This might be the first “screw you” series for survivors of abuse, in which I hope to teach, arm and empower with a hint of sass. In the process of liberation (getting out), deliverance (understanding and acceptance) and recovery, I experienced many of the usual stages of grief. I expect you will, too. It’s a loss: the loss of a dream, an ideal, time, love, money, security, identity… essentially anything that is a piece of the puzzle of your life. But I survived it and, as I’ve always said: there is nothing so special about me that you can’t get out and find real happiness too. Even though it’s sometimes hard to believe, I swear you’ll survive! I am over 5 years out of my hell and even though I have lost everything along the way, my record for surviving bad days still remains at 100%, so I like your chances, too.
This is about abuse, about escape, and about recovery. It is about a really intelligent girl with a big heart, but a level of trust and empathy that made her the perfect target for a predator. It is my true story, no embellishments, no holds barred, no swearing spared.
This is my life.
This collection comprises over two years of my writing for a support site I started years after I had finally ended my marriage. I promised myself at the time that I would keep the writing raw, so that others having the same experiences could feel that I was able to truly understand them, for so few people do.
I have designed this to be read as a situational resource. In other words, whatever you are facing in the moment can probably be addressed by one of the specific sections. Each essay has information that takes time to internalize, so a little at a time is best. This also means you can re-read each entry multiple times to get the most out of it, when you really need it. If you do it right, recovery from abuse is a special kind of grieving process. You have to get through the grief to find your strength and give the abuser a giant middle finger.
In these pages you will see the chronicling of my journey from deliverance to liberation to recovery from abuse. If you are a survivor, I promise that you will see yourself. If you aren’t sure whether you are in an abusive relationship, I hope that my stories will help you to discern your own situation with clarity.
Some of the content linked above is members only content. To access the whole series, join SwanWaters today.
If by some chance you are reading this blog series but are not a survivor of abuse, you will find this an enlightening and maybe sometimes frightening account of what a target (we don’t use the word victim!) experiences both during the relationship and post-escape. Be sure to share with your friends, because you never know who is living this behind closed doors. We are great secret-keepers.
Survivors of Abuse Are Not Just Women
One other note: I am fully aware that not all abusers are male and nothing about my writing is intended to be gender-stereotypical. I write mostly about the abuser being “he” because they are my stories, but statistically 15% of abusers are female and are just as dangerous. It’s just that my experience is as a female being abused by a male. I had the privilege of helping a few male friends escape their abusers and I know they saw, felt, experienced, and struggled with all of the same things I did. If by some chance you are a man reading this, know that these things apply to you, too.
Throughout this series of articles, you will see me refer to my ex-husband as C.C. That’s my shorthand for Captain Crazy of the S.S. Melodrama, a term I adopted after a person on my support site used it and I thought it was both fabulous and fitting for all abusers. I use nicknames due to the requirements put upon me under the terms of a lawsuit settlement which prevent me from using “disparaging” appellations when referring to him. In true malignant narcissist style, they can’t have you calling them “names”, even when the shoe fits! It’s not just that I’m not allowed to name him, I am not allowed to refer to him using certain words or phrases, which shows you just how deep the crazy really runs. He sued me for $2 million because he was essentially butt hurt, meanwhile stripping all forms of financial security from the children he brought into the world and then ditched. I also call him My Personal Psychopath (MPP) on occasion to mix it up a bit.
Throughout my writing, you will see some terms repeatedly. In the interest of clarifying exactly what I mean when I use these terms, here are definitions and their sources.
“Malignant” Narcissist: This term was coined by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. In trying to understand himself and why he operates the way he does, he began to dissect his own behavior and motivations. A narcissist is simply one who is very self-focused and enjoys keeping the focus on themselves. We have all experienced this person, the obnoxious boyfriend of a friend or a jackass we work with. A malignant narcissist, however, is dangerous. The MN goes far beyond being self-focused and actually punishes people who do not provide the expected level of adoration or compliance. The MN will engineer social and work situations such that he can devalue others in an effort to make himself look much better than he actually is. They may or may not have been formally diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but there are psychological checklists that help distinguish between someone who is just “full of himself” and someone who is truly dangerous to others.
Sociopath: This is a term used both colloquially and clinically to describe someone who is either formally diagnosed with or fits the criteria for Anti-Social Personality Disorder. These people lack any sort of remorse, guilt or shame, yet they can put on an Oscar-worthy show when it suits them. They likely can cry on cue and have a tendency toward portraying themselves as the hapless victim of a string of monstrous “others”. They justify their own sick and obsessive needs for revenge and complete power over others by being such a “victim”. Sociopaths are very good at choosing targets and are driven mostly by primal and/or superficial urges: money, status, sex being at the top. When they are finished with a target, they will change “relationships” as quickly as underwear. Sociopaths are often thought of as only serial killers, but this is entirely false. Sociopaths can be found in churches, political organizations, businesses, clubs…essentially anywhere that people either frequent for fun, fulfillment, or necessity. The common sociopath may harm many more people than even the most notorious serial killers by taking an individual’s self-concept, self-worth, money, property, job, friends, family, children and future…then turn on a dime and do it to another. They have no empathy and lying is as easy to them as breathing. Sociopaths are adrenaline junkies and thrive on risks. An oversized ego isn’t what we’re talking about; this is someone who has an exceptional sense of entitlement and frequently portray all their “exes” as “crazy”. Usually that’s followed by a statement about how you are so much different and they have “been looking for you” their entire lives. Some other good tipoffs are that the sociopath has very few actual friends, even if they “know” a lot of people. The sociopath is charming and glib and entertaining, but as part of an overall plan to manipulate. The sociopath is irresponsible, impulsive and has zero regard for societal norms. This is a person who will bare-face lie in a court or legal document because they truly believe that laws don’t apply to them. But the biggest tipoff is this: the eyes. Sociopaths have “dead” eyes. If you have seen one and know what you’re looking at, you know what I mean.