Wicked witch

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.


Not on my neck!

I missed the start of the item on the news so I only caught the end of it. A lady was speaking about not wearing polo neck jumpers. It was something about her neck. At first I thought she had had her thyroid removed. As the news item continued I became confused. The journalist was talking about domestic violence.

I have never claimed to be a victim of domestic violence. I was a victim of emotional abuse/coercive control. However during our divorce, (a time when we still lived in the same house for 7 excruciating months). He thought it was funny to put his hands around my neck on an almost daily occurrence. He didn’t use pressure, he never left any marks.

He was aware that I didn’t like anything around my neck so he used it as a form of mental torture.

I hadn’t given it much thought in the last 15 years but having said that it does limit my choice in clothing. I can’t wear anything with a high neckline. Anything that is anywhere near my neck and I start to panic.

15 years later we are friends now. It helps having two grandchildren in common. He was here (as our support bubble) for coffee and a chat this morning. We don’t talk about the bad times. However I don’t think I will ever wear a high necked top/jumper again. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers.


A few days ago I went to have a look at a blog written by someone who had liked one of my posts. I started reading a post about relationships and letting God into your relationship. So many people give up on their marriage at the first sign of problems but if you let God into your relationship you can get over any problems you have.

This might upset some people but although I consider myself to be a Christian and try to live in a way that is kind to others. I do not actually believe in God. I kind of believe that there is something greater than us mortals but I’m not sure what. I digress. What I really want to say is that I think this philosophy that God will make your marriage work is a dangerous one.

It doesn’t take into account the many relationships that include abuse, either physical or emotional or both. It doesn’t take into account the marriages/relationships based on lies.

My first marriage was to a man who was what is now referred to as coercive controlling. I didn’t realise for a long time what was happening. It started with the dictates over what I wore. He didn’t like me dressing up to look nice. I ended up spending my time (outside of work) wearing baggy T-shirts, sweatshirts and baggy tracksuit trousers. Then there were the constant phone calls which, I now know, were not concern over how I was doing each day (multiple times) but checking up on me. If I was late home from the school run I had to explain where I had been and who with.

I was gradually pulled away from my friends. “They are using you”. When I eventually got a mobile phone the checking up increased. Even if I was with my mother the calls would be constant. In the end she would ask me to turn it off. If I had plans to go out, he would only arrive home at the very last minute to look after the children. Even having a part time job was difficult, I felt I was becoming unemployable because he often didn’t come home in time for me to go to work. That’s just a sample of what life was like in that relationship. I fail to see how this would have been helped by having God in my life.

My second marriage was not better, it was different. Again I don’t believe God would have made life better. When I met my second husband he knew that my first husband was an alcoholic and I didn’t want to travel that road again. It wasn’t until 6 months after we were married that I found out that he was a secret drinker. Our marriage was based on lies. I never would have married him or even gone out with him, if I had known he was an alcoholic. With my first husband his drinking was public. 18 pints of beer at the pub, any excuse for a drink. My second husband was home alone all day while I was out working. Now I know why nothing ever got done. He was sitting in his home office drinking bottles of vodka. No wonder he got through so much cash. No wonder he didn’t need to drink much when we were out.

My second husband is a narcissist, everything was about him, his needs, his wishes. His dislike of my children (he had promised to treat them like his own). He could never refer to them by name, to him they were ‘pond life’ or worse. I know this was a reflection on him not them. How would God have made life better when one partner is a narcissitic alcoholic?

These are just simple examples of the relationships I had with my husbands. There are many many people, not just women but men too who live in worse situations than I did. For them they need to get out of their situation not invite God to help them stay in it.

I’m not saying that there is not a place for God in marriages, just not all marriages. Some people would also find God helpful in their lives whilst they get out of their situation. God also has a place in helping people recover from those situations. I don’t think it’s right to say he can make every relationship work.

Behind closed curtains

It would seem that it is possible to become friends without forgetting.

A couple of days ago I was in my car and the song on the radio was The Police – Every breath you take. For a lot of years I mistakenly took this to be a very romantic song. Just like many others. I am aware that Sting has said it is not about romance. I came to that conclusion myself back in around 2006 when I was going through a rather nasty divorce. I’m not sure now which came first but I can’t listen to that song anymore without feeling freaked out.

After my then husband had moved out of our home it didn’t take long to discover that I was being watched. I would get messages about what I was or wasn’t doing. I became so paranoid about this that I insisted that we kept all the curtains shut day and night for months. I hated that not only was my ex watching me but he also had some of our neighbours reporting back to him. Both before and after the divorce, he was making threats on my life.

The police installed a panic button and my children were put on the ‘at risk’ register. One summer Sunday night he was phoning me relentlessly but I refused to answer. In the end he changed tactic and started calling one of my sons. It was the middle of the night. I agreed to speak to him if he left our sons out of it. He first of all told me that he was going to kill himself by throwing himself on to the rail track. He then changed his tune and said he was going to kill me.

I had got into the habit of writing a diary of everything that happened. A suggestion from the police. I had been writing it in a note book but by this time had started writing it on my computer and emailing it to a trusted friend so that there was a second copy. On this particular early morning I was writing about the latest phone calls. I rang the police to tell them of this latest development. I heard a tapping on the back door. I thought it was our cat. The cat flap was set so that she could get out but needed to be let in. (otherwise other cats came in). I was just about to open the door to let her in when I saw finger tips gripping the window sill. It was my ex trying to trick me into opening the door.

As I said, I was on the phone to the police. I yelped and said in a panic. ‘He’s here!’ I was told to go upstairs, they were on their way. Reaching my bedroom I saw him go to the garden shed. I was scared that he was finding something to use to break into the house. To my relief he didn’t, instead he went into the shed closing the door behind him. When the police arrived I told them where he was. On being found he said he was there to collect his lawnmower! He was arrested and charged with harassment. Next day he was released and called me to instruct me to tell the police that he had asked me to get the charges dropped. Obviously, I did do just that. They added intimidating a witness to the charges.

Months later, his case was to be heard in court. He had pleaded not guilty just so that I would have to go to court as a witness. At the last minute he changed his plea to guilty. That was a relief. He was given an injunction preventing him from coming near me or the house.

For years after this I had as little contact with him as possible. I had changed my phone number I don’t now remember at what point I did that. It must have been before the court case because changing my number meant that I had no record of his text messages and voice mails.

However now all these years later we have managed to get over all the animosity. We have become friends. Not only do we have four sons together but we also now have two grandchildren. This and the fact that he has not had a drink for about 4 years have helped. I still find it awkward because of the bad history between us. Most particularly the last 12 months have brought us together as friends. He has been a great help to me and my mother during lockdowns and health issues. He has become our support bubble and we have become his, since his friend who he had looked after for several years died at Easter.

I am grateful for all his support and glad for the sake of our children that we have managed to put the past mostly behind us. Some of my friends are worried about our friendship thinking that we would end up getting back together. That will never happen. I know he doesn’t drink anymore, we have 30+ years of history but there were many reasons why I divorced him. Being an alcoholic was only one of the reasons. I am pleased for his sake that he is sober.