WARNING – this is quite a long post, with limited social commentary, but I’m not apologising for it…
Hello again – been a while hasn’t it? There was a cunning plan to post something here a few weeks back to celebrate the fact that my book had officially been on sale for just over a month (available on Kindle only at the moment, sorry!). Believe it or not, I’m not here to talk about that…
I have never been one to air my dirty laundry in public, and for the most part keep a great many things to myself – this is just me and the way I am and frankly, I genuinely don’t give a flying fig what other people think the majority of the time. I am who I am, I say what I say, I do what I do, and I work hard – that’s me, full stop.
These last few weeks have been tough, really tough, and that doesn’t even take into account the news that the US are about to install a bell-end in The Whitehouse – I’d like to bring out the old adage “…only in America”, but alas, I fear it could happen in several other countries real soon, too, starting with France. Again, I’m not here to talk about that either…
A BRIEF HISTORY…
Without going into too much history, I moved from East London up to York over 15 years ago, mainly because I had the opportunity to do so with my job, my wife was happy to come with me, we had no children at the time, and in short, London was turning into a bit of a shithole as far as we were concerned.
Several years later, my young niece had a blazing row with her family, beat up her brother, had an altercation with her frankly useless mum, and fled up to York. We took her in, put her on that straight and narrow conformist path I like to call “getting on with your life”, and carried on. Hoorah for us.
We already had two girls of our own at this point, by the way, but they were young enough to share a single bedroom, so there was no real issue with my niece having the spare bedroom. A few years later she become a nightmare to live with, caused one too many family arguments and we effectively chucked her out. We did patch things up afterwards, but there was no way she was moving back in now that my own girls had grown up and claimed their own bedrooms.
Since then it’s been satisfying to see my niece grow and develop into a confident, professional, self-reliant young lady over the years – she’s had several boyfriends in that time, some good, some bad, some walking in one door and out the other, and a couple she’d even moved in with. Recently, she was dumped by her boyfriend, it was out of the blue, with no real explanation, and because she wasn’t too smart in sorting out the details, has effectively been forced to move back in with us. Not ideal, but we can cope temporarily, I suspect. There’s probably some additional commentary to be made about the local council here because having to live on the streets alone isn’t a desperate enough situation to put her higher up on a housing list that’s already seven or eight years long, but I’m going to skip that.
When I add that my wife has always been more of a mother to my niece than her own mum ever was (because her mum has her own set of personal issues to deal with), and you already know I’ve got two girls of my own, the point I’m really trying to make is that I’ve had a lot of different struggles involving the personal issues of young girls/women over the years, so here goes…
PLEASE READ THIS AND TAKE NOTE…
This weekend, my niece’s friend got beaten up by her boyfriend and chucked out — she has been in an abusive controlling relationship for a few years now, so much so that she is not allowed to leave the house or go anywhere unless he personally checks what she’s wearing first. I have known this lovely young lady for many years, and when I last saw her (which was a few years ago, admittedly – because of her current boyfriend’s controlling behaviour, I’m sure) she was single, happy, and absolutely loving her life – partying and just being very silly with my own girls and aforementioned niece during a fun family day at York Races.
This girl was bubbly, radiant, self-confident and just really happy in general. People like this usually attract like-minded individuals, or so I thought…
Alas, I’ve no idea where or how she ended up with this idiot boyfriend she’s with now, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she met him whilst demonstrating the same happy-go-lucky, party-style behaviour that she did on that family day with us lot. Needless to say, this guy knew what he was getting into back then, and I’m not the only one who wished he’d walked away at the time – this girl had fire, chutzpah, and was actually a lovely person to be around.
The girl that came through my door this weekend was none of those things. She had that nervy disposition I usually associate with people on drugs (she’s not, apparently), had aged a decade, and there was barely a sparkle or smile left inside her.
What I do know is that she had a cancer scare a while back and has also been in and out of hospital with illness, operations, and such-like during the last year or so – for all I know this boyfriend could have been supporting her through all of this, but I really doubt it (she won’t say where he was or what he was doing during this time). What I also know, is that her current boyfriend has beaten her up several times in the past, threatened to kill himself on countless occasions, and continually demonstrated the sort of controlling behaviour that one associates with psychopathic head cases. Needless to say, plenty of people have already suggested to her that she let him go ahead and commit suicide since he’s obviously proven to be not very good at it, but she won’t, of course. Why? Because she has a very misguided belief that she can change him and turn him into a ‘good person’. This is in spite of the fact that he is nearly 40 years old, hasn’t changed at all in the few years she’s already spent with him, and is intent on controlling every aspect of her life – she has been out of work for 12+ months because of his paranoia as to what she’s wearing and doing when she’s not with him. This young lady just spent half the night at my house: sobbing, crying, pouring out all manner of heartache and pain, and actually getting stuff off her chest.
And do you know what?
Despite all the hours of talking and advice she got from people who genuinely care about her health and general well-being, she waited for my wife and I to go to bed, and asked my niece to take her back ‘home’ in the middle of the night. Back to him.
Clearly, she is not ready to leave him.
Clearly, she’s also returned to a world of hell.
Clearly, we didn’t get through.
If you are stuck in a relationship with somebody who is continually abusing you either physically, emotionally, or both, GET OUT OF IT! If you are with someone who continually threatens to kill themselves because it’s a course of action you have somehow forced them into doing, LET THEM! Just get away. People like this can’t or won’t change, and no matter how many excuses you put in place for them —and believe me, she has a very long list of them prepared for him, already— this sort of behaviour is not something that can be undone by a misguided effort at ‘Love’.
PLEASE, if you are in a situation like this, do whatever you need to do to extricate yourself from it, and stop adding more excuses for their behaviour to the lengthy list you already have. Yes, this person may have had a crappy childhood, and yes, they may have a stack of issues and demons of their own, but they are not YOUR demons, and they are NOT something you can help them with. They ARE however, just the thing that person needs to explain away their controlling behaviour and continue destroying your life as well as their own.
PLEASE, DO NOT LET THEM DO IT!
GET OUT OF THIS SITUATION, AND DO SO RIGHT NOW!
If anyone has a list of resources where people in this kind of situation can seek help (or rather, be given help, since they are unlikely to do anything about it themselves until it’s too late), do please stick them in the comments below and/or post them on social media. My Twitter tag is @mangozoid and you can reference this article if need be, but I’d like to know what options there are out there, because ‘domestic abuse’ is something the Police have very little power to do much about if the victim isn’t willing to do anything to help themselves.
In truth, I don’t know where to turn or what else I can do to help her at the moment…
QUICK UPDATE: There’s a helpline to call if you know someone in this situation, and especially if you have an address too – 03000 110 110 or 0808 2000 247.
There’s also a website, but it seems to be down at the moment: www.idas.org.uk
My thanks to @K_R_Green for her immediate, knowledgable help with this.