Gas Lighting and Domestic Abuse.

TRIGGER WARNING! THIS POST IS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, GAS LIGHTING, COERCIVE CONTROL AND FINANCIAL CONTROL.

7304 days.

This is how long my marriage lasted, this is how many days I was abused for. Not a day went by without some kind of abuse being levelled at me. Be it financial, coercive, gas lighting, or violence. There was something every single day.

Over the past few days I have been reading many different bloggers posts and a recurring theme has begun to reveal itself throughout my reading.

Domestic Abuse and Gas Lighting.

Many times over the years I have come across women (mainly, but some men too) who have the same story to tell as my own. They are the survivors of domestic abuse and have been gas lighted.

My own story spans from me being a small child and living with an abusive father who battered (and I do mean that literally) my mum, me and my three siblings, pretty much every day for the sixteen years I lived under his roof. He did not have a drinking problem, he rarely drank, he was not a drug addict, his biggest addiction was normal cigarettes and he was wonderful company to anyone who lived outside of our house. He was the man everyone poured their problems out to because he was a good listener and would usually have a solution for them.
So, why do you think he battered us and terrorised us? Because he could. It was that simple. He was an angry man who had been raised by an angry man who used to batter him and his siblings and his mum because he believed it to be his right as the man of the house. His rule, like my father’s rule was law. Woe betide anyone who said different and the law validated that belief. The general consensus was ‘what goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. It’s her word against his and what did she do to push him to do that to her?’ Why would he stop? No one was pointing out that he was wrong.

I left home at 16 to make my own way in life. I got a job found a place to live and I dragged myself out of that poisonous environment. I could not help my siblings, they were already junkies and were lost to everyone. I tried to help my mum as much as I could, she is a Catholic and does not believe in divorce. Till death do they part. There is no help for that statement. She thought it was her lot in life and she accepted it.

I met my husband when I was 25 and fell pregnant by the time I was 26 got married before my 27th birthday and gave birth to my disabled son shortly afterwards. Those first two years of my relationship with my husband were fantastic. He was everything I could have hoped for in a man and I loved him. He would do anything and everything for me. I was precious to him.

The day after I married him, he changed. He told me I was now his property and that everything I had been able to do before we were married, go out, see my family, friends, write for hours, read for hours? All that stops because I was now his and I would follow his rules. In order to ram his point home, he gave me a good hiding (remember I was pregnant) and told me to tell anyone who asked, I fell over.

I was terrified. The following morning, he sat in front of me and cried and told me how sorry he was, that it was my fault because I had made him so angry he couldn’t help himself, but he would try to change his ways, and it would be easier if I could learn to be a good wife that understood her place.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard my father do and say the same things to my mum.

It wasn’t that we believed what they were saying, we were too damned scared to do anything about it. At all. Best to just be the wife he wanted and then it wouldn’t happen again. Right?

The other thing that happened was this, I thought it was normal. There I was completely love bombed by this man until the day he married me. Then I became property. Just like my mum, just like my Nana. This is what married life was like, wasn’t it?

Fast forward 10 years. (Trust me just copy and paste the above 10 times you have the intervening years.)

Whenever I tried over the years to get him out of my life, I had nowhere to go, I had a disabled child to put first and I felt like I was in an impossible situation. My husband became more adept at hiding his rage and abusive physical behaviour due to professional medical and social services being very present in our lives due to my son’s disabilities. He swapped the physical abuse for mental abuse , he already had complete financial control over me.

Very early on in our marriage he cut up my debit card to our joint account and gave me housekeeping money. By this time I was no longer working because of hospital appointments and hospital stays with my son. I had no choice but to go along with whatever he demanded. I had to make sure I had a receipt for every penny I was given or else. I ran my household on Β£40 a week. Most of the time he would buy himself an expensive steak or something he wanted to eat and my son and I would eat the cheap food. He ran up debts on credit cards and would take out doorstep loans to finance his expensive tastes.

I was allowed to keep the child benefit, he couldn’t stop that, it was in my name. I salted that money away every month for years. I gave him random receipts I found outside stores to cover it. I got very good at being a liar.

He began telling me things about himself, telling me stories about his work (when he went to work that is) and when we were in new company he would encourage me to tell his stories. Mid way through the telling, he would laugh at me and say things like, that never happened, why are you saying I worked there? I never did that, you’re making stories up about me. Then he would turn to our friends and say, ‘do you see what I have to live with? She’s always telling lies about me. All I try to be is a good husband and provider for my family. Then he would storm out of the room and pour himself a large glass of whiskey. Our friends would make an excuse and leave. They rarely if ever came back. When they left I would face him off and say, ‘you told me that stuff, why are you saying I’m lying about it?’ His response was always the same. ‘I never said any of that stuff, you’ve imagined it, it’s all in your head. We both know you’re not quite right in the head don’t we?’

Gas lighting doesn’t just work on the spouse. It works on the people around you to. The gas lighter only ever shows his best side to the outside world, he plays the victim to those in his inner sanctum and laments the crap wife he has been saddled with, to anyone who will listen. By the time we had been married for 12 years I was well used to this behaviour. But still I went out and made friends with people because I knew if I didn’t, one day I might end up sectioned in a mental health unit or worse, dead.
I collected people like others collect books or comics or stamps.

When my son turned 19 the laws for domestic abuse changed. The abuser could now be arrested and charged with common assault.

I had found a way out and I took it. I forced a confrontation, he battered me and I called the police. I made a calculated decision to end this once and for all. I was one of the lucky ones. It worked. I have now been divorced for 11 years and it has taken all 11 of those years to try and undo the mental, physical, and emotional damage that he caused me.

I do not see myself as a victim of domestic abuse, I see myself as a survivor. I am the victor in this story, because me and my son got out.

My message to you is simple, if you know someone who is living this hell, reach out to them. Let them know you are there, be there for them and help when you can and don’t judge them when they can’t accept your help. They have been conditioned to believe that everything is their fault and if they could just try harder this time, they might get it right and the person they married, the person who loved and cherished them, would give them that love again.

Love is a powerful emotion that can bring you so much happiness you feel like you have everything you could ever hope for. Until it is used against you. When that love is turned around and used against you to bring you to your knees, to cow you, to make you feel worthless and stupid and so damned grateful that they are still willing to put up with the sorry worthless piece of crap that you are, it can kill you.

Lift your heads up people, not every story a gas lighter tells you is the truth. They like to play the victim. They love the attention.

Not every lie the abuse victim tells you is a manipulation, it is a defence mechanism to protect themselves from making things worse.

When you shake your head and walk away from a loved one because she/he won’t just bloody leave their partner, you validate the gas lighter and drive their point home for them.

You know when a person is being abused, look in their eyes. You’ll see it plain as day. Help them, don’t diss them or call them weak, or say they must like it else why would they put up with it?

Remember, if he is controlling her, he also controls her finances. How is she going to get away from him with nowhere to go and no means with which to do it?

I am one of the lucky ones, my personality is that of a warrior. It stood me in good stead. I fought back as soon as I was able and now I am free. Not every person is as lucky as I have been.

My son and I have been free for 4015 days long may they continue.

  1. I lived this, too! My ex didn’t raise his hand to me until the day I finally left him, but the emotional, sexual, and financial abuse were all there and the gas lighting til I felt crazy and believed I deserved his abuse was so real. Sadly, those of us with family histories who don’t learn a new way BEFORE we start dating and looking for romantic partners don’t have the skills to look for the red flags. There were tons of them along the way. The moment I married him he changed into all the things I thought I saw but wasn’t sure. My picker is better, but far from good at this stage in my life. DV counseling did wonders!!! I’m sorry you walked this path, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you sweetie, I’m sorry this has been your experience too. I hate that this still happens over and over again. Some people are just wired to be abusers. No one as far as I am concerned is wired to be abused. We are forced to take it, plain and simple. Gas lighting and abuse tactics should be openly talked about in schools and colleges and universities, warning signs, red flags and that gut feeling should be front and centre in those lessons. One of the hardest parts about this is that the gas lighter is so damned good at acting like a real human being they could win an Oscar for their performance. My ex was a consummate liar, a consummate actor and a consummate victim. His personality traits were all there for everyone to see but it was dismissed as driven, determined, a proper man! (I hate that one). In the end all we can do is be there for each other and shine a light on it whenever we have the opportunity. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hugs. This is not something that I have had to deal with myself but reading it and knowing your tale made me cry. It hurts me that you had to go through this. And yes I know makes you stronger blah blah blah it still hurts that you had to deal with it. Love you and am sending big hugs. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I tried to keep this post limited to the very bare bones so that I didn’t end up traumatising people with my own story! My intention was to shine a light on other people’s plight who are still in their own situation and are feeling trapped and unheard and unbelieved.
      I wrote this post in the hopes that just one person might think,
      I know someone like that. I will reach out and let them know they are not alone.

      Don’t hurt for me lil sis, just keep in mind because I was lucky enough to get out, I got a chance to start over, and look how that’s turning out so far? The whole reason for me beginning my journey of self discovery was because of that past. I knew there had to be something more out there, someone or something I could connect with and feel safe doing so. I could live my life on my terms alone. And I do. Tom has been far more healing for me than any counselling sessions I had in the early years. They helped enormously but there was so much trauma behind my ‘steel trap’ my counsellor could never quite find the correct tools to use to get behind it. I’m a past master at compartmentalising and never looking back. I only view the surface label of it all. I deal with it in my own way and whether it’s the right way or not, it works for me. More than anything, Tom coming into my life made a world of difference and for that I will be forever thankful, the new men who came along whose names are littered throughout these journal posts are the kind of men we should all know. Men who will listen to us and understand they have no rights over us other than that which we bestow on them. They understand those gifts can be taken away if they abuse the privilege they have been given.

      Normal Tom service will now resume. xxxx ((((HUGS)))) lil Sis, xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so brave, Gem. If this post reaches even one person who really needs to read this…you have saved another life. You have no idea how much respect and admiration I have for you. Much love. XOXO~ Nora ❀

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Such a powerful post Gem, and it helps me understand the comment you made on my post earlier.
    I am sorry for what you went through and I am also glad you can speak/write about it in a way that tells others that it possible to escape that kind of emotional prison.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s as I said at the end of the post, I have a warrior personality, and that served me well. Others are not so lucky. For me it is enough that I am out of it, more importantly, my son is free too. His mind being damaged by the ‘sperm donor’ was my biggest fear of all. we have worked hard to undo the damage and he has come out the other side a much happier and relatively whole person. I wish others could say the same. Thank you for reading the post Jenna. xx

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I knew I was being abused, emotionally and verbally, I never really thought of the financial abuse other than myself being the only one working and paying for everything leaving it very hard for me to save to get out. I never really knew of the term gaslighting until the past year and I realize now how that was happening as well. I am so happy you got out and are doing so well, it gives me hope for my future “escape”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I find men like this despicable. I am so sorry you went through this. There is no excuse for men to be like this. You are an inspiration to me and to many others. It takes courage to break free from men like thisβ€”and sometimes a bit of luck. I’m glad you succeeded. May you meet much better people from here on in! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Michael, that means a lot to me my friend. (You made me cry!) I may have had to learn some heavy life lessons along the way but I have come to the conclusion that there are more men out there who, like you, find this type of behaviour in men despicable than there are otherwise. I have worked exceptionally hard to allow this calibre of man into my life so that the past does not dictate the present and future. It’s been a long journey but I’m finally at a point where I can say I am in a good place these days. I truly appreciate your comment. xx

      Liked by 1 person

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