Guest Post: Me Too

**Trigger Warning – Domestic Violence and Abuse**

The allegations surrounding the predatory culture within Hollywood has once again highlighted the frequency and acceptance of sexual harassment and abuse, with a whole host of celebrities (both female and male) sharing their own personal and horrific experiences. Unfortunately, while the majority of the focus was initially directed towards a single person, it is not an uncommon nor new story and it’s something that takes place daily in every walk of life, prompting thousands to share their own stories, or simply respond with ‘Me too.’

Today’s post is an extremely personal one from Em Linthorpe. I have the upmost admiration for her courage to discuss such an experience, and I will leave the comments open below for you to respond with the courtesy and respect she deserves…

 

First I want to mention two bloggers who after reading their posts this week, inspired me to write about my experience with domestic violence.

Just Another Blog From a Woman ย 

I’m Sick and So Are You

Thank you for giving me the strength to write this, friends.

It was 2004.

I had been through a bit of a shitty time the previous year or so. I was living with my boyfriend who I adored and working in a really fun bar job. I was having the time of my life in my early twenties.

But then, cracks. The cracks started getting bigger, the boyfriend got itchy feet and wanderlust.

I was mugged walking home from a “can we patch this up?” meeting with him, as he had moved out of our shared home although we hadn’t properly split up. He then thought I was lying about being robbed to get attention from him. I wasn’t lying obviously, he apologised later but yes, it all went to shit. We split up and I broke down.

I moved back to live with my parents a short distance away, and I got a full time job in a high-end cafeteria there. A temporary new start while I regained my strength.

I can’t remember exactly how it started with Him.

I knew Him a little bit, He was a familiar face. He would sometimes drink in the bar I worked in. He was a well-respected musician locally.

I think we probably swapped numbers.

Within a month of dating, He had whisked me away on a week’s holiday to Budapest.

When we came back from that holiday, His house had been repossessed. The locks had been changed and a notice had been placed in the window. He said it must have been his meddling ex-girlfriend messing with things, and that He would get it sorted. Naive me believed Him. He had a very successful job, He was always flashing the cash. We had just been on a pretty pricy holiday. There must have been some mistake.

That was the first big lie. I learned too late that His life was just Him juggling multiple lies of all sizes to everybody He knew.

I can’t recall the first time He hit me, or how many times. The next year was a clusterfuck of arguments, mental and physical attacks, Him destroying or discarding my property, then buying me replacements and sweet-talking me back.

He once locked me in his house all day while He went to the pub.

One time He attacked me and dragged me down the stairs. I screamed out louder than I felt was normal because I hoped so hard that some neighbours would hear and call the police. No-one did though.

There were multiple occurrences of physical attacks, the majority of them behind His closed doors. I eventually decided to report him to the police, and He was charged with assault. My injuries were photographed, I was taken to a witness interview suite so video evidence could possibly be used in court.

Still, I went back. Each time I became more broken and vulnerable.

I spent much of the last couple of months with Him at His parents house. He had lost his job somewhere along the way and so couldn’t afford basic living costs. I don’t know exactly how or why he wasn’t working: we were apart one week and together the next. I was scared to ask Him anything in fear of another fight.

But I felt safer because His parents were around, not that they had any idea what was going on. My mind wandered sometimes to telling them, but I never did. This was as safe as I could be, in a fake world where none of the assaults had taken place.

I didn’t have a penny to my name, He never allowed me to work and I didn’t even have a home address at this point, I was floating between His address, His parents’ house and the sofa of a friend. I wasn’t in a suitable position to be employed.

I knew I could escape soon. It was always soon. But this time at the end was false on both sides. I had already reported Him to the police and the court case was pending. Yet He never mentioned it.

He was using this time at His parents’ house to get evidence for court that I must be a liar or mentally unwell, to collect witnesses that saw how happy we were together, photographs. Fuel for the fire that was the innocence He was so desperate to prove.

The peace eventually ended though and He attacked me again.

Horrifically.

Again I left. Again I reported it. And again he called me up wanting to talk.

I agreed and met him in a cafe.

A public place.

And after about 10 minutes of him apologising and begging me to drop the charges as it was destroying him inside, some fire inside me rose up and I was done.

Done with Him and done with the whole horrendous thing.

The tiniest little scrap of strength I had left came out in brute force.

I would never drop those charges because I had told the truth,

I walked away and I went to a pub that I felt safe in. He followed me across town and sat at the other end of the pub with a drink, near the door, and just stared at me.

I was trapped.

I texted my Friend, who was at work and had been my hero throughout the whole thing and pretty much the only person who knew about everything that had been going on.

The Friend got an early finish, but I still had to wait for around an hour. Just before the Friend turned up, He approached me,

He threatened me (I can’t remember His exact words now, I know He threatened to destroy me, my friends and family if I didn’t drop the charges) and He then left.

And I was left a nervous wreck, one that needed to drink a hell of a lot of lager and vodka to calm down that evening.

That day got Him an witness intimidation charge on top of the most recent serious assault charge too.

He called me once more, leaving a long rambling drunken non-sensical message on the Friend’s answerphone.

And it then went blissfully quiet. After a year of hell, there was calm.

I was finally free, even though the fear of seeing him again hung around in the air for a long while afterwards.

Months passed. I had started all over again, with the help of some anti-depressants and the amazing and understanding Friend – I got myself a job and started officially renting his spare bedroom.

The court cases rolled around, first the magistrates court for the assaults, and then Crown court for the serious assault and the witness intimidation charges.

The magistrates found Him not guilty. The case lasted for around 6 horrendous hours. He lied through his teeth. I couldnt remember minute little details about whether or not I had been wearing my glasses at the moment His front door smashed into my face. The magistrates said they believed an assault had taken place, but that it didn’t meet the required legal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”. So no justice was served that day.

And the Crown court? I arrived, the jury was selected. But I got no further than the witness waiting area because of a photograph He presented which I never saw. I couldn’t believe the crown court could be so fickle and not even listen to my side of the story. Yes, I would probably have been destroyed in there, but my barrister wouldn’t present the defence for me and for all women to whom He posed a threat because apparently “I would have been torn apart”. It was probably for my own good yet I was desperately disappointed. Plus I was tired, so very tired.

It was all finally over.

I remember thinking sometimes, when we were alone at the end, that He was going to kill me. By this point, I felt ashamed to tell anybody that I was with him again. No-one would have realised I was missing for days, weeks?

The truth of the matter was, He had made me believe that I was dependent on Him. That nobody else cared. That my family saw me as a burden and that my friends had disowned me.

I was lucky, I had a safe haven that I escaped to, and eventually I made the break.

That is why when I read other survivor’s stories, I understand completely why they didn’t just leave.

That’s why I know that if someone is found not guilty at court, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are innocent.

So I say, along with all women who have been groped, catcalled, undermined, gaslighted, attacked, assaulted and treated anything less than the humans they are – ME TOO.

And I write this to assure you that you are not alone, and no matter what he is telling you, or what you are telling yourself, that there are always people who can help and that there are always people that care.

Thanks for reading.

Em x

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44 thoughts on “Guest Post: Me Too

  1. Em, you show such bravery and courage in sharing your story. Isolation and shame are like compost to a twisted seedling and it is so hard to explain what it is like, unless you have been there. Me too. x There is much grace in gifting ourselves time to recover and in time, being able to relax and view the world through fresh eyes. The softest hugs flowing to you. Xx

    • Hi Jane. This is such a lovely comment – thank you. I read in your words that you understand too – I’m sorry that you know what it feels like. It’s a dark place to find yourself, and when you look back from the light it makes little sense. But it’s real. I appreciate your words very much xx

  2. Thank you so much for hosting my post Suzie, it means a lot. And to the kind commenters, I will get back to you all.

    I’m in the best place I could possibly be now, safe and happy and loved. Thank you ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™

  3. Em you are so brave and strong thank you. I’m so glad you got out and you’re safe so many others do not. As for our criminal justice system we know it can be a shambles but it’s getting better. Xx

    • Hello. Yes, it is getting better, there is a long way to go too. The legal system is based on statutes and whatever has gone before, the courts are a hostile environment as a witness. It was awful. In the magistrates court, His solicitor purposely provoked me to cry and get emotional to make me look like an unstable witness. It was ridiculous. But I know I did my best ๐Ÿ’™

      • Of course you did. Unfortunately solicitors are very good at trying to get a reaction. โค๏ธ

  4. What a powerful post, Em. I’m so sorry you went through this but thank you for sharing your experience and raising awareness. I’m so pleased for you that you’re in a better place with someone who values you for the special person you are ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

  5. There is so much hope in this story, Em. Hope that you can go through something so horrific and be so mentally manipulated, but survive and go on to have a happy and fulfilling life. I am so very sorry you went through all this though. You are nothing, but an inspiration & basically a Wonder Woman. I hope others read your story & see similar inspiration. Much love xxx

    • Hi there. When I was writing it down it felt strange, you know? I’ve had quite a few “everything has messed up, let’s start all over again” moments in my life and please, I really don’t want any more!! But this experience which happened to me, which feels like I was temporarily possessed, I am so relieved that I got away. I believe wholeheartedly that I met a psychopath who got hold of me when I wasn’t 100% strong. Thank you xx

      • Your experience is so similar to my best friendโ€™s & he got her when she was at her weakest. She also describes it as being temporarily possessed. This is how these (literal) psychopathโ€™s work. I am also so relieved that you (and my bestie) got away ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜

  6. Thank you for sharing this Em. It must have been really tough to write.

    The whole thing sounds horrific and I am so so sad that in the end he got away with it. I have a close friend who also went to the police when she was raped…he got away with it as well. I has always made me very wary about reporting this kind of thing, even though I know i should. I just don’t have much confidence that justice will be served. I *hope* it is improving. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    • Hi Josy.

      I would say, never be afraid to report anything. The police themselves were excellent, it was the court system that let me and other women down those days. The police move with the times better than the archaic legal system does. He just got lucky. And rape…the statistics on getting a guilty conviction for rape are tiny, which upsets me greatly. I’m sorry that your friend didn’t get the justice she deserved. Thank you for reading, love to you xx

  7. I am so sorry to hear what you went through Em, and furious that he got away with it because of a photograph! They are so clever aren’t they, and so very manipulative. I can understand why you stayed because it happened to ME TOO in my first marriage! I am happy that you got away, and are stronger now xxx

  8. Oh Em, you are so brave to tell your horrific story. I cannot begin to imagine how terrible and alone you must have felt, but I am so glad things all worked out and you are doing ok. Support and encouragement from fiends and family are crucial in times like this. Thank you for sharing your story. Sending you big hugs lovely. Xx

  9. Em. I am so proud that you found the strength you needed to break free of that life and at the same time, furious that you were failed so very badly. It’s stories like this and the (dare I say it) male-dominated legal systems of the world that allow these heinous acts to continue and go unpunished. My admiration goes out to you for taking control and building a new, stronger life for yourself. Thank you Suzy for giving Em the platform to share her story. Sue x

  10. Your story is heart breaking Em and I feel awful just reading it. I’m so glad you got away from the situation (and Him) but am angry at again hearing the way the courts treat these sort of offences. You are very brave sharing it with us all and I wish you peace in your life ahead. Take care and know you are a very special person. Thanks Suzie for sharing too. xx

  11. I’ve just sobbed my way through your post, Em. I never had your strength to report my abuse so continued to live it day to day for seven years. That simmering spark of power you speak about did eventually rise and I was able to walk away with my three children and start over. The courts granted my divorce on the grounds of ‘Irreconcilable Differences’ – laughable really as he was then free to go on and terrorise his next partner. My biggest regret was never picking up the phone and reporting him to the police. I was too terrified of the outcome. I’m a totally different person today than I was back then but the memories still haunt me. You are incredibly brave to share your story and I hope you have found the happiness you deserve and the peace you need. Hugs xxx

    • Hi Shelley. My goodness, I am so sorry you and your children went through this. I can understand why you didn’t report anything, I understand that fear. I only felt strong enough to do it when I had “escaped”, although it took a few escapes before I was free for good. Many hugs back to you xxx

  12. What a horrendous experience. It’s awful to have been hearing about the terrible experiences that women everywhere have. The scale of it is sickening and makes me want to reassure women – especially the woman that my daughter will become – that there are good men among us that are appalled at what women have to put up with every day. It’s so good that women are finding the strength to speak out against such unacceptable behaviour. I’m glad you managed to get out of what was clearly a terrible situation. Thanks for posting.

    • Hi, thank you very much for your kind and supportive words ๐Ÿ˜Š many women are going through this every day, many will never speak of it, and some will never escape. It’s horrifying.

      • I hope reading your post encourages more to find the strength (if that’s the right word?) to leave.

  13. Oh, Em. I wish no woman ever had to go through this. Though I’ve had experiences as EVERY woman I know has, nothing as terrifying as this. Bravo for your courage to share your truth. Standing up today and telling your story will help others to tell theirs. Your experience, though one I wish you’d never had, will not be in vain because you aren’t shoving it (or yourself) in a corner. Thank you for being you.

  14. Emily so sad you suffered this but glad you are now free. Well done for having the courage to speak out about such an important issue. Have shared your personal story on my blog in the hope it might help others who are in a similar situation.

  15. Reblogged this on The Reading Chick and commented:
    The horrible allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the women brave enough to step forward, have ripped away the curtain of shame that many of sheltered behind. I, too have my own story to tell, although it is not one of physical abuse.

    When I was younger, in 1992, I went away to another state to interview for a job at a television station. I was there for the weekend to get a feel for that city and see whether I would like to live there. Unfortunately, the person I was interviewing with treated this weekend like I was their date. Planning a weekend full of dinners out, a concert, and yes, even dancing. I was very uncomfortable, but he never crossed that line where it became totally clear that this was inappropriate behavior. It wasnโ€™t until my actual โ€œinterviewโ€ took place in his bossโ€™s bedroom that a big light went off. I came away unscathed, but there are many women who werenโ€™t as lucky as I. I wanted to share this post I read this morning from another blogger, Suzie Speaks. Suzie has the courage to tell her own story. Please read it and share your own story. It is ok to speak up!

    #Metoo

    Deb

  16. I’m so sorry for what happened to you and also for the lack of justice. It’s an all too common story. I am hopeful that now, with the Weinstein exposure and the coming forward of so many women, the courts will listen. Bravo for finding your strength to stand up for yourself!

  17. You’re a brave and strong woman; thank you for sharing your story. As I read it, images of my daughter pops in my mind. She’s in her mid-twenties and went through similar things with the father of her first daughter. I have a hard time understanding why she can’t get her life back on track after everything she endured with him. I pray one day she gets the strength to fight to her life like you did.

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