch and smell, and taste close behind. A combination of the senses is identified as well, especially in situations that strongly resemble the original trauma. Although triggers are varied and diverse, there are often common themes.

Types of triggers:

(also from the website http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-trigger/)

Sound

  • Anything that sounds like anger (ie. raised voices, arguments, bangs and thumps, something breaking).
  • Anything that sounds like pain or fear (ie. crying, whispering, screaming).
  • Anything that might have been in the place or situation prior to, during, or after the abuse or reminds her/him of the abuse (ie. sirens, foghorns, music, cricket, chirping, car door closing).
  • Anything that resembles sounds that the abuser made (ie. whistling, footsteps, pop of can opening, tone of voice).
  • Words of abuse (ie. cursing, labels, put-downs, specific words used).

Smell

  • Anything that resembles the smell of the abuser (ie. tobacco, alcohol, drugs, after shave, perfume).
  • Any smells that resemble the place or situation where the abuse occurred (ie. food cooking ,wood, odors, alcohol).

Touch

  • Anything that resembles the abuse or things that occurred prior to or after the abuse (ie. certain physical touch, someone standing too close, petting an animal, the way someone approaches you).

Taste

  • Anything that is related to the abuse, prior to the abuse or after the abuse (ie. certain foods, alcohol, tobacco).

I share this because I want people to know that they are not alone. That even years after leaving I still have triggers. Yes it is possible. I know it is something that we do not want nor like dealing with, but it is something we have to live with due to the trauma(s) we have experienced. What we can do is learn how to deal and cope when we do experience triggers and flashbacks.

The thing that comforted me; was when I spoke to someone about this trigger event and she shared with me that she too deals with triggers. She said “90% of the time I am fine, I am okay. But then there is 10% where I am not.” That is exactly how I feel, 90% of the time I am good, but there is and always will be that 10% where I will have bad days, I will have to deal with triggers but I will pull myself together and come through it and you also will pull yourself together and get through it. Always remember that triggers and flashbacks are not setbacks. They are a part of us, but they do not define us.

 

Ever Wonder Why?

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Why didn’t you leave sooner?

Why did you let him get away with it?

Why did you stay?

Why didn’t you fight back?

Why Why Why Why Why.

 

As survivors, we get asked the WHY’s far too much! We know it isn’t necessarily intentional, but sometimes all those why’s make us feel worse than we may already feel. When we do get away from the abuse, we are already asking ourselves the same why’s and sometimes we ourselves do not yet know the answers. It isn’t just the question, but it is the delivery of the question that gets us. To be honest, we’d rather you not ask the why’s. In time you may get your answers, but if you are too impatient, you can continue reading to get some of your answers.

 

Why didn’t you leave sooner?

When the relationship first starts it isn’t started with the abuse, the abuser woo’s you, they sweep you off of your feet. They make you feel like a king or queen. After they “got you” they start slowly tearing you down (emotional abuse). They’ll call you names and make it seem as though he or she is just joking with you; but then it isn’t a joke anymore. You hear these things repeated over and over again. You start to believe that these things are who you actually are. You take on a false identity of yourself because you feel like this is what you deserve. You believe him or her when they say that no one will love you, no one would want you, you’re no good for anyone (verbal abuse). He or she isolates you from family and friends, making themselves the only one in your life.They may say that you do not need to work, they will take care of you. If you do work, they have a joint account with you, or they time you the time it takes you to get home and oh please do not be a minute later (environmental and financial abuse). Therefore, you feel as though you have nowhere to go or no one to call to help you. Or they make you think that no one would come for you because they do not love you.

Be aware the information I am now giving you is from someone who has experienced domestic violence in ALL of it’s forms. I am speaking about what happens, but don’t get it twisted. While all this is actually happening the victim is not aware of it. They are blind to it, they are so wrapped up in this individual that they do not see any of this as it is going on. I want to make it clear that domestic violence is NOT just physical abuse. But it involves far more than what is perceived. There are many men and women who were with an abusive partner and did not experience physical abuse.

So for me, when the physical abuse starts I was already too far in (if that makes sense) I had already been brainwashed into thinking that this was where I was supposed to be, that this was what my life was supposed to be. I felt like I deserved it. I mean my sisters and I were verbally, emotionally and physically abused by our father. During my parents divorce my father stopped seeing us, he abandoned us. For some you may think that would be a good thing. But for a child who still loved her father and still wanted him in her life it was another punch in the stomach, another stab to her heart. I had lost my step-father to cancer. It was as if this was just another part of the life of Shauna. As if, I was not deserving for love, whether it be in the form of a father, or partner.

Why did you stay?

I stayed out of fear. Being told if I left I either wouldn’t make it out alive or if I did both my legs would be broken. I stayed out of fear that he may do something to my family. I stayed hoping that he would change. Hoping that he got help. Hoping that the man I fell in love with in the beginning would come back. I stayed because I so desperately wanted to be back to the way things once were. I thought that if I continued loving him and showing him that I loved him that he would see that and want to do better and be better.

Why didn’t you fight back?

Why didn’t I fight back? For one, I did my best to make sure the confrontations didn’t occur in the first place. Do you know what it feels like to basically walk on eggshells in your own home? To have to watch every little thing you say or do to keep this person “happy”? Fighting back would only make things worse. The night he choked me, the night before I left, the thing that set him off, was me saying: ‘How was work baby’, I saw him clench his teeth, so I decided it would be best to walk out the room and give him his space, I misjudged that though. He in turn grabbed me and tossed me on the bed, he began punching the bed so close to my head that if I moved the wrong way at the wrong time he surely would have punch my face. He punched me all over my back, and that is when he choked me.

Why did you let him get away with it?

This one gets me. This is one that is at top of my list of questions that I hate and it enrages me. It was my decision to not press any charges. It was my decision because I did not want to have to deal with him any more. It was my decision because I just didn’t want to make things worse than what they already were for myself and my family. It is my decision and I do not regret it. As I have learned and grown, he didn’t get away with it. One thing I know for sure is that God is the ultimate judge, there is nothing greater then when God takes care of things for you. See, I believe in Karma. What goes around comes around. It doesn’t mean that what he did to me will necessarily happen to him. But one thing is for sure, he’ll reap what he has sown. Besides, what greater victory is there then for him to see and know that he can no longer control me? Not only that, but through this I am using it to reach and help others who have gone through it and for those who are going through it now. My greatest revenge is my comeback and my comeup.

Before you go asking why, I urge you to do some research on domestic violence and abuse. Get familiar with the forms of abuse, read some other blogs from other survivors about their experiences. Each individual handles things differently. Our experiences are different even though they are similar. Our healing process is very different. We are all at different stages in our healing. Take the time and educate yourself before you ask the why’s. Like I wrote in the beginning, some of us do not yet have the answers to those why’s. Be patient, try to have understanding and most importantly show compassion.

Travel Through The Mind of A Survivor

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I’m safe.

Where I am going he cannot find me.

He cannot hurt me anymore.

I’m safe.

 

Breathe.

 

Inhale.

Exhale.

 

I know I’m safe.

But will he find me?

Things are so weird now.

I know I can’t go back.

But I miss him.

I miss him?

Am I crazy?

 

I miss who he was in the beginning.

Was that really him?

What did I do wrong?

What did I do to make him hate me so much?

Why did he do all those things to me?

 

Was I not good enough?

Was I not pretty enough?

Not smart enough?

I gave everything up for him.

I did any and everything to make him happy.

 

Who would ever want to be with someone like me?

I’ll never love anyone again

I’ll never be loved by anyone again

I’m damaged goods

 

He was right…

No one would want me

No one would love me

I’ll never be anything

I’m nothing

I’m nothing without him

 

I have to move on

I can’t keep living like this

I can’t keep going on like this

I have to get my life back

 

One step at a time

One day at a time

Whatever it may take

I’m getting my life back

 

I will have good days

And some bad days

But each day is a step closer

A step closer to gaining back my identity

 

I may not be who I once was before

But I know I will be better than I was

It is going to take a lot of work

But I know I can make it

 

If I could make it out of that

I can make it through anything

 

When the negative things he used to say play in my mind

I will reverse them into the positive things I know I am.

 

He said I was ugly.

But look at me.

I’m beautiful.

 

He said that I was weak.

But I am stronger than I have ever been.

 

He said I was nothing without him.

But I am more than he could have ever handled.

 

I am who I am

Because of all that I went through

When you thought you could break me

I actually broke free

I busted out of that cage

Out of that cocoon

And I learned how to fly

Photo Credit: http://consciouslifenews.com/akashic-records-simple-explanation/1122435/