Picture this scenario.
I have moved in with my husband, I do most of the housework, every now and then he pops in and does the odd thing or 2 but mostly, I do all – he was there first though.
It is his house and he has RULES, they are black and white for him – but I develop systems that make my life easier. Every now and then I take a shortcut, I might come across a tool that makes my life simpler to manage.
He never says thank you for the house running smoothly, he doesn’t even notice the many hours spent, keeping the house going, this is fine by me because to be honest when he does speak, it is generally only to let me know I have broken “a rule” and I am starting to dread this sort of thing happening and I like a nice, tidy house, I love my house and I enjoy working on it.
When I break a rule, then he berates me – indignant, he makes it clear I am expected to undo what I have done and go back to his way of working. I comply because I love my house and I don’t want to leave it. This I don’t enjoy – because I feel I am doing a really good job on the house and am quite proud of it – it makes me feel defensive and leads to conflict.
Of course he blames me for the conflict.
And for a while I remain compliant, I stick to the rules, I develop more systems that help me and visitors to our home, again he does not notice the effort put in, he gives no thanks, until his rules are broken and again he “tells me off”.
When I try to defend myself he tells me I wrong, he is not bullying and controlling – it is just that even though I am doing most of the work – I must not break his rules – I am not behaving as I should – he cites this as evidence he is not bullying and controlling and demands I prove myself and explain myself better.
Visitors love popping in – mostly they aren’t even aware he exists.
I ask for mediation, I ask to go to the visitors to the house, the people who enjoy coming here and am told no – they don’t get a say because rules are rules and I must stick to them – and anyway it was my choice to clean the house and keep it going and lovely – he didn’t ask me to – in fact I was taking over the house.
I ask if the people who used to be here before can come and try to mediate – again I am told no, only if I become compliant again.
And eventually – when I cannot take being dismissed and controlled anymore, when I refuse to obey, when I refuse to engage, when different methods to contact me continue against my wishes, instead of leaving because I have done all the work for months – he throws me out, because after all it is HIS house and HIS rules and if I can’t adhere to them then he has the power and he wields it.
And one day – he locks me out. I find out when the locks are changed and I cannot get in – visitors to the house try let other people know where I have gone and are silenced – this is the new rule and it is still his house and his rules after all.
That is what being admin in the Home Birth Group UK has been like for the last few months.
The group and the members are amazing, they have made me so happy, supporting women gives me great joy, but this description is exactly what has been going on behind the scenes, for me the love I poured into it was worth the anxiety the other stuff was causing.
However now I am out – I can see it for exactly what it was.
A coercive, controlling situation.
This may seem trivial and even an insulting comparison to some, I can see why people will take issue with this blog. However, as a survivor of domestic abuse, these are the feelings that have been triggered and what has emerged from these events for me.
If you have been affected by domestic or sexual violence there are many organisations that can help. Womens Aid, New Pathways (a sexual assault referral centre in South Wales), The National Domestic Violence Helpline, Safer Wales (for all genders), Refuge and more.
Domestic violence can affect everyone, men and women and seeking help is not shameful, it is brave, staying is not weakness, it is a symptom of the abuse you are suffering.
If you feel it would help to be put in contact with someone who has been in this situation please let me know and I can put you in touch with someone.
My love and light goes out to all living in an abusive relationship and those who have got out, escaped and are surviving or thriving.
Samantha Gadsden walks with women on their life’s journeys. She is an experienced Doula, based close to Cardiff in South Wales, mother to 4 children and wife to Eddie, more information can be found on her facebook page, Samantha Gadsden Doula and her website, Caerphilly Doula. SOS Doula, Telephone and online support is always available.
If you are interested in writing a guest blog or sharing a life or birth story please feel free to contact her HERE.
“Your Journey, Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth“