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The idea of domestic abuse usually conjures images of physical suffering however, a great number of individuals suffer from emotional abuse which is just as damaging but often suffered for longer due to the lack of visible evidence. Crystal is a fictional character but represents many clients that I have worked with who have experienced very real emotional abuse from controlling and coercive partners.
Another Christmas had passed and as she put away the Christmas decorations, Crystal wondered why nothing had changed since the last time she had been embarking on this task. All the usual Christmas traditions had been adhered to; presents had been bought, wrapped and given.
Food had been chosen, lovingly prepared by her own hand and presented to family and friends. Crackers had been pulled, bad jokes told and silly hats worn. Board games and card games had been played but why had there been no joy?
Crystal couldn’t remember the last time she felt joy at Christmas, in fact she couldn’t remember the last time she felt joy at all. What she did know though was that most of the time she felt insignificant, helpless and worthless.
How had that happened, she asked herself, she had a good job in management, where she knew colleagues valued and appreciated her, she had raised two lovely children, who had now flown the nest and were doing well, what was going on in her life to invite her to feel the way that she did?
Crystal didn’t have to think very hard about this question, it was just something she didn’t allow herself to do very often, as it meant she had to face the painful reality of her situation.
For twenty years she had been living with a partner who had gone out of their way to belittle, humiliate and demean her both in public and in private. Publicly it was done in such a way that it appeared teasing and playful to others, but Crystal didn’t experience it as that and knew that the intention was far from good natured.
In private the jibes would be more spiteful and vitriolic, whatever she did would be questioned and criticised, her behaviour, her appearance, literally anything she did or tried to do would be noted and commented upon in a derogatory way. The time had long gone when Crystal had the emotional reserves to argue or defend herself in any way, so now she just listened and absorbed all the negativity and became more dejected, defeated and disheartened.
As the final bauble was removed from the tree Crystal resolved that this was the last Christmas she would spend in an unhealthy relationship. She started to make a list of what she would need to do to leave the relationship and who she would need to support her. Crystal made herself a promise that she would tell a few trusted friends her plans, friends who had for years been pleading with her to leave the relationship, so if she started to weaken and feel that she couldn’t leave, they would be there to remind her of all the reasons why she deserved better. Change would be hard but not impossible and it was time for her to get her life back.
If you feel like Crystal and would like some support in making the decision to have a better, more positive life for yourself by ending an abusive relationship please call the Family team at Brethertons.