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The Cruelty of Control


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Trigger Warning
I’m going to be blunt in this one.  Specifically about psychological abuse and about rape.

Background
Psychological abuse was far worse for me than the physical side.  I wasn’t touched by my abuser.  Well not that I can remember… um sort of… I’m still a bit confused about that.  Anyway I was forced to do things in front of my abuser (“C” - a 53 year old man) and with my girlfriend of the time (V).

I repressed the memories for years and I think this was because I behaved totally out of character.  C’s control over me was so complete that the memories are dream where actions make no sense.  So talking about this is difficult.  I have to stay factual and not get caught on explaining "why".  I have to admit believing the most laughable lies. I have to admit doing what my abuser told me to do, even days later.  He had absolute control over me.

Truth and Lies buried Beneath in Too Much of ****
The control started with lies hidden in long conversations.  We talked for hours and hours on all sorts of subjects.  As the years have gone on, it’s been the lies and admissions of guilt that remained with me and the rest has faded away.  Its like the heap of gravel and mud left after a giant snowball melts.  Now when I talk about it, the lies seem so obvious.   But at the time they were so well hidden, just like gravel in a giant snowball.

C found ways to make us (me and V) believe that one of the planets in our solar system is spinning the wrong way, that iron shouldn’t sink to the centre of the earth, that the earth was built by aliens and that if me and V carried on our relationship without his help we would hurt each other.  One of these stands out as different from the others, but explaining the rotation of Venus is off topic for this blog. Somehow C buried very sinister and damaging lies right in plain view.  But we didn't notice.

He also hid sinister truths in plain view.  He told us he liked 16-17 year olds because our minds were easily manipulated yet we were free from our parent’s protection.  He told us that his friend “S” was special because he found people [by hanging round the school gates].  He told us that he was changing our relationship to be reliant on him.  He told me he was shutting down parts of my personality [hypnosis]. He told V that he was disappointed when she went out with me and he told V that in payment for his help he wanted herBut we didn't notice.

Why Didn’t I run?  Why Didn’t I Try to Escape?
Because we believed the lie. We needed his help.  And every lie from there built on it and reinforced it:

  • He told us he would abandon us if we didn’t do what he said without question.  He made us beg him not to leave us thus reinforcing the lie that we needed him.
  • He told us that others wouldn’t understand and we needed to listen to him over anyone else
  • he told us we mustn’t have any sexual contact without him there to watch – using and reinforcing the lie about danger.
  • he told us we had to hurt one another
  • he told me to think of a way to break V.
  • When what I told him wasn’t enough he told me I would have to R her [in front of him]. I’m very glad to say I never did.

Believing we were dangerous gave him enormous control.  He told me I would need to R her and I still thought he was trying to help, I even thought that it was my fault and that somehow I’d made him suggest it.  He’d made me believe I was evil.  Somehow I managed to refuse.  So he broke contact altogether [abandoning me] and told V the same lie: that I would R her.  She must have seen the feeling of guilt all over my face.  I still thought it was my fault.  I still thought I was evil.  And V believing it only reinforced it.

Lasting effects
I got out and V didn't.  But I couldn’t tell anyone what happened or why I was suffering or why V was in danger.  When I thought I was that kind of evil how could I tell my parents or the police or my councillor or my friends?  I just bottled it up and tried hard to move on.  I tried to hide who I was from the world.  I tried to hide from myself.  I tried not to fall in love for fear I would hurt someone else.  Dissociation became the new normal.  And flashbacks confused and depressed me.

I still talk of “The Confusion” now: my subconscious tares at itself, trapped somewhere between believing I caused it all and hurt V and thinking I abandoned V when I got out. 15 years later, when I fall in love I still panic.  My subconscious screams “run away I’m dangerous”.  Somehow my subconscious finds a way to be heard.  It’s all just the abuse talking.

All I ever wanted was to love and be loved.

Healing Follows
Control was brutally destructive.  It has taken years before I had the courage to believe I could remember without thinking I was a monster.  Then more years to work through and find out what really happened.

But once again I will say that healing is now happening for me.  I’ve managed to uncover the truth behind C’s lies and I no longer [consciously] blame myself.  I know I never wanted to hurt anyone and I know I got out before C made me do something unforgivable.

I had a little win this week.  I danced and flirted at a party and didn't completely freak myself out.

I’m healing.

One step at a time.

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