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TedTalk by Dr Jennifer Harman on parental alienation.

An amazing TedTalk on how our societal expectations encourage and support parental alienation.

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He Wants To Clear His Name. 

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This is the story of a man who wants to clear his name.

A man who wants to prove to world he isn’t what his ex wife says he is.

You see, he lost him temper. A lot. Not with everyone. Mostly with the woman he claimed to love.

He shouted at her, he called her cruel names, he kept tabs on her, made sure she was ‘behaving’, he screamed in her face, threatened to get physical with her, told her she was ‘useless’, ‘stupid’, ‘a disgusting creature’, a ‘bitch’, a ‘nobber’, ‘a fucking useless waste of breath’.

He did this because, he said, she was ‘inadequate’, ‘difficult’, ‘stubborn’. He did it, he said, because ‘someone had to put her straight’, and because ‘she needed to know what was wrong with her’.

He justified his reasons, over and over again. And when she cried, when she broke, and she asked him to stop, he promised he would every time. Only he didn’t.

Eventually he didn’t even promise to stop. Eventually even the apologies stopped. It was, he said, all HER fault.

She took him to Relate Marriage Counselling, in a last ditch attempt to help him understand how much he was hurting her. The counsellor said, in the first ten minutes of the first session,

“What you have just described to me is a form of domestic abuse.”

Domestic Abuse. Verbal Abuse. Emotional Abuse.

He was abusing her.

Still, he didn’t stop. He still shouted, screamed and said horrible, horrible things to the woman he claimed he loved. He said the counsellor was “talking shit.”. He said that the woman that he claimed to love “wouldn’t know abuse if it jumped up and bit her on the arse.”. He said his sister went to Relate and said they were all “Crap.”, so nothing that was said counted for anything.

He abused her because she ‘deserved it’.

So, battered and bruised on the inside, the woman finally plucked up the courage, after years and years of being told she was too useless to do anything on her own, and she told him to leave.

He wants to clear his name. He cannot accept that he was abusive, he doesn’t want anyone to think he was, or could have been. He is enraged that she told others what he did to her. He says, “Anyone living with you would find out what I had to put up with.”. He says it is all her fault. She’s a “useless, stupid, selfish cow”, and it’s ALL her fault.

He wants to clear his name.

With his family, his friends, his children. So what does he do next?

Does he walk away with dignity? Does he say, “I’m sorry this didn’t work out. I’m sorry for my part to play in that.”. Does he respect that this is her decision? A decision that she, as an adult, can make, for whatever reasons she feels are valid, whether he agrees or not? Does he focus on the divorce NOT affecting their children too badly? Does he stop drinking excessively?

No.

He wants to clear his name.

So he wages war.

War against the woman he claimed he loved. The woman he claimed to have respected. He wages full on war.

He shouts, he gossips, spreads lies, shouts some more, he uses the children as weapons, he shouts “You’re a bad mother, I’m calling social services!” in front of their children. He keeps coming into the house where the woman and the children live, barging in saying “This is MY house.”, even though he can see the fear in his children’s eyes, the fear in his soon to be ex wife’s face.

He wants to clear his name.

He watches who she sees, who she talks to. He stalks her online activity. Even though they are separated she is his constantly on his mind. He gets drunk and behaves appallingly, frighteningly, threateningly. He destroys the marital bed because he’s convinced himself she is sleeping with other men in there. He rifles through her bedroom, through her personal and private belongings, looking for ‘evidence’ of her ‘seeing other men’, they are separated… and it is none of his business… but he doesn’t care. This is war.

He wants to clear his name.

He says, suddenly, she’s a bad mother. She was a good mother before, but now she has left him, she is a bad mother, selfish and thoughtless, neglecting HIS children. He encourages the children to play her up. To pry for him too. He rewards them for bad behaviour and for reporting things back to him. When she tries to discipline the children he runs to the kids’ rescue, and says that their mother is mad and crazy and, he will take care of them and protect them from ‘her’. He doesn’t support her, even when she is right. He wants them to live with him. They’re ‘his’ children and his ex is mental for leaving him. That’ll hurt her, he thinks, with no real regard for what the children need.

He wants to clear his name.

He fights over the money, using the children here too, by encouraging them to live with him so he’ll not have to ‘reward’ his ex with any of ‘his’ money. He fights and fights for more and more. He doesn’t pay any maintenance, he doesn’t want to have to give ‘her’ any money to help ‘her’ out. He says the kids probably won’t even see it, she’ll probably spend it ‘shagging around’. Even though this was never her nature for the previous 16 years.

He wants to clear his name.

He won’t pick the kids up, he doesn’t want to ‘babysit’ for her while she ‘goes out with men’. Later, he will pick the kids up, but only after shouting at her for 15 minutes. She finds a new home because she cannot live anymore with his constant intrusions, and she is fortunate enough, through this hell, to find a new loving and supportive partner. Now he can’t pick the kids up because he feels ‘uncomfortable’ at her house, he says she’s ‘shacked up’ with her new partner, so he keeps dropping the kids at the end of the long drive. She says the kids are too young to be left like that, and asks him to please drop them at the house. He says “no way”. So she puts her foot down this time and says that he needs to compromise with her, that he can’t keep behaving like this, she says, “When you’re ready to talk sensibly about the kids you can see them.”

He takes her to court.

He wants to clear his name.

The court says he should pick the kids up and drop them off properly. The courts don’t want to listen to the huge folder of ‘evidence’ he has brought along that ‘proves’ how terrible a person she is. They want him to move on and behave like a sensible parent, “Let it all go now, the past is gone.” the judge says. In court he says he has, he will, he sounds all very sensible and convincing. But he hasn’t. He can’t.

He wants to clear his name.

The story continues, in a never ending loop. Everything she does is, in his opinion, up for his scrutiny, to be judged, shouted about, gossiped about and condemned. On and on and on and she feels as though it will never end. She just wants him to go away. But,

He wants to clear his name.

He wants to prove to the world that his abuse was justified, that SHE is the problem, that HE is just fine.

But he’s not. If he was, he’d stop. But he can’t stop because he can’t live with the truth.

The truth is that HE ABUSED HER and in his constant and unrelenting attempt to clear his name, he proves and illustrates this time and time again.

He can never be free from what he has done. Not because she won’t move on and live her life. But because he won’t let her.

This is my story, and for the first time in a long time, I am owning it. I am that woman and I have lived and I am still living this hell.

I said at the beginning of our break up, and I still say the same,

I just wanted him to stop.

Do I hold much hope of him stopping? No, I don’t. If this last year is anything to go by, he isn’t stopping anytime soon – even though he a new girlfriend (I wish her the best of luck), even though there is nothing to fight for any more, even though the damage to the children needs repairing now, not perpetuating.

So i just keep breathing and living and being as happy as possible. I roll with the punches (for want of a better phrase).

I write here to, because it helps and, hopefully, it will help others going through similar too.

Love and light.

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.

Posted in posts by us

Abusive Behaviours and The Cycle of Abuse.

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Abuse isn’t always easy to recognise. Many victim of abuse are confused and have been conditioned to believe that the abuse is normal behaviour.

Some abuse is subtle (discounting or belittling) and some abuse is overt and quite obviously abuse (hitting, punching or locking you in a room). Abuse does not have to be physical to be recognised as abuse,  all form of abuse are damaging, frightening and confusing for the victim.

Here is a checklist of abusive behaviours.

This list is by no means exhaustive, as each relationship is different, but it gives an idea of the most common behaviours of abusers. If you think you’re in an abusive relationship please get help as soon as possible. There is a list of helpful organisations on the resources page.

Verbal Abuse

  • Ignore your feelings
  • Disrespect you
  • Ridicule or insult you then tell you its a joke, or that you have no sense of humour
  • Ridicule your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class
  • Withhold approval, appreciation or affection
  • Give you the silent treatment
  • Walk away without answering you
  • Criticise you, call you names, shout or swear at you
  • Humiliate you privately or in public
  • Roll his or her eyes when you talk
  • Give you a hard time about socialising with your friends or family
  • Make you socialise (and keep up appearances) even when you don’t feel up to it
  • Seem to make sure that what you really want is exactly what you won’t get
  • Tells you you are too sensitive
  • Is hurtful, especially when you are down or need support
  • Seem energised by fighting, while fighting exhausts you
  • Have unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason
  • Present a wonderful face to the world and is well liked by outsiders
  • Twist your words, somehow turning what you said against you
  • Try to control decisions, money, even the way you style your hair or wear your clothes
  • Complain about how badly you treat him
  • Threaten to leave or threaten to throw you out
  • Say things that make you feel good, but do things that make you feel bad
  • Leave you stranded
  • Threaten to hurt you or your family
  • Hit or push you, even “accidentally”
  • Seem to stir up trouble just when you seem to be getting closer to each other
  • Abuse something you love: a pet, a child, an object
  • Compliment you enough to keep you happy, yet criticise you enough to keep you insecure
  • Promise to never do something hurtful again
  • Harass you about imagined affairs
  • Manipulate you with lies and contradictions
  • Destroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances
  • Drive dangerously and not slow down when you ask him to
  • behave immaturely and selfishly, yet accuse you of these behaviours
  • Question your every move and motive, somehow questioning your competence
  • Interrupt you; hear but not really listen
  • Make you feel like you can’t win, whatever you do is never right
  • Use drugs and/or alcohol.
  • provoke you to rage, which is “proof” that you are to blame
  • Try to convince you he or she is “right,” while you are “wrong”
  • Frequently say things that are later denied or accuse you of misunderstanding
  • Treat you like a sex object, or as though sex should be provided on demand regardless of how you feel

Emotional Abuse

  • Frequently blames or criticises you
  • Calls you names
  • Ridicules your beliefs, religion, race or class
  • Blames you for “causing” the abuse
  • Ridicules/makes bad remarks about your gender
  • Criticises or threatens to hurt your family or friends
  • Isolates you from your family and friends
  • Abuses pets
  • Tries to keep you from doing something you wanted to do
  • Is angry if you pay too much attention to someone or something else (children, friends, school, etc.)
  • Withholds approval, appreciation or affection
  • Humiliates you
  • Becomes angry if meals or housework are not done to his liking
  • Makes contradictory demands
  • Does not include you in important decisions
  • Does not allow you to sleep
  • Repeatedly harasses/criticises you about things you did in the past
  • Takes away car keys, money or credit cards
  • Threatens to leave or tells you to leave.
  • Checks up on you (listens to your phone calls, reads your messages or emails, checks the mileage on the car, etc.)
  • Tells people you suffer from a mental illness
  • Threatens to commit suicide
  • Interferes with your work or school (provokes a fight in the morning, calls to harass you at work, etc.)
  • Minimises or denies being abusive
  • Abuses your children
  • Breaks dates and cancels plans without reason
  • Uses drugs or alcohol to excuse their behaviour
  • Uses phrases like “I’ll show you who is boss” or “I’ll put you in line”
  • Uses loud or intimidating tone of voice
  • Comes home late refuse to tell you why

Financial Abuse

  • Makes all the decisions about money
  • Takes care of all financial matters without your input
  • Criticises the way or amounts of money you spend
  • Places you on a budget that is unrealistic
  • Prohibits your access to bank accounts and credit cards
  • Refuses to put your name on joint assets
  • Controls your wages
  • Refuses you access to money
  • Refuses to let you work, or makes it difficult for you to work
  • Refuses to get a job
  • Refuses to pay bills
  • Causes you to lose your job

Sexual Abuse

  • Pressures you to have sex
  • Pressures you to perform sexual acts that make you uncomfortable or hurt you
  • Directs physical injury toward sexual areas of your body
  • Puts you at risk for unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Withholds sex or affection
  • Calls you sexual names (“whore”, “bitch”, etc.)
  • Tells anti-woman jokes or demeans women verbally/attacks your femininity
  • Accuses you of having or wanting sex with others
  • Forces you to have sex with others
  • Forces you to view pornography
  • Pressures you to dress in a certain way
  • Disregards your sexual needs and feelings about sex
  • Accuses you of being gay or frigid if you refused sex
  • Spreads rumours about your sexual behaviours
  • Forces you or refuses to let you use birth control
  • Makes unwanted public sexual advances
  • Makes remarks about your sexual abilities in private or in front of others
  • Rapes and sexually assaults you

Using Children

  • Makes you feel guilty about your children
  • Uses children to relay negative messages
  • Uses children to report on your activities
  • Uses access arrangements to harass you
  • Threatens to take custody of your children
  • Threatens to kidnap your children
  • Tells others you’re a bad mother
  • Threatens to report you to social services
  • Plays the children off against one another
  • Alienates you, or attempts to alienate you from your child

Physical Abuse

  • Pushes, grabs or shoves you
  • Slaps you
  • Spits at you
  • Punches you
  • Kicks you
  • Chokes you
  • Pinches you
  • Pulls your hair
  • Burns you
  • Bites you
  • Ties you up
  • Threatens you with a knife, gun or other weapon
  • Uses a knife, gun or other weapon
  • Prevents you from leaving an area/physically restrains you
  • Throws objects
  • Destroys property or your possessions
  • Drives recklessly to frighten you
  • Disregards your needs when you are ill, injured or pregnant
  • Abuses you while you are pregnant
  • Forces you to abort a pregnancy

Some of these examples are from the point of view of a woman being abused by a man, however, we do know that abuse happens in all types relationships. Abuse is unacceptable regardless of who the perpetrator or the victim is.

Abusive behaviours alone are not enough to help you to recognise domestic abuse. All abuse follows a common pattern, known as “The Cycle of Abuse”.

There are three distinct phases in the cycle of abuse which go round and around.

The Honeymoon Phase:

Things are calm, the abuser is kind, thoughtful, sweet and good to you. He says you’re special, you mean the world to him. He is often apologetic about previous abuse, he is ashamed, he doesn’t want to lose you. You’re the best thing that ever happened to him. He may shower you with gifts or surprises, take care of the jobs he wouldn’t normally do around the home, treats you like a princess. Praises you, supports you, loves you in the way that you have always wanted and needed to be loved. He is focussed only on you. He is gentle with you. He says he doesn’t deserve someone as wonderful and kind and forgiving as you. He says he will never hurt you again.

The Tension Phase:

Things start to irritate him. He snaps at you over little things. He becomes more introvert, less focussed on you and more focussed on what you’re doing wrong. This isn’t right, that isn’t right, but yesterday, you explain, it was fine!

“Well today it isn’t, today you’re wrong, today you’re too stupid to remember what happened yesterday, are you deliberately trying to wind me up?” The tension builds, and you can feel it. You dare not ask if he is ok, he will only tell you he is, but you know full well he isn’t. You backtrack, try to work out what happened between the honeymoon bliss and now, but you can’t, because YOU didn’t do anything, this is going on in his mind, this is of his creation. You don’t know this though, so you try to put it all right again, you tell him you love him, you make meals, suggest good times… he tells you to stop smothering him. he’s fine, at least he would be if you’d just shut up and leave him alone. The tension builds, higher and higher, there is nothing you can do to stop it, it is like an avalanche, you know its coming, you can see it rolling down the mountain, you can’t stop it and you can’t get out of the way.  The tension phase turns into:

The Explosive Phase:

The abuse escalates quickly and uncontrollably, he shouts, screams, swears, criticises, belittles, demeans you with no remorse. Your crying means nothing to him, you need to learn to be told, to be disciplined. He says he warned you, but you don’t listen, you NEVER listen. what is wrong with you? You’re mad, thats what it is. No wonder he is so stressed out with you, you’re mental. He tries to be reasonable with you but, no, you can’t be reasonable, you don’t know HOW to be reasonable. Its a wonder anyone likes you, you should be grateful that he sticks around for you, no one else would bother.

He explodes, the tension, his tension, is released, either by verbally, emotionally or sexually demeaning you or he hits you or, more likely, a combination of some or all. Each method leaves scars that do not fade. Each as bad as the next. Each as abusive as one another. It is a torrent of abuse raining down on you relentlessly, it pushes you down, theres no let up. If you try to fight, he just pushes harder, he will be done when he is done, not before. And he will be done when he feels you have received adequate punishment. All you can do is survive it, get through it as best you can.

His tension is released, he feels better, perhaps invigorated, perhaps regretful now. You are hurt, so very hurt, you feel broken… and he says he’s sorry, he says he didn’t mean to hurt you again, he says he doesn’t now why he does that… he says he will make it up yo you… and so we swing back up to the honeymoon period again, and the cycle begins over.

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***

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.

Posted in posts by us

How To Support A Victim Of Domestic Abuse – A Basic Guide For Friends And Family.

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Victims of abuse face a problem once they have finally gathered the courage to leave the relationship.

They have to face the world, open up about the abuse, tell others. This, in itself, is a difficult thing to to. Victims feel ashamed that they allowed themselves to be sucked into such a situation, they feel as though no one will believe them.

There are things you can do as the friends, family and essential support network of a victim of domestic abuse, and here are just a few basic pointers.

Firstly, believe them. The abuse DID happen. Victims don’t make this stuff up. They don’t concoct feelings of shame, uselessness, lack of confidence, nervousness or anxiety. They have been abused. Systematically. Over a long period of time. They’re likely confused themselves and need reassurance that you believe them, that they aren’t going mad. They have been abused. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. And they will doubt themselves, but…

Abuse is abuse. No matter what form it takes.

And abuse damages the very soul of the victim. Lots of support is needed to undo the psychological and emotional scars abuse leaves in it’s wake. You don’t just ‘get over it’. The abuse has left scars and confusion. It has attempted to change the victim to suit the perpetrators ideal of them. Victims often don’t know if their thoughts are their own, or if they are thoughts that have been left over from the brainwashing.

The abuse doesn’t stop at the end of a relationship. Abusers continue to abuse, in any form they can, after a victim has left an abuser. They don’t suddenly come to their senses and stop. Perpetrators feel mortally wounded by the victims rejection, or their perception of rejection in any case. Abusers are used to getting their own way. And the way they got it was by abusing. So they continue, especially when there is a divorce case, finances to split or children involved. Abusers use all of these thing to continue to try and control the victim. Sometimes using the law to assist them.

Make an effort to learn about domestic abuse.

The patterns are always the same. It is, in fact, the patterns that define abuse from more normal behaviours within relationships. Common behaviours at the end of an abusive relationship can include:

Abusers accusing perfectly good mothers of being neglectful. They tell everyone what a terrible person she is. They character assassinate the victim in order to absolve themselves of their own appalling behaviour. They are afraid that if their victim speaks out, people will know them for who they really are. So they jump in first. Telling all and sundry how awful it was for them. How they was no less than driven to that behaviour. How it was all her fault.

They often suddenly want custody of the children, even if they had little to do with their every day well being within the relationship. They involve the children. They try to alienate the children from the victim. They tell sob stories about how terrible she was to him. How he was driven to this abusive behaviour because the victim was so stupid, lazy, thoughtless, mad, *insert insult here*.

They may money grab, telling everyone how they worked so hard for all they have. How it is theirs. How the victim was a freeloader and should be grateful they’re getting anything at all.

They use the divorce as a victim bashing process, tell lies, exaggerate, concoct stories about the victim to make themselves look *hard done by*. They don’t see it as a necessary legal step to separate, they see it as the law supporting their view of the victim therefore justifying their abusive behaviour. They harass, stalk (in person or on the internet), bother, deliberately create difficulties and put obstacles in the way of the victim being able to move on without them.

They want revenge. Or if not revenge, they want absolution for their behaviour. They tell the world and her mother how terrible the victim is as a person. They tell anyone who will listen. They justify, discount and minimise their own behaviour and want to hear you agree with how unreasonable the victim is. No matter how half heartedly you might agree. You’ve agreed in their mind. That’s enough for them. Another step towards complete absolution. They will use anything and everything you say against the victim. There is no moral compass here, just their thirst for revenge and the desire to be justified. They will use your mother, your siblings, your best friends words against the victim, with no shame. When called out on it, they will outright deny, minimise, say it was all a misunderstanding and tell you the victim is hysterical, mental, bonkers. But the victim isn’t mad.

As the friends and family of an abuse victim and perpetrator, there is a game being played and you’re a pawn in it, whether you want to be or not. It’s all a game. Only one person knows the rules. It is the perpetrator alone that picks them and changes them, as and when it suits. They will say one thing to you and another to the victim and something entirely different to someone else. Abusers don’t *care*, those tears aren’t real. The over concern is false. An abuser saying he’s only trying to be *helpful* to the victim is another form of control and ultimately it will be used against her.

The key thing to remember here is that it is a game. The game of *lets make the victim look bad*, and the first rule is… They make the rules. There are no boundaries, no subject off topic, no privacy rights and absolutely no playing the perpetrator at his own game. The nicer you are as a person the easier it is for you to be manipulated by the abuser. Ideally the abuser would like you to question your allegiances to your friend/daughter/sibling. That would be the best outcome for them. So you too can see what a terrible person the victim is and join the abuser in justifying the abuse, or even just get you to stop talking to them, effectively destroying their support network. They’d like to see a family row. People cutting others off. Telling the victim she’s ‘overreacting’ again. Discord and the destroying of the victim’s support network is the ultimate aim. He wants to leave her stranded, alone, preferably broke and without her children and family.

Are we getting a picture here? There is only one aim. Destroy the victim. Provoke reactions. Exacerbate stress. Watch the victim struggle with depression or other mental health difficulties. That way they can say they were reasonable to abuse. Look what they had to put up with? Those poor darlings having to put up with a stark raving bonkers wife/partner. If only she’d been more perfect, less nagging, tidier. If only she hadn’t wanted to have her own mind and make her own decisions. No wonder they snapped, shouted, insulted, controlled, punched them. Right?

RIGHT??

No. Not right.

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So if you really want to help, stand up, be counted and don’t keep quiet. Tell the perpetrator where he can stick it, then go little or no contact, it is the only way, subtleties are completely lost on them. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into victim bashing conversations. Even if you’re not being negative, the abuser will use something you’ve said, no matter how well meaning, against the victim. Support and reassure the victim. And please, keep supporting them because, believe me, they have a long road to travel. Tell the perpetrator in no uncertain terms that they are abusive and that you will not tolerate it for one more second.

Stand up and say a very LOUD *NO!* to abuse.

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***

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.

Posted in posts by us

The Smear Campaign.

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One of the things that people don’t foresee when they eventually pluck up the courage to leave an abusive partner is the ensuing smear campaign.

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.

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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.