Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse. The emotional/psychological abuse is there too. It is in my experience, more harmful than the physical.
I remember sitting on the couch, probably less than a week after I had moved in with him, and he pulled out some pictures of his ex-girlfriend. He was showing them to a friend of his, telling him how gorgeous she was. Hello, I was right there. Then, he turned to me and said, you could be that gorgeous too if you lost weight. Those types of comments were regular in our house, all through our relationship. Whether I needed to lose weight or not, I was constantly told that if I would just lose xx pounds, or just work out, I would be gorgeous.
When something went wrong, whether it was because I cooked something wrong, didn’t do the laundry just right, the bathroom wasn’t clean enough, the couch cushions were wrong, whatever wasn’t just the way he felt it should be, it was because I was stupid, or a b**ch. Those things were drilled into me. I wasn’t smart enough because I didn’t have more of an education than high school. I wasn’t pretty enough because I needed to lose a few pounds. It was never good enough, clean enough, pretty enough, whatever. And those things were all my fault.
It wasn’t always what he said either. Sometimes, just HOW he said it would make me draw up inside myself. That was just my over-sensitivity according to him though. I was just to sensitive and to much of a baby. If I would just grow up and be a real woman then I wouldn’t be so sensitive. The constant emotional battery was something that I grew to think showed how much he loved me. It was his way of trying to make me a better person. To help me grow up. I was only 18 when we got together, so this was his way of helping me. At least, that’s what he said.
It never mattered if other people were around, he would be cruel anyway. It is so humiliating to be put down in front of your *friends*. That is part of the control though. Abusers know that in order to maintain their control, they have to alienate you from your friends and family. The best way to do that is to let their true colors show. Then, when your friends and family say to you that they are concerned, you will distance yourself from them, because they just don’t understand your love. No one could understand how much he loved me. How much it hurt him to act that way, and how much he didn’t want to hurt me. So I would cut a friend out of my life, or not talk to my family as much. The family part was easier for him to cut out at first, because we were in another state. I guess I should say that I cut the friends and family out, because after all, it was my choice, he never demanded I stop having friends. He was just kind enough to point out that they didn’t understand our life, and if I wanted to be around people who said bad things about him, well, they didn’t know what he had been through.
Intimidation was a big thing too. After that first time, I knew just what would happen if he got mad enough, and he used that to his advantage. He would block the doorway so I couldn’t get by, or he would stand in a certain way, and it would intimidate me. I could feel when he was getting mad enough to hit, and so I would back down, at least in the beginning. No one wants to be hit or kicked, especially when you can still remember the stings of last time, so I tried to keep it from happening. When he would get mad, I would immediately apologize. I’m sorry for not doing that, or for doing it wrong, or whatever. Anything to keep him from going over that edge, and in my mind, that was being good.
After all, it was my job to fix him, to make him happy, and if I could just make him happy enough, then he would stop being mean, right?