“Am I going crazy?”

No, but you might be in an abusive relationship. I wish I’d known that this sense of self-doubt was one of the surest signs of being psychologically abused; that the very act of questioning oneself over and over again in the face of clear evidence to the contrary is a good indicator that you’re being manipulated by a cunning and sadistic creature.

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Even after physically leaving the relationship, it took me months to break free from the mental, sexual and emotional abuse that continued. After trying so valiantly to assert myself, I found myself uneasy, afraid, frustrated and very VERY confused by my partner. In the end, after sifting through mountains of psychological bullshit, I was able to call him on it, to see him for the snake that he is.

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It’s hard for people to understand why one stays in an abusive relationship. Even harder to understand the true nature of the abuse when there are no visible scars. You still cower even though no physical punch is coming, you still run, cry, scream for help even though he doesn’t touch you. Because, in reality, he’s bypassed your skin, your muscles, your bones and organs and sunk his teeth straight into your psyche, your soul. And these are the things that are bruised, battered and broken when he’s done. You feel as though you’re losing your mind, you feel like a ghost of your former self, a desert island, a barren wasteland, a deep well, an endless night.

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If you recognize any of this, it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you and it’s not/never was your fault. You can still get out. It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow or even next week but you can. As long as you can hold on. Because he won’t kill you–he’ll wait for you to do it. I survived two suicide attempts before finally leaving.

My best advice is not to make an exit plan so much as to start building another life. You can do it in secret if you have to. If you find yourself jobless and without friends or familial support, like I was, start making connections that have nothing to do with your relationship. If you love to draw–draw, if you love to dance–dance. Beautify your living space–only for you, not for him. What you’re doing is psychological and emotional nesting–you are building a home for yourself inside.

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One of the things neglected when trying to exit an abusive relationship is creating an alternative. With all my heart, I believe you have to have someplace to go if you want to leave. This place isn’t just a friend’s house or a shelter, it’s a place you feel truly at home, comfortable and safe. So even if you have to do it in your mind, create that safe, luxurious, wonderful place for your refuge. Make it come alive in as much detail as possible. Populate it, if you like, with things and/or people who bring you comfort. When it is real to you, when you’re ready to walk through that door, you’ll do it.

peterpantricia16

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