This is one in a series of articles which I hope will help women to recognise patterns of abuse. Share this with men and women, old and young, so that we can spot abuse as early as possible whether we are in or out of the abusive relationship. By recognising patterns early on, we can save a life, save someone unnecessary damage and pain, and help them to live the life they deserve.
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face … (W. B. Yeats)
When she saw him the first time, her instincts screamed that she should run. But he showed up at her office one day with roses and she was flattered. So she ignored her instincts and listened to her hormones. It was the first time any man had ever made her feel so special.
He found out what she liked and got her small, thoughtful presents all the time. Her instincts kept screaming but she was deafened by flattery. But in between the flattering, she could have sworn that one night she saw him parked outside her workplace. It was an eerie feeling but she dismissed it.
So she started dating him and then one day he confronted her about things he had found in her purse! Later, he searched through her Facebook account and proceeded to attack her verbally about her past. Things were never the same after that but she still stayed. She stayed because he kept doing those small thoughtful things.
In the beginning, he made her feel like they could talk about anything and so she told him all her secrets. It was just a tactic though because he soon used her past as his supporting argument for not trusting her. Soon it was always her fault that he did not feel as if he were in a relationship. He found creative ways to make her feel inadequate.
She became so emotionally attached to him that soon it was easy for him to manipulate her. He made her feel guilty for wanting to have friends. He made her feel guilty for wanting to live her life the way she should live it. After a while she could no longer talk to him. He stopped getting her presents, he stopped making her feel special and every time he hurt her feelings he said it was her fault.
When she made an effort to look pretty, he always began his compliment by first criticising something about her. She never did her hair quite right or her behaviour was never ladylike enough. Little by little, his words were hurting her, eating at her, making her feel worthless.
But then one day, a friend told her that he was displaying all the traits of a psychological abuser. So she googled it and the more she read, the more shocked she became. Finally, she recognised him for who he was but she wished she had seen it earlier. She wished she had been able to recognise these traits before he had managed to injure her self-worth and dignity.
She’s cut him out of her life and she’s trying her best to recover. I spoke to her yesterday and tried to tell her not to worry, that it could have happened to any woman, that any woman could have easily fallen prey to him. But it isn’t always so easy to find the right words in these situations. So instead I shared some of my favourite poetry with her.
I told her to believe that one day she will find a man who will love “the pilgrim Soul in you” and who will love “the sorrows of your changing face”. He will never hurt you with words or make you feel less than you are. But that man, when you find him, will trust and respect you. What else could I say?