01 April 2021

Abusive Behaviour Towards Me

Vernon Chalmers Reflections of My Life Pincushion Protea Kirstenbosch Copyright Vernon Chalmers Photography
“It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.” ― Aisha Mirza

When the first physical threat occurred about four months into the relationship I was overwhelmed with my girlfriend's threatening and aggressive behaviour towards me.

I had no inclination that she was capable of this (although at this stage I was aware of her callous and self-centered nature). I was therefor quite shocked and visibly shaken when threatened with a knife one evening (with the words to literally kill me).
  
Checkmate... be careful what you wish for
All of this happened because I won her in a couple of chess games one evening. It was the first time we played chess together. She was nagging me for weeks to play, but I was reluctant because I haven't played for the last 30 years (and according to her she claimed to be a very good chess player). Nevertheless, we played one evening and lo and behold I won the first two games, she won the third game and I won another one or two games. Immediately after this she became angry at me and when trying to calm her down (and touched her on the sides of her arms ) all hell broke loose - she started shouting and that's when she threatened me with her chef's knife. Followed by a barrage of verbal abuse of utter disrespectful name calling, but I did not retaliate and waited for her to calm down.

I was in an absolute daze. It took me a few days to process her aggressive action. I knew I was treading in potentially dangerous pathological behaviour territory as far as her explosive rage was concerned, but decided to stay. I did not receive an apology and when I tried to discuss this unfortunate incident with her there was absolutely no conversation, just a blank stare and an agony of silence. I parked her unacceptable behaviour in the 'back of my head' for the time being and we carried on with our lives.

Physical attack
Late one evening, a few weeks later, I was physically attacked by her. I was punched, my clothes ripped off my body and I was screamed and shouted at. I went into a state of shock, did not retaliate and told her that it would be best for me to leave. She said nothing, just grabbed all her house keys (there was no way for me to get out) and locked herself inside the bedroom. Again, I did not retaliate, I calmed myself down and planned an exit strategy. A couple of minutes later she returned from the bedroom and I said to her that it would be best for me to go home. I had a few things in her bedroom that I wanted to collect and as I was picking up my camera bag, I was hit over the head, from behind, with quite a large chocolate Easter bunny. It scattered in hundreds of little bits all over the floor - I was dumbstruck and confused. I realised then there is no way that I will be able to leave and waited for her to calm down - which she eventually did.

All of this happened because I switched the television of while she was apparently watching. Well, she wasn't watching, she came out of the shower and I was also ready to go to bed. As I was switching the television off she entered the living room and then it was when all hell broke lose again. I knew she was edgy during the evening, but had no idea what was about to happen later.

Ongoing verbal abuse
In trying to discuss this the next day, or any day thereafter, I received no discussion or apology from her - just the blank stare again. I knew that the relationship was in a danger zone (at least from my perspective), but still decided to stay. I stayed another three months. During this time we had some good times, but this was also the time that the verbal abuse (mainly over the telephone) would escalate to a weekly episode - generally on a Thursday or a Friday.

The physical and continued verbal abuse combined with her ever increasing Lack of Gratitude, and low levels of empathy / remorse made me not to return to her, but stay in my own apartment for a couple of weeks. This is where I struggled the most with understanding my situation - I was in love with an intelligent and smart woman, but she would frequently engage in uncontrolled anger episodes towards me which can only be described as an uncontrollable narcissistic rage when her needs and / or unrealistic expectations were not met / or when she experienced setbacks and disappointments.

Being on my own I tried to come to terms with her behaviour, my responsibility in potentially triggering this pathological behaviour and the future of this relationship. As I started researching and identifying many of her inappropriate behaviours toward me I realised that this is common behaviour with many people associated with and / or diagnosed with a Cluster B personality disorder i.e. Borderline personality disorder, Narcissistic personality disorder, Histrionic personality disorder, Antisocial personality disorder and possibly comorbid with Bipolar I / II disorders. I could tick many traits across the Cluster B personality / mood disorder spectrum.

I also realised that although I love this woman there is no way I could continue a relationship with her. I started examining my sense of sadness and confronting the darkness of my mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms manifesting through continuous anxiety, fear, hypervigilance, insomnia and guilt.

My family and friends also requested me to stay away from her. I went completely No Contact in September 2020 and still maintain this today. I'm slowly coming to terms with all of this. The FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) is lifting, my Cognitive Dissonance is slowly dissipating and the majority of my PTSD symptoms are making way for a healthier lifestyle through increased motivation, creative activities and physical fitness.

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