I read an article this morning that announced plans to give jail time to people who emotionally abuse their spouses.
About bloody time.
When I was at University I became involved with someone who turned out to be a sociopath. He never laid a finger on me – he attempted to on one occasion but after pinning him up against a wall and telling him in no uncertain terms that certain appendages would be removed if he went anywhere near me again from that point on he stayed well away…
I met A through a friend, during quite a low point in my life. He wasn’t my type at all physically, and he was quite effeminate, but he was nice to me and always seemed to say the right thing at the right time. We seemed to have so much in common, he made me laugh and he would arrive at my room in the Halls of Residence that I was staying at with something nice to eat for dinner and DVD’s to watch. We shared really personal experiences and talked about our hopes and ambitions. He confided in me (something that he claimed he had never shared with anyone else) that his stepfather had abused him, and that his real father was his mother’s gay best friend, who I had met several times. I cried, but I was honoured that he chose to share something so personal with me. I thought I could trust him.
It wasn’t long before I moved into a house with him, along with a few other females who were my close friends. This was the point where things started to change. A started to find faults with my housemates and began complaining about them all the time. He would find situations to ‘defend’ me, claiming that they were insulting me and taking advantage of me. He started to cause fights with them, making it very awkward for me as I always seemed to be stuck in the middle. Very soon, the atmosphere was unbearable, and so we moved out into our own house. I felt so grown up – I planned how we were going to decorate everything and set about creating a ‘home.’ We even got a cat.
The thing about emotional abuse is that it isn’t possible to see it happening – it’s something that creeps up slowly into life over a period of time in a way that suggests it has always been there. Looking back, I think that it began immediately after we moved in together, but it was when we got our own house that things started to escalate. He started complaining about the standard of my washing up, then my ‘lack’ of housework around the house. My whistling started to annoy him – I remember him screaming ‘Will you stop f*cking whistling, you’re driving me insane!’ when I was pottering around one day. I spent too long in the bath. I was irritating. I talked too much. I was stupid. I ate crisps too loudly… It went on and on.
My friends started to become more and more distant, and finally they admitted that they hated him. I was angry with them, demanding to know why. After many awkward glances between them, one of them admitted that she had slept with him not long after we got together. I was devastated, but after much arguing in which A denied everything, he and I just carried on as though nothing happened. My self confidence was shot, I was a poor student in a dire financial situation and I had nowhere else to go.
For a large amount of the time, he seemed pretty emotionless. One emotion, however, that would always flare up was anger. He became very ‘protective.’ He hated me leaving the house without him, and the only time where there wouldn’t be an issue was when I attended my lectures. He started to kick up a huge fuss if I wanted to go to the pub after class, and if I went without telling him I could guarantee there would be an argument waiting for me when I arrived home. His biggest annoyance was the fact that my best friend was (and still is) male. He hated him, to the point where he tried locking the doors to prevent me from leaving to meet him, and even changed a few digits of my friend’s phone number to stop me from calling or texting him.
Eventually, his parents bought him a house, and we moved in. The house was beautiful, but I didn’t live, I existed. He cheated on me twice more, which he vehemently denied but I didn’t want to leave because by this point he was what I knew, and he had started working in a brilliantly paid job, while I survived on my bus fare to get to university. The abuse continued, but it had become such a part of daily life I accepted it and worse still, didn’t really notice it as being a problem. I worried about him – he had quite a large mole on his chest that he went for tests at the doctors. He told me it was the early stages of cancer.
It took a single weekend to change everything…
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