The last time I bought myself a (really cheap) bunch of flowers just to cheer myself up a bit, I was accused of trying to sneak them in (they were behind me because I was doing the bag-laden sideways shuffle through the door). I was then berated for buying them for myself, and was told that I should buy flowers for him, and that not doing so was neglectful, and buying flowers for myself (which cost a measly £1.50) was selfish. Those flowers ended up going in the bin.
Learn to recognise what emotional abuse and control looks like. This might look like an innocuous incident, but added to the other hundreds of incidents over a span of 14 months, you build up a far more sinister picture of emotional, mental, verbal and sexual abuse. You start to doubt your sanity, your reality is turned on its head. It’s not until you have a lightbulb moment and find the strength to get away that you fully realise what’s happened. Having gone back through the thousands of emails and text messages between my ex and I with a new perspective, I can see that it was abusive from the very beginning. Before we even met, in fact. You always tell yourself that it won’t happen to you, but you honestly don’t realise what you’re in until you’re a long way down the rabbit hole. Of course my ex would say that I’m gaslighting and trying to form a global audience. But to put it simply – it isn’t gaslighting if it’s true.
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, or you’re just confused about things all the time, if you can – do some research. Look up the signs. It’s more common than you think, and both men and women are capable of all kinds of abuse – mental, sexual, coercive and physical. I’ve since connected with so many women who have endured the same. Don’t suffer alone. Reach out. Talk to someone. Contact Womens Aid or another domestic abuse charity – they will help both men and women. Above all, stay safe. Stay strong.