Aftermath: Hoovering, harassment and fear

Survivors  know that the most dangerous time for a woman is when she leaves – and often, as she fights to stay out of – an abusive relationship. Here, I discuss the hoovering, harassment and fear that I went through and the events that contributed to convince me of my own strength.

Occasionally, visitors to Avalanche ask me what happened next in my story. This is my attempt to piece together the traumatic, confusing and painful events that occurred after I left my abusive partner.

Already, I’ve shared how the man I thought was the love of my life dropped his Prince Charming mask during my pregnancy. A drug and gambling habit emerged, and so too did terrifying jealousy which drove obsessive and paranoia-driven abusive behaviour toward me.

As the temperature ratcheted up, I reached my boiling point and fled our home, and him. I went to my parents. Whilst this meant I would have support with the baby, from people who understood, it meant my ex knew exactly where to find me as he embarked on a monumental hoovering campaign. He carried out emotional blackmail using suicide threats, called incessantly, turned up on the doorstep at all times of the day and night.

Photo by Derrick

Photo by Derrick

Fear and shadows

I was afraid to leave the house – if I had to go out, I’d run to my car and lock the doors as soon as I was safely inside. I was afraid to stay home, feeling like a sitting duck trapped in a goldfish bowl. At night, the shadows that crawled the walls shaped my nightmares and I slept with my silenced phone in hand, in case I needed to call emergency services.

He told me he would kidnap my child and murder my parents. He promised to kill any new man that entered my life – and me too, of course. Or, if he didn’t kill me, he’d take me out of the country with him. It was at this point that I realised I must protect my child and family members by involving the police.

The police issued an official warning to stop harassing me, which he ignored. He was arrested, cautioned and released. Within hours he had broken the terms of his caution. He was arrested again, and bailed pending prosecution. He entered a plea of ‘Not guilty’ to harassment.

The same night, I saw him crouched in a bush outside the property, watching and waiting. When he saw me at the window, he unfolded and beckoned me outside. My legs turned to jelly, but I did nothing and told no-one. I was still grappling with the trauma-bond and numbed to the point of inertia.

Photo by namida-k

Photo by namida-k

Sleep-walking days and wide-awake nights

Then the phonecalls resumed and I knew this would never end. My heart aching, I gave yet another statement to the police. They struggled to find him to enact an arrest warrant. I felt I was sleep-walking through life, the only colour and joy came from my baby boy – without knowing it, he reminded me daily that we both had the right to live free of the fear and chaos of domestic violence.

The police installed a range of security measures at my home. I sat with my closest relatives and agreed an emergency word, one which – if I ever used it in a telephone conversation – would mean I was being held against my will.

Weeks later, the police reported that they had arrested my ex. He was remanded in prison for a fortnight, appearing at court via video-link, where he continued to maintain his innocence. He was once more released on bail. Within days, he had picked up right where he left off. The merry-go-round of endless police reports and anxiety as they tried to track him down each time left me dizzy.

The day of the trial arrived. Sick with nerves, I attended to give my evidence. He didn’t even turn up to court, and so was found guilty in his absence. Once more, the police tried to track him down. It took weeks. When they eventually found him, they held him until his court appearance. Sentencing was postponed until assessments were completed. He disappeared again. Weeks later, he was arrested once more. Somehow, he walked out before the court session concluded. Another warrant was issued for his arrest.

Photo by Stefan

Photo by Stefan

The end of justice

Months went by and I heard nothing. A small part of me, the part encased in a cocoon, began to unfurl. I started to believe he had left the country. The knot in my stomach eased, and I could imagine a future where this madness was not my life. Then, a letter from the justice system. He had been arrested and brought to trial. I had my restraining order. I was given no other information. As far as the police and legal system was concerned, their job was done and the matter was at an end. I read the letter repeatedly, knowing that for me, it would never be over. Since that time, my ex has not contacted me. He has been sighted just once, by a friend.

The beginning of a stronger me

I expect I will always be watchful. I will always pay attention to the shadows. I will never leave a door or window unlocked. I will always tense at certain things and some songs will trigger unwanted flashbacks. I will, probably always, miss the memory of the man I loved. I will regret, for myself, my son and even for the man that inflicted so much pain, the broken promise of a happy, united family.

But I will also value the things I learned about myself. I am confident in my resilience and my compassion, and empowered by self-acceptance and self-reliance. I am free. I am healing. I am building a good life for my son. For me, this is just the beginning because I am, at last, getting back to me – and I wish the same for all of you.

Handful of stars

Photo by xJasonRogersx

What did you do to be safe when you left your abusive partner? Did the legal system make you feel more secure, or did it add to your trauma? What words of encouragement would you offer to someone who is going through the aftermath of abuse?

© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-15
https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com

 

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9 responses to “Aftermath: Hoovering, harassment and fear

  1. I am so glad that you stuck with it and that he’s now finally out of your life.

    My ex-narcissist threatened me once and I promptly reported it to the police through my lawyer. I learned from them that he has quite an extensive history of criminal issues involving women. I, too, stuck with it and got him out my life.

    I hope that some day, you will be able to find peace and comfort without having to ever worry about him again. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. While my experience is not yours, I appreciate when people share their stories. It took me a year to get out of my situation, and empathize with you and your experience of your ex using suicide threats as a reason to intimidate you into staying. I’m glad your need for self-preservation gave you the courage to get out of a bad situation. Stay strong, life can only go up from here!

    Like

  3. This is a great site, full of outstanding information. I’ve been trying to find an answer to my question. I left a narcissistic boyfriend a month ago. Nothing had escalated into physical violence or threats and the emotional abuse was there but I was aware of it. I was, essentially, only staying with him while my brother died (sad story). Now I’m 3,000 miles away with safe family. I had one last conversation since with him since I left and then he did threaten to be “malicious.” At that point I told him our relationship was terminated and that there would never be any contact again.
    Now, after reading for these weeks, I am afraid that he will harass me. I am pretty much scared all the time. Even though he’s basically lazy, broke and probably filling up on supply already, what’s the chances of him coming all this way?
    I appreciate any responses. Thank you!

    Like

    • Hi Josie

      I’m really sorry that this happened to you, and that you feel anxious about what may happen next. I don’t know your ex of course, so I wouldn’t try to predict what he may do. Some abusive individuals will not do anything when a relationship ends – mostly I think this is when it seems simply too much of an effort. Others don’t know any limits. Either way, the fact that you are far away from him is a good thing, and if there is a chance he could find you then I would recommend you take any reasonable precautions to keep yourself safe. Just in case. Keep safe.

      Like

  4. Thank you for your response! I hesitated to ask for advice. I did that on another blog and was ignored. I’m not sure of the etiquette – and actually did ask. Even though I’m a fairly astute young Boomer geek, it’s still hard to keep up on the various rules around the internet. Also, there are so many trust issues and even though I assume that will change over time, it feels like everywhere I look there’s another narcissist! Hiding under bushes!! YIKES!!! So being ignored feels bad even though it normally wouldn’t if my trust were operating at a somewhat normal level.
    There’s lots of good information here – thank you!
    “Reasonable precautions” is where I stumble. And no one can know for sure. But being scared stiff to even walk out the door is quickly making me exhausted and my stomach hurt. Does anyone ever feel like, “Whatever! Bring it on!” Since the narcs are so unpredictable and volatile I could spend the rest of my life like this!!! Ugh. No thanks!!

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  5. I found your site today and it has been so helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and insights. It means a great deal to people like me who are limping their way out of an abusive relationship. I filed for divorce two weeks ago and I am devastated – both by the leaving and what he has done. Patrick Carnes book on betrayal bonds helped me understand why it was so hard to leave, but hearing it in the words of a survivor has helped tremendously too.

    I am still living with my abuser for the next few weeks and allowed him to trigger me tonight – it is so easy for him to do – and it scared me how quickly he can turn me upside down and how I still can’t always stop it. He bas broken my bones, threatened to kill me, called me every name imaginable, and I am still afraid I won’t be happy with anyone else and once (still kind of do) considered him the one great love of my life. How messed up am I?

    Anyway, thank you for putting this website together. I will keep reading, keep working, and keep walking further away from my abuser with the help of the insights gained from others who have been there and who have broken free. I will be free of this too.

    Like

    • Hi Erinn. I’m so sorry you’ve been through (and still going through) all of that, but pleased my site has been able to help in some way. You’re not messed up. How you feel is normal, given the trauma you’ve experienced. I felt the same way when I left my violent ex, but two years later I’m happier than I would’ve ever imagined back then. I’ve got my life back, and you’re on track to get yours back too.

      Like

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