I am feeling a little emotional this morning. As I watched breakfast tv they were talking about a man charged with abduction and coercive control having his sentence increased.
Normally whenever anything involving coercive control is on TV it makes me either angry or reflective. Today it made me feel emotional. I have no idea why I had this reaction today.
Thinking about my past. What was it like living with coercive control? To be honest it took a long long time to realise that that was the case. In those days I had never heard of that phrase. It became more familiar a few years after I got out of that situation, when law was changed to make it a criminal offence. When I was going through it, the more common name was emotional abuse.
Domestic abuse as we generally think of it is violent. Although victims can be in denial, believing that their partner can/will change or that they themselves are at fault. Domestic abuse is recognisable.
Emotional abuse is much more subtle. When my family were small it didn’t occur to me that there was anything odd about the other parent checking up on me constantly. This was before the days of mobile/cell phones. If I missed a call I had to account for where I had been, even if it was just chatting to other mums after the school run.
Being isolated from friends was so gradual that I didn’t recognise it for what it was. I was told that my friends were using me, I would be better off without them. I only had one friend who he approved of.
I wanted to work part time to earn extra money. He would be late home from work or the pub so that I couldn’t get to work on time. I needed him to take over looking after the children. It got so bad that I began thinking I was becoming unemployable because I was so unreliable. Looking back I see now that he didn’t want me doing anything away from the home or mixing with other people.
As the years went by and mobile phones were common place, the checking up increased. I might only be with my mother but the calls would be constant. On the rare occasions I was going out he would get home at the very last minute so that I never knew if I would be able to go out. 9 out of 10 times there would be an emergency that meant I had to rush home early.
How many times over the years was I told that I was “Fat, stupid with a brain like a seive.”
I could go on but I don’t want to.
When I divorced the other parent I was granted a quick divorce in 6 months. It was only recently that I realised my family probably think I divorced their father because he is an alcoholic. Although his alcoholism was a problem it wasn’t why I divorced him.
I am now aware that at least one of my sons never noticed that anything was amiss (other than the drinking), he didn’t have anything to compare our family with.
Part of me feels that I am glad they didn’t notice the abuse that I experienced. Another part of me thinks that maybe they should know about it. Perhaps if this was talked about more then it would happen less frequently. If everyone knew more about the subtleties involved in coercive control, victims could recognise the signs before it’s too late for them.
I can’t decide whether I should talk to my now grown up sons about what life was like for me when they were growing up. They already have a poor opinion of their father but are now building bridges with him. I don’t want to destroy that for them.
I have just remembered what I called this post. When I told my mother in law that I was divorcing her son her response was that she was surprised I has stuck it out so long. However her attitude towards me soon changed when she realised that her son would have to move out of the family home (that took 7 months). Suddenly I became the wicked witch turning her son out of his home.