The Baggage & Motherhood Guest Writer’s Series gives a space for moms around the world to share their story of what life has thrown their way and how it has impacted them in their role as a Mom. This post by Jade Wilson looks at her experience with emotional abuse by an ex-boyfriend and his family, and how it has affected her in her current relationship and in her role as a mom.
All of the posts in this series touch on the real life struggles of bringing your “stuff” with you to your most important job: Motherhood.
Emotional Abuse by my Ex-Boyfriend
At the age of 14 I was at secondary school when I got approached by another boy from my year.
He walked up before asking me, “will you be my girlfriend?”
I said yes, and we both walked across the courtyard to our next lessons as though nothing had happened. Over the following weeks, we were constantly texting, and meeting up on weekends and after school.
After a month or so, I noticed that my naïve teenage mind was telling me I loved him!
I loved him, and no one else.
I could never love anyone else like I love him.
In my head I was already planning our wedding and picking names for our children — if you’re cringing that’s fine, so am I now too.
A few weeks after he brought me to his house and I met his dad, stepmum, and his 6 siblings.
They accepted me almost instantly and called me family. This is when things slowly started to change.
How the emotional abuse began…
One day my boyfriend pulled me to one side and told me that I shouldn’t wear the top I was wearing again.
When I asked why, he explained that his dad had noticed that he could see my chest and that he didn’t like it.
The top I had on wasn’t revealing. In fact you really had to look to see anything, but I agreed, trying my best to please them and didn’t wear the top again.
In fact, I went straight home that night and threw that shirt away.
A few months later, I turned up to his house wearing makeup, which I had never really done because the rules on makeup were very strict at our school. But that day I wore it.
I walked in and his dad asked me who I was going to see, confusing me because I literally had just walked in the door and my visit had been planned for well over a week.
He then continued to say, accusingly, “Well you wouldn’t be wearing makeup, if you weren’t trying to impress someone.”
His whole family was looking at me and I didn’t know what to do. Everyone laughed at me. I felt so small and embarrassed.
I didn’t wear makeup again.
Over the following two years, the emotional abuse continued.
I was bombarded with comments:
“You’re so useless.”
“No one will ever love you like I do.”
“If you ever leave me, I would kill myself.”
“You’re so stupid.”
“You look terrible.”
“If you love me, you will do what I say.”
And I believed it all.
Over the years he slowly chipped away at me to the point I felt so low, that I felt no one would love me and that I was stupid and useless.
During this time, I was a witness to a lot of physical abuse happening within his family home.
I was petrified of his family. If they could do that to their own children, what would stop them from doing it to me?
A few months after my 16th birthday, I was excited about my future and was telling my boyfriend about my plans.
I was telling him about how I was going to go to university and move into student accommodation — I was so excited!
He told me that if I moved in there he was moving in with me as well. I explained that that wasn’t how it worked. But he didn’t care. He said I wasn’t going if he wasn’t going with me.
Finally, I realised that my dreams weren’t going to come true if I was with him.
I was caught in a battle with myself — I couldn’t leave him and I loved him. And who else would love me anyway? Would he even let me leave?
So I accepted that my life was going to be spent at home having 10 children like his parents did, never leaving the house.
After so long I became depressed.
I didn’t want to go out or eat.
I spent all my spare time, when I wasn’t with my boyfriend or at school, sleeping or crying.
Ending the Emotional Abuse
In the end I opened up to my mum about how depressed I was feeling, and why.
With her help I got the confidence to leave him and the toxic situation I was in.
It was hard.
I went through a few weeks of stalking and that ended when I had a friend confront him and tell him to leave me alone.
I met my current partner the following year, and two years into our relationship I fell pregnant with our eldest son.
When I was pregnant there were so many things I was worried about.
I was still struggling with the physical and emotional abuse I had seen, and the emotional abuse I had experienced throughout that relationship.
This caused me to worry that I was going to put those things on my son.
The past four years I have spent petrified that I wasn’t good enough to be his mum. Petrified that at any moment someone was going to knock my door and take my boy away from me. I am so worried that the warped opinion I have about myself was going to be passed on to him and he is going to feel the same way about himself.
In my journey to heal, I have spent many years in and out of therapy trying to process everything.
I am learning to identify what went wrong in the past to make sure I don’t enable it to happen again in the future. And I’m learning how to deal with a lot of guilt that I had (and still have) about the abuse I witnessed.
It took a while, but I am learning that I am a good person and I am worthy of love and good things.
Therapy has been so helpful and I can not recommend seeking therapy enough! I was so worried when I first started that I was going to be judged and I was going to be seen as an unfit mum.
I was SO wrong! There is nothing wrong with seeking help of any form!
Therapy has been a brilliant outlet for me and I can truly be honest about what I’m going through.
Therapy has definitely helped me realise that I needed to forgive my ex-boyfriend and myself for what had happened in our relationship. It’s too tiring to hate someone for the rest of your life.
I WANT TO SAY A BIG THANK YOU TO Jade. Thank you FOR WRITING so honestly about the emotional abuse you experienced. And thank you for sharing how it has impacted you in your current relationship and your role as mom.
Unfortunately, emotional abuse is quite common. And because of the nature of it, it can be hard to tell if it’s happening to you.
See the two graphics below to identify if your relationship has the components of a healthy and equal partnership.
If your relationship has more in common with the Power and Control wheel, please reach out for help. You can always message me for guidance.
SEE THE REST OF THE POSTS IN THE BAGGAGE & MOTHERHOOD SERIES HERE!