TOXIC LOVE

EMOTIONAL, MENTAL HEALTH

This list is shocking – and incredibly brave – as the writer, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains exactly what she went through in an emotionally, physically and sexually abusive relationship. The trauma she suffered is horrendous, but 10 years on, she is safe and supported.

Please be aware, there are some distressing details in this list. 

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  • I fell in love at 16 and it was beautiful. We were happy and had so much fun. Unfortunately, it didn’t last.

  • It had slowly descended, by age 23, into a toxic mess of infidelity, paranoia, drug taking, self-harm, psychological and physical abuse, mental breakdowns, and non-consensual sex.

  • I would lie silently, with tears streaming down my face, as he did what he wanted to my body. He would finish inside me and I would be too scared to run to the bathroom, too sad to get up.

  • I was diagnosed at 26 with borderline personality disorder, as a direct result of this relationship. I developed promiscuous, dangerous, self injuring behaviours, I fell into states of disassociation, my brain shut down its healthy thinking completely – consequences were non-existent, empathy had departed, along with my ability to see what was happening clearly.

  • When we first met, I was starting college, with a view to be a teacher. Fast forward a few years, I was dropping out of my PGCE due to stress. I told my family teaching wasn’t for me, I told my tutors some vague lies about the workload, about depression.

  • No one really knew what was happening. It was yet another reason to hate myself, I’d failed before beginning at something I’d worked hard at for five years.

  • The reality was, my private life was so full of abuse, there was no way to function properly in life, at work.

  • I smoked weed all day and couldn’t regularly work. I was attempting to block the pain, I refused to process anything into an acknowledgement that this was abuse, or trauma. If I did that, I’d have to leave. And I wasn’t giving up.

  • So I got high. I smoked 20 Marlboroughs a day. I drank cheap warm vodka as soon as it hit 4pm. I wrote pages and pages of poetry on tumblr. I sat in this state waiting for him to come home.

  • Some days he would appear after work, happy and I would feel safe, and guilty.

  • Some days he would smash the door open and force himself on me. Some days he would come in at 3am smelling of another woman and sneer at me. Some days he wouldn’t come home at all.

  • I had grown up seeing toxic love, and I guess I assumed pain went part and parcel with adult relationships.

  • I also had experienced my fair share of abandonment (my parents divorce, my mum often left to spend long periods of time in Australia with her mother), my brother went off the rails at 14 (I was nine), moved out at 17 and moved to Australia at 21. He’s 36 now, and that relationship’s never been mended.

  • My step dad was around from age six, but didn’t move in until I was a teen. All these things added up inside me to equal a girl desperate to ‘make things work’, a girl terrified of being left.

  • I didn’t even realise he was raping me when it was happening. He was my fiancé, and it was my responsibility to make him happy. If I wasn’t in the mood and he was, that was my problem, something wrong with me. Just lie and take it. It’ll be over soon, and maybe he’ll love me a little bit more.

  • I fell pregnant for the first time at 17. Before any abuse or toxicity had started. We were in love and happy and pretty innocent. We were young. I was too young.

  • We decided together that I would have an abortion. We were sad, but knew we would have babies when we were older. This experience actually solidified our bond. We grew closer and closer.

  • A few years down the line, we were different people. He was broken inside, sadistic, angry, hollow, violent. I was broken too – but sad, scared, angry and becoming unhinged mentally.

  • He finished inside me on purpose. He forced me to the clinic, with threats of varying nature each time. Once he made a hole in a condom. He wanted to put me through this. To break me. To damage me so no one else would want ever touch me

  • Over two years, this happened four times. I still feel broken over this, and I think I always will. I still feel the judgement when I answer a doctor or nurse if I’m ever asked about terminations. “I’ve had five”…… There’s always an awkward pause, an awkward silence, a moment of a thousand internal assumptions.

  • There has not once been follow-up questions about why this happened.

  • The ease that a woman in the UK can access this service is without a doubt a good thing. Every woman has the right to decide on termination as an option.

  • As sad as it is, I am glad I don’t have children with that man. So on a base level, I can’t regret what I went through, or totally blame him.

  • I do, however, blame the system for not helping me. When I look back, I was so young. I surely looked like a scared child every time I stepped into that clinic room.

  • Every time I woke from anaesthetic and burst into uncontrollable deep sobs and they would draw the curtains round me – for privacy, or to hide me from the other women and the staff, who knows really.

  • Every time my aftercare consisted of some antibiotics and a fairly swift kick out the door into the arms of some pro-lifers.

  • Not once was I offered any mental health support, or asked why this kept happening. I must have given weak reasons, and they were just accepted at face value.

  • I know they were doing their job, and if they’d known the true abuse going on behind the scenes of what was presented to them, they’d have been shocked, have tried to help. I know deep down it wasn’t their fault they didn’t spot it.

  • I still can’t help feeling anger that one person didn’t spot it. I guess that’s the internal desperation to escape still talking to me.

  • I’ve escaped, to be clear. If I was assessed for BPD, I wouldn’t get a diagnosis. I’ve done so much work on myself, and come so far I am a different person.

  • I look back at some memories and can’t recognise myself. When I sat on a bathroom floor in the evening smashing myself in the head, waking up in daylight – I must have knocked myself out.

  • Another time, rushing to sit in my car outside his house after a screaming match, taking a razor with me, to refocus my inner pain to cuts on my arms, knowing he was watching from the window, doing nothing.

  • Or the time he threw me against the wall, dislodging a tooth. He laughed and went out to meet some girl. I drove half blinded by tears to the dentist. One of many times I’d arrived somewhere in my car and been surprised I had made it there alive.

  • I know plenty of people who read this will have some negative feelings and judgments about my story. This is why I wanted to share it.

  • There’s no doubt it’s a fairly high number of abortions for someone to have, especially in such a short time. I know what those negative thoughts are, because I had them myself for years. “She wanted attention”, “it was her body, she let this happen”, “what a waste of the clinic’s money”, and then the associated words ring in my ear : weak, slut, stupid.

  • I know now I am not defined by what happened. If you haven’t been in an abusive relationship, you simply won’t understand the levels of mental abuse.

  • He dug away at my self worth, my self image, my awareness, my support system, my strength, until I was a hollow shell.

  • I had no control or power. Being stuck there, means you also can’t see a way to get out, or even a reason to get out. It just wasn’t a consideration. This was my life.

  • Those experiences will always be a part of me. Releasing old pain is not the same as releasing old memories. This isn’t something we can ever really do.

  • Living every day with the memory that I made those decisions, that I had FIVE abortions, that I could be a mother five times over, but let someone else choose for me, will always on some level haunt me.

  • I am now almost 10 years on from this past life. I have a beautiful daughter who is almost four, and a new baby on the way, another girl.

  • I am in a supportive, equal, open relationship. I know my worth and my boundaries. I still have harder days, I still mourn my losses. It took a long time to get here, and the increase in awareness for mental health has helped me a lot.

  • I hope no women have to go through what I did, but I also hope the choice to terminate remains. I just hope for the women who might fall through the cracks in care, that they can find their way back to life once more, like me.

  • It’s taken me a long time to realise the work needed to get through this trauma had to come from me. I could blame the oblivious or maybe negligent nurses and doctors, I could blame myself, or my ex. Or I could decide to try and be happy again.

  • For a long while it didn’t feel like happiness was for me, that I would be allowed it.

  •  I’ve been lucky enough to have some time in talking therapy, and CBT, which helped immensely. I accessed these through the NHS. It wasn’t that easy to push through and get the help – the help wasn’t offered on a platter, I do remember having to fight pretty hard to get it. I hope it’s a bit easier now.

  • I learnt a lot through therapy and it was all part of my healing journey. Dwelling on the past, and holding on to negative self-judgements about decisions you’ve made, will hold you back from true contentment – which I have found lies in progress, not perfection.

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HELPFUL RESOURCES:

Women’s Aid: www.womensaid.org.uk

Refuge: www.refuge.org.uk

The Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge: 0808 2000 247

Respect Men’s Advice Line: mensadviceline.org.uk or call 0808 8010 327

Galop, LGBT+ support: galop.org.uk or call 0800 999 5428

Rape Crisis: www.rapecrisis.org.uk

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** ‘But why don’t I feel happy all the time?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to order now  and also on audiobook.**

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FANCY SOME MORE?

–  READ April Turner’s list Narcissistic & Sexual Abuse in a Relationship as she powerfully explains how she was emotionally abused and raped by her then boyfriend.

–  READ Gaslighting AKA Psychological Abuse by Elisa, who writes how this abuse can be hard to pinpoint because there is no physical manifestation.

–  READ I Left My Abusive Husband written after the author’s abusive relationship had ended but whose anxiety and fear is still ever-present.

–  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.

OR HOW ABOUT WRITING A LIST?

Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics  are welcome.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Claire December 12, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    You are brave! I think that you feel you still need to justify having 5 abortions. You don’t!! It’s very sad and my heart feels sad you were forced to go through them! But it definitely isn’t your fault! Massive hugs to you and your new family x

  • Reply Rachel December 12, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    I never comment on these lists but this one stopped me in my tracks. These two paragraphs,

    ‘I know plenty of people who read this will have some negative feelings and judgments about my story. This is why I wanted to share it.

    There’s no doubt it’s a fairly high number of abortions for someone to have, especially in such a short time. I know what those negative thoughts are, because I had them myself for years. “She wanted attention”, “it was her body, she let this happen”, “what a waste of the clinic’s money”, and then the associated words ring in my ear : weak, slut, stupid.’

    Writer, please know that there are no negative feelings or judgments here. Sadness, yes. Feeling proud for how far you’ve come, yes. But no negative feelings or judgment.

    I wish you every happiness and hope that you enjoy the life you have worked so hard to build for yourself. xxx

  • Reply Anna Prim December 12, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Absolutely no judgement. Your story moved me. So glad you’re out of it and have a sense of yourself. Well done. So much love.

  • Leave a Reply to Anna Prim Cancel Reply