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Can you ever truly recover from emotional abuse? The answer is yes! Yes you can, and you will. I am still recovering, it has been 18 months since I split from my ex. As a result of the toxic and abusive relationship I continue to suffer with anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares and insomnia. Everybody’s road to recovery is different, and the length of time for healing is different too. I keep telling myself everything will be OK, I will be fine but some days the path feels overwhelming, it is a winding and tricky course.
The person I was dealing with was never wrong, never said or did anything wrong, even when he did he would never show any remorse or guilt, never apologised. One evening after a family party, he got very drunk and whilst I was driving us all home he went into one of his rages, because I didn’t go the way he wanted me to. He tried to reach over from the back seat and grab the steering wheel, repeatedly shook my seat as I was driving down a dual carriage way. I had to pull into a lay by; all three kids were in the car and witnessed his rage. He thought I was going to drive off and leave him there; this was his perception of reality. He grabbed me and slammed me into the car, he tried to take the keys out of my hand nearly breaking my wrist, my friend got out of the car to help me and he flew at her grabbing her round the neck so hard it left bruises. The events of this night left me shaken, I still to this day have nightmares about it. I did take him back, he promised he would change, promised he would stop drinking, he said he loved me and the kids and vowed to make it work. It stayed OK for a while and then slowly the abuse materialised again. The mood swings, the ignoring, the walking on eggshells but this time the anxiety was heightened as I was always so afraid he would get into another rage and hurt me or the kids. After the relationship ended I went to a One-Stop service run by a team of support agencies, I spoke to a female police officer and told her my story, she told me what I had experienced was emotional abuse, she asked me why I hadn’t taken steps sooner, it was because I didn’t realise it was abuse. We are aware of violent domestic abuse, we see posters and advertisements telling us that it is wrong, it is socially unacceptable to hit or physically hurt another person. But emotional abuse is very different, it is unique as it is incredibly personal, it strips away at your very being and makes you permanently question your own sense of reality. I don’t tell many people about my experiences, I feel ashamed, I feel stupid, I feel like a victim. I want anyone who is going through a similar experience to reach out, talk to someone and get support.
I walked away, I had my final straw moment and saw him in a true light, saw my life flash before my eyes and thought no more. It has been an extremely difficult time for me, and there are still challenges ahead of me but I embrace them. When I am struggling, and can feel my anxiety bubbling in my head and feel the walls closing in around me I focus on where I am right now. My life, my house may not be perfect but I never have to live in fear, or walk on egg shells ever again. Those thoughts give me strength, the courage to live free.