By: by: Claire Cappetta
It is always a tough decision to leave an abuser. It is always the most difficult step to make when we have been in such a controlling relationship. We are scared, we struggle to make sense of what is true and what is not, especially when we have been emotionally manipulated and degenerated over the years with our partners calling us useless, ugly, stupid, the list goes on… This is known as ‘Gaslighting’. It wears us down into thinking we are not worthy, of life, relationships, friends and family. That we should feel grateful for our abuser even loving us.
There comes a ‘make or break’ time. Do we find the strength to leave? To reach out, to get help, to become independent and find ourselves again. We can find a newer stronger person inside after. I have talked to people who say, they just want to be the person they were before they met their ex. I tell them, you don’t want to be that person again, that person fell in love with your ex! You want to be a more empowered, better informed, more joyous and happy person, one who would look at the traits of their ex and know that isn’t what they want again in a relationship.
Sadly, when we find the courage to leave we find the control doesn’t stop, it changes, morphs into trying to control us in different ways. We hear the words harassment and stalking, but don’t think they apply to us. The word ‘Stalking’ is used too many times on social media sites as a joke or flattery. It is neither a joke or be construed as flattery. We dismiss how our ex texts our phones or calls numerous times of the day and night. I know, it happened to me, being followed everywhere I went, the phone rang constantly. I was sent letters hand delivered, threatening me and my children’s lives. It was frightening and terrifying.
Sometimes, they stop and finally move on with their lives, often though it doesn’t and when this is the case you need to take steps to protect yourself.
- Do not respond to any contact made by your ex. This can exacerbate the situation. They think by you responding, you are still interested in them.
- Take threats seriously and trust your instincts.
- Start a diary, it is most important to start logging down everything, from calls, emails, letters and actions, take pictures, anything and everything that happens, even if you not sure if it’s relevant or too small. I cannot stress enough how important it is to document every little thing that happens, even to your ex driving by. Write down the date, time and pace.
- Make sure where you are living is safe, if you need to, change locks on all your doors and make sure your home is a place of safe sanctuary.
- Call your local Police Precinct, let them know what is happening to you and ask them to register your ex’s name and your phone number, in case, of emergency, you need to call them, you and your phone number will be in their system as a top priority.
- Talk to your attorney about having an Order of Protection put in place.
- When you go out with your friends, ask them if they can be with you until you get home safe. Tell people are around you what is happening, friends, family and work colleagues.
- Put an emergency plan in place, somewhere to go and stay, an overnight bag packed etc in case it escalates and you need to stay somewhere safe.
- Look up your local Domestic Violence charity/ shelter in your area. They have a lot of resources and support, which they can often give you for free, including counselling!
For more helpful information, please visit the ‘Stalking Resource Center’ and ‘Safe Horizon’ websites.
Remember to stay safe, strong and empowered.
Claire is an author, life coach, cognitive behavioral therapist, and advocate. Claire has been a speaker on Domestic Violence at various events: Barrier Free Living, Moving Beyond Shame, Shattering the Silence Tour in NYC. She has also appeared on various Blog Talk Radio shows including Freedom Talk Radio with Andy Peacher in the UK, also contributing posts to See the Triumph Organisation, etc. Her work has been endorsed by various professionals including Carol Senior of the American Screenwriters Guild, Audry Hardy of The Hope Healing House Foundation, Ohio. She is a certified Life Coach and Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, and holds diplomas in Psychology and Mental HealthYou can learn more about Claire at http://www.clairecappetta.co.uk .
The Divorce Recovery Ladder Workbook and Program were inspired by Susan’s own contentious divorce.
Topics included are: Realization of the situation | Attorneys | Finances | Children | Parental Alienation | Courts & Evidence | Recognizing Retaliation | Dating Again