December 4, 2020
Support with safely remaining in a relationship after abuse, Nikita’s story, #16Days
Nikita* found out about Ruby @ Turnaround from her manager. Her home life with her husband had been becoming increasingly turbulent over the weeks and months and, after a particularly traumatic evening, her manager spotted that she was distressed. She decided to check-in with Nikita and her suspicions were correct. Nikita really appreciated the opportunity to talk so openly about what was happening to her and get the guidance she needed to access support.
Nikita is still in her relationship and her and her husband are working through their issues to decide whether they will stay together in the future. During this time Nikita is accessing phone support from Ellen at Ruby @ Turnaround. Ellen offers completely open-minded advice and a listening ear. She understands that there are many emotions to consider in domestic abuse and that nothing in any relationship is black and white. Nikita is being supported to take the measures that feel right for her, to understand the patterns of abuse and to feel more able to manage her experiences. She contacts Ellen over the phone privately whilst she is in work, in a safe space. Her husband doesn’t know she is accessing support and he is also going through his own therapy. He wants to work through his behaviours and keep their family unit together.
Whatever Nikita decides to do next she now feels more confident, knowing she has someone to turn to no matter what. She is realistic and understands she may not decide to stay in the relationship in years to come but also remains positive and hopeful that she can whilst the couple both get the support they need. In the meantime, she wants to share her story to other people who may not realise that support doesn’t always mean leaving and can be offered safely and discretely.
Domestic abuse support through work
It was after a particularly difficult night at home that Nikita’s manager noticed she was struggling. It had been a sleepless night and she was overwhelmed with stress. There has been tensions in her home for a long time but things had really exploded when her husband got a formal diagnosis of autism. Nikita now sees that some of his controlling behaviours may have been a result of his condition and it seemed to be getting the diagnosis which really led him to lose control. From this point he became incredibly paranoid and abusive towards her.
Domestic abuse, jealousy and control
The night before, Nikita’s husband had taken her phone from her after he became frustrated that she was on the phone to someone he didn’t like. He had shown traits of jealousy in the past and this wasn’t something that was new to Nikita. ‘He likes things done his way and this can be very controlling.’ Nikita had started to understand that this might be because of his condition but at the same time was battling her own self-doubt of whether she could manage to stay in a relationship with someone who might always be like this. ‘Is this going to be my life now, I thought?’. Whilst she could see why he was behaving like this it didn’t necessarily offer her any comfort.
Manipulation in domestic abuse
During their very heated argument he had became very aggressive, not directly physically aggressive to Nikita but seeing his rage was extremely overwhelming. He then left their home and didn’t return for many hours. During this time Nikita was filled with anxiety that he might hurt himself and worried about the risk of suicide. It was a very difficult time for her. She felt that she wanted to leave him and couldn’t cope but was also filled with guilt about these feeling. Her husband seemed to exploit this empathy and emotionally blackmail her. He would say things like, ‘I may as well be dead without you’, and suggest that he would kill himself if she left him. She found this emotional abuse very hard to cope with and it weighed heavily on her. She didn’t know what to do for the best. He moved out for a few days and she felt so much relief over this period, she need space to breathe. When he came back things were fine again for a small time but then seemed to escalate quickly.
Her husband is especially aggressive when it comes to other men and her relationships with male friends. She developed a close relationship with a certain man but never had an affair. The man was supporting Nikita and was a friend during difficult times but her husband couldn’t accept this. Nikita explains that during lockdown the control and abuse was amplified. Friends and family had spotted certain worrying traits in him through the years but the difficulty is the, ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, split personality he has, according to Nikita. She explains how lovely and generous he can be but as soon as you, ‘get on the wrong side of him’, something switches and he is becomes so vindictive. It’s very difficult for her to keep up with this. On top of this, he began to bring up situations from the past to twist the truth and make Nikita feel unloved or like she had imagined that they were once happy and in love. She felt belittled by his comments and incredibly upset that he could be so venomous.
Support for the perpetrator in domestic abuse
He is now getting therapy for his depression and Asperger’s syndrome. He tells her that, during his sessions, there is sometimes the suggestion that she is the controlling one. This has led her to question her own sanity to an extent and wonder if this is the person she is. He has continued to pick away at her and make lots of nasty comments over time which have such a multiplied impact on her mental health and wellbeing. This is how emotional abuse tends to work, it can seem subtle when isolated but overall be so damaging to someone.
Staying in a relationship after domestic abuse
Over the past few weeks Nikita and her husband have been getting on really well, perhaps as a result of their individual therapy and understanding of themselves and each other. She feels more able to understand his behaviours and how he may be triggered by her because of her support and uses the insights gained during her sessions in her daily life. Being able to do this counselling over the phone has been a great help in enabling her to get discrete support. She calls Ellen during her working day. There have been some issues with her husband wanting to see her phone but overall she finds remote domestic abuse support really convenient whilst still impactful.
Getting support with domestic abuse in the workplace
The fact that Nikita has a supportive workforce around her has really helped her to manage her experiences. She would recommend for other people to chat to their manager if they feel comfortable and, if not, check if there is a domestic abuse policy for your workplace and support available. She has been surprised by how understanding her employer and colleague have been. Getting support has also made her aware of those around her and spotting signs in others who may need support.
Domestic abuse support over the phone
‘Ellen was so great. She really listened and was so reflective. She made me think’.
Nikita has found that from talking to Ellen she has really gained new confidence in herself. Her husband would want her to stop seeing her friends and Ellen reminds her that she’s entitled to do that and empowered her. ‘She’s gave me power, so I can see what he is doing’.
The great thing about support with Ruby @ Turnaround is that Nikita now sees she has options. She may have a different outlook than her husband but she can try and make things work and she can take things at a pace that suits her. Nikita doesn’t need to make solid plans right now but she has the support to manage the day-to-day and can be helped to understand aspects of her personality which might affect her decisions. For example, her selflessness has been addressed as she always puts the needs of others first; her husband, her children and her friends. Whilst she is still fiercely loyal and compassionate to those around her she has began to prioritise her own emotions more than ever now. She has began to think about the possibility of a future without her husband, whether he makes her feel guilty about this or not.
‘It’s completely up to me and there is someone who can support me whatever decision. There is no pressure to leave and that’s what people might worry about it’. Nikita feels so much more in control now.
She would tell others to, ‘not suffer in silence’, to ‘reach out to those around you’. She has been surprised by how opening up has changed her whole perspective and lifted such a weight from her shoulders. She has awareness now and, whatever happens in her future, sees that she can get through.