All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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How forgotten victims of emotional abuse are building new support networks online

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Home comfort. (Shutterstock)

Written by Ria Poole, Research Associate, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

Two women are murdered every week in the UK as a result of domestic violence. The issue affects one in four women and one in six men at some point in their lives. Domestic violence also has more repeat victims than any other crime and costs the public £23 billion every year. And of those victims who have received hospital treatment for domestic violence injuries, 400 will go on to commit suicide within the year.

Such statistics are shocking, but what they don’t tell us is how many additional victims suffer from emotional abuse, which is another form of domestic violence. Emotional abuse is not regarded as a criminal offence in adult relationships but it is just as destructive to victims’ mental health, as a review in The Lancet revealed. It affects their self-esteem, emotional well-being, relationships with others and personal freedom.

Emotional abuse features across the entire spectrum of domestic violence. It can take the form of destructive criticism, put-downs and name calling, but also isolation, harassment, monitoring behaviours, and lying to a victim and their friends and family. It may also go hand-in-hand with sexual abuse.

But because emotional abuse is not a “crime”, its victims find it especially difficult to receive protection or even to be taken seriously by others at all. Research suggests that this may also be because emotional abuse lacks the public and political profile of physical and sexual abuse.

Limited support

Unlike victims of these crimes, emotional abuse victims may not seek help because they are unprotected by the law. The government hopes to address this lack of support as it introduces a new domestic abuse law later this year. This will criminalise the emotional abuse which underlies many abusive relationships.

Emotional abuse is a common occurrence affecting a fifth of intimate partner relationships. Despite far-reaching effects, there is a surprising lack of research on emotional abuse in adult relationships. At present, emotional abuse does not receive the attention from researchers and health services that it needs to enable victims to be recognised and professionally supported.

So, where do people go to receive the support they so desperately need? If victims are not protected by the law, if they are misunderstood by family and friends, and support from health services is lacking, then to whom do they turn?

Call for help. (Shutterstock)

Online groups

In the digital age, one obvious place to look for support is online. Through numerous online forums, “victims” of domestic violence become “survivors” who seek the emotional support from others they lack elsewhere in their lives. As with forums for patients with long-term conditions, these websites offer common components of support. This comes in the form of sharing experiences, seeking and offering advice, comparing coping strategies, and signposting to professional resources, as well as simply letting users know they are not alone.

Another of the more interesting uses of these forums is discussion of the perceived personality disorders of abusers, such as antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. But rather than focusing on the perpetrator’s issues, forum advice commonly concerns the victim’s self-protection. This makes sense because these personality disorders are typically thought to be resistant to professional treatment.

Many of these forums have been created by “expert survivors”. These people have escaped and recovered from emotional abuse, and now aim to support others by sharing their experiences and creating a platform for others to discuss their own. Crucially, alongside nearly all of these forums is some form of psychological education in the form of blog posts or other websites with information about how survivors can be helped in the longer-term.

Empowering and advising

There are multiple ways these forums may help victims or survivors of emotional abuse, but further research is needed to explore these mechanisms more fully. It may be that support from an online group validates victims’ experiences and empowers them to safely confront or leave their abusers. They may feel protected by an anonymous online identity as they confide in sympathisers about the abuse, perhaps for the first time.

One way to describe these insightful and empathetic forum users is as “enlightened witnesses”, who help others understand and accept their experiences and regain their independence. And with online forums, this support is instantly available. Advice and coping strategies may help victims rebuild their confidence and increase their self-efficacy. Their self-worth may increase as they realise they are not to blame for the abuse. As well as reducing feelings of isolation, a shared perspective may also develop compassion, friendship and humour.

So how can these “survivor forums” contribute to the services provided by health professionals? As a starting point, they give victims a voice that could help highlight needs unmet by the health service. But they could also give health researchers another way to study the nature, prevalence, language and outcomes of emotional abuse, and the coping and exit strategies survivors find to be most effective.

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This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


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Thirteen questions I think about…a lot

1. Why are people so eager to forget that men can also be victims of abuse?

Statistically more women are abused than men. That much is beyond question. But does that mean we should just forget about all the men who are living in violent relationships? All the men who are living in fear of their partner’s violent outbursts, be they physical or psychological? If you were to believe the mainstream media, we should absolutely be forgetting these people, these human beings, because I have never in my life read an article, opinion piece or commentary in the mainstream media about female on male domestic violence. I am not a MRE, but I believe this is wrong. Just wrong.

2. What happened to the Beaumont Children?

On the 26 January 1966, three children disappeared whilst visiting Glenelg Beach in South Australia. They were never seen or heard from again. Forty-nine years later no-one has any idea (beyond random theory and hypothetical) what happened to these children…and it is something that has bugged me for a very long time. In fact, inventing a time machine in order to travel back to that day has been on my bucket list for ten years!

3. Why is cheese so deliciously addictive?

Seriously, it’s like crack cocaine for dairy lovers!

cheese

Why is cheese so deliciously addictive?

4. Why do shops insist on using price stickers that refuse to come off?

Oh lordy, does this annoy me! There’s a shop in my town that sells second-hand DVDs and their price stickers seem to be welded onto the case as it’s impossible to remove them. I want to look at the beautiful cover art, not a massive piece of white paper with a garish bar code on it!

5. Why do so many people still believe mental illness doesn’t exist? 

This isn’t rocket science, people! We can have illnesses of every single body part you can think of. Heart disease, pancreatitis, lung cancer, stubbed toe…to name but a few. So why is it so hard to understand there can also be an illness within the brain? Morons.

6. Why is chocolate eaten at Easter?

Well, why do we? Why not donuts or celery or chicken or mangoes or jam? Who decided it should be chocolate? Other than the chocolate manufacturers, that is.

chocolate

Why is chocolate eaten at Easter?

7. Is Grosse Pointe Blank the greatest film in John Cusack‘s body of work?

Of course it’s not. That honour belongs to Say Anything…

8. Why do people refuse to take responsibility for their actions?

This one bugs me more than anything else. Even though many of my actions over the last ten years can be blamed squarely on the ups and downs of my bipolar cycle (including the loss of friends, bad life decisions, homelessness and randomly spanking unsuspecting women on the backside) I still take full responsibility for my (occasionally misogynistic) actions. And if I have to take responsibility for things, why don’t other people? Criminals exclusively blaming their crimes on the drug ice, random strangers blaming other random strangers for bad car driving skills…no…take effing responsibility for your actions, decisions and emotions, you’re grown adults for crying out loud, not petulant children!

9. When did motorised bicycles become such a thing?

If you want a motorbike, buy a bloody motorbike…because riding around on a bicycle with a lawnmower engine attached to it makes you look like a twat. Period.

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When did motorised bicycles become such a thing?

10. Is reliance on technology making our children stupid?

Oh, they can type like some random typing demon, but can they write with their hands? Oh, they can play with an iPad like some master tech guru, but can they use their imagination for play? Oh, they can speed type a text message on their swanky iPhones, but can they have an actual face-to-face conversation? All pertinent questions that demand to be answered for the sake of all human kind.

11. Who is the best Doctor?

Personally, it’s David Tennant all the way. Why? Because he balanced the light/dark sides of the character more perfectly than anyone else who has undertaken the role. But I’m always keen on debating this with people, I am a fan after all!

12. Why do I keep writing this blog?

Eight years of writing the same blog is a bloody long time, so much so that I often question whether or not I have anything left to say, or more importantly, whether I have anything left that people will be interested in. Ho hum, I guess time will tell on this one!

david tennant

Who is the best Doctor?

13. How many people will understand the MRE acronym I used in question one?

Well…did you?


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SOC: And not for the first time, it scares me

THIS POST CONTAINS MENTION OF SELF-HARM, SUICIDE, ABUSE, VICTIM-BLAME MENTALITY AND RAPE, PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION SHOULD YOU FIND ANY OF THIS CONTENT TRIGGERING AND/OR OFFENSIVE. IT ALSO CONTAINS SOME WOE-IS-ME WHINGING WHICH SOME MAY FIND ANNOYING, JUST SO YOU KNOW :)

This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Monday 8 October 2012 between 1:22 – 1:52am. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

All the signs that I’m heading back to depression are there. The withdrawing from Twitter, the confused (rambling) blog posts, the writer’s block, the increase of voices and hallucinations, the drop of focus, the loss of enjoyment, insomnia, the heightened loneliness and desperate craving for human contact.

And it scares me.

The depressive episode I found myself in a few months ago was the worst since 2007 and I’m terrified of falling into another so soon. For the last few weeks I’ve felt as if my triggers have been on overdrive, with everything from radio shows to smells sending me back into the past and the plethora of painful memories that threaten to keep me there.

A white ribbon to commemorate the National Day...

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I logged onto Twitter and discovered a woman had gone missing from an inner-suburb of Melbourne. Although I never lived there, aside from a few occasions whilst homeless, I would cycle through this suburb on the way to work. I attended gigs there, hung out with friends, danced at street festivals, got legless drunk, worshipped the library (the 2nd best in Melbourne) and, on one occasion, had a rather enjoyable sexual encounter near the creek with my girlfriend.

It was a suburb I loved, a suburb I still love and a suburb in which some of my old friends still live.

As soon as I heard a woman had gone missing my first thought was to find out her name because I was terrified(/paranoid) it was someone I used to know. All sorts of nightmarish scenarios were multiplying in my mind about my old friends and the only way to stop them was to know the woman wasn’t one of them. Whether it’s heartless to say or not, when I discovered the missing woman’s name, I breathed a hefty sigh of relief as the people I care about were safe.

Throughout the following week Twitter and the Australian mainstream media exploded in a way I had never seen before. Virtually every tweet that appeared in my timeline was about Jill Meagher, the missing woman; the police were searching her apartment, the police were removing things from her apartment, the police were interviewing the husband, was the husband responsible (Note: Australian’s seem incapable of learning from their own history), what happened to Jill Meagher?, the police have found her missing handbag, the police have identified her on CCTV…and on it went, a massive blow-by-blow account of the investigation along with tens of thousands of tweets sending prayers, well wishes, thoughts and hope for her and her family.

And then, almost as quickly as I expected, the victim blame mentality began.

“She was obviously at a bar/club, left there in the early hours of the morning, obviously partially pissed/drunk, and she ‘lead someone on’ [sic] and the consequences followed her. if she is going to flirt with someone, make sure that you go through with it because someone is obviously pissed off with her….in my opinion, it’s now old news, she met with foul play as a result of her actions inside the pub/bar OR as I mentioned before…ask the husband.”
~ Comment posted on a Facebook page about the disappearance.

“But for a stranger looking around in daylight, there seems no obvious reason why a young woman would choose to walk this way home late at night … There are better spots for a young woman to be walking alone after a night out drinking with workmates”
~ Andrew Rule, Journalist

Fortunately, several intelligent female journalists leapt straight on this and gave it (and the people responsible) the thrashing they deserved!

Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – no-one deserves to be abused! No woman deserves to be abused. No man deserves to be abused. No child deserves to be abused. No living thing on this planet deserves to be abused in any way, shape or form. The moment you say they do you’re removing blame from the abuser and burdening the victim with yet more guilt for what has happened to them. In essence, you are punishing the victim and rewarding the abuser.

But, unfortunately, victim blame mentality is part and parcel of abuse; even though it should never be.

Like I said moments earlier, I support all the positive articles that have been written about this issue. Since my abusive relationship, since the rape, since the physical assaults, since my failure to be there for someone I cared about, I have done whatever I can to fight the scourge of domestic violence and abuse against women in this world. I’ve written previously of a time when I intervened during a physical altercation between a boyfriend and girlfriend and clearly remember thinking better me than her because I fucking deserve this as he beat seven shades of shit out of me. So I actually mean doing whatever I can and not just signing the white ribbon pledge before swigging back a pot of beer feeling all chuffed with myself.

The problem is (and why this incident was the starting point of my collapsing mood) however much I and other people care about violence against women, very very few people care about abused men. Now, I know this is a touchy subject and I fully expect an avalanche of tweets, emails and comments (as has happened in the past) calling me everything under the sun but men can also be the victims of violence; men can also be afraid of what may happen to them; men can be the victims of victim blame mentality.

Just as I’ve been. Repeatedly.

In 2007 a friend told me that “I deserved” the emotional abuse my ex had been giving me. Another friend informed me that I “needed to understand that I’d brought it on myself”. A housemate told me they wanted to “beat me” for “how badly I had been treating [my girlfriend]”so I should “just suck [her abuse] up and take it like a man”. A fourth friend, again, politely informed me “I deserved everything” my ex was doing to me.

All four of these friends were women.

Over the course of the following eighteen months I was called a misogynist on thirteen separate occasions for talking about the emotional abuse my ex had given me (I repeat, for talking about the emotional abuse not her gender) and even total strangers informed me I must have done something to deserve it. [Note: a list of the things I did wrong in the relationship can be found in this blog post from 2007, so I shall leave it to you to decide whether I actually deserved it or not. Personally, I think I treated her pretty well.]

Only one of my friends believed I was/had been abused, but she’s dead now, so no-one does. To everyone else…nah, it was her prerogative to treat me like that. It’s just a woman’s right.

As for the rape…hell, who’s gonna believe that? Of course it’s my fault!

When I told a counselor in 2007 they rebutted with me being a bit ‘out of it’ at the time and the most likely scenario was ‘I’d consented but just didn’t remember consenting’. Excuse me? I consented to being drugged against my will and whilst mind-fucked, consented to being anally raped and physically beaten? Really? I consented, but I don’t remember doing that because I was a bit ‘out of it’? Ahh yes, when all else fails, blame the mental illness. In 2008 a psychiatrist in the NT laughed when I tried to tell him about what happened (he was a dickhead that I never saw again). Later that year, I was told by a friend that it ‘sounded like a bit of fun’.

Again, only one of my friends believed I was raped, but she’s dead now, so no-one does. To everyone else…nah, it was just mental health inspired lunacy, a bit of a jape, something I should look back on with smiles and laughter. You know, when I’m waking up screaming night after night and prostituting myself so I can be punished for allowing the rape to happen in the first place.

When I was reading all the articles about the victim blaming of Jill Meagher, when I was reading all the thousands of syllables about violence against women, I was asking myself why anyone would want to inflict such pain on a woman, on anyone of any gender. I was asking myself who cares about the female victims of abuse who don’t fall into the ‘white, beautiful, wealthy’ category  and every other minute of the day I was flashing back to the moments in my life where I was blamed for the abuse that happened to me, where people I trusted as friends would tell me I deserved it; that ultimately, I deserve this lifetime of eternal pain and isolation the abuse has given me.

I was flashing back to waking up on the floor of a motel, naked from the waist down, battered and bruised beyond belief; of sitting in the shower for an eternity; of desperately wanting to tell people but terrified the news would filter back to my emotional abuser who would have used it against me as she had everything else (mental health, suicide, anxiety, loneliness) that had ever happened to me.

I was flashing back to the alcohol I would drink to drown the pain, to the knives I would use to medicate my tortured soul and the weeks I went without food because I was too scared to walk to the supermarket to buy food incase someone – anyone – was lurking in the shadows.

I was flashing back to standing in the middle of a forest months later with a noose tied around my neck begging for an end to the pain.

Jill Meagher’s body was found seven days later, followed, rightly, by an outpouring of grief. Tens of thousands of people marched through the suburb she had been abducted from to raise awareness of violence against women. Radio call in shows wanted to know what we could do to ‘remember Jill’ and the newspapers were blanketed with coverage of the aftermath, the man who had been arrested and the funeral.

But to many the damage had already been done.

The sheer volume of triggers I received that week set off all my victim guilt, survivor guilt, weakness guilt and every other form of guilt I’ve carried over the years. It affected my thinking, writing, sleeping and daytodaying. Not a minute went past without a nightmare memory of some description slipping back through the cracks of my mind and no amount of positive thinking was able to prevent them.

Whilst these nightmares were flooding my mind I was trying to navigate the complexities of a disability application (100s of questions are not a good thing for a mentally ill man with no concentration, let alone the trips to doctors and organisations to gather evidence of support.) All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and beat myself with a sock full of rocks but instead I tried to carry on a ‘normal’ life; blogging, online socializing, commenting, writing.

All the while being bombarded with memories of my past; tweets, challenge question prompts, forgotten photos and long-lost blog posts constantly reminding me of my pain of five years ago. Of my failure to retain friendships, of my selfishness, of my weaknesses.

Then came Friday, and the panic attack laden trip to Centrelink to fix a problem I had no warning over (I don’t deal well when something like that is thrown on me at the last-minute, especially with the possible ramifications (i.e. homelessness) if I hadn’t been able to sort it!)

Then came yesterday’s WordPress Photo Challenge asking for photos of happiness…every photo I have of Happy Addy is with someone else. Dozens of people I miss more than life itself. Dozens of people my actions and illness pushed away. Dozens of reminders of how lonely I am and – courtesy of triggers from the Jill Meagher tragedy – how I deserve how I’ve ended up.

And with all of this coming shortly before the 11 October; is it any surprise I’m scared of slipping back into a depressive episode?

For those who don’t know, on the 11 October 2007, I left a suicide note (described by a mental health professional as ‘schizophrenic’) and walked fifty kilometres from Melbourne CBD to the Dandenong rainforest where I attempted to hang myself. The attempt failed and I was ultimately taken by the police (who had investigated me as a missing person) to the hospital…

…where I was discharged 19 minutes later with three 20mg antidepressants (I had no other medication at home) and told I was fine! So, at 3am, a few hours after trying to hang myself, after walking 50kms with little to no food or drink, I had to walk home. The trip would normally have taken me 25 minutes, tops, but given I could barely move my legs and was about to pass out from the pain, that night it took me two hours. I spent the next three days sitting on a couch on my own (I had no friends to call) in a borderline comatosed state of fear, exhaustion, pain and emptiness. All I wanted was a hug, for someone other than my parents to show they cared. They didn’t.

As a result, around this time of year (end of September/beginning of October) this day and its events are all I can think about. And this year, being half a decade since the day I should have died, on top of all the shifting moods, reminders of the abuse I received, painful memories and lack of happiness, I’m scared what this week will bring.

Perhaps nothing.

Perhaps something.

As an old friend once told me, perhaps its all one great self-fulfilling prophecy.

All I know is that when I’m cohesive enough to look at what is happening right now, all the signs that I’m heading back to depression are there. The withdrawing from Twitter, the confused (rambling) blog posts, the writer’s block, the increase of voices and hallucinations, the drop of focus, the loss of enjoyment, insomnia, the heightened loneliness and desperate craving for human contact.

With my lease hanging on a knife-edge; with my disability application to sort out; with my lack of food and sustenance; with little to no distractions; the last thing I need is to slip into a depressive episode.

But everywhere I go, everything I do, the world seems to be pushing me toward that place.

And not for the first time, it scares me.


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We need to work together to end violence against women

There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

My thoughts today are not only with Jill Meagher and her family, but with the poor, homeless and Indigenous Australian women who have experienced violence and abuse that went un-noticed and un-reported, to the shame of us all.

There is much I could write about the tragic events that unfolded in Melbourne this week, but I will leave it to the professionals who voice my opinions far better than I am able.

Can we please stop blaming the victim?
The only thing we have to fear is being female
Women have the right to feel safe
Reclaiming the night

Resources

UNiTE
Unite to end violence against women

V-Day
A global movement to end violence against women and girls

White Ribbon
Working to prevent violence towards women. Take the white ribbon pledge today.
Australia
Canada
United Kingdom
New Zealand

 


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A Bad Day of Panic, Anxiety and Triggers (including ‘The 21 Challenge, Day 3’)

Princess Zelda

Princess Zelda

Today has been one of the most difficult days in recent memory, so apologies in advance for the disconnected nature of this post.

My day didn’t start badly at all, in fact, I awoke quite jovial following an unusually pleasant dream that involved talking lizards, Stephanie Bendixsen, a giant Goomba, a couple of beautifully choreographed sword fights, Princess Zelda and a bunch of grapes.

Then, as is my usual ritual on a Sunday, walked to the local garage to collect a copy of the Sunday Age. The weather was pleasant – not too hot, not too cold – and I returned to browse the newspaper whilst nibbling on berry flavoured toast and sipping green tea.

It was around about the fourth mouthful that things began to go downhill as I read:

“The definition of domestic violence has been expanded to include emotional manipulation, withholding money and harming the family pet under controversial changes to family law.

The changes, which become law this week, for the first time broaden the definition of violence beyond physical abuse to other damaging actions to which a child may be exposed, including:

– Stalking
– Repeated derogatory taunts
– Intentionally damaging or destroying property
– Preventing someone from having contact with family and friends

Woman’s groups say the changes tip the balance of family law back towards putting the safety of children first, while men’s rights group say tehy will rob children of time with both parents.”
(from The Sunday Age, June 3 2012)

For it was around this time that I began to get an itch at the bottom of my stomach. As I continued to read, this itch spread, invading my spleen, kidney and lungs. The moment it reached my heart – around about the time I read “…a message to all involved in the ‘many violent family situations in Australia and who remain invisible to the legal system’ that violence has no place in society” – I was choking on my berry jam as I began to hyperventilate.

Within seconds my green tea had been inadvertently knocked to the carpet (yay, stain!) and I was struggling to breathe. Having experienced many panic attacks in my life I knew the signs were not an allergic reaction; but a triggered reaction.

My panic attack stemmed from the mention of emotional abuse. This is all that was required to send my mind hurtling back into the pain and desolation I experienced throughout that period five years ago.

Gone were the heady memories of Hex, Zelda and I duelling a giant Goomba.

In were every attack, insult and narcissistic action that I suffered through five years ago.

All because of one article in a newspaper that described changes to Australian law that I whole heartedly agree with. For years I have campaigned for greater rights and treatment in every sense to those who are the victims of emotional abuse, and these legal changes are an absolute step in the right direction. Whether they will be in any way successful and not just a token gesture remains to be seen. I mean, how can someone be prosecuted for emotional abuse when few ever bear witness to this abhorrent treatment? No-one believes what happened to me, so why should people believe someone else claiming emotional abuse?

Once the panic attack faded I gathered a pen and a piece of paper and lay on my floor to write. I had planned on writing the latest installment of ‘reflections on being homeless’ but drifting back into the territory would have been dangerous after that reaction. Instead, I wrote a list of things that trigger me (whether big or small), a list I shall share with you now:

Note: this list is in no particular order and whilst the bigger things are SHOUTED, the huge things are shouted REALLY LOUDLY!

  • BRUNSWICK STREET
    This is a street near where I used to live when the abuse was occuring. My favourite street in Melbourne, no less.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    Once my favourite television show of all time, now, something I cannot watch at all.
  • Any situation where I encounter the name (first or last) of the person whom abused me
    I was recently browsing the library and saw a book written by an author who shared the first name of my abuser. Being an uncommon yet beautiful name it is not one I come across all that often, but in this and every instance, it has negative consequences.
  • LYGON STREET
    Another street close to where I used to live when the abuse was occurring.
  • Bernadette Peters
    I wrote about her here.
  • ADELAIDE
    I didn’t state this was merely triggers of the emotional abuse.
  • Toasted cheese sandwiches
    One of my all-time favourite snacks. I used to make them for my abuser and received several criticisms for my efforts. Also, one night, I was attacked for one hour for eating a toasted cheese sandwich without her.
  • DOING ANYTHING FOR MYSELF
  • Harry Potter
    She was a big Harry Potter fan. I’m not. So not an easy trigger to avoid.
  • AMERICAN PIE
    I received nine hours of criticism for going out for dinner with my parents instead of staying at home and watching this movie on the television. I love this series and doubt I will ever be able to watch the recent Reunion installment as a result of this.
  • Forgetting someone’s birthday/Birthday Parties in general.
    I received over half an hour of abuse for not wishing a friend a happy birthday. On another occasion I was told I had destroyed someone’s life for not going to their birthday party.
  • Badgers
    Difficult to explain, but badgers remind me of her.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
    After making her a handmade calendar of my own photographs as a New Year present I was told in no uncertain terms my photography was “boring”, “uninspired”, “pointless”, “a waste of time”, “garbage”, and that she didn’t understand “why I bothered to continue taking photographs”. On several other occasions my efforts to extend myself in this arena were criticised and attacked. Whenever I have taken photographs since I have become so paranoid about what I’m shooting I usually end up focussing only on this criticism rather than the subject I am photographing. It should be noted this boring, uninspired, pointless, hand-made piece of garbage remained on her wall for at least four months after the sexual side of the relationship ended.
  • TALKING TO PEOPLE
    “Your voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone you talk to. You should kill yourself,” As I’ve said previously, I’m not a sadist, nor do I wish to inflict pain on anyone. This criticism is hard for my social anxiety to get past in any way, shape or form
  • The Queen Victoria Market
    A location for many incidents of abuse.

…and once I reached this point I stopped writing for one reason; I was triggering myself! Merely writing these words were enough to send me boomeranging back into the realm of panic attack.

As I sat on my back steps smoking a cigarette I realised – not for the first time – just how well and truly fucked up I am. How could one relationship cause so much psychological damage? How could I be so weak to allow the damage to occur? These events happened five years ago; why are they still destroying me now?

Quickly gathering my stuff I headed out for a walk. I needed to turn to the internet to take my mind off the groundswell of negative memories that were flooding my mind and with the library closed I figured a few dollars at an internet cafe would be money well spent.

It was and it wasn’t.

On the positive, as I read a few blogs and websites I got the answer to my how could I be so weak question: because I am “naive, vulnerable and easy to manipulate”. In other words, I was right, I was abused because I was/am weak and therefore deserving of it.

On the negative, yay, I’m weak, naive, vulnerable and easy to manipulate. Awesome!

On the positive, I figured out what I could do for today’s 21 Day Challenge.

On the negative, I was stupid enough to think my idea for today’s 21 Day Challenge was a good idea!


The 21 Challenge, Day 3: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series)From internet days of old I am the official Keeper of Willow’s giggle and tongue slip and of the creepily easy familiarity with which Willow handles the torture instruments.

This geeky admission is how ginormous a fan of Buffy I used to be!

I wasn’t one of those hipsters that tagged on in season 5 onwards just as it was becoming popular in the mainstream. Nosiree, I was a fan back when people used to cack themselves laughing at the mere mention of the show’s title. I was a fan from the very beginning!

Despite not having seen the show for half a decade I can still recall every episode title in sequence, recant dozens of monologues and air-conduct the score like a pro. I was uber-fan.

And this passion was taken away from me by one woman.

So after vacating the internet cafe I rented season 3 (my favourite season) from the local video store (not a great move considering how broke I am) and walked home locked in full stressed out “conversing with hallucinations” anxious mode.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch the whole season, so I selected a few episodes at random, namely the ones I used to adore: Lover’s Walk, The Wish, Doppelgangland and Graduation Day.

I managed to get through Lover’s Walk without incident, mainly because I used to do a cracking impersonation of James Marsters’ monologue:

You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be
in love ‘til it kills you both. You’ll fight, and you’ll shag, and
you’ll hate each other ‘til it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be
friends. Love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood. Blood
screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love’s bitch, but at
least I’m man enough to admit it.”

But The Wish was fraught with triggers as my mind reeled in the ‘what if’ scenarios of an alternate world where I hadn’t met my abuser. Not even Beck’s beautiful scoring of the final fight scene was enough to prevent this panic overtaking me.

This panic remained throughout Doppelgangland (“Can you believe the Watcher’s Council let this guy go?”) and peaked half way through Graduation Day where I had to stop watching as a full-blown panic attack raged once more.

The DVD set isn’t due back until next weekend so I may give it another go later in the week when I’m less ‘wound up’, but from the strength of today’s reaction, it does appear my ability to watch this show has been stolen from me. Although I am proud I was able to return to the town of Sunnydale, however brief the visit turned out to be.


Sitting alone in my flat afterwards I couldn’t help but despair at how difficult and frustrating my life has become. The array of things I must avoid in order to save myself the pain of panic, anxiety and depression. The dearth of anything that resembles pleasure and enjoyment. The sheer amount of hard work I must put in to achieve even the most pointless of tasks, let alone the larger dreams I hold within me.

On days like today I wonder what the point of working so hard really is. Five years of nothing but pain because I was too weak, naive and vulnerable to realise I was being used and abused by the woman I loved.

Thinking back on this weekend it is one I would rather forget.

I just hope that the changes Australia has made to its domestic violence laws will help others from suffering the losses that I have. No-one should live as I do. Not a soul amongst us deserves isolated loneliness because of the actions of an abuser so insecure they need to attack others to feel better about themselves.

Earlier in this haphazard, convoluted, unfocused post I questioned whether these changes were merely a token gesture. I sincerely hope that they are not, and over time, prove an excellent addition to combatting the grotesque pandemic that is domestic violence. But I fear, in much the same way as mental health stigma, that little will change until the general public and society at large stops advocating the abusive behaviour of others.

We shall just have to live in hope.