Guest post: And then finally, I left you

Guest post: and then finally, I left you

#metoo

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Narrative is such a reductive form when trying to describe a monster. You see James; the expansive, toxic horror you wreaked on my life can’t be captured in the numb monochrome of sans serif. The revulsion of sexual violence, abuse and manipulation doesn’t have a typeface.

Your malignant, coercive narcissism is too dark for this black.

Too expansive for this font size.

Too cruel for this bold.

Should I double justify the paragraph about what you did to me? Or should I leave the right side tangled and messy like the sheets of my bed after you were done?

Would bullet points or prose enumerate the damage you did more effectively? Punctuation is no shield against the shame of your extended assault on the very meaning of what it was to be me. Vocabulary can’t smooth the jagged edges of the worst relationship I have ever experienced.

So here, now, long after it ended, all I have is my story. Every single word is like the tip of an iceberg representing the trauma and pain that you caused.

#MeToo James.

Me too.

—{~}—

My relationship with you was one of the most damaging and traumatic emotional experiences of my life. In your eyes, my wellbeing, my health, my work and my family should never come before meeting your needs. You deprived me of sleep, kept me in a constant state of fear and hyper-vigilance and triggered a deeply damaging, accelerated spiral into self-doubt, depression, and anxiety. Your manipulation was the only cause but you alternately used my ‘solipsistic’, traumatised state as a weapon against me; or you called me ‘poorly’, like a child with a cold. My opinions counted for nothing, my protestations were edited out, and any equality in the decision-making in the relationship was quickly eroded and then deleted as you dehumanised me and made me into a puppet incapable of adult reasoning. Even my basic bodily functions were belittled and ridiculed.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

Once the first, flushed fortnight of love-bombing was over, I was never good enough. Never tried hard enough. Never loved you enough. Never committed to you enough. Never was sensitive enough to your many and varied needs. Despite my accomplished background, my established professional career, my balanced and loving family and supportive circle of friends, you painted yourself as superior at every turn and isolated me at the same time. Whether by dining out on your past -largely fictitious- misfortune or painting yourself as a lone wolf somehow above all the niceties of middle class aspirations, it was all delusional lies. You have nothing. You are nothing but a grandiose narcissist who feeds on the destruction of good souls and hides behind a plummy accent, tall tales and tired rhetoric.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

Your family want nothing to do with you so you pretend they don’t exist and have created a story that invites pity instead. You don’t have a single real friend. You make out that you can’t make ends meet, have an alarming black market prescription medication stash and are claiming disability benefits for a disability I am barely convinced exists after seeing you leaping and running. You are only a break-up away from homelessness at any given moment and your loneliness and self-inflicted isolation is pitiful. It is sickening how on the day we first met, you were already planning the changes you would make to my home when you moved in, and in every available moment you flooded my timelines and inboxes with demands for attention.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

You are the worst sort of DV dilettante: completely disinterested in real research, genuine institutions or the law unless they serve to reinforce your alarmingly narrow and skewed world view. Your contempt for properly qualified and experienced professionals is alarming. You genuinely believe – despite your only credentials being that of a charlatan – that you have nothing to learn from anyone else. Ever. Most sickening of all: you use the cover of being a DV “expert” as the perfect justification for preying upon vulnerable women. You groomed me to believe I was a victim of past abuse and then, having sufficiently frightened me, you abused me yourself; all the while manipulating services, controlling my communications and sending me down a deeply damaging decision-making pathway.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

That I should object; gently and diplomatically at first, then more vehemently but with no greater impact to your sexual roleplaying demands took all the bravery I had left. Happy enough to play along initially (although you wouldn’t tolerate calling it roleplay – it was some kind of fucked-up pseudotruth in your mind), intimacy became an ordeal and then unbearable after a short while. You turned something potentially nurturing into an unwanted, sordid, emotional freak show when you went a long way past my boundary of acceptability. You alternated depersonalising your unacceptable behaviour ‘because I’m a bear and that’s what bears do’ with turning on fake tears to hammer your ersatz vulnerability home. I shudder in repulsion at the thought. I didn’t want it. You did it anyway and enjoyed my wide-eyed discomfort.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

Your expectation that my body should be available to to you at all times – even when I was asleep- was thrilling for all of half a day, and then oppressive and sadistic. That my body should be available for sexual touch in public against my wishes was totally reasonable in your eyes. I was the one who wasn’t being a ‘proper girlfriend’ for objecting.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

You scoffed at the idea of consent. You talked about doing things that were ‘a bit rapey’ with pride. You made it clear from our first conversation that ‘no’ was not a word that you wanted to hear in bed. Ever. “Red flag, right there.” as you would knowingly say in your smug baritone voice.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

So when I used my safeword it was hardly surprising that you belittled, humiliated and disrespected me for it. You rubbed my face in my own shame and failure to please you and left me reeling and disorientated.

And yet, I didn’t leave you.

You made me continue with an edgy sex act that I audibly and visibly didn’t want, and then played surprised as I sobbed and howled like a wounded animal afterwards.

And then, finally, I left you.

Never have I made a better decision.

How the mighty have fallen

James Barnett, Barnett Survivors ltd, domestic abuse, coercive control

Another day. Another Barnett breakup. I’m pleased to say that Lainy has found the strength to escape from James, who, in his inimitable style, coerced his girlfriend  victim to write a review of his company for him. It was, as you’d expect, a glowing review, as no doubt he insisted on proofreading it first. (Side note – he had me falsify a review for him for the website he was trying to get me to build. He’s so boringly repetitive – if only he knew what a typical perpetrator he is, repeating the same coda over and over and over. Yawn).

Lainy amended her review this morning to reflect the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth:

I’d say there was a considerable difference between the first review and the second. But wait – it gets better – he actually tries to defend himself:

What the hell has having been in a relationship got to do with anything? It doesn’t prove that he isn’t a monster. The length of the relationship – of all of his recent relationships – would seem to be indicative of him being the problem – this isn’t an issue of him being unlucky in love. If anything, pointing out that he was in a relationship with Elaine goes against him in another way – he has admitted that he had his girlfriend post a review to his company page! That’s not really how reviews are meant to work, is it? I think I’ve mentioned the phrase ‘fraud by misrepresentation’ in a previous blog post. When James first set up his company, he listed himself on Companies House as an IDVA – Independent Domestic Violence Advisor. This is a title that can only be granted if you’ve had full training. You have to earn it, not assume it. Someone called him out on that point on Twitter this year – shortly after, he changed his Companies House entry from IDVA to Troubleshooter. You can verify this for yourselves here:

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09966410/filing-history

Let’s talk about defamation, as James has mentioned it in his response to Elaine.

Within the law, defamation is:

“….a spoken or written expression which is deemed to harm the reputation of an individual and proved to be false.”

I really would love him to try to pursue this legally, in the same way that he claimed he was going to pursue me legally – I’m still, disappointingly, waiting to be served with papers. But he can’t – because apart from the vast financial cost (perhaps he could try crowdfunding, as he’s so good at that), he’d have to prove that what Elaine and I and all the other women have said about him was false. He’d have to prove that he does actually have staff. That he’s had any sort of training. That he has credentials beyond a really vague letter from Surrey Police claiming that he’s a victim (and I now know the truth of that entire situation). He would have to provide proof that he’s trained any of the police forces that he keeps saying he’s trained on his fake follower Twitter feed (noticed he bought himself some more popularity, after Twitter cleared up the 1.5k bots he last bought! Congrats!) He’d have to prove that he isn’t an abusive narcissist with a massive victim complex.

The only person damaging his reputation is him, via his obnoxiousness and his repeated abusive actions towards others. Did he really think he’d be able to skulk in the shadows, doing what he does, for the rest of his life?

 

 

You Are NOT Hard To Love

To James’ girlfriend, either present or future.

You are not hard to love. You aren’t broken. You may feel and think it now, as he drips poison in your ear every waking minute of the day, via text, e-mail, memes, and posts on Facebook designed to make you question whether they’re aimed at you. Malignant whispers, his unerring conviction that he’s right, righteous, a saver of souls.

Dealing with trauma doesn’t mean you’re broken. You don’t need fixing. You don’t have faults. You’re whole already even if you don’t feel it. But he’ll make you believe you’re sabotaging things when in actual fact he’s deliberately triggering you. Sometimes in subtle ways. Other times he takes the sledgehammer approach. And when you crack under the pressure and finally retort, he’ll tell you that you’re the abusive one – this is a classic tactic used by people such as him. He’ll tell you that your mental health issues, which make you feel like you need to spend time on yourself or spend time alone, are causing you to abuse him, to neglect him, and that his constant demands are just a normal part of a healthy relationship, that your attitude is too ‘single girl’, that you’re guilty of solipsism if you try and enforce a boundary, any boundary – but he doesn’t believe that boundaries are necessarily healthy between two loving people. Initially, you may have agreed, believing that what he meant was trust and communication are important. But what he meant is that he’ll have what he wants, when he wants it, and that you’re to be altruistic and give that to him, because that’s what love is and hasn’t he done enough for you by now? You should be grateful, and make sure to show him, repeatedly, how grateful you are. Woe betide you if you don’t read his mind and ‘know’ when he’s in ‘pain’ – how could you not know this? Clearly, it means you’re too preoccupied with yourself, and not paying enough attention to him.

Just as you’re relaxing to go to sleep, perhaps reading a book to unwind, you’ll be expected to stroke his back to help him drop off. Or to massage his leg. Or cuddle even if you don’t want to. Not doing any of these things is obviously a sign of neglect, even if it means that you have to sacrifice sleep or sanity to do it. Every time you relax, he’ll place some sort of demand on you. You’ll get tired of this, but you won’t understand why – these are normal things aren’t they? It’s unreasonable for you to feel like you’re being put upon all the time, he’s a disabled man and can’t look after himself properly, he’s in pain so needs your care. You’ll beat yourself up and berate yourself for feeling that way, you’ll feel like a thoroughly awful person.

Perhaps he’ll try and get you to do something in public, or do something to you, that you don’t feel comfortable with. But it’s perfectly normal for him, babber – you’re just repressed.

He’ll say that certain of your behaviours are fine, but if those behaviours ‘stray too far into abuse’ he won’t tolerate it. And when he says ‘stray into abuse’, he means that he won’t allow you to disagree with him, or say no to anything, and if you begin to challenge his self-appointed authority in any way, he will assume his default position and cry victim. He’ll tell you that he won’t allow you to abuse him and will threaten to leave, which will scare you because you feel like you’re in love with him when in reality you’re trauma bonded. He’ll make you feel like losing him is worse than anything, even worse than losing a parent, a child, a beloved pet. Or perhaps you’ll be the one to say that you aren’t happy – but suddenly his back hurts, or he’s tired, and he needs to be looked after in some way, bringing the attention back to him, and he’ll make you feel bad for contributing to his pain by trying to express your own.

He’ll move goal posts on a whim, and you’ll follow rules that you didn’t even know existed, rules that will change and shift so that you feel like you’re standing on quicksand. You’ll make excuses for him – because of the tale of woe he’s told you about how he was abused by his parents, by the care system, by other women, by girlfriends. Someone who didn’t have a proper upbringing and wasn’t loved can’t be expected to understand how to act ‘normally’ and with care and compassion regarding the words he chooses to use – he is blunt and without consideration because he never had anyone to guide him, right? His rudeness is just him being forthright, the ‘no bullshit’ approach. He’s the guy who shakes things up, the new sheriff in town.

Wrong.

The minute you stop making excuses for his behavior, the moment that you realise that he’s completely in control of his actions, is the moment that you will begin to wake up, to emerge from the fugue of confusion he’s woven around you. You’ll begin to realise that he chooses his words deliberately and with care, with intent to verbally and emotionally maim you. The moment that you realise that every part of his traumatic history is a fabrication, that his identity is a charade, is like a floodlight going on in your brain. Suddenly everything becomes so clear. He’ll talk about feeling like you’ve never had a honeymoon period as a couple, and that wouldn’t it be nice if he could have a ‘proper girlfriend’, if only x, y and z would happen – he says this to all the girls.

Something he’s done before is to attempt to coerce a partner to make a public post on Facebook or some other social media platform. He tells them what needs to be said, probably insists on approving it before it goes live because he’ll say that in doing this you’re showing him something about how you feel. You’re showing the world, a public declaration of your love and your relationship.

But what he’s actually doing is making sure you publicly accept responsibility for the things HE is doing to YOU. He’s making you accept the blame for his atrocious behaviour. He will make you believe that those who care about you, who are worried about you, are actually against you, that they don’t understand your relationship and are just jealous of the bond you share, and he’ll try and twist you away from them. He’ll use his ‘expertise’ to convince you that they’re abusive, and he’ll try and tell you to cut them out of your life. Or he’ll belittle them, and try and make you feel as if you’re much better than them, manipulating you into discarding them. He’ll give you cards for your monthly celebrations of your relationship, containing messages which state that you need to be a team, that it’s you and he against the world, and that you need to be united. You might say to your friends that they can leave, unfriend you, whatever, if they don’t support you.

This behavior is designed to isolate you. He’s systematically going to try and remove the influence of anyone who cares about you, will remove the people who he knows can see him for what he is, because without a support network, you’re more vulnerable, and he can keep chipping away at you. If he can’t make you turn away from them, he’ll make them turn away from you.

He’ll also use you to become an extension of himself in other ways – the victim of a narcissist is a mirror, after all. You’ll be used as a public mouthpiece regarding DV and the evil of abusive women, how everyone denies their existence (this isn’t true though, is it? No one has ever denied that women can be abusive, that they can’t coerce and control. At some point you’ll understand that he’s just saying all of this to use as a smokescreen to cover up his own coercion and control).

You’re right. Some people do find the Daddy/Daughter thing awkward. Some people enjoy it. Others are indifferent. You don’t have to defend it publicly if it’s right for you. But I suspect there’s something more going on here. Because this isn’t just about a dynamic where he’s protective and caring. This is about him infantilising you, and it’s made you feel uncomfortable. It’s about making you feel that you aren’t an adult, to diminish you, to convince you that your experiences aren’t comparable to his, because you aren’t as old as him, or that he’s experienced far more than you, but you couldn’t possibly understand, you aren’t as mature as him, are you? Even though the evidence is to the contrary – his childish toddler-esque reactions to being slighted in any way are evidence of that. He’ll disparage some of the things you enjoy, claiming that they’re anodyne, or puerile. All of this will leave you feeling that you aren’t quite good enough, don’t measure up to him, so you have to keep trying to prove yourself to him.

It won’t be your fault if it goes ‘tits up’. Victims aren’t hard to love. Hard to understand sometimes, perhaps. But if someone makes you feel like you’re hard to love, you’re with the wrong person. Because when it’s right, love is easy. Sure, bits of the relationship will be a challenge – that’s normal – but overall, it shouldn’t feel like a daily battle. You shouldn’t cry constantly or feel like you’re walking on eggshells. You shouldn’t feel drained, and like you could sleep for a week every time you have a row.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that he’s redeemable. You can’t help him, he doesn’t want to be helped. You can’t fix him. He doesn’t think there’s anything to be fixed. He’s quite comfortable with being a monster because it’s something he chooses to be. He knows how malignant he is. Everything he does in public and on social media is for appearances because the Dark Knight of DV can’t possibly be a monster if he does all of this ‘good’, can he? The thing about heroes though – usually they don’t require praise and public affirmations, they don’t need to grandstand, glorify, to be grandiose about what they do and talk about it incessantly. They’re happy to do good deeds that go unnoticed. He does all of this to feed his ego, to prove to the world what a ‘good’ person he is, to screen his real purpose in life, which is to corrupt the souls of others, to match the corruption of his own.

 

Showers, Soap, and Suicide

Most people who suffer from suicidal depression will tell you that thoughts of suicide will pop into their head at any moment. The thoughts aren’t triggered by anything in particular – usually, they’re a whisper in the back of my mind. Today, however, as I was attending to my morning ablutions, a series of thoughts popped into my head, loud and clear. Very calmly, my mind decided that it would be a good time to think about the logistics of my possessions and my estate, should I cease to be. My sodding brain decided to make a list:

  • Have a clear out and declutter – not fair for my family to have to deal with all the shite I’ve collected over the years.
  • Package up certain belongings for certain members of the family.
  • Write a will, ensuring money from the sale of the house is split – some for my sister to go in trust for when she finishes uni, some for my folks, etc, and a Roxie fund so I can ensure she was properly looked after should any medical emergencies happen.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Leave instructions for selling the house.

and on, and on, and on, whilst I carry on washing my hair and soaping my armpits.

Thoughts of Roxie lead me down a whole new tangent. Would she be better off without me? At my mums, she’ll have company all day – something I beat myself up over constantly is the fact that I’m out at work all day, and I’m not with her. Even though she’s getting on a bit now and sleeps most of the day, I still beat myself up. I beat myself up over everything. Mistakes I made 20 years ago. Things I did that were cringeworthy, that no one but me can remember. I beat myself up for never being good enough. For not finishing the drawing I have on the board at the moment. For feeling like I’ve not achieved anything. For not washing my car. For not emptying the dishwasher. For not washing my hair for a week. For crushing a snail underfoot whilst walking Roxie in the morning. For being so stuck in my own head that I’m not there for others in the way I should be. There’s literally nothing I can’t beat myself up over.

I feel a sense of injustice to all of this. Because there’s a massive malignant evil prick shuffling around out there, who takes great pleasure in damaging people, gleefully pushing them to the brink of suicide and madness, all the while playing the victim himself. He doesn’t think twice about the pain he inflicts on others. Never does he beat himself up over things he’s done. There’s injustice in the way that the system has failed in this situation and in the situations he inflicted on others before me. The police. The local Women’s Aid, who initially welcomed him with open arms, and even worked with him for a while (but no longer, they eventually saw through him – notice he hasn’t been dirging on about the fact that he’s working with them anymore – that discard happened at about the same time that his interview with the BBC was dumped).

I know it seems like I’m rambling, but there is a point to this. The point being that the effects of emotional and mental abuse are hugely misunderstood and under diagnosed, and they stay with you for a long, long time, causing you to battle yourself daily for your own sanity – and it’s a battle that I feel that I am currently losing. The lack of support for this is astounding – I’m currently on a waiting list for counselling that I must fund myself, because the NHS said that they couldn’t help me – in the meantime, cockfeatures is throwing his Munchausens around to ensure a constant supply of both attention and tramadol, so he can post pictures of himself laying on hospital beds then be provided with the means to sink himself into frequent opiate hazes.

(Side note – annoying how I didn’t realise at the time that his insomnia, incessant sweating, low energy, muscle aches and pains, yawning, runny nose, abdominal cramping and constant diarrhoea were down to his opiate consumption. He always said he didn’t take many, but he seemed to get through packs of Tramadol pretty quickly and ended up resorting to buying from the black market to ensure supply).

Why the fuck do I feel like I’m the one with the pointless existence??!

 

Desperate times call for desperate measures

Barnett Survivors has recently bought itself a couple of ego boosts, in the form of a couple of thousand followers – one thousand each for his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Sad really, as he’s shot himself in the foot in both instances. Twitter takes a dim view of users who buy likes – it’s clear that they’re a bunch of fake accounts, they’ve all tweeted pretty much the same thing in the last month or so – whilst there are some companies who sell follows by real people, the likelihood that they’ll engage with a page that they’ve not consciously decided to follow is low, and it’s all about engagement with social media so it won’t increase his sphere of influence in any way.

There are a few handy apps for checking fake Twitter followers – this was the result:

 

Purchasing followers/likes for Facebook is actually like a digging a grave for the page he’s running. Yeah, it looks vaguely impressive, but there won’t be any reach, and engagement on the page will start to dwindle, which means he’ll struggle to target any paid ad campaigns because it will just get sent to all of his fake users instead of being sent to his actual ‘fan’ base.

At the top of the post it states 1500 likes, but at the bottom it says 500 – hmmm, I wonder why that could be?

Facebook uses post engagement to decide how interesting a page is to others and decides how many people it should display your page to. By purchasing likes, it utterly kills organic post reach and pretty much kills the page. Lots of latent users who don’t engage will just mean the page doesn’t turn up in anyone’s news feed, thus driving engagement down even further.

It also seriously affects credibility. Then again, he didn’t have much to start with, which is why he had to buy his credibility. It’s like saying to a bunch of people ‘I’m really not very likeable, will you be my friend if I pay you? Please pay attention to me! Here, have some chocolate…..’.

How can he go from 500 likes at 9 in the morning, to 1500 within the day?! Curiouser and curiouser….

Aside from how pathetic this all is, it’s also unethical that a ‘company’ such as Barnett Survivors, which ought to be built on trust, reputation and respect, would seek to be so dishonest about its reach and influence. You can’t buy genuine interest, you have to earn it. You can’t buy credibility, you have to gain it via post engagement by publishing thought provoking posts and articles, instead of bleating on about the same fucking thing over and over like a parrot on opioids.

It costs about 15 quid to buy the unwavering loyalty of a thousand fake accounts for either Twitter or Facebook. All for the sake of a little ego boost.  It’s just another bullshit way to seek validation by purchasing it, in the same way that he seeks validation by manipulating people around him so that he has power and control over them.

Someone on Twitter recently called him out this morning for his sudden jump in Twitter likes – his excuse was this:

So, he’s claiming that he’s managed to port all of his Facebook followers to Twitter overnight? Actually no, there’s no app, no program, that will do that. I’m sure he’ll come up with a perfectly plausible explanation. I’m sure his upcoming ‘international fundraiser’ is going to do magnificently – I for one can’t wait to see all of his fake likes putting their hands in their pockets to fill his fundraising coffers. I’m sure the campaign will be wildly successful, with all of the page engagement he’s going to get now he’s driven his page rankings into the ground….

 

Oh, I fixed his banner picture on Twitter. I hope he appreciates it.

 

In other news, it’s perfectly acceptable for James to call people a twat using his ‘official’ business account – I’m sure it is behaviour which will have all the victims flocking to him for advice – everyone loves to line up for an insult! I’ll just leave this little gallery here, without further comment…….

Lastly, I found this tweet quite interesting: 

Notice that he had to add a caveat about being disabled – which, to be frank, is an argument which has no weight to it at all –  but he added it because he needed to justify the reason as to why he moved less than a mile away from me, his alleged most recent abuser. Shocking that he stayed so close to someone who was meant to have treated him so badly, one would have thought he’d be keen to get as far away from me as possible? I, for one, would feel much happier if he moved somewhere further away. Like Uranus. I think he’d feel right at home there.

Oh dammit, I forgot (cue Columbo impression) – wonder how that interview worked out? I looked but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Shame.

Covfefe……