Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

letter to my ex

When I met you, you were warm and funny. You made me laugh; made me feel safe; talked about things I desperately wanted someone to talk to about. Stupid things and large, sweeping political things. You made sure I was ok. You helped me with things you knew I could do myself, but you wanted to help me out. I loved being around you. I felt safe and warm and loved.

I can’t talk about the times I felt uncomfortable during sex. I can’t write down what you said on a daily basis and how you made me feel about my own body. I can write down the times I hid in the bathroom with the door locked, frantically singing in the shower to drown out the sound of you yelling and hammering on the door to get in. Not knowing if ever opening the door was going to be a good idea. Never being able to use the bathroom with the door locked without having you demand to know why I was stopping you getting in.
I can write down how you would yell at me when I did the dishes, or put the cushions on the (clean) floor, in exactly the same way you did as obviously these things meant I didn’t really care about you at all. Those two actions meant I hated you. And leaving my handbag at the front door. That was something that only the selfish person that I am could possibly think wouldn’t make your world collapse. Or buying you a low fat birthday cake that had 10 extra calories than I said to you, which meant I was trying to poison you.
You said I didn’t remember the good times. In the last two years, the good times have been weekends where we haven’t gone out of the house but haven’t argued. I don’t count them because they don’t count in a healthy relationship. You yelled at me and stormed off on both our holidays and told me I was too fat and ugly for anything to happen between us while we were away. That’s what I remember from the holidays. And when I look at the photos I see me putting on a brave face. And trying to blot out the things I didn’t want to have happened.

I missed weddings, birthdays, nights out with friends and days out with family that I organised and then couldn’t show up for because we’d argued until 3 in the morning and I was too worn out to face people. What would I say when I saw them? But it didn’t matter because you wouldn’t let me leave the house. Or you would eventually stop shouting and keeping me in a room, and let me have my phone back but by then I would be too tired to cope with more arguments we would inevitably have if I went out and then came home. I often couldn’t make it in to work and when I did I was tired, ratty, unable to make good decisions and unable to talk to the people around me. I lost myself in the debris of us.
I made it to a hen night but only after you’d shouted for two hours, thrown an ironing board at me, trapped me in a room for an hour to make sure I knew how sorry you were and then said you’d actually thought about trying not to shout at me that day as you didn’t want to upset me before I went out. I was so grateful for that little chink of light in you that I glossed over what had actually happened. I made it out to the hen night at a comedy club. And one of the comedians made a joke about domestic violence and everybody laughed. And I threw up in the toilets stone cold sober.

Couples counselling was on your terms. Two counsellors together: one male, one female; both on my side as far as you were concerned. Although mostly you talked about me and not yourself, which meant the focus of the sessions was on me. And I didn’t want to antagonise you by talking about you and all the things on the list you said we shouldn’t talk about in counselling as they were too private.

I can’t get down on paper the feeling of never knowing what you were going to get angry about, how long the arguments went on for, how many nights I cried because I was so tired and just wanted to sleep. I can’t fully explain how it felt to be constantly woken up at night and how desperately you tried to keep me talking in the morning before work, and then blame my lateness on making time for the things I wanted and needed to do in the morning, which weren’t talking about our relationship or your business for an hour and a half.

The day you held me down on the bed and told me to shut the fuck up was the last straw. I knew then I was never going to be safe with you and that I had never actually been safe with you, no matter what you said or what either of us wanted to believe. I went away with you for the weekend after that and we had a surreal time. As if none of these things had ever happened and we were just what we should have been: two people in love on a weekend break in a lovely city. But we weren’t underneath and I couldn’t ignore how scared and sick I felt when we were beside each other.

You want us to try again, because this time it’s going to be different. You see it this time. You didn’t realise before how much I meant to you and what was wrong with us. But now you do. I can’t believe you. I believed you the last time. And the time before. And the time before that. Our main big new start began with you screaming at me when we were loading up the moving van and then waving an iron about outside our new house, with me trapped at the back of the van. Because I’d asked you not to yell at me in the street in front of our new neighbours and was ‘closing you down’. I asked you not to ruin our fresh start. Four weeks later I was on a train to my parents after you pushed me to the ground after 4 hours of yelling and following me round the house. I used up my hope for our fresh starts. I love you with all my heart and it breaks me up to leave you and see how upset you are. But I can’t ever come back. I can’t ever take the chance again.


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6 thoughts on “letter to my ex

  • Kirsty says:

    Incredibly brave and powerful post. Best wishes for your future.

  • Redskies says:

    Thank you for writing this – it is painful and beautiful. I believe you.

  • Thank you for posting this and I hope you are safe and able to breathe deeply again. I also, refering to your last sentence, hope your ex has the courage to seek treatment so that he can truly understand the damage he has done and the depth of your pure love.

  • Hecuba says:

    Likewise thank you for writing about your experiences of a cold, calculating cunning vindictive male.

    Not once has he taken responsibility for his behaviour and he never will. I know it takes great courage to leave a man who claims he loves you and doubtless other relatives and friends have said to you ‘give him another chance he really loves you.’ Don’t believe these lies – this male will never change.

    I know it is hard very hard to leave a man you love but you have put your own safety and right to a life without being constantly subjected to male control.

    Don’t believe male excuses that this male needs help – he doesn’t – he is wholly responsible for his vile, sadistic behaviour and violence inflicted on you.

    Claiming such men are in need of help only serves to collude with the male and reinforces his belief you are responsible for causing him to subject you to male violence. You are not – no one forced this male to subject you to violence – he decided and he must be held accountable.

    You are probably feeling awful but your decision was a very brave and courageous one and I sincerely hope you have friends and relatives who believe you and will give you the support you need to deal with the aftermath of having been subjected to systemic male violence.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, it is very brave of you. You made me think what if I could write a letter to my ex what would I say? Maybe I would ask him the question that I was asked most often; ‘why did you stay with me? Why if I really was all those horrible things that you said I was, why did you still insist that you loved me? If you distrusted me as much as you insisted when you shouted at me making me feel small, unwanted and so desperately confused why did you always want a second, third, forth chance? When you threatened me and watched me cry whilst telling me how let down and hurt you were did you love me then? Or was it a feeling you could put aside when you punished me or is the real truth that you only ever thought about yourself?’
    I loved my ex for the good times but the good times for me and so many other women drown in the bad, the bad that we are told is our fault, yet these men , these abusers cling to us like leaches draining everything good, turning our worlds upside down and our minds to total fear, shock and confusion (what happened to that man I loved? Will he ever come back?) and we stay because of that fear, shock, hope and confusion. We don’t ask our abusers why they do what they do because they only blame us, making us responsible for every feeling they have whilst taking no responsibility for themselves.

    So in a letter I’d send to everyone is ‘why do we make excuses for abusers; why do we give them the option to stay; why do we teach our daughters that they can/should ‘make men happy?’

    Dear writer of ‘A letter to my ex’ you deserve to be happy,stay strong x

  • s says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. I hadn’t read my post since I wrote it and it’s hard to read again, but your comments mean so much. I feel so relieved to have made a step away from it and each day I’ve been away now means I don’t have second thoughts about giving it another try even when I still miss the ‘might have beens’. I hope someone else in the situation can read it and see that it happens to other people, and that however long it takes, and how ever many false starts you have, you can get away. And know people understand how hard it is to do and will support you if you let them. You’re not as alone as you feel. Thank you lovely people.