PTSD & Domestic Abuse!

A survivors story!

I want to take you the reader on my journey of abuse, how I came to realise I was suffering from PTSD and how I eventually, after 28 years I was released from the shackles that held me in fear and panic for so long.

When I was twenty, I met my future husband to be, he was good looking, charming and outgoing. I quickly fell in love and moved in with him. For a while everything was fine, but I soon came to realise he liked to drink a lot. Sometimes when he had been drinking, he would become angry and be verbally abusive to me, but the next day he would always apologise and say it would never happen again, he would take me into town, buy me a new dress and take me out for a romantic meal.

There would always be a next time though, and my friends and family were worried about my relationship with him, but I had fallen for him hook, line and sinker and I thought I could help him to change. Unfortunately for me, things got worse, and he regularly chipped away at my self-esteem and belittled me.

He was completely charming when he was sober, but after a several drinks, his eyes would have a red mist over them, and it was like living with a pressure cooker, but never quite knowing when he would start the abuse.

I went through so much abuse, from him chasing me in the street with a knife, throwing items at my head, pushing my face into a wall which made me bleed, he stole my bank card and pinched all my money and put the card back in my purse after, he made me feel worthless and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. The way he treated me was horrendous and there are many more episodes I could tell you about, but I would run out of lines.

I became pregnant with our son in 1990, and we married in 1991, and I believed he would change once our son was born, he did stop drinking as much for a while, but it soon crept back in. 3 years later I gave birth to our daughter, he was working as a security guard at the time and kept coming home late and stinking of aftershave. I challenged him about it, and he openly admitted to sleeping with another woman.

Prior to this I had started to think about how I could get out of the relationship, unfortunately back in the 90’s there wasn’t much support around for domestic violence and I felt like I was very much on my own. I used to lay beside him in bed worrying about the environment our children were growing up in and I knew I had to get out before something tragic happened, either to me, or to our children.

Once he told me about the affair, I asked for his key to the house, and I asked him to leave. That was the moment that my life was going to change for the better. However, I still had an endless battle on my hands, he would turn up drunk in the middle of the night, ringing the doorbell, shouting abuse at me and he tried to set fire to our house.

We went through the courts for him to have access to our children, but he continually would not turn up to visit them. Our son was only 3 and our daughter was 5 weeks old when we split up, and I had to console our son every time his Daddy didn’t turn up. And then suddenly, a few months down the line, he just disappeared, there was no contact with me or the children.

One New Year’s Eve I bumped into a friend of his who I had not seen for a few years, he informed me that my now ex-husband had beaten someone up so badly he had killed him. Because the attack was so ferocious, he was committed to murder and spent 14 years in prison. He was sentenced in the nineties. My Dad used to say he would go onto kill someone, and he was right. I am so glad I got out of the relationship when I did.

I felt relieved he was locked away and he could not harm anyone else or harass me and the children, I began to try to put my life back together again. For the first few months, I felt like a zombie, going through the motions and I lost a great deal of weight. I felt like I had shut my feelings down and was functioning but not expressing how I felt. I had amazing support from my Mum and Dad, who only lived up the road from me, and friends gathered around to show their support.

The thing that plagued me the most was the horrific nightmares I suffered from. I dreamt about him several times a week, he was always trying to hurt me or other family members, but at the time I did not realise I was suffering from PTSD. I tried counselling sessions and CBT, but nothing worked for me, so I just stopped trying and decided to live with it.

In 2010 I started to feel ill, I was suffering from different symptoms and each day I seemed to have a new one, I began to keep a record of them to take to the Dr with me. They ranged from pains in my hips, pains in my hands, headaches, feeling very fatigued, constant pins and needles in my legs and feet, to name but a few.

I was under the GP for a year before I was diagnosed with M.E and fibromyalgia and at that time my entire life came to a complete standstill. I had to take 6 months off work, I could barely get out of bed as I was so exhausted and even the simplest of jobs such as brushing my teeth was hard work. I could sleep for hours but never felt refreshed.

At my lowest I was taking twenty-seven different medications a day. I then decided I had to get my life back. It took me years of taking baby steps and although I still have a flare up every now and again, they tend to last a few days rather than weeks or months and I only take three different medications a day.

Suffering with PTSD and the trauma I went through with Nick affecting my relationships for many, many years. I would put a barrier around myself to stop anyone from getting too close to me. I was not ever going to let anyone hurt me again. My relationships would last around 2 years and then I would end it.

In 2017 I spoke to my then partner about my nightmares and he said it sounded like I had PTSD; I spoke to my GP who confirmed it. At this point I had been suffering from PTSD for 28 years. I was put on the waiting list for EDMR but then covid hit so the waiting just became longer to wait for treatment. In 2021 I was made redundant from a job I had worked for the past 15 years, my daughter was living in Wales (we are originally form Plymouth), so I made the decision to use my redundancy money to move to Wales and start a new life at the age of fifty-four.

I really wanted to have some treatment for my PTSD before moving so I made an appointment to see a hypnotherapist. I had not tried it before and thought it would be worth a go. I had one session, and it was like a switch had been flicked in my brain, I became so much more positive in my way of thinking, and my bad nightmares stopped immediately. I went onto have three more sessions, not because I felt as if I needed it but because I loved the experience.

I found hypnotherapy fascinating, and I wanted to learn more about it. I moved to Wales and enrolled on a hypnotherapist course through Hypnotic World, as I wanted to train so I could help people suffering from PTSD and other issues to lead a happier and more fulfilling life. I have since passed several courses including a Master Hypnotherapist course, smoking cessation, gastric band and now I am doing this course to enable me to help other sufferers of PTSD.

Taking the step to move to Wales and train in a new job was a massive step for me and it really did pay off. I am now in a loving, caring relationship with the most wonderful, caring, kind man who I love with all my heart and am doing a job I absolutely love.

Seeing the change in my clients is the most rewarding part of my job and I learn increasingly more about hypnotherapy every day. I am living proof that PTSD can be treated, and sufferers can go on to lead a better quality of life without having to live in fear anymore. Never give up hope!

Copyright – S Hatherley

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