When I spoke to him later on about it (the rape), his response was ‘you should have kept your legs shut then’ and then he tried to suggest a time when I had done the same thing to him – like there was ever a time I could have forced myself on him. – Domestic violence survivor EJ.
EJ holds regular workshops aimed at helping domestic violence survivors heal ♥️
Surviving takes belief in the power of you…
This is NOT a ‘poor me’ story. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I don’t see myself as a victim. I see myself as a survivor! This is a story about empowerment. This is a story about rising up after breaking down. This is a story about making an amends, an amends and commitment to myself that I will never allow this to happen ever again.
A commitment to speak my truth to empower other women to rise up when they feel like giving up. I feel it necessary to share my story in full, first from more of a victimised perspective of what happened and then moving into empowerment, to be where I am today.
I’m not here to make these men out to be bad people at all. I don’t believe anyone is inherently bad and there is a difference between the being and the behaviour. I believe that we often act in unconscious ways that are unloving to ourselves and to others often from a place of pain,fear and survival.
As Marshall Rosenberg the author of ‘Non-Violent Communication’ says ‘Even the most horrific crimes are tragic attempts to get precious needs met’. This is not to say that what they did was acceptable and we are never, ever responsible for someone else’s feelings, reactions or actions. I am certainly not perfect myself and have made my fair share of unconscious choices that have hurt myself and others. But I have chosen to heal myself, self-reflect, own my parts in all of it and ultimately take my power back. And because of this I AM A SURVIVOR.
Oh, how I loved love and all of its potential…
From a young age I was in love with love. I felt like having a man in my life would somehow make me complete… and that was my dream. So at just 17 when I thought I found my soulmate I entered into a marriage that was highly sexual. But I didn’t feel complete…instead I ended up completely losing myself.
There was some violence towards the end of the relationship which progressively got worse, but the emotional abuse from the start was what hurt the most. His behaviour was very erratic. He would be super loving one minute and shutting me down and pushing me away the next, lying to me and cheating on me repeatedly. I would feel like I was invisible, fat, ugly, unwanted, unloved, used, ignored and rejected.
But when he was being nice to me and paying me attention I felt so loved and wanted. It was like one massive high intensity emotional rollercoaster that I was so addicted to getting back on repeatedly. We broke up and got back together too many times to count, he would always come back to me when I provided him with money or sex, as though it was all I was worth to him.
I constantly gave him money which he used to feed his gambling and drug habits which were often happening in secret. At the end of the two years my self-esteem and self-worth were now almost non-existent. I knew there was no going back to him when the violence happened out in public and our parents got involved. By this time, I had emotionally checked out anyway and started to move on.
Nothing felt better than being sexy and desirable…
By moving on I meant I ‘numbed’. I was dating someone else almost immediately. Food was my comfort, purging it because I hated myself so much. I couldn’t stand what I saw in the mirror anymore, how could anyone love me if I wasn’t skinny and pretty? My bulimia would last 10 years.
I lost a heap of weight and suddenly was being noticed by men and having a lot casual sex. I was going out clubbing, drinking and being told how hot and sexy I was, it felt amazing. My self-esteem grew and I seemed to have a new found confidence. A couple of years later I met a charismatic party boy, who also liked to gamble and take drugs. I too was partying a lot now and taking drugs most weekends.
We were friends for months before it became romantic and then I moved into his house within three weeks. He left his job not long after so I was usually the one paying for everything…yet again. He started to act very paranoid and suspicious and every time he would drink he would flip out and accuse me of things that made no sense and get violent mostly trying to hurt himself or breaking things.
When I tried to leave him, he threatened me and the violence turned towards me and my property. I felt sorry for him though. I could see that he had a good heart and was sorry and I would then take him back. This was the pattern. He would get violent, I would break up with him and a few days later he would be apologising and we would get back together.
It was either that or I would see him out with another girl (his charming character meant he was always surrounded by women) which was really painful for me. After another two years I knew that if I stayed in the area that I would keep running into him or hearing about him. I didn’t want to keep going through this cycle it so I decided the only way was to leave the state and with the support of my friends I left and moved to Sydney.
Why was I drawn to the ‘wrong’ type of person?
Yes. More numbing. Over the next seven years I didn’t have any long term relationships. I was happy to be single for a while, I didn’t want any real connection, I just wanted to have fun, and that I did! My walls were up and if I did ever feel a connection it was to the ones that were no good for me and any decent ones I would subconsciously push away!
Sometimes I would wonder why is it other people found someone to love and accept them but not me. There must be something wrong with me! Why do I always end up being magnetically attracted to the wrong type of person, the users, the compulsive liars, the conmen, the cheaters – yes I had them all! It was like there was a sticker on my forehead that said ‘sucker’ on it! And why were they always the ones I would get attached to the most and find the hardest to let go of?
These were the ones I always seemed to fall for and would have short lived but intense times with. These were also the ones I felt I could help / fix / save / provide for… I was your typical ‘rescuer’. Underneath, it gave me a sense of worth and value as well as control and safety to try and protect myself which never really worked anyway. However, I couldn’t see this unconscious pattern at the time.
After their wrath of destruction I would always end up feeling heartbroken, rejected and unwanted all over again! I would then go into more numbing – more ‘busyness’, more casual sex, more partying, more purging, more smoking and so on! I was sabotaging my chance for happy, healthy love and unconsciously pushing away all the men who I could actually have a healthy relationship. Underneath it all, I didn’t feel worthy of love.
The day I looked inside myself and faced the truth…
In 2008 my social life led me to working in the adult and entertainment industry – running sexy parties and events, modelling and hosting an online TV channel. To the outside world it seemed like I had a dream life, traveling the country, going to sexy parties and interviewing porns tars! But I was only happy when I was ‘busy’ with all this ‘stuff’ which only came from outside experiences and it wasn’t real.
One day after being left heartbroken and confused for what seemed like the millionth time by a man I thought was my ‘twin flame’ (who was in fact yet another compulsive liar). I made a different choice. I chose to look inside of myself instead of seeking outside feel good fixes. Instead of numbing the pain, I chose to bring it all up and I allowed myself to be vulnerable and feel my emotions.
It was time for me to start healing myself! I gave up smoking, drugs and binge drinking, and my eating disorder was healed overnight as I made more self-loving choices. My whole life transformed and eventually I started to develop my abilities as a healer. But wait there is more! As you can imagine by the time I entered a new relationship, 18 months later, I thought I had it all down pat.
I thought I would finally attract someone who had the capacity to love me because I thought I was now truly ready and open for love, wasn’t I? Well, I thought I was but, it turns out I had much more yet to learn. This would be the most intense mental, emotional and physical relationship I had ever experienced.
He would not only trigger all my deepest darkest wounds but attack all the parts of myself I deep down felt were unlovable. Which, of course, were only the parts of himself he couldn’t stand either. It challenged me like I could have never in my worst nightmares imagined. I was not at all prepared to be crushed to the core of my soul like this.
The red flags were waving but I was oblivious…
When we first met I didn’t listen to the voice in my head when it said that something wasn’t quite right here. I chose to ignore the red flags when he went on about how his ex was a psycho stalker and how these women he had been with previously were all cheaters and liars. I didn’t see back then how he consistently played the victim role in his life. Instead, I felt sorry for him, I felt empathy.
I thought that this guy had been through so much already and the healer in me wanted to help him. I felt a strong connection and I wanted to see where it went and I thought I must had manifested him! I didn’t want to jump into a relationship straight away but he did from the first night we met. Another red flag.
What I chose to see were the loving words he said to me. Within a couple of weeks he told me had fallen in love with me and that he had never been in love like this before. That I was his first true love, his twin soul, that he had missed me since our last life together, that I was his dream girl, that he wanted to marry me and have children with me and he couldn’t believe that someone like me would want to be with him and that he would love me until his last breath.
He used all the words that I had been longing to hear from someone. It sounded too good to be true, because it was. He never wanted to leave my side and from that moment on we were attached at the hip. I bet you can guess what happened next. We moved in together, he left his job..this is sounding familiar right?! He promised he would get another job straight away – it never happened. Instead, whilst I was away or working he was secretly contacting his ex-girlfriend but at the same time accusing me of connecting with other men behind his back.
He went off his head at me, swearing and calling me nasty names and even calling me by his ex’s name. I would try to defend myself and give my power away trying to explain things when really in my eyes I had done nothing wrong. The whole just seemed crazy to me, but apparently according to him I was the crazy one! But that was always his story when we got into a fight he would say ‘all you woman are the same, you are all liars, you are all c***s, you can’t be trusted, you are just like my ex, you are a psycho, you are crazy, you have bi-polar. The list goes on!
I told myself that he was just triggered from his past and it had nothing to do with me and if he just did the healing work on himself we could make the relationship work. When I saw him hiding messages to his ex for the third time. I had enough. I made him move out that day. But I made the mistake of going to see him after a few days because I missed him terribly.
He sounded really down on the phone and said he hadn’t been able to eat as he didn’t have any money. I felt sorry for him. The healer in me just wanted to look after him and I missed his cuddles. I said he could stay with me for the night but one night turned into another and another and then he had moved back in permanently. He broke down in tears when he said he realised how much he loved me and didn’t want to be without me and he then cut all contact with her.
I was his emotional punching bag…
This is when the abuse really started, it was like now that he wasn’t talking to her, that his anger outlet was me, I was now literally his emotional punching bag. He started picking at me about everything, judging and criticising me all the time. Telling me my beliefs were wrong and his were right. He always had to be right. Making fun of my healing and my spiritual side and friends, calling me a fake and a fraud.
I was pretty much financially supporting us and not taking up career opportunities so that I could work on our relationship. It was a regular occurrence that at night I would go to bed and he would stay up til all hours watching movies. When I asked him for cuddles he would trigger and call me nasty names. The first time it got physical was one night when this happened and he threw a bag at me twice which hit me in the back although he would claim it ‘bounced off the bed head’. I had bruises on my back that said otherwise. The next day I went away for a few days to clear my head. Again, I missed him and he agreed to start working on healing himself when I got back.
But for the next couple of months the same pattern kept happening but the abuse got much, much worse. I had to start cancelling clients because I wasn’t functioning properly as he was keeping me up all hours. He became extremely vindictive at times and would record me screaming and crying on his phone and threaten to post it on Facebook so that ‘people could see what I was really like’.
Then he would say ‘look at how angry and upset you are, you are not a healer, you are a fraud’ and then go on to swear at me, call me names, criticise me and blame me and compare to his ex. He would post things on Facebook that were twisted to make him appear to be the victim and threaten to post intimate information about me that I had vulnerably shared with him. He threatened to ruin me and my business if I was to ever to leave or share the truth about him. That it would be ‘war’.
So I shut myself down, I stopped expressing myself, I was afraid anything I shared with him would be turned around on me. I couldn’t be vulnerable anymore. The violence had now gone from punching his phone and throwing things at me to punching holes in doors. He would laugh and say ‘now you better fix it’. I would tell him to leave and get out but he would claim that he would be on the street and had nowhere to go and call his friends and say ‘she is kicking me out again and leaving me on the street for the 17th time’ and play the poor me card and make me out to be the nasty one.
‘How does it feel to have sex with a lifeless body’…
If I tried to leave he threatened to fully smash up my phones and laptop because he knew that it had all my work and my book writing on it which was very precious to me. This led to him just taking my phones and car keys off of me and pinning me down on the bed so I couldn’t move anywhere and locking me in the house. If I tried to scream he would cover my mouth and hold me down harder and sit on top of me for hours and threatening to bash me up if the Police come knocking on the door so in his words ‘he will have something to go to jail for’.
I will never forget the look on his face when he sat on top of me, it was like a demon had come over him. Then began the choking, smacking, suffocating, pushing down pillows and wrapping blankets over my head, whacking me, hair pulling, slapping, spitting on me and all whilst laughing at me and saying nasty things. At one point he said he felt like hanging me. If I tried to resist or escape he would just pull me back on the bed and sit on top of me again and hurt me more.
One night after he had been pinning me down on the bed yet again he decided he wanted to have sex with me. I repeatedly said I did not want to, but he kept going and I thought to myself that it was easier to just let him do it rather than trying to fight it and him get violent. I would rather the sex than the violence. Even though I said no, I didn’t try to physically fight him off. I just lay there lifeless, as he pulled opened my legs. It was then it felt like my soul left my body as it completely froze up, I tried to detach myself so I couldn’t feel anything, tears welling up in my eyes. I turned my head away from him whilst he tried to kiss me.
I felt so disgusted by him. I turned to him and said ‘how does it feel to have sex with a lifeless body? Because that’s all I am right now’. When I spoke to him later on about it, his response was ‘you should have kept your legs shut then’ and then tried to suggest a time when I had done the same thing to him, like there was ever a time I could have forced myself on him!
He hid a camera in the house so he could watch my every move…
Eventually the threats became real and he started breaking my property too. Deliberately ripping my necklaces off when he was choking me and trying to force feed me one of the pendants. Fights in the car led to him smashing the radio and windscreen, pulling off parts and driving recklessly, threatening to drive us into a wall and swerving into the side of the road. I really feared for my life at times.
He smashed up five of my phones (I had to keep replacing them), my work massage table, speakers, my spare laptop and my laptop screen. I stopped wearing jewellery and buying anything new. I starting hiding things for fear he would break them. I’ll never forget the day I found a camera he had hidden inside the house. He claimed he put it in there for my safety, but I knew it was so he could keep an eye on me.
Why did I stay? There are so many reasons but mainly his remorse gave me hope…
One of the reasons I stayed because he had three deaths in his family whilst we were together, including one of his brothers. This is when the violence had gotten worse. He wouldn’t talk to me about it, I felt like he was blocking it out. I couldn’t be there for him properly either, I was barely there at all. But this made it harder for me to leave too because I didn’t want to leave him when he was going through this hard time, who knows what he would have done.
He told me he had tried to commit suicide a few months before we met, and said that meeting me had saved him, that I was an angel that came into his life at just the right time. Now we were a mess, his family members had just died, what would he do if I left him? I couldn’t bare the thought of that happening. There were a lot of reasons I stayed though.
Eventually the neighours heard us and called the police. When they came and asked me what happened all I could think was ‘he has so many children, I cannot do this to them, I cannot let their father go to jail.’ I couldn’t do that to his children. I saw how much he loved his kids and I just couldn’t leave them without their Dad around. I just told myself that he was going through such a hard time right now with his family and this isn’t really him. I knew he would calm down tomorrow and everything would be okay again. We will get help. If I just do this, if I just do that, if he just gets the help he needs then maybe we can make it work.
He would have a lot of remorse the next day and say things like you deserve so much better, that he can’t believe he could do this to me and that he swore on his kids lives he would never hurt me again. He would sometimes cry, tell me how much he loved me and give me lots of cuddles. When things were good, they were amazing and we had a lot of special times together like walks on the beach and he came to meditation groups, workshops, retreats and he was showing me he wanted to work on healing himself.
He would just seem like a totally different person and this was what I saw to be the real him. This is what I had been wanting in a partner, to share all of this with someone. It was so hard to believe that he could be like two different people and I just wanted to help him be the person that I knew he could be and not function from his pain. I didn’t seem him as a bad person at all and there were a lot of things I loved about him. But both us were so lost by this point and not getting our precious needs met. I was so mentally drained and torn, one part of me wanting to work on it and the other half of me was trying to devise a way to leave safely.
These wounds were keeping my stuck in this toxic dynamic…
After four months of living together and the police coming for the second time and putting a DVO on him, we both moved out of the house and went to go our separate ways. Within a few days I was already feeling like I was getting back to myself again without him around. I started to feel relieved, like a weight had been lifted. But we made the mistake of staying in contact.
A week later we saw each other, it was like we were addicted to each other and could not stay away! But the same thing happened again and then he met someone else four days later, who was a younger, more attractive and a more successful woman than me. He was sending me photos of her giving him a lap dance in her lingerie, like it was some joke to him. I was a wreck. It was so painful for me because it was triggering massive wounds around betrayal and other women.
These wounds were keeping my stuck in this toxic dynamic. He contacted me a couple of days later and said he was coming to see me as he had now started going to counselling and anger management. I was so happy to hear that and I could see all the work he was now doing I thought maybe this time things would be different. Underneath, I couldn’t bare the thought of him being with someone else, especially now he was doing all this work, it wouldn’t be fair that she would get to have the new improved version of him! This lasted about five days before the violence started again.
For the next three months our relationship was very on and off. He would talk to the counsellor, things would be great and then he would become abusive again and I would end things and then he would go straight to her and then I would take him back a few days later. He would deliberately phone other women in front of me, saying nasty things and tell them how he wanted to leave and go to them but when it came down to it would never happen, he would always choose me.
But when he did this it triggered me massively and I would go into defending myself, say things I didn’t mean and so now I was appearing to be emotionally abusive which only aided his case to them. Then I started questioning myself and maybe I am the one with the issues and maybe I am crazy, maybe all the things he has been saying about me are true! I would wonder who was this person I had become? Because this certainly was not me at all!
It was like he would deliberately do things to trigger me, as though he identified my insecurities and played with them so he could turn it around on me and say I was the crazy one and get this attention from other women and make himself appear to be right and they would agree with him, because of course, they too got sucked into the narcissistic abuse. Oh the manipulation! No wonder I was feeling messed up and confused. It was like it gave him the right to get violent towards me, to control me and tell me what to do.
He always chose me – not the other woman in his life…
I stayed because ultimately it was the other woman that was keeping me there. If she wasn’t in the picture I would have left him months ago. At the end of the day he was always choosing me. He only went to her to numb his pain when I left him. What I later discovered that this was him getting his narcissistic supply. I also discovered the massive amount of blatant lies he had told me from the start. He made up things that never happened or changed stories dramatically.
It would start do my head in trying to work out what was real and what was not and I would start questioning my own beliefs. Eventually I just assumed he was lying but I just couldn’t be bothered arguing with him so I just switched off to what he was saying. But he would always claim that I was the liar and his twisted mind that’s how he really saw it. It was a vicious cycle and my heart just wasn’t in it anymore, my heart was completely closed and I did end up lying to him to protect myself.
I was talking to male friends the times when we broke up, not romantically at all but for healing and support and so I did lie to him about it that and hide things from him to keep myself safe although I would eventually tell him. He didn’t see it that way and would only prove to his case that I was a liar which only led to more abuse. I had to keep deleting messages when reaching out for help in case he saw them. I stopped talking to many of my friends and family, afraid to text or talk to anyone because he would read everything.
He would go through my phones and emails at night time when I was asleep and send himself copies and screenshots of everything even from years ago and make assumptions about things that had nothing to do with him. I stopped talking to my parents as much because I didn’t know how I could tell them what was going on. I didn’t want to lie to them and pretend everything was okay when it wasn’t. I had already been lying to most people about still seeing him. I felt so ashamed. He was right, I was no healer. I felt like I was living a lie. I couldn’t work properly or move forward in my career because I would have been completely out of integrity. I wasn’t even myself anymore.
Eventually, after I had finally had enough of my soul being destroyed and stuff being smashed to pieces, I set up myself to leave so I wouldn’t be able to go back. I asked him for time apart which he said no, because time apart meant breaking up to him. I had organised it so that all my stuff was packed in my car so he couldn’t break anything, so I could just drive away.
As I sat in the car about to drive away from his sister’s place for the last time, I called my best friend and we went through everything that was coming up for me. Part of me wanted to go back inside and try and make it work again and after talking with her, what she heard was that there was a wound that was sitting there that was ‘I am not wanted’. We did a belief shifting process and I just cried and cried, yes….that was it! Every time he was going to her it made me feel that he didn’t want me, but when I would take him back then it was me trying to feel like he did want me and that he would choose me over her!
I had massive wounds around other women and not being wanted and they were keeping me in this toxic situation! When I drove off that day I never went back again. I now had to choose who I was going to be in the face of this break-up. I could choose to shut down, numb, create more beliefs about men being bastards and liars and do what I used to do, date other men to avoid feeling the pain.
Or I could choose to look inside myself and acknowledge the part of me that feels used and abused and hold myself through the experience. I could channel these emotions to cause a stand for myself and for any man or woman who goes through domestic violence!
Recognising the re-wounding and feeling the pain…
I knew it was time to go deeper into healing myself as I was damn determined to make sure this never happened ever again! The first thing I came to recognise was that this relationship was a re-wounding of my relationship with my ex-husband. I hadn’t healed the wounds of my first heartbreak.
Instead I had numbed the pain, created disempowering beliefs about men and hence I kept attracting the same types of men that kept proving these beliefs to be true and re-wounding myself! Oh yes, I had been the source of my own suffering! I realised how disconnected I was from my emotions and what I wanted and needed. I had to allow myself to bring up the pain, anger and resentment from that first heartbreak as well as this one and I found healthy ways to release it.
I identified that I had subconsciously associated love with being the same thing as abuse. This might seem crazy to most people but this is often the belief system that attracts and keeps women in abusive relationships. The abuse will occur and then we will be showered with love and attention from the perpetrator when they regret their actions. There is an addiction to that intensity of the high of the nurture and love when they are sorry and regretful. It’s like taking a love drug. There is always a pay off for the victim to remaining in a DV relationship and this is often it.
Stepping out of victimisation and into empowerment…
My place of power is to own my part in it and to not be the victim in this so that the story won’t repeat not just for me but for generations to come. I finally came to a place of self-responsibility and I took my power back from all these men. We are never at fault if someone abuses us. We can however take self-responsibility for the way we may unconsciously attracted them and enabled their behaviour. One of my biggest complaints about him was that he hardly ever took responsibility for his behaviour.
So for me as a ‘rescuer’ I would enable his behaviour by being overly responsible and feeling sorry for him and trying to constantly fix things and ‘make it work’. This also explained the magnetic attraction. I was the fixer/empath and he was the victim/narcissist – two polarities that are very magnetic to one another and we think it’s chemistry. I had taken on this role out of a sense of self-worth and for safety, so I had to learn how to value myself more and create a container of safety inside of myself which is where really knowing my boundaries came in.
I had complained about how these men didn’t respect me, treated me badly, ignored me, cheated on me, lied to me and abused me. When I self-reflected I could see how they were reflecting the ways I had treated myself and been showing up in relationship. I had been ignoring my own wants and needs, I had been cheating myself out of what I really wanted, I had been lying to myself, I had been disrespecting and abusing myself by allowing myself to be treated this way.
Everyone I had attracted so far had just been a mirror of my own emotional unavailability. I really had to look at all the ways that I self-abandoned right from the start, all the ways I had been overgiving to prove value and how I chose not to see the red flags and ignored my intuition.
Changing my belief system gave me the power to be a survivor…
I really had to look at the disempowering beliefs that played out in this relationship such as ‘I am unwanted’ and ‘I am alone’ and ‘men don’t’ respect me’. Once I had awareness of them I was able to shift them and then start showing up from a new empowered truth rather than from my old belief system. I learned how to manage my triggers, how to connect to my own feelings and needs and communicate them.
I learned how to manage expectations and how to establish healthy boundaries which I had never understood before. I had always become enmeshed with the other person and lost myself in relationships. I committed to even more grounded self-love and self-care practices and most of all to developing a healthy relationship with myself. I finally put myself first and I’ve since been working closely with the Love Coach Academy and really taken on mastering relationship with myself.
I’ve been focusing on loving those parts of me that I didn’t think were lovable, the parts that he had triggered in me that I can now see are all perfectly human and deeply lovable. And so I thank him for that. I am grateful to him for showing me this, it was the biggest lesson of my life, with the greatest growth and I wish him the best on his journey in life and hope that he is able to find inner peace and real happiness.
As I was doing all this work on myself I was journaling, having so many ‘aha’s and discovering so many amazing processes thinking ‘how can people not know this?!’ I knew I had to share this work with others, particularly other women who have been through abuse. I think we don’t often talk about what happens after we leave the relationship.
This is why I developed a Free 21 Day Program to Heal the Wounds of Love which can be accessed at this link>>. I’ve brought it together not just from my experiences and work with my hundreds of healing and coaching clients but from the work I have done with some of the top Love and Relationship Experts in the world.
Now I’m feeling even more awesome, aware, alive, happier and healed than I have ever been! I know that my pattern is over for good, not just for me, for generations to come. I now attract healthy, connected relationships that reflect the relationship have with myself. I know everyone can be truly happy, deep soul-connected, intimate, loving, healthy relationships – and it starts with YOU.
I believe I went through this journey to help people have that and that it is one of my greatest purposes. You have to become your own soulmate first and stop looking outside for that which you are yearning for. When you do this, that is when you will naturally attract people who have the capacity to truly love and accept you. This happens when you start consciously CHOOSING TO LOVE YOU FIRST. ♥️
If you are in domestic violence crisis help is available from the Australia-wide telephone hotline 1800RESPECT. If you want to take part in the “Why I Stayed” project click here ♥️♥️♥️
Photograph by Sherele Moody © 2016.