9 January 2024

Jack’s Story

Content warning/note: This blog post includes mention of triggering themes such as emotional abuse and bullying.

I was in a gay relationship, with an emotionally abusive, manipulative man.

He attracted me instantly. He was extremely charming and attentive. I fell deeply in love. We made commitments, promises and pledges to each other, which included honesty, truthfulness, and respect. We committed to each other, we were seen as partners, living the dream.

After a few months there were a few red flags and disagreements. There were times when he belittled my intelligence or became very angry with me. When we were out together, he became overly attention seeking with others. I also noticed major inconsistencies in some of his retelling of his life events. When I objected to any of these behaviours, I was accused of ‘being sensitive’.

I made excuses for his behaviour, and I learned to avoid conflict. I did not recognise the extent of his abuse, although my friends saw it, and warned me. I brushed this off.

In January this year I discovered he had been deceiving me for some time.

The extent of it was crushing, a cruel betrayal.

Somehow, I managed to summon up the courage to end our relationship.

While he packed his belongings, I sobbed, ‘Now I have nothing’.

It struck me then, that these were the words of a victim of abuse.

I was totally heartbroken.

After our breakup the abuse continued by message and email, with blatant lies, denials and gaslighting.

He flaunted his latest ‘new interests’ in front of me, knowing the pain this would cause me.

I received ‘Abuse by Proxy’. I was taunted and threatened by some of his friends, at events and online, who reported back to him.

I was goaded to get a reaction. I was being pushed to breaking point. I was afraid. I forced myself to go ‘No Contact’. I could not bear the cruelty a moment longer.

I experienced overwhelming grief, lack of self-worth, dangerously dark depression, anger and rage.

My mental and physical health suffered in a variety of ways. My life was a mess. I realised I had been treading on eggshells throughout the relationship. Trying not to anger him and keeping the peace. I also discovered further deceit and betrayals. My abuser was extremely charming to others, there were those that doubted me.

I did not know where to turn for help.

I have a good GP who listened to me and empathised. He validated my feelings, and importantly he believed me. Although I received referrals to counsellors and professionals, personal reasons made this inappropriate. I knew I needed to make sense of my circumstances and move on.

I had no thoughts of thriving at that time, this was survival.

My friends saw my struggles. They listened, guided me gently, showed me I was cared for and valued. I cried and talked. I think of it now as ‘puking up the poison’.

I was ruminating continually, the situation going over and over in my mind. “How could he do this to me?” on a constant loop. None of it made sense, my thoughts tortured me. I made a huge effort to stop thinking of him, and of allowing him such great importance in my head and my life. When I caught myself doing this, I would say to myself ‘That’s enough of him. Out with the trash!’, and mentally pictured him binned! It helped.

I distracted myself with positive thoughts. My mantra became “I accept and deserve good people, good things and love in my life’. I would picture happy places, good times. My life looked extremely bleak, but I did have good times to reflect upon.

Once at work, I left my troubles at the gate, parking them for 8 hours, focussing on my job.

I researched and studied behaviours, emotional intelligence, and forms of abuse to better understand my own behaviour and the behaviour of others. I found answers. Excellent resources came my way.

I was never going to get closure from my ex- partner, but with the information I now had, his behaviour made some sense. There were patterns. I was not alone in my suffering. Others worldwide had suffered similarly. I was one of many, and I was not crazy.

I forced myself to exercise and eat healthily. I was single and alone, I knew I needed company. Distractions were necessary. Going to events was extremely hard as he and I shared friends and belonged to the same social circles. It took every ounce of my courage, but I was determined to be there and claim my space. I made great efforts to be well groomed and well- dressed on these occasions, which boosted my self- confidence. I stood my ground.

I took an overseas holiday, combined with a family visit. I held a party in my childhood hometown, inviting friends and relatives. It was here that I found, and realised I am loved unconditionally by many. My ex-partner had never once told me he loved me, nor expressed affection for me. He seemed either incapable or unwilling to do so, despite knowing how important this was to me and how insecure this made me.

I returned from my trip with a new resolve. To turn my bad experiences into a positive for others.

I am by profession an educator, writer, and presenter. I have skills and a voice. I decided it was time to pay back the kindness of my friends and community, by putting myself forward as a representative and spokesperson. This would also be a way of showing my strength.

I found a new purpose.

I am now raising money for LGBTIQ+ charities, volunteering my time and skills to help others. I speak out to make a difference. I am delighted to be serving the community.

My healing journey is ongoing, I still face challenges, but I know I will make it.

I am forever changed. I found my self -worth, my identity, my voice.

Not only did I regain my strength, I also found my power.

I have managed to put back the pieces of my life, bigger and better.

I wish you well in your own healing journey.

Stay strong.


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