"But at least they don't hit you"
As a survivor of abuse, you heard this. You heard and felt this from people around you. At the beginning it felt that I was screaming and no one was hearing me say. This is coercive control.
I remember you sobbing on the phone about how difficult everything felt. How you ‘didn’t know,’ about going into refuge and if it was the right thing to do. I couldn’t give you the answer because I felt that I couldn’t make that decision for you. You had 24 hours to make a decision. A decision that not only uprooted you, but you and young family also.
We talked every night that week leading up to you moving and I remember you apologising for talking to me. I reassured you I was there to listen. The mixture of emotions was boiling over in our conversations. You wanted me to give you all the answers. But I couldn’t.
Then I visited you in the town you were in refuge in and you seemed so sad. There was not enough reassurance I could give to take your anguish away. You felt even more isolated than you did before. You don’t smoke or drink like the others at refuge did. You felt like you didn’t belong. You then started doubting that you should be there. You missed home. I kept talking you through the pattern of behaviour that you were a victim of. How it is coercive. You told me it wasn’t all bad. There was love and good times. I asked you what you thought they were. You couldn’t describe them, you just said they’d apologise and tell you they couldn’t live without you and shower you with compliments.
So much has happened in the last year with pandemic and the anxieties it has thrust upon us all. You have faced more adversities in one year that most would experience in 10. At times it has been extremely traumatic for you and so much sobbing has been poured out of your young face. You are young and care experienced with a family that you have to keep going for. Because of your life experiences you seem accepting of your fate at times and feel that life is full of adversities. I will continue to tell you that you can have a happy life, with healthy loving relationships and life can be full of sparks of joy.
Today I am the one who is having that feeling of welling around my eyes. I received a call from you. A very upbeat and empowered one, a very different call from the ones I received a year ago. The perpetrator attempted to start the contact again. But you said NO. It wasn’t happening. You recognised it and reeled off all the reasons why to me. You told me it was because of what I had said. Because of me. Because I kept telling you about the pattern of behaviour.