This story is part of the Love Life. Om. Survivor Story Series. All names and personal identifiers have been removed and/or edited. If you’d like your story published, complete the Survivor Story Series Submission Form.

There are people in the world who want to hurt you because they need a scapegoat upon whom to unload their pain and feelings of worthlessness. Like my ex. He was very fond of weapons and kept a knife in his car and waved a samurai sword in front of me once, explaining how it could cut through bone. Much to his surprise and despite being physically small, soft-spoken, and shy,  I am one hell of a fighter when the situation calls for it. This was one of those situations…

Before the relationship, I was happy. I worked in a professional role and was looking to share a relationship with a kind, caring man who understood me. I had been single for 3 years. Although, my previous relationship was very taxing, as my partner had a large number of complex medical conditions, we parted as friends. I was feeling burned out and hoped for my next relationship to be more mutually supportive.

The relationship began on a dating site after he sent me an online message. We seemed to have so much in common, and he seemed to have it all together. He had a well-paid job, made an effort with his appearance, spoke softly to me, and was very fit and strong.

In hindsight, I can see the red fags, but I’d never heard of a red flag before, so didn’t know what it all meant at the time.

A few months into our online communication, he sent me a text message describing how he wanted to sweep me into his arms, lay me on the floor, and make love to me. I felt uncomfortable with his message, and I told him I’m not into exchanging that type of message as I am very a private person. And then another message of a similar sort arrived in which he described me kissing him in a way that sounded seedy and vulgar. I was very upset over this and told him so. As a result, I cut contact with him for about a week. He was very reassuring and sounded kind, loving, and understanding about my concerns, not texting like that ever again.

The evening before we were going to get together for the first time, I couldn’t sleep; I only managed two hours. I was in two minds about him. (I’d never heard of cognitive dissonance at the time).

Our first date was a day trip to an island. I paid, and he asked for my bank account details to pay me back. Not only did he pay me back for the trip, he put 5K into my account to help with bills. I was thrilled! Naive, perhaps, but I was thrilled. He said he just wanted to help me, and it was for our future. Besides, less than a year earlier, I had paid 8K to my former boyfriend towards debts he had prior to meeting me. Even though I knew we had no future together, I wanted him to have a good credit rating anyway. So this gesture didn’t stand out as strange, because I myself had done the same thing for someone. And not ONE woman I worked with said ‘watch out’. They all thought this gesture was kind and helpful, as did I.

We went on dates, ate out a lot, and went walking together. He gave me shoulder rides, which I love, and asked me to ‘go steady’ with him in front of a waterfall with beautiful colored lights all around it. He cooked me vegan food, took me on drives in his 4WD to beautiful beaches, and said he would never do anything to hurt me. After dating for 6 months, he spoke of marriage and described us as being ‘soulmates’. I’m not into astrology and had never heard of soulmates, so I just humored him at the time.

We waited 8-9 months before being intimate and only after we provided each other with a full screening of STD test results. This is my standard request of anyone I date intimately to make sure they’re not using me for one thing. It’s never been a problem in the past, and it wasn’t with him either.

Our “first time” was during a weekend away together, which was a hellish experience. I booked us into a beautiful bed and breakfast in the country. I pulled together special outfits to honor the occasion. He refused to use protection and put his hands around my neck twice during our first encounter. I immediately pushed him away and said, “Do not do that. I am not into that kinky stuff?!”

He didn’t do it again. Unfortunately, sex with him was mechanical and lacked emotion. I told him he hurt me; he said he never had that problem before. Once, he snarled at me when I tried to communicate during intimacy. I told him, “Oh well, it appears we aren’t sexually compatible.” But he disagreed and felt we just needed more time. Three days later, he slapped me on the back of the leg and left a hand print. He said he was only joking around and it didn’t hurt me. He continued bossing me around in the bedroom, often demanding I get undressed.

If I cried, he was unsympathetic. He encouraged me to leave my job and said he would support me. He then put me on a $500 per three week allowance and told me to ask for anything I needed, which I refused to do. I offered to give him his 5K back, and he became angry saying he didn’t want me to mention it again. He tried to tell me what to wear, which went down like a lead balloon. So his snide remarks about my clothes continued. He wanted me to stop speaking to my male friends and focus only on him.

I had a tumor in my wrist, which made keyboard use difficult. I needed an operation, and he said he would provide the emotional support I needed to get through this health scare. But the relationship ended when I flew interstate for the operation. He promised to fly to meet my family and look after me. The evening before my operation, he phoned to tell me the trip was too expensive and reminded me how much effort he was already making to support me. He was cold, unfeeling, and showed no interest or concern about my impending procedure. I told him he sounded like a stranger, and he agreed the dynamics had changed.

Despite this conversation, he made the trip and was waiting for me at my relative’s home when I returned after my operation. (My family trusted him enough to leave the key in the letterbox.) I was two hours off the operating table, groggy, still coming out of the anesthesia with a huge cast on my right arm. In this state, he sexually forced himself on me while I cried for him to stop. Afterwards he asked me, ‘You don’t think I am too forceful with you, do you?” Then he said (mask slip), “You’re going to have to be very strong to deal with me darling.”

On the way to the airport, he perversely groped me. I had difficulty pushing his hand away due to the cast on my arm and my medicated state. My relative and the taxi driver were present; I was shocked, horrified, and felt sick to the stomach. I ended the relationship as soon as I safely could (within three weeks), put a restraining order against him, changed my phone number, and abandoned my email. Financially, I was living on only $9 per day after mortgage costs to cover everything and didn’t know how I would survive. But I took the leap of faith and knew somehow I would be okay and anything was better than being with this sick man. Before I left, I told him he had a psychological condition called narcissism, his behavior was not normal, he was lousy in bed, he had a poor fashion sense, would never be happy, was an empty shell of a person, had nothing to offer, his car was old technology, his job was unimpressive, he had a bad haircut, and his homemade muesli was inedible.

Initially, I couldn’t sleep. I was paranoid and worried about him breaking into my home to ‘get me’. I saw a doctor who put me on anti-depressants. I thought, “This is ridiculous! I’m not depressed.” Then, with the help of YouTube videos, I replaced 3 door locks in my home and added dead bolts myself, including putting a dead bolt on my bedroom door. I was terrified, but after I added these security measures, I slept perfectly.

I was always tired and depleted of energy. My iron was low, so I received iron infusions which required 6 injections in one sitting. I was anxious and hyper vigilant. To counter this and get things off my chest, I shared my fears, confusion, and worries with people I trusted. I often wondered if my pain and hurt made me less appealing to others. But no one seemed to treat me any differently once I shared the truth of my experiences.

I had some residual cognitive dissonance. To work through it and see clearly, I hung nice, happy images of the two of us around my home. Then I wrote very explicit descriptions of his abuse and stuck them to the pictures. First, I’d just see the images and think, “Oh, wow, we were happy.” Then I’d read the attached notes and realize, “OMG! What a sicko!”

Despite my efforts to heal myself, I still suffer from PTSD and C-PTSD. The following are approaches I’ve taken to continue healing and ease my symptoms:

  • I educated myself on narcissism and sociopathy and dark triad traits, red flag, the abuse cycle and Cluster Bs on the internet.
  • I initiated what I called the ’15 minute rule’ immediately after I escaped. This meant I would do one nice thing for myself every 15 minutes, like making myself a cup of tea, drinking a fresh glass of water, picking myself a flower, or listening to a song I liked. ANYTHING positive to boost my health and well-being.
  • I changed my furniture around, so I wasn’t picturing him in the scene anymore.
  • I did a 12-week domestic violence education program.
  • I sought counseling at Relationships Australia and Helping Minds for friends/ family of the mentally unwell.
  • I spent time in my garden and with my pets.
  • I joined Kindle unlimited and read as much as I can about abuse, psychology, and power and control games.
  • I upped the probiotics in my diet as this has been shown to improve symptoms of PTSD.
  • I’ve been juicing daily, especially neat ginger juice which is a natural happiness booster and full of nutrients.
  • I drink lots of green tea, listen to meditation music, and walk…a lot!
  • I increased my fish oil tablets to reduce stress and anxiety.

On this journey, I’ve also learned a few very important things about myself:

  • I learned I come from a narcissistic, abusive family, which explains why I suffered from BOA. (Blindness of Abuse by Sheila Robinson-Kiss)
  • I learned not everyone thinks like I do and some people are predatory in their interactions with others.
  • I learned I have certain traits that are coveted/sought by Cluster B’s. Namely, I am kind, caring, generous and an Empath, someone who gives great narcissistic supply.
  • I learned I am extremely resilient and can cope with any experience. I see every experience as a learning opportunity.
  • I learned the abuse against me is nothing personal. If someone has socially abnormal behavior, an inability to love, and little to no impulse control then no matter what characteristics their partner has, their actions will remain the same as they have no other operational template to guide their behavior.
  • I learned I need to be more discrete with whom I trust, and if I feel unsafe or uncomfortable with someone, I need to tune into and trust my intuition.
  • I learned I need to limit contact with my family. A family can be a Trojan horse for Cluster B’s.
  • I learned I am very strong, despite being physically small, softly spoken, and shy. I am one hell of a fighter when the situation calls for it.
  • I learned I have a fantastic sense of humor and am actually pretty fun to be around. I can see the absurdity of it all and now have a new sense of my own value.

More importantly, I learned kind, caring women need to understand their personalities are a commodity for people with abusive, Cluster B personality types. The narcissistic supply provided by kind, caring women is like a drug to them. They do not change; they do not care to change. They will manufacture fear, dependency, and self doubt in you before they will let you walk away.

Underneath, they are broken and damaged. Unfortunately, no amount of love can fill the abyss within them.

This story is part of the Love Life. Om. Survivor Story Series. All names and personal identifiers have been removed and/or edited. If you’d like your story published, complete the Survivor Story Series Submission Form.

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Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo

Mindfulness Coach at Love. Life. Om. Mindfulness
Paula is a passionate and innovative author, educator, and mindfulness coach.
Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo
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