TRIGGER WARNING – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & COERCIVE CONTROL
I don’t usually comment on anything to do with my legal case but over the last few weeks it has taken a rather dark turn and reluctantly, I feel the time has come where I may need to start speaking out a little more.
Recently, I was at home getting the children ready for bed when someone sent me a link to a story on the Mail Online. I hadn’t even read it, I just saw the photo at the top of the story and felt my skin start to prickle as the familiar feeling of adrenaline kicking in started to flow through my body. I felt myself going into that instant fight or flight mode that I know many victims of domestic abuse and coercive control will understand. This was later followed by extreme shaking, absolute tremors that are almost impossible to control until you somehow manage to calm yourself down.
I stopped reading beyond the headline to give myself some time to do some of the CBT techniques that I was taught in the past. Then I took a deep breath and went on to read a report claiming that my ex husband from 16 years ago was being bought in by the ‘other side’ as a witness in our legal case. I have previously spoken out about the nature of our historic relationship. It wasn’t the only article about it either.
On the front page of Closer magazine on Tuesday of last week I had to deal with the headline “Coleen’s Revenge – the man helping her make a new start!”. Inside, a long source quote said that this too was a reference to my ex-husband, and how forcing me to face him in Court would help her to win the case. I spoke to Closer directly about how I felt about the presentation of this article, and they agreed to take it down.
I have spoken out before about the domestic abuse that I have suffered in my life. One of the many reasons why women do not come forward is a fear that they will not be believed, will face repercussions or that if they make a report they will have to face their abusers in court. Memories of domestic abuse stalk you through your entire life. Sometimes the effects can stalk generations. It’s a cycle that has to be broken and it is hard work.
Whatever the issues of this case are, the sensationalised reporting of how painfully entertaining it will be to watch me face the man I married in my early 20’s in court (and I don’t even know if the reports are true as we haven’t even reached the stage of witness evidence in the case anyway) is totally inappropriate. It feels like a cruel threat to destroy the me that has survived. I have already been quite open about how mentally vulnerable the abuse I suffered has made me. This legal case has always been about clearing my name. I feel that these latest stories are victim shaming.
It’s really important that women feel enabled to speak out about their experiences and not be shamed over them or have them used as a weapon against them. Speaking out provides support to the thousands of women who are trying to find the strength to break the cycles and leave their relationships. When it is used against you, whether in the media or by some other means, it hurts deeply and is frightening. I have support and I am strong as I can be, but I am disappointed that I’m being forced to face such headlines (whether they’re true or false).
If there’s anyone who I can help through sharing my experiences, I will gladly do this. My DM’s are always open, as lots of women who I’ve spoken with and supported before already know.
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