Why i disappeared

Warning… a personal post about why RJ Jewellery disappeared for a while. Written purely so someone who needs it might get the help they need.
written October 2015, published May 2016 – delayed due to court proceedings.

At times on my Facebook page, I have written a thank you… to my likers. I wanted them to know that every share, sale, like and comment, made a difference to me and my children. I meant every word of my ‘thank yous’, you being active was helping me provide for myself and my children. You were helping MORE than I could ever describe. Why? Because interacting with my page increased my ‘presence’ on Facebook and in turn, more people made enquiries about my products and I made sales.  So I could buy food, pellets for the fire, clothes and petrol. Sure, every business needs sales… but my business had a dirty secret.

Whilst I was professional in front of the keyboard, behind the scenes I was dying. I fought and persevered as long as I could. Till I could bare it no more. I had to disappear.

Why did I disappear?

7 weeks ago my life changed… for the better. There have been only 3 times in my life that I have ‘disappeared’. The 1st time as a child, my father was killed and whilst I could not physically disappear,  I did emotionally. The 2nd time was when my son left last year, I needed some space to heal.  I was still physically around though.  Then 7 weeks ago (August 2015) I literally packed a couple bags, contacted the police and disappeared. Here’s why…

We met online, things were great. I thought I had met a strong, loving hero. I had no idea that this person I had met was not who was inside the persona. Once I was hooked, it was all over.   He was in a sticky situation and needed a place to crash. I felt sorry for him and wanted to ‘help out’. Little did I know that it wouldn’t end well. That I would fall in love with this person and have them turn around and nearly destroy me. I’ve spent the best part of the last 4 years (of an 8 year relationship) trying to figure out how to leave or more to the point get him to leave. I was in an abusive relationship and despite being a previously strong woman with a nursing background (including psych training), I could not for the life of me figure out how to get away from this person who abused me and my children nearly daily.  I even went as far to ending it a year ago – but he refused to leave my home.

I saw 3 options:

  1. Stay in the same situation and put up with it.  At least I could protect those within arms reach.
  2. Ask him to leave AGAIN – Asking him to pack his things and leave didn’t work last time… that instead made me end up bruised and battered.
  3. Or get the police involved.

In the end all I felt I could safely do was go online (I couldn’t do it via phone as he was with me constantly – literally as he didn’t work) and I sent a message to the local police, saying who I was and a brief description of my situation. Thankfully the person who read the message believed me, they gave me instant comfort that they would help me and took it from there. It was a HUGE relief. In fact it was much easier than I thought it would be. (Note that a physical trail of seeking help or researching online is dangerous… so learn how to delete every message and clear your cache BEFORE you start searching). After I gave them the information required, it actually became ‘out of my hands’. They had enough to act with or without my permission. But they worked with me. They were in communication with me and turned up and issued a PSO (Police Safety Order), which meant that he was taken from the property and was allowed NO contact with me or the children for 5 days. OK, so he didn’t completely stick to it (he found ways around it, within the scope of the law), but it gave me enough of a breather to get out of the house and contact my parents (they knew that I was with a controlling person, but had no idea of the abuse that the kids and I suffered on a near daily basis).  I was and still am petrified, I know what this person is capable of. I saw the darkness and had been the target of his control and abuse. I (in my own way) begged others for help as I was unable to see a way out without ‘becoming a statistic’.  But no-one helped me find any answers.  I had tried womens refuge, but they were so busy and I felt like a bother to them. Note: Womens refuge only do it via phone and meetings… because a trail is dangerous. However I did not have any opportunities to escape this way. Edited to add that now women’s refuge have hidden popup on many websites. Click the ‘untraceable website’ tab on this website to see.

I did a lot of online research, I did questionnaires asking ‘Are you in an unsafe relationship?’… I did them time and time again. I knew the answer, but was scared of the consistent result. The result was ALWAYS… This is a dangerous and unsafe environment… you need help.  I even tried ‘positive relationship’ tests… every time, the same result.
I read articles and all of them pointed me in the same direction.  I thought I was spiraling… was even told by my abuser I needed psych help (typical abuse). I went to see a counselor, to be reassured… it’s not you, but something IS WRONG and you need to get out. You may have to get the police involved in this one.

This is not the only time the Police had to be involved… in fact this is the THIRD time. Last year was the 1st was when I was held at gunpoint by the police at a roadblock for nearly an hour… intended for him. He had made an innocuous phone call, but the person called the police. The Police then looked up the history and 20+ police, dogs, AOS etc turned up on my street and ‘swept’ my home for explosives and firearms. I was PETRIFIED. It was like something out of a movie, and something I will never forget. The 2nd time was when my son had gone to them to talk about how he had been abused by my then partner. I lost my teenage son during this. It was the hardest and most soul destroying event ever.  But this time, I needed them to HELP me, I was so worried that with the history there, that they wouldn’t. I can assure you they did.

My plan – or lack thereof – Everyone suggests to ‘have a plan’, ‘have some money etc’. This is great if you can. I had nothing. No real plan. I honestly didn’t think I’d see that day out alive,  so didn’t plan well. But leaving with nothing was better than leaving in a worse condition. So if you are in the position I was, just make that one move to get out..  with the intention of never going back. I was lucky enough that I was left with a vehicle. It was not my plan to have it. My plan was $30 in my pocket from a sale. 2 bags and a bus stop with my children. I was going to take first bus out of town and deal with rest later. I had some closed Facebook groups I’m a part of, some awesome people that he didn’t know and I was going to ask someone for help. Crap plan… but worked for my head space at the time.

Once I was out of the environment, I had to find a Family Lawyer. There are no ways of choosing a good lawyer over an inadequate one. There is nowhere that you can get reviews. So I relied on someone recommending one. You are likely to be able to get legal aid (sometimes you have to repay this). So ask the lawyer if they do legal aid cases.  Police had told me to turn up ‘prepared’. I hadn’t kept dates, times etc over the years as I was scared he might find them. But the night before my meeting I wrote out some thoughts. It just kept coming. Incidents, memories, feelings. The poor lawyer had to go through about 16 typed pages of me describing my abuse and another 20 or so when I rebutted his returned affidavit.  In the end, she only used a few examples, but they were enough to get a Temporary Protection Order and other orders (so that I could live in the house etc). These orders are in place for 3 months… giving him a chance to rebut them.

Returning home – The next week, I plucked up the courage and returned to my home, against police, lawyer and woman’s refuge requests. My once safe place turned prison, was now so scary.  My children were on edge too, one day I sat them down and asked them if they were happy.  They replied…  we miss Nana and Grandad. Their house is so warm and cosy and clean (that’s a WHOLE other part of the drama of living with an abusive hoarder).  I asked them what they wanted to do… both without hesitation answered that they wanted to move back to Tauranga and go to new schools/kindy.   This shocked me as my son doesn’t accept change well. He was CERTAIN and has been so settled in the new school. I talked to the schools etc (who knew the situation – even prior to the PSO being served) and the decision was made. It has been the best decision in my entire life to date. I’ve been able to start reconnecting with my family and even some friends who went by the wayside are now by my side.  My happiness has flourished and I’m beginning to dream of a future. It’s a scary but exciting situation.  Albeit I was and am exhausted at times. Being on ‘high alert’ is exhausting. But it was exhausting and scary being abused too.

Abuse

My children are not aware of the complete situation, even 7 weeks on. I’m not sure they will ever know. They are used to their father being away for long periods of time as he would work away from home for weeks/a month at a time (I used this time to heal). This was not unusual for them, so they didn’t question it.  But they are aware of why we left and they sadly witnessed a lot of the abuse. In fact one of the deciding factors of calling the police was my 5 yo acting out violently when getting upset. Not anymore… my 2 youngest have grown emotionally in leaps and bounds. They are so so happy and content. I look at their smiles and know that I made the right call. But I still feel ENORMOUS guilt that I didn’t make the move a long time ago and spare them the anguish.

The courts had asked womens refuge and living without violence to contact me. A safety assessment was done. I was assessed at a 4 out of 5. 4 being high risk of further abuse. I fought this with them. I explained that I wasn’t hit regularly, it was mainly verbal, threats and intimidation. I downplayed and made excuses.  I was not seeing things clearly, I wasn’t seeing the abuse as ‘serious’ ‘compared to others’. I had been ‘conditioned’ and was still a victim.  We all know about the power/control wheel… but the abused play the wheel too… downplaying, denying and minimising the abuse (in order to protect) is playing into the game.  I’m learning that now. It was a hard lesson.

I’m only at the beginning of this journey. But I’m getting there. I used to be so envious of others that have got out of abusive relationships.  I honestly thought that I would not survive it. But once I took courage and sent the first message, the rest was written. I am so grateful to all that supported me in the last few months getting to this point.

The thing about Domestic Abuse… more often than not the Abuser has manipulated the situation so badly that the abused have lost real contact with people that once cared about them. If I could get one message across, it would be that ‘A CLOSED DOOR IS CLOSED FOR A REASON’. If you find it difficult to maintain a once vibrant friendship… raise questions in your head as to why. We often don’t know what is happening in others lives.  No-one knew the extent of the conditions I was forced to live in. I was too ashamed and humiliated to tell anyone, explain how I felt or how scared I was. All of the abuse happened behind closed doors (house and car)… only myself and the children really bore witness to it. It often happens in isolation.  I’m sure he would say he didn’t stop me seeing my friends, but he made it difficult to see them. To the point, the stress and abuse I received afterwards (even if family) was not worth the short amount of time I had with them. I got tired of making excuses for his poor behaviour.  So to relieve some of the abuse, I stopped trying to maintain the relationships. Yep – yet again I played into the game quite nicely. On the day I got the Police in, was the day that I told all my friends… just in case I didn’t make it through the day. I wanted people to know I was scared.

I’m not doing this on my own now… I have a team of support. Family, Friends, Lawyer, Police, Womens Refuge, Living Without Violence… they have all been there for me in varying degrees. This once isolated person, is feeling the love of those that have surrounded her. It has been a big thing for me to escape. Even worse when the abuser has downplayed and even denied some of the abuse. But I will get there… and if you are reading this and in the same situation I was. You will too. It is HARD to do, but you need to take a deep breath and make that first contact for help.

Other women – you got it. I’m not the only victim for this abuser.  I am from what I’ve found out the 4th confirmed woman that was abused, I know of 2 other women that were in the mix somehow too. Number 3 is writing a book at the moment about her ordeal… A link to this will be provided once it is out.
However, she does write annual White Ribbon posts and she actually designed the current NZ white ribbon.
This is her 2015 post: White Ribbon 2015

Making sense of it all –  This is something I struggle with daily. WHY? What did I do to deserve this? Why would he treat me this way? How could he treat the children this way? The answers are harder to find, and I wonder if they worth dwelling on? I have been in contact with one of his ex’s… for years I understood her to be this horrible abusive unfaithful person. Nope, she aint. She is ‘just like me’. She fell in love with the wrong person; a person who took advantage of her and me and treated us very poorly – we did not deserve this, nor did our children (siblings).

The warning signs – I’m sure there are different warning signs for different people. But here were some of mine.

  • A history of abuse toward women
  • A history of abuse toward animals
  • Drama follows them – they say they want the drama to stop – but they ‘are’ the drama
  • Can’t keep a job for long
  • Can’t or don’t want to maintain other friendships for long. Or if they do..  those friendship are kept separate to your relationship.
  • Most friendships have ‘use by’ dates. Friendships are only maintained whilst they had a use for them.
  • Family relationships always strained
  • Your relationships with people and family decrease and sometimes become non-existant. You become isolated.
  • Road rage
  • Jealous and continuously checking up on you. Not the odd text, but all the time and chastising if you don’t answer quick enough or forget to take your cellphone with you.
  • Abuse or Jealousy if maintain your own friendships without including them.
  • Walking on eggshells to avoid outbursts from them
  • Lack of a good wake/sleep pattern
  • Someone else is always to blame
  • The ex’s are all crazies
  • Game playing. Constantly being ‘tactically questioned’ by the abuser, this is down to ‘try’ and trip you up, so as to justify any future abuse.
  • Restricting your movements, even within the house. If you want to leave a room… there should be nothing or no-one stopping you… EVER.
  • Unkept promises
  • The feeling that there is an ‘endgame’. For narcissists this is not necessarily about you… they don’t care about you or your feelings. They may walk away without a further thought. For sociopaths… their control over someone is the endgame. They always have to have someone under their control.
  • Control freaks. The desire to have things planned just how they want it. Even if no one asked them to take over a situation..  they do.

What not to do if someone you know is being abused – in my opinion… don’t go to the Police behind their back. Someone did that for me. It delayed all my plans to leave for a year and could have easily ended my life. I’m still working on forgiving them. That won’t be easy to do. They have NO IDEA what damage they did and what the ramifications of that could have been.  If you ARE concerned about someone. Get them on your own carefully and tell them you are concerned and that you will help them.  They MAY deny any abuse or make excuses, that’s ok. Take your own records of instances, dates, times etc. Be there for them regardless of how they may push you away (they may be protecting you). Let them know your caring is unconditional and without timeframe and BE PATIENT. It is EXTREMELY hard to leave an abusive person. It is like having a death sentence looming that you may trip if you aren’t careful. The statistics are real and so is the fear.

However, if you feel that the physical danger to them or the children is imminent… Then contact womens refuge or the ‘It’s not ok’ campaign for advice. But be aware, this may quickly escalate the situation.  Subtly check the whereabouts of all parties, children etc. Remember… it is likely the victim is constantly on ‘high alert’, they are unaware how their abuser will react to them one minute to the next and constantly live in a ‘fight/flight’ protection mode. If the abuser is a narcissist, they are likely to be of high intelligence. They are acutely aware of what is happening around them. They are used to controlling situations and can sense if things are amiss. If some type of ‘surprise’ happens, depending on the situation, the victim may end up denying all abuse, especially if they are confronted in front of the abuser. This happened to me on a couple of occasions. Each time he was present, Police never interviewed me on my own… he always wanted to be involved in the questioning. I did not want him blaming me for the ‘invasion’ of external people… so to the authorities, I denied any abuse.

Why do people not leave?

  • Fear… that’s a biggie. They are scared of being hurt or hurting their loved ones. The fear is real. Leaving IS dangerous. If an abuser feels like they have lost control of someone… they can act as if they have nothing left to lose.
  • They may be protecting someone… they may have been indirectly threatened.  “I will hurt xxx if you do this”.
  • They have been threatened that if they leave, they will be hurt, that they will lose their house, their children etc
  • Financially it is VERY hard. A lot of abusive situations mean the abused have been left financially destitute. The sole parent benefit barely covers rent, food and power… if you are lucky. I know personally I’ve been left with significant debt. I was once in a great financial position.  I’m yet to figure out how I will deal with that situation. But I will sort it eventually.
  • They have been downtrodden and sometimes they have no belief in themselves anymore.  They’ve been told many nasty things and being told so many times… they believe it. One of mine was that it was not my decision. Only he made calls about the relationship ending.
  • They are isolated.  Relationships have been destroyed and whilst women’s refuge is there… that is also a scary option.
  • They may still have feelings for ‘the good side’ of the abuser. I thankfully didn’t. My feelings for him had dissipated a long time ago. So I didn’t have to deal with feelings of love etc. But others do.
  • Guilt… feeling like you are taking the children from their other parent. That is really hard. But even though you know you and the children deserve better, it’s a hard call to make. I actually panicked and tried to get access established ASAP as I was scared witless that his thoughts of losing the children would spur on serious violence. But the first access did not go well and Lawyers stepped in and stopped further access until it is sorted properly.  It is now in the courts hands.
  • The abuser is intelligent and articulate. They can outargue you, they can come across as being totally sane and make it seem like you are the one with the issue. This is a BIG part of the control process. In order to gain control, they need to strip a strong person down to nothing. Make them question themselves. They can be scarily good at taking control of a room and charming everyone in it. I was very concerned (still am) that my abuser will downplay the abuse to me and get away with it. The manipulation is near on genius… which is how a person is sucked in in the first place. It’s part of the game, being able to relate to people and read the situation and immerse themselves into the ‘correct’ role to ‘play the game’.  Do I give him too much credit. NO. I KNOW this person… I know that there is control over his actions. It’s frightening.

There are so many reasons. It’s not a simple case of choosing to leave. This list above is not exhaustive. In fact I could probably give 20 more reasons why it took so long for me.  Even my lawyer said… they are going to ask… why it took you so long to get help. Living without Violence explained… it’s not that simple. They understood. I kept trying to explain and they almost finished my sentences. They ‘got it’.

He still tells me he loves and cares for me and his children dearly. He may well do, in his twisted way. But that is NOT love.  This draws me back to my Christian upbringing… what love SHOULD be…love is

Something I’ve learnt… Christianity in itself can be an enabler to abuse. The way some christian beliefs portray how a person deals with sin, or even relationships in fact can set you up to be in an abusive relationship. From being non-judgemental, accepting, loving at any cost and constantly forgiving. In fact, I’m at a point personally that I feel that sometimes a person needs to stand up against abuse. Judge the abuser and call them out on it. Not ‘let God deal with it’ and hide it away in hope they will ‘heal’.  Praying is NOT ENOUGH!!!

I recently read a christian book to my children recently about a downtrodden grumpy cat who always took. Took feelings and stomped on them, took love and threw it in your face. The ‘friendly cat’ spent their entire time trying to make the grumpy cat smile. Surrounded herself in him. It had a ‘possible conclusion’… the grumpy cat finally smiled. But the conclusion could also be… the happy cat was swallowed by the grumpy cat. BE CAREFUL. There are so many ways a person can help. But there comes a point you MUST be wise and protect yourself too. I tried to help ‘a person in need’ and nearly lost myself. I ‘put the other person first’ and it nearly cost me everything. This is a concept I am personally going to explore some more for myself.  Don’t get me wrong… I’m not against Christianity. But I was a fool!! I was kind, caring, loving, honest and believed the best in people. Some people however have evil in them and they destroy lives and families.
Disclaimer: through this ordeal, I have truly lost some spiritual connection. I was raised Christian… this person I met was in a Christian setting. I was torn apart body, soul and spirit… I haven’t lost my beliefs, but some are definitely being challenged. 

RESOURCES: Here are some of the MANY places I went to prior to ascertain what was going on for me and if indeed the relationship was considered abusive. This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact it’s a small drop in the bucket. But it’s a start. Hang, google narcissistic and sociopathic personalities too, and if you’re in a position like I was, the descriptions might be uncanny – and scary.  BE AWARE… You will need to clear your computer and phone if searching online. This is a VERY dangerous time in leaving a bad relationship.

Seven warning signs you’re in a dangerous relationship

Positive Relationship Quiz

Womens Refuge Resources

Police Safety and Protection Orders

Other Orders

Editted to add: NZ Hearld has been running a #betterthanthis campaign in May 2016. There is some good information in this article: NZ HEARLD

Here’s a detailed information about how to hide your internet searches etc. HOW TO HIDE

I want no pity. I made my choices..  I paid the price. Still do and so do my children. But I didn’t know HOW to escape my abusive prison. So I’ve tried to explain how I did… so maybe someone will read this and take courage to take the first step and ask for help. But BE WISE. Be careful and take the time you need to do it safely.

I apologise to his family, for having to go through this again. But on all public levels, he was never associated with me directly, and he wasn’t with them either. He also changed his name to a psuedo name, the person who introduced himself to me… was not the person he was at birth. I know they are concerned that by speaking out about my abuse brings shame on their family. I have weighed this up carefully… but my silence and possibly not helping someone get the courage to leave a similar situation is not a risk I can take.

So where does this leave Raspberry Jelly??  Well, Now more than ever RJ is my lifeline. Last week I applied for and pretty much got a ‘real job’. But I just KNEW it wouldn’t work for me or the children, things were still too raw. That in fact I had a job. That I could make this work, if I tried. Yes, I’m getting help from the government at the moment. But RJ can top that up a little, until I can come off the crappy (but gratefully received) benefit.  So I’m working with a caseworker to make that happen. But since I’ve been gone sooo long, it’s going to take some hard yards to get it going again.  I’m up to the challenge. But being ‘kind to myself’ as well.  So I may not be as socially active as I was… but I assure you I’m here and getting the job done.  In fact, I’m currently ‘rebranding’ so ‘watch this space’ for some awesome … new beginnings

Much love to you all and here’s to an awesome happy future.

Miranda

NINE MONTHS ON… How are things now?