Foreword: This post is the most difficult thing I ever wrote. It is based on my personal toxic and abusive relationship. I often paused typing during the process, to erase tears flowing through my cheeks and ease my mind from a mixture of good and bad memories that running like a movie. It disturbed me mentally.
To post this writing is my greatest dilemma. There have been several times I deleted and adjusted the content. Sharing publicly my personal matter is my darkest embarrassment. I was afraid of questions and judgement that could break me even more. ‘Escaping Stockholm’ is purposely chosen for the title, since I am not feeling comfortable to use direct term such as ‘abuse’ or ‘toxic’. This post is intended to be read by those who are experiencing similar situation. Not for those who are only curious about my private life and generate gossip from this.
There was my friend, he shared his relationship to me. What saddened me most is the fact he was on the same foot where I used to be. He is having difficulty to escape this situation just like me. From here, I begin to wonder, how many of them are actually in this situation?
The fears I have earlier slowly disappear. I am more scared that abusive-possessive-toxic relationship becomes acceptable. In my country, abusive relationship is never greatly seen as importance. People think it is a private thing that should not involve other people and solve alone by the couple. What I want to highlight from my own experience: They actually need your help.
I gained my courage to post this writing. While trying to hide some details, I try to give some small hints about my past relationship with hope that reader is capable to perceive a clear representation of an abusive relationship, which is not always like you often see in media. Without any official certification as a psychologist I hope my story will inspire my readers to help their friend, to help their daughter, to help their brothers and sisters, to help their parents. To help you.
Do you know Stockholm Syndrome?
If I cite from Wikipedia,
Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.
Like most people, I had shallow understanding and overlooked this phenomenon until I finally experienced it myself and start to concern about this situation.
Abusive relationship is never fine. Not between mother-son, brother-sister, teacher-student, husband-wife, friend-friend, girlfriend-boyfriend, human-animal. Everyone-everyone.
My Stockholm Syndrome is where I allowed ‘it’ to do so. I tolerated every mistake ‘it’ did, even partly blaming myself for contributing the error. I accepted all punishments whenever I am disobeying ‘its’ relationship rules. I stayed in this state until I begin to realize this relationship is destructive. I sacrificed a lot of money, time, opportunity, energy and mental state. My relationship with my family and friends crumbled. I do things that I do not actually enjoy. I feel slowly losing my authenticity. I am worried about almost everything. Every step I am going, I was afraid of the consequences I will get.
I counted my efforts that I shared to ‘it’ and my family-friends. I counted again the return that I received. Even with lesser act, I got more love, sincerity, understanding and support from my friends and family. While I was believing ‘its’ anger management will improve, one day ‘it’ hurt my once more. Physically. ‘Its’ desire to hurt me conclude the future of this relationship. Therefore, I finally decided to give up my relationship. I know my decision would not return my lost. I can never fix my past. What I can do: create better future.
To my dearest reader, never afraid of changes. You are never too late to make better life. Here is how I escape my Stockholm, that may relate to you.
- Do you see the sign?
Are you forbidden to dress up or cutting your hair without their permission? Are you forbidden to join any activities that you like? Are you forbidden to make your own decision?Are you forbidden to unite with family and friends? Are you forbidden to sharing kindness? Does he/she blame you for every trouble he/she did?
In my society, somehow there is a degree for abusive relationship where in certain cases it is tolerable. I used to count abusive relationship only when it comes to extreme physical attacks like choking, hitting, or throwing boiled water. Mine was not as major as those, but it left bite mark, nail scratch and bruises on my arms. I did not take it into account. One day I read an article about abusive relationship based on Liane Moriarty’s fiction “Big Little Lies”. I learned: Abusive relationship is not always visible and I was in the exact situation.
2. Document it
If you doubt about your situation, you must consult ‘the sign’ to your surroundings whether it is your family, friends, or even strangers. Thanks to technology, it is now very easy to archive everything: Screenshots the conversation between you and the subject; take a picture of your bruises.
3. Plan your escape
This is the most difficult and dangerous step. You must ask your friend or family to guide you in this part to prevent more dangerous and serious attack that might harm you due to the break up and broken heart.
4. Forgive but Forget not
This is phase where you are questioning your decision. You will have moral dilemma. You will keep asking whether to compromise with the relationship that you have strongly built or to leave. The subject might ask your forgiveness. While you are in an unstable state, it is very easy to forgive and get back together. I used to be trapped in the first choice that finally ended up in the same loop. But when you realized the mistake in your past relationship, your heart will be filled with confusion, regret, hatred, and vengeance. Either way, it must be guided. You must stay close with friends and family to regain peace in your mind and soul. You must try to forgive but not to forget.
Here my message for you: if you realized your partner is an abuser, leaving them is the best decision to teach them about respecting their spouse.
5. Regain your Dignity
It is time to focus on what you love to do.
This is what I feel after I leave my Stockholm:
I love my new body. I love the new skills that I have now. I love my job, I love my flaws. I love the experiences that I had. I am proud of myself how I used to help my friends sincerely.
I want to live longer, to read good books, to compete in any games, to watch beautiful movies, to produce more arts, to join in every opportunities, to meet amazing people, to visit wonderful places, to challenge my taste buds and waist line with great foods, to bond with old friends, to learn new skills.
To love yourself is the best feeling.
6. It’s OK to Love
After your escape from abusive relationship, you may be afraid to get new love. You have trust issue. You lost faith in love. Once you meet a certain person that you love, you are afraid to go further.
My dear, to love is a beautiful thing. It is not a sin. It is OK to love.
Only this time, raise your awareness.
Do you see the ‘sign’ on your friends?
It is time to be brave and your turn to rescue them.