White Ribbon Nails For Domestic Abuse Awareness in May – Part 1

WARNING: There are many feels in this very long post, because it’s written by a real human being, not a robot, and it’s all true. You may need a box of tissues.

 

I am still trying to make sense of what has happened to me over the last 13 years. I feel like the fog is slowly lifting, even though I have extricated myself from an emotionally abusive situation almost 2 years ago. I started to suffer from anxiety attacks when I was in that situation, and I now suspect I have bouts of depression every now and then. So let me please explain why.

Many people may not realise this but emotional abuse is a form of domestic abuse. It is perhaps a little more insidious because its effects and scars are invisible. As far as I’m aware, it’s only a crime in the UK and France. There are many news articles that have reported on this which you can find in the following links:

BBC Emotional Abuse Becomes Illegal Under New Domestic Abuse Law

Controlling or coercive domestic abuse to risk five-year prison term

Emotional Abuse to be Made a Criminal Offence

So what is emotional abuse and what does that have to do with domestic violence? There is an article that you can read here that has a paragraph that describes extremely well what it feels like (see the section where she starts to talk about a box, a treasure box). According to that article, it is now believed that preceding domestic violence is always the emotional/psychological abuse. However, not all emotional abuse leads to violence. I was lucky enough, I guess, to have not experienced the violence done to me, but the walls and other inanimate objects of my old home have physical scars to show it.

But where are my scars? You can’t see mine. They are hidden deep inside my mind. I struggle to come to terms with it daily since leaving him, but it’s a battle I am slowly winning. That is the sinister part of emotional and psychological abuse. Nobody can see your battered ego, no one can see your battered self esteem, and no one can see the invisible cage you have been forced in to, that seems to shrink more and more each day. It was made worse by the fact that my abuser was also a narcissist, and very, very manipulative. It all started to happen 3 years in to our 11 year relationship –  and during those final 8 years, we were engaged to be married.

It’s really hard for me to begin to even describe what I went through. I’ve just written and deleted and written and deleted over and over again for the past couple of hours. But the basic premise was that I was made to feel like everything was my fault ALL THE TIME. No matter how small the thing that was bugging him was. The line fed to me all the time was, “I wouldn’t have gotten angry at you unless you deserved it”, or “I don’t just get angry at you for no reason, it’s always justified, you just don’t think about me do you, you only think about yourself!”. I felt like I was walking on eggshells, afraid to do or say anything in case it triggered his temper. But it made no difference, there was no rhyme nor rhythm to his tirades. I remember one vivid moment when we had an argument over something tiny – probably about how I stacked the dishwasher, or left the dish sponge in the wrong spot. He yelled and cursed at me that I was trying to make his life more difficult, and then went on to blame me for every decision he’d ever made in life – “It’s because of you I’m stuck here in this hell hole; it’s because of you I didn’t finish my education; it’s because of you I’m away from my family; it’s because of you I have to take care of you because no one else can or will, it’s because of me you are so successful but it’s because of you I’m such a failure stuck here supporting you whilst you pursue your dreams.”. It would go on and I would feel like I should say something to defend myself, and at first I did, but that only seemed to make him worse. I ended up most times just standing there in silence, with tears down my face, and nodding, yes he’s right, it’s all my fault. I can’t do anything right. I’ll try better next time so that he doesn’t get angry and I don’t get yelled at. But sometimes, it would infuriate him more when I didn’t say anything. So when the screaming wouldn’t subside, things would get thrown or kicked or punched. This time, he punched the door. I ran into the garage to hide. In the darkness. I knew in the back of my mind, this wasn’t right. But somehow, I just sat there thinking, I wish he would love me the way he used to. It must have been because I did something, something I said, that’s why he’s so angry at me more and more these days. I will try harder next time to be a better fiance. Each time this happened, he would show remorse and apologise whilst simultaneously still telling me that if I hadn’t done what I did, he wouldn’t have gotten so angry, that he wouldn’t have had to hurt me. I would believe him every time.

In my moments of quiet thoughts to myself, without his poisonous words, or when I was surrounded by the handful of friends I managed to find and keep, I would start to think, hang on, this doesn’t seem right. Something is wrong here. It’s not my responsibility to ensure his happiness. He is an adult who is capable of making his own decisions. But when the tirades began again, I would lose all self confidence and resolve, and begin to believe what he was saying all over again. He pretty much invalidated all my thoughts and feelings and dismissed them as me being a jealous, controlling, whiny, selfish, person who only cares about myself. And the cycle would begin again. I felt like I was going crazy, I was so confused about what was true. I couldn’t put a name to what it was I was going through, only that I was unhappy and starting to suffer almost daily panic/anxiety attacks. My skin broke out all over my face, I couldn’t sleep, concentrate, and I withdrew from my friends and family. No one knew what I was suffering, but the signs were all there if you looked hard enough.

And my friends did. They saw I was unhappy and started to reach out. They helped me through it. I finally decided to leave after the umpteenth time of being yelled at for being late to meet him (usually a few minutes). This time, I was 10 minutes late to lunch. I couldn’t call or text because I was in a meeting with my supervisor who I was dying to catch up with to solve a problem I’d been working on for over 2 weeks, which he ended up fixing in 5 minutes. When I arrived to lunch, he blew up at me, threw down the takeaway lunch containers and stormed off, in public, leaving me standing there in the middle of the public courtyard full of people all alone with tears streaming down my face, and lunch all over the pavement. That night, I stayed with one of my friends. And I stayed with her again a few weeks later. And after that, I ended the engagement and the relationship. Our 11 years together was over. That was a little over 2 years ago.

For a more articulate description of the signs of emotional abuse, and what you can do about it see these 2 articles listed below. The first one contains a list of signs you are being emotionally abused. Pretty much all but 4 of those points were true for me.

30 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship 
What drives emotional abuse and how to begin to recover
.

Ok so I really don’t know if I’ve done justice to make you aware of this type of abuse, and I know it’s a lot of information to process. I should know, because I’m still processing it. But the point of this is to raise awareness. I hope that this gets people thinking and opening their eyes to see the signs before it’s too late. And to help with this, here is part 1 of the nails I did in support of White Ribbon Nails for domestic violence awareness campaign started by Mitty Burns (@mitty_burns) on ig.

whiteribbonnailsmaymittyCheeky1aFigure 1. I used a base of *Cooktown Orchid* from Two Birds, and Aussie Indie polish. I applied 2 coats and topped it with Sally Hansen *Big Matte Coat* to prep it for stamping. I used Fingerpaints *Gorgeous Graffiti* for the pink on the index and on my pinky. My middle finger has an Essie base in *Ballet Slippers*, then a Sally Hansen crackle coat called *Fractured Foil* over it. I stamped with plates from Bundle Monster, BM-323, BM-208, and BM-321, and one plate from Born Pretty Store, BP-18. I also used Mitty Burn’s angled brush for clean up around the cuticles using polish remover (non-acetone). I topped it all again with Sally Hansen *Big Matte Coat*, except the white face and the ring finger, which was Seche Vite top coat. I can’t actually remember where I got the nail charm from, but the ring is from Born Pretty Store.

whiteribbonnailsmaymittyCheeky2aFigure 2. Solo hand shot.

whiteribbonnailsmaymittyCheeky4aFigure 3. This nail signifies the 2 faces I was wearing through that period. I was sad on the inside, at home, when no one was around. But happy to the rest of the world. The ring I’m wearing that you see in the full mani bottle shot and in the next figure symbolises the mask we wear to pretend nothing is wrong.

whiteribbonnailsmaymittyCheeky3aFigure 4. This nail represents the shattered feelings inside, feelings of not being able to escape, and cracks appearing in the relationship, and starting to be aware of what was going on, hence the white ribbons starting to show.

whiteribbonnailsmaymittyCheeky5aFigure 5. But somewhere, in all that, I still found my own happiness through the charades. The leopard spots on the white ribbon represents this, and the glittery soft colours represent my own self trying to shine through.


whiteribbonnailsmaymittyCheeky6aFigure 6. But still, I felt trapped. Like I couldn’t escape. And the words were like barbed wires that forced me to retreat again each time.

I hope that this helps someone out there. I also hope that you tune in again for part 2 of my nails and my story, where I will tell the next part of the story that is filled with happiness instead of darkness.

12 thoughts on “White Ribbon Nails For Domestic Abuse Awareness in May – Part 1

  1. Wow what a harrowing tale. It’s amazing to hear you are recovering. I can’t imagine what happened for guy to allow it to continue for that long but I’m glad you got strong enough to free yourself.
    These nails are gorgeous & such a rest reminder of this crime. The U.K. Has done the right thing crimalising this and I know that awareness is also advertised and taught within the education system here too.
    Stay strong.
    Vicky x
    @thepolishlist

    1. Thank you Vicky, I appreciate your comment very much. I am in a loving relationship now, but it is still difficult for me sometimes to forget the “trained” behaviour I learnt when I was in the bad relationship. I thankfully have found myself all the support I need, including nail art and friends, family and counselling. Thanks again, this means a lot to me that you know my story now.

      xx
      Silvie

  2. I’m so glad you got out and have a chance to recover. The internal scars remain I’m sure but hopefully it won’t affect your life forever… I was once in a very manipulative relationship but nothing like this. Thanks for sharing <3

    1. Thank you so much for reading my story. I just really hope this helps to raise awareness for others who might be going through this themselves or know someone who is or even suspects they are. I’m glad you are out of your situation too.

      xx
      Cheers,
      Silvie

  3. Aww hunni I can’t believe you had to go through all of that, if I was there I’d give you a huge hug and tell you how proud I am of you, we all have our battle scars, some you see and some you don’t …..I myself have been on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse and ended my marrage because of it, you never forget but it does get easier hunni believe me……..big hugs and lots of love xxxxx

    1. *HUGS* for you too Lisa my dear. Thank you so much. I know we each have our own stories, but I felt compelled to share this story publicly as part of my healing process because it all seems very fresh and real to me and I’ve only just begun to “name” and process properly what it was I went through. It’s more fresh in my mind especially in light of some recent events regarding my sister, but which I haven’t the strength to share that piece of information just yet in the public domain. I’m so sorry you also went through abuse and that it became physical for you. I’m glad to hear it gets easier because sometimes, I still find it hard so I feel happy knowing there’s hope for my mind to heal. You’ll be happy to know my current relationship full of support and love and happiness – more than I could ever had hoped was possible, and definitely is what I deserve because he treats me like a princess ^_^

  4. You are very brave for sharing your story, and I feel that is a form of therapy in itself, because emptying out your mind helps to release the feelings. Sorry you had to go through that, and happy that you got out and are in a better place.
    Beautiful mani 😘

    1. Thank you so much Sarah, your words mean a lot to me. It was definitely therapeutic to do this, and that is why I have done it. I’m also happy you like the nails ^_^

      xx
      Silvie

  5. It always amazes me that the weak one is not abused, but abuser! He was and is looser. By puting you down, he would feel better about himself… You are the strong one for breaking this unhealthy cycle. I am so proud of you Silvie. Emotional wound take longer to heal, but there is the light at the end of the tunnel. Been there, done that- have real scars to show. I am so happy you found someone worthy of yourself that may ‘untrain’ you and teach you what love means. Good luck.

    1. That’s so true Sanja, it is because their way of coping with their faults is to “project” their failures/thoughts/feelings on to others and blame everyone else but themselves. I am sorry you have both kinds of scars, but I’m happy to know you have found the light too. Yes, you are so right, that I now have to “untrain” myself. It is really hard. I will tell you something else in DM on ig soon. Thank you so much sweet Sanja.

      xx
      Silvie

  6. I’m so proud of you for sharing this Silvie, it can’t have been easy leaving and I’m so happy to hear that you are with someone who treats you how you deserve. You really are special Silvie. Love and hugs hun xxx

    1. Thanks Melissa, I’m glad to see your supportive words. It means the world to me. I think we are each all special hun. Love and hugs to you too xx

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