Victims naively think that once the abuser has left then they can begin to rebuild their lives, their confidence, their relationships with their children in a calmer, more peaceful place. But they are often wrong. I remember saying to a mutual friend, “I just want it to stop.”, and believing that once I had been strong enough to tell him that it is over, it would.
But it doesn’t. It didn’t.
The sad fact is that, for a time, it gets worse. The abuser has nothing to lose now, so they go for for it. One of the biggest hallmarks of an abusive person is their inability, or refusal, to truly acknowledge their own fault in the demise of the relationship and their unending, constant criticism of the victim.
They, in fact, often play the victim role.
They constantly slate, slag off, talk about, criticise, stalk, harass and badger the victim, poking and provoking them to react so they can say, “See? He/she is the mad one!”
The smear campaign is designed to make you look bad and make the abuser look justified in their abuse. The victim will be made out to be unreasonable, stupid, a bad parent, promiscuous, lazy, mad and anything else that the abuser can think of to denigrate the victim.
They will tell their family, they will tell your family, your mutual friends, their friends, your friends. They will tell your children, your step children, the dog, and the next door neighbour’s sister’s auntie’s budgies…
Anyone who will listen.
They will exaggerate your mistakes and minimise or even ignore their own. They will tell everyone how awful life has been for THEM all this time and how, even though they are hurt, they are relieved…
Despite still stalking you, being obsessed and causing problems where there need be none in every possible circumstance.
The smear campaign is supposed to make them look like the better person. They know they have abused you, they know that they are at fault, but their fragile ego cannot accept it, and they absolutely cannot be exposed to others as abusive…
Exposure of their abuse to others shatters their persona and that, in turn, shatters their own false self belief.
Behind the mask of an abuser hides a fragile personality with no direction, no meaning, no solid foundation. That’s why they need to abuse others, to feel superior, to feel strong, to feel ‘right’.
People who don’t have fragile egos or personality disorders don’t abuse others.
They understand good feelings come from within, not outside of the self. Normal, healthy personalities don’t need to abuse or denigrate another to feel good about themselves, in fact they will feel good about themselves by helping and supporting others.
The smear campaign is an abusers last ditch attempt, now you have flagged them up on it and left them, to isolate and hurt you.
So, please ensure you protect yourself at the end of an abusive relationship.
On the one hand because it is the most dangerous time for a victim of abuse, it is in the immediate aftermath of the ending of a relationship that abuse often escalates and occasionally, tragically can lead to serious violence with terrible consequences.
Get help and support, call one of the numbers on our resources page and they will advise and direct you to your local DVA support group.
Be prepared for the onslaught. You will lose ‘friends’, but remember, if they were true friends, wouldn’t blindly believe such stories about you. Let them go. They aren’t your friends. Keep your support network with your real friends and family strong, let them support you, you do not have to do this alone.
As hard as it is, don’t bother trying to defend yourself, there’s no point. Those who don’t believe it don’t need to hear your defence. They know it isn’t true, they know you are being bullied. Those who believe every poisonous word the abuser spouts will hear your defence as simply too much protesting.
You don’t need anyone in your life that doubts who you are.
If people have taken the time to know you, they would know you aren’t a bad person, simply someone trying to recover from abuse.
You will make mistakes, everyone does, it is impossible not to under such pressure. Your mistakes will be blown up out of all proportion by the abuser to draw attention away from their own unacceptable behaviour. Try to ignore it. Conversations face to face, by phone, text or email with an abusive person, as we know only too well, only goes round and around in circles. They don’t care about truth, they care about only themselves.
Go no contact as much as possible, go and live your life however it makes you happy to do so.
Rebuild from the inside out and take good care of yourself, you deserve it.
Yes, rebuilding a good life involves risk and if something goes wrong and you’re slammed for it from here to Timbuktu, to everyone they/you know, don’t worry about it. Let those who think badly, think badly. You will find your real friends, that’s for sure.
Above all remember:
They are the broken one.
They tried to break you and they failed. They now cannot accept that you will no longer be controlled by them. They cannot feed from you anymore.
So let their version of the ‘Hunger Games’ begin. Lay low, stay away from them, hold onto your support network, live, be free and happy.
It doesn’t last forever. The abuser will move on to someone else when it suits them and people will see the truth soon enough.
Abuse happens in all kinds of relationships, though abusers are often men and victims are often women, we know very well that this is not always the case.
We are looking for your stories of abuse to feature. Many small voices make one LOUD voice.
Domestic abuse damages in whatever form and here at Many Small Voices we hope to gather the stories of those who have survived abuse into one resource to help and support those who are still victims. We also hope to support survivors through recovery once the abuse has stopped because the scars are still there and will remain forever. Support after abuse is just as important.
We are not experts, just people who are passionate that domestic abuse, in whatever form it takes, must be stopped.
If you think you or someone you know needs help please take a look in our links page to find a list of organisations that strive to help support victims of abuse.