I have been on my own now for 6 years. In 2005 I was fighting for me life to keep things together long enough for my divorce to go through. If I thought the abuse was bad when I was married, it escalated dramatically once we were separated. Many websites will tell you, that the day you decided to leave the relationship is the most dangerous time to the victim and her family and this is when deaths increase.
I knew that my abuser would stop at nothing and he didn't. He did every single thing that he possibly could to continue the abuse if not physically then he would find other ways. He still lived in the matrimonial home that I had a 50% share of but it was me and my daughter who had no where to live. I was 55 , two of my daughters had left home but I still had one daughter who was in matric. We always want to know what support the family have and we had no one. I didn't have relatives here in South Africa and my children where hardly any support to me when they were traumatised themselves.
My divorce went through in 2006 but every single day was a battle to counteract his attempts to discredit me, manipulate me at every turn I needed to be wide awake and on the ball 24/7 to fight back. I didn't have time to really consider me health. I lived in fear. I looked over my shoulder every second of the day, I had anxiety 24/7. I can't recall one minute that I didn't feel I was fighting for me life. The night mares were constant and I think if I had to describe the worst of everything was that he was in my head like torture 24 hours of every day. I remember trying to sleep and before I had a chance to wake up he filled my brain with absolute terror.
I had no time to think about anything else other than getting through the divorce, and getting my daughter through her matric year which was a miracle. My abuser was ordered by the courts to provide accommodation, so small that my youngest daughter and I couldn't live together, she had to stay with my married daughter and she and my precious son in law made sure she got to school and they helped her through her matric year.
I started to write my book during 2006 because I really wanted everyone to understand why women chose an abusive relationship and why they stay.... mostly I wanted to understand my own choices.
Everyone always wants to know.... why didn't you leave . But until everyone understands leaving an abusive relationship goes way beyond just leaving. It is at this point that there is very little if any help at all.
Once my own divorce had gone through and all the details of making a new home, writing a book, starting an organisation ABUSE IS NO EXCUSE I hadn't realised yet at that point that my own trauma had not been treated. I thought it would just be a case of time heals all ! Most friends expected me to be happy it was all over and so did my children but what I didn't realise was that finally Complex Post Traumatic Stress had set in, good and proper, and no one close to me could understand what hell I was going through.
There are many websites that will tell you what the symptoms are, but because of this organisation and my original intention to help other victims I am going to share my own story.
2010 I set off for Cape Town. I really felt that I needed to get away from everyone who was in any way associated with my ex husband. For a few months things went well. I am an artist so I was able to spend time painting and marketing my work in local shops and galleries. Things seemed to be going well except that finally my body was able to surrender. Survival is just that, and we all do many things on a daily basis just to get through another day, another stress, another problem or disappointment. But for me I was finally in a place that I didn't have to fight to survive, but to live. It wasn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be.
I walked on the beach and cried so hard sometimes that I thought my heart would break. I painted, but my paintings had no love in them. When I tried to sleep I had night mares that woke me up every single night. I would wake up crying. The night mares weren't always repeats of the abuse, sometimes they were just dreams of him telling me how happy he was with his new girlfriend. The nightmare for me, was that I couldn't sleep with out him in my dreams. I started staying up later and later trying to exhaust myself enough to sleep.... It didn't work. I would just wake up in the early hours of he morning usually between 2am and 4am and then I couldn't go back to sleep so I felt constantly exhausted.
During the day I noticed that I started to feel very anxious in shopping centers so I avoided them. I also suffered with extreme anxiety if I was invited to a dinner party for example. I would force myself to go, but the anxiety and desperate need to leave was huge and sometimes I did. I started cutting people out of my life, refusing invitations to socialise and started becoming more and more reclusive.
PTS. She said that she was surprised that I was still on one piece! but I wasn't. She also diagnosed that I had ANDROPHOBIA which is a fear of men. I had never even heard of that phobia before.
Where I am I trying to lead with all this. LEAVING AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP GOES WAY BEYOND JUST LEAVING.
I have recently been treated FINALLY by someone who really does know what she is talking about. I was in hospital for a week, and I did need to go on medication something I had been avoiding for 6 years, not wanting to empower my ex or anyone else with..."you see she is nuts"! We have to understand PTS if we want more survivors and a successful end to this abuse that so many women fall victim to.
We want to help people understand the power of these relationships and why it is so hard to leave.
We want to educate everyone, victims and their families.
We want to offer legal advice, so many women have no idea what they are entitled to.
We want to offer help emotionally with professionals who understand PTS.
Most women who leave an abusive relationship spend 99% of their time trying to hold things together just to function and prove to everyone that she was not the problem and didn't deserve the way she was treated, but she is not being treated herself.
6 years later, I am finally getting the right help. I still have nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety attacks, avoid certain people and places and fake most of the time that I am okay. But please if you need help.... don't hesitate to contact us we will most certainly refer you to the right people.