This powerful list was written after the writer’s abusive relationship ended but those chest-tightening feelings of anxiety are still ever-present.

The unrelenting fear she lived with for years isn’t far below the surface and she still crumbles even in the gentlest breeze, and yet her strength shines through. Thank you so much for sharing your important story. 


  • I have flashbacks –

  • At the park

  • In the gym

  • In the shower

  • At dinner

  • In bed

  • Completing forms

  • Driving cars

  • Changing nappies

  • Receiving smothering cuddles from my children.

  • Reminding them, mid disagreement, that it’s not nice to hurt other people…

  • I’m working on oversharing less, a habit I developed after the endless question I’d receive each day from my ex. Where did you go? Who did you see? Was their husband there? He’s good looking isn’t he? What did you spend money on? Why did it cost that much? I figured that if I got in first and told him everything, he wouldn’t have a reason to interrogate or distrust me.

  • His abuse still affects me daily, sometimes more intensely than others. I’ve written this list in the hope it brings me some release, but more so, in case others read this and it brings them comfort that they aren’t, or weren’t alone. Hopefully it will help.

  • Maybe it started when I went to hospital, five months pregnant and scared that our baby wasn’t moving. I’d been worried all day, endlessly googling advice, I got out of the bath just as he came home from work, drunk. I decided to go to the hospital alone, I was so embarrassed. He accused me of having an affair, despite taking photos of myself attached to monitors.

  • But actually it was before that. I always had male friends, he told me that women didn’t have male friends unless they were sluts. He said: “Those men aren’t your friends, they’re just talking to you because they want to sleep with you.” The more time I spent with him, the less I saw of my friends… I began to think that maybe he was right, maybe they genuinely didn’t like me.

  • Later I found out that he threatened them behind my back, and they didn’t know how to respond without risking me getting hurt, so they gave us space.

  • Needless to say, I was afraid of him, thoughts of what he might do to me, or arrange, were very real.

  • But I also loved him. I thought he just needed help to get past his problems with drugs and alcohol. His needs came before mine because that’s what a good girlfriend, and then wife, does.

  • I thought that if I proved to him how much he mattered, that I chose him over them, then he would be ok and I would be able to eventually let those friends back into my life.

  • “Hayvan, aptal, salak, orospu çocuk,” he’d yell at me in public and I was grateful he spoke in another language so that strangers didn’t know what he was calling me.

  • He would finish work late, I would make him dinner but go to bed without eating. I wanted to avoid him, if I was asleep he wouldn’t pressure me to have sex. I was wrong. He wouldn’t hear “no”. Sometimes I was gentle in my refusal, I was scared to make him angry, others I was more direct, and then other times I just cried and all I could think was: “What kind of person would want to do this while their partner is crying?”

  • I was made to feel like my protests were cliched excuses: I’m tired, I’ve had children on me all day and I don’t want any physical contact. I felt boring… What a rubbish wife I was.

  • Why wasn’t it ever about me?

  • I bought new jeans and thought the wrong label was sewn in when the size 8 was falling down my hips. Without realising, I had gone from weighing 65kg to 48kg (7stone, 8 lbs) and from a 12 to a size 6.

  • I first became acquainted with the police when my eldest was a few months old.

  • After a day at work followed by a night of drinking and taking drugs in our home (something I abhorred, but had no power or say in) he insisted on holding our son. He thought it was funny, then became angry, he pushed me and I fell twisting my ankle under the bed. Neighbours called the police and he was taken away. I felt so guilty and I feared how angry he would be when he eventually came home.

  • It became quite normal to hear the jingle of keys followed by the chink of beer bottles in a plastic bag as he came home from work in the early hours of the morning. My chest gets tight at the vivid memory even now.

  • I was living in a state of constant anxiety. This had played out too many times, it was so predictable and I knew that the next 24 hrs would be horrible. Endless mind games, hours of shouting, insults to my family and my country of birth, being coerced into doing things I didn’t want to do to help him go to sleep, he’d use it as a bargaining tool so that I could then have some peace.

  • As per police procedure, I’ve never been able to discuss or work through the details of my abuse in therapy, in case I end up in court. This is apparently to ensure that the defence can’t use the argument that somehow I was coached.

  • Despite this, I’ve had therapy at least once a fortnight for 2.5 years, over 100 hours spent discussing the resulting trauma.

  • Initially I had trouble finishing sentences, my mind was so flooded, I didn’t realise how little sense I made.

  • I spent so long just trying to survive, mentally as much as physically, when he was arrested after a particularly traumatic event and he was not allowed back home, I could suddenly breathe again.

  • But reality hit when I needed money. I had a 10 month old and a 25 month old, the only money I had came from him, which he stopped when he left. I wasn’t a British citizen at that point so I did not qualify for benefits, despite both our children being British. My family and his lived outside of the UK so I had no support, and no free childcare in which to work.

  • I didn’t know how we would survive. I was registered at the local food bank. It opened at 8pm and was a 30minute walk from our house. I was so afraid of him killing me that I barely left the house, especially not in the dark, I never went to the food bank.

  • I sold my furniture, clothes, even half used perfumes, basically anything I could live without I sold so that I could pay for food and clothes for our growing children.

  • Then I started my business, something I’d been working on in the background, but had been told by him that I wasn’t smart enough to make it happen. I had control over something again, it was such a welcome distraction from police, social workers and solicitor correspondence.

  • I started to connect with people. I was able to have nice online conversations and I got a hint of what it was like to be myself once again.

  • I mourn the love and affection that I never had in my pregnancies and newborn days, and the doting fatherly affection that my boys missed out on as babies and toddlers.

  • Pregnant women and smiling partners gushing with pride make me sad. I feel immense guilt for that, I know people’s happiness shouldn’t be about me.

  • I haven’t met the newest member of my extended family, I want to give her cuddles and kisses, to congratulate her parents – but the need to protect myself is greater. I hope they don’t hate me for not visiting yet.

  • I have learnt we are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for, though I still regularly crumble in the gentlest breeze.

  • I worry my boys will think I’m crazy for the many times I’ve burst into tears at seemingly insignificant things, or for the numerous occasions that I’ve needed to remove myself from a situation so I don’t erupt into a fit of self harm in front of them.

  • I’m now divorced. It took over two years, two separate family court cases, and over £40k in legal fees to get here.

  • Despite all of the above, I never expected our relationship to turn out as horribly as it did.

  • At 33, I’m too young to give up on romantic relationships.

  • However, it took me two years to consider dating.

  • The concept was scary, I knew I wasn’t ready but I was also wary of leaving it any longer to try.

  • I fear the statistics of going back into an abusive relationship.

  • I’m scared of how broken I am, I wonder if I’ll ever not feel damaged.

  • Two years, six months after his arrest nothing has been resolved. The investigation was dropped after 15 months, and then reopened after I appealed, thanks to an incredible women’s charity who helped me. I’ve been waiting for an updated decision for seven months. He lives in our house, and goes about his business like nothing happened.

  • He has zero interest in our children, it’s like we never existed. I now raise them on the other side of the world – at least they are safe from his influence. I see flickers of him when they get angry, God I hope they grow up to be nothing like him.

  • I’m expected to function.

  • How am I expected to function?

* Since writing the original piece, the author’s ex-husband has since been charged with multiple counts of assault against her and will be facing criminal proceedings in 2022.



Government website: www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help

Refuge – For Women and Children: www.refuge.org.uk/

Respect – Men’s Advice Line: mensadviceline.org.uk/

* ‘But why… don’t I feel happy all the time? ‘But why… wouldn’t they be my best friend and ‘But why… do people get divorced?’ are some of the tricky questions in ta my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to preorder now  and also on audiobook.**



–  Read Kim Chambers’ list on Financial Abuse, where she shares her insight into how this type of abuse manifests, signs to look out for and where to find help.

Read Elisa’s list on Gaslighting, otherwise known as psychological abuse, which can be hard to pinpoint because the bruises are emotional rather than physical.

–  Listen to Financial Abuse Specialist Kim Chambers and ‘Annie’, a survivor of financial abuse on Honestly podcast, as they spread greater awareness of what financial abuse looks like.



Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics  are welcome, but we are currently particularly looking for lists on:

–  Internet trolling

–  Prison

–  Pain killer addiction

–  Extremely large families

–  Estrangement

–  Lottery winners

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