The Lies #WhenIBecameFree

Working with survivors and being one, I know that one of the greatest hurdles towards healing is the constant worry about what others say about us. Even more so, are the lies that are told.  If we grew up in an abusive environment (most of us have) and then continued that pattern of living in abuse as adults, we've been surrounded by pathological liars and have done absolutely everything we can to keep them happy so that we do not end up on the brown end of the lying stick.

It is one of the ways they controlled us, that fear of what they would say to others and then, would all those others believe them. In a twisted way, some of us, felt safer living with the abuse than facing what life would be like with all those lies slapping us in the face, everywhere we'd go.

My ex-husband was extremely skilled at lying. I even started to believe he was so gifted at it, he started believing those lies to the point he'd attempt to use them against me when he was drunk. They were paranoid conversations in his head.

When I started making the move to end our relationship he told some of his friends and family I was having a lesbian affair. He backed it up by the friendship I had with a woman who had more masculine traits than feminine, her sexuality was something I never asked about.

I recently heard from a mutual friend of ours that during the time when we separated he told him I was in "cahoots" with a business owner in town and it was all a conspiracy to get rid of him.

There were the lies that I stole his money and was living high off the hog. This would have been during the time I was begging that he not play games with the money so that I could feed the children more than oatmeal, hot dogs, pancakes or top ramen.

These lies were spread among family, friends, and the people he worked with - it got to the point that I didn't know who was saying what or worse yet, who believed what. Remember,  he was a very functional alcoholic - handsome, charming, great sense of humor and hard working. In their eyes it would be easy to believe that I must have been the crazy one.

When you live in such an environment you're always working double-time trying to prove the person you are, going above and beyond in trying to get the truths out there but unfortunately those truths do not carry the same amount of intrigue and shareable value that a drama filled lie does.

I can remember there was even a point after that last attack on August 13, 2007, where he tried to claim he didn't sexually and physically assault me, rather that I wanted it - he told his attorney he was only trying to live out a twisted fetish fantasy of mine.

When a life has been so harshly impacted by lies, the damage is real. It goes beyond the damage a reputation may face, it sinks to the core of the soul, the darkness grows and the self esteem takes the greatest blow. The falsehood can taunt the victim to the point of isolation and for some the pain is so great, life doesn't seem worth living any longer.

We understand it in children when they face bullying in schools and on social media - we have campaigns against it all, but when it comes to the dynamics in an adult abusive relationship, society turns a blind eye to the damage that is done because a lot of the time they are taking part in keeping the cycle going.

This is why for many survivors truth becomes a battle cry. A mission that can take over their lives to the point of being detrimental because in all reality there is no way to change the minds of those who want to believe the worst. It doesn't help that the same borderline personality disorder in our abusers can be found throughout our day to day world in other relationships - work, school, and other various points of our community.

Many survivors also have another lingering effect of being traumatized and that is hyper-vigilance- we are constantly scanning our environments for potential threats to our physical and mental safety.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a path filled with land mines. As it is for veterans of war, fireworks or an engine backfire can trigger that programmed reaction they had in the battle-field, a lie can be a trigger reminding that survivor of the mental torture once endured...there will be a reaction.

Being in the public's eye and working in management after leaving my abusive situation has not been easy. I've been triggered many times over and to the point of sometimes wishing I would be happy living in a cave. Being an advocate can make you a target for many things, especially when you're putting your viewpoints out there for dissection, those who disagree with you tend to attack the person rather than the opinion/decision.  So, needless to say I am constantly working on my healing. Yes, there are days I am completely drained. Healing is hard work.

From the National Center on PTSD:
Coping with Traumatic Stress Reactions
When trauma survivors take direct action to cope with their stress reactions, they put themselves in a position of power. Active coping with the trauma makes you begin to feel less helpless.
  • Active coping means accepting the impact of trauma on your life and taking direct action to improve things.
  • Active coping occurs even when there is no crisis. Active coping is a way of responding to everyday life. It is a habit that must be made stronger.

Know that recovery is a process

Following exposure to a trauma most people experience stress reactions. Understand that recovering from the trauma is a process and takes time. Knowing this will help you feel more in control.
  • Having an ongoing response to the trauma is normal.
  • Recovery is an ongoing, daily process. It happens little by little. It is not a matter of being cured all of a sudden.
  • Healing doesn't mean forgetting traumatic events. It doesn't mean you will have no pain or bad feelings when thinking about them.
  • Healing may mean fewer symptoms and symptoms that bother you less.
  • Healing means more confidence that you will be able to cope with your memories and symptoms. You will be better able to manage your feelings.

Talk to others for support

When survivors talk about their problems with others, something helpful often results. It is important not to isolate yourself. Instead make efforts to be with others. Of course, you must choose your support people with care. You must also ask them clearly for what you need. With support from others, you may feel less alone and more understood. You may also get concrete help with a problem you have.

Practice relaxation methods

Try some different ways to relax, including:
  • Muscle relaxation exercises
  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Swimming, stretching, yoga
  • Prayer
  • Listening to quiet music
  • Spending time in nature
While relaxation techniques can be helpful, in a few people they can sometimes increase distress at first. This can happen when you focus attention on disturbing physical sensations and you reduce contact with the outside world. Most often, continuing with relaxation in small amounts that you can handle will help reduce negative reactions. You may want to try mixing relaxation in with music, walking, or other activities.

Distract yourself with positive activities

Pleasant recreational or work activities help distract a person from his or her memories and reactions. For example, art has been a way for many trauma survivors to express their feelings in a positive, creative way. Pleasant activities can improve your mood, limit the harm caused by PTSD, and help you rebuild your life.

A Final Word

Try using all these ways of coping to find which ones are helpful to you. Then practice them. Like other skills, they work better with practice. Be aware that there are also behaviors that DON'T help. Learn more about these negative coping methods that you should avoid in our Self-Help and Coping section. You will also -find information there about lifestyle changes that can help you cope with PTSD.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the #WhenIBecameFree project. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that so many understand the mission and what a crowd-funded creative project is - It was a huge risk to go this route and without support and trust, I would not have made it as far as I have with the work I am doing. With that, I do need continued support so that I can complete the project, do those speaking endeavors and meet with survivors 1:1. It is a fulltime effort.

Please consider donating and know that it is truly appreciated!

Go Fund Me

I also need to thank the corporate sponsors who have climbed aboard and believe in the work I am doing: Wisconsin River Meats,  Benders' Family Restaurant, The Dirty Turtle, and the Fun Company Game Store for being official sponsors of #WhenIBecameFree. Give a like to their their Facebook page (click links above) and let them know how appreciative we all are that they are supporting survivors finding their voices!

Also,  my baby boy who has donated his own hard earned cash and in-kind support as he will be writing and performing the music for the video, Kyle Roberts.  Give a like to his Facebook page.


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