Dear friend of many years, mother of gorgeous children, domestic violence and coercive control survivor
Listening to a song on my playlist earlier I stopped and stared out of the window and felt a shiver, then as the song ended and moved onto the next one and I breathed a sigh of relief. The shiver was nothing, nothing at all, compared to what you had gone through all those years ago.
You told me you had met someone who was charming and good looking and ideal and the one. I met him. He was charming, he was good looking, he was arrogant, he was rude, he wasn’t ideal and he certainly wasn’t the one. Well he was the one, the one who belittled you, made you feel worthless and tried to keep you away from your friends. My first thought was he loved you so much he wanted to keep you to himself in the early days, but the early days turned into weeks and you stopped returning my calls immediately like you previously had done and your texts weren’t as daft and batty as they used to be
Maybe our friendship had come to an end, maybe our lives were so different that we’d run our course. But I wasn’t going to give up. I couldn’t. I felt you needed me. My gut instinct about him was strong. I didn’t trust him and I didn’t like him.
I didn’t know what to do all those years ago, I didn’t know who to tell and besides who would take any notice of someone who said I think my friend is a victim of domestic violence because she’s stopped contacting me, never returns my calls and seems unhappy?
Well I didn’t give up caring or worrying and my perseverance paid off. I found an old email and sent you a quick message on the off chance. When I got a reply I was overjoyed. You’d moved. Twice. You were living in the middle of nowhere. We arranged to meet up when you knew he was out. I had never been so scared for myself, but also for you. It was a tense meeting. I wanted to scoop you and the children up and bring you back home. But I didn’t.
You moved again and we arranged to meet up. This time you were different. Stronger. In control. You’d admitted he was no good. He moved out. He was ugly, angry and his behaviour showed how vindictive he was. But you were back. Not the old you, but the signs of the old you were visible.
Now after years away from that evil controlling man you aren’t an absent friend anymore. You’re a survivor and when you sent me a message saying “thank you for standing by and persevering, never giving up on me I will never forget you and what you did” I cried tears of relief.
If you’ve got this far and you’re thinking oh my that sounds familiar, do something, say something. I didn’t know what to do or say but I had to keep lines of communication open. It was only after completing a course on coercive control that I fully understood the enormity of those negative comments, the lack of respect, the alienation, the constant putting down, the nastiness.
My friend wasn’t alone. There are so many relationships where one partner lives in fear, where children are helpless, where families are torn apart. But there is help.
Phone the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency