Coercive Control: Victim Impact Statement

October 9, 2023

"I find it very difficult to understand and process how X has affected my life.

I know what domestic abuse is, but struggling with my mental health conditions along with past trauma, makes what has happened complicated and I find it difficult to relate it to myself. It is hard to describe but it is like my brain is numb. If I try to remember things that have happened, I feel an uncomfortable pressure in the back of my head. I feel physical and a lot of emotional pain trying to talk about things. The stress of it all can cause me to tic, feel very anxious, have extreme panic attacks and disappear mentally on a daily basis.

I understand that from the audio recordings I took, his behaviour towards me was abusive and I can hear I was fearful at the time of each incident. I find it too distressing to listen to all of the recordings. I can't understand why someone who told me they loved me and cared for me so much, threatened to kill me a lot of times. And it makes me remember things I have forgotten. I was terrified at the time but I cannot feel that now, because my brain will not let me, because it feels too much to process in my head.

I do remember being very frightened that X would hurt my family or friends. He constantly threatened to hurt them if I didn't do as I am told. It has now made me feel disconnected from people. Sometimes I didn't want to speak to him after an incident, I couldn't see my friends and wasn't allowed to go places on my own. There were a lot of times when I did not want to see him, or to send him money but I did because I thought it would stop him from hurting people I love and care about. It affected me financially because I was paying for hotels so that I could spend time with him. I was always apologising on his behalf to hotel companies who have since given me a hard time. I also have anxiety re-visiting some of these places. He also begged me to see him and I find it difficult to say no, and I felt bad for him. And he often wouldn't stop contacting me until I did what he wanted.

I think X knew about the problems I had with my mental health and copied them to either get me to accept his behaviour, to make me feel empathy for him, or control me. I find it really hard to think this, because I thought he loved, understood and wanted to protect me, as he constantly told me.

X told me often that he did not want me to have help from my domestic abuse support and to cut them off. For this reason, I have struggled to engage with mental health support. They say that I am too unstable whilst there are ongoing issues with X.

I have extreme abandonment and attachment issues. I fall in love very easily and trust too much. X told me a lot that I was his, that we were to be together forever, that I belonged to him, and that I love him. I am still not sure if these were feelings I had or that I have been told I have. He has made me feel like he is all I need in this world. I feel like I have let him down, as he made me believe I could help him change. I still feel bad about his imprisonment, like I have done something wrong but the fact he has pled guilty to charges helps me to understand that I am not to blame.

I can physically feel him around me and can still smell the scent of his belongings. If I go out, I cannot stand to be touched by a man and have shouted and screamed at men for coming anywhere near me. I feel unable to interact properly with family and friends because most don't know what actually happened and the people who do know, I don't feel understood by. I don't want to talk to anyone about it. I feel very detached and distant from life itself and when I am out I generally don't want to be there. Nobody can say anything that will help the pain and blankness in my head. I am so detached. I feel like I'm not alive most of the time and don't recognise myself anymore. I also refer to X as my partner still which confuses people. I think I do this for a few reasons. To protect myself from ever being hurt again, so that men leave me alone, and I may call him mine, because he told me that he owns me. I am still very confused by everything and how I feel.

I have always found it hard to sleep and struggled with nightmares, but since going through all of this, my nightmares have become more extreme and can be unbearable. My night terrors involve weapons and being killed, which X would talk about. I dissociate if I have to speak about my experiences with him. I feel the need to drink and take drugs to numb the pain and block out the confusion.

Even in this statement I don't feel that I can fully explain the mental impact this had on me. It is almost impossible to describe how overwhelming it is to be with X. From being led on, to thinking I was safe and cared for, to being cheated on, abused and betrayed. When I wanted to leave him, I was not allowed. He makes me feel euphoric, heartbroken, guilty, suicidal, worthless and in love all at the same time. I don't know if I will ever be able to fully trust again. I hate how pure my intentions are and that I still end up being taken advantage of. How can someone make you feel so loved and worthless at the same time? Someday, I hope I'll be in the arms of a safe person.

If he were to be released I would be at risk of returning to him, whether there be a restraining order or not, my safeguarding team recognise this, as do I.

I hope that the judge will understand my vulnerability and pass down a sentence fitting to the crimes X has pled guilty to.

I want to write a very special thank you to these people.

To Aimee from The Women's Centre Cornwall for the endless support through this. For never judging me and always being there. Without your support I wouldn't be where I am today. I'm so grateful. x

To X and X, for your understanding and patience through this whole court case.

And to everyone who has been involved that has believed and supported me."

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