Eden Renwick shares her life story on what it feels to be in an abusive relationship and a survivor of domestic violence.
Narrating her heart- wrenching story on Chatty Chums’ platform, Eden said she never imagined she would be caught up in a toxic relationship because she was a proud and educated feminist.
According to her, “I have always enjoyed spotting and taking down toxic masculinity like it’s a mixture of blood sport and comedy. If a man ever had the nerve to speak to me cruelly, let alone physically lay a hand on me, I would run for the hills and try to ruin his life with glee, as payback.”
Eden said her boyfriend at first sight presented himself as one with extravagant gestures and his physical physique was beautiful to behold.
“He was lovely, at first -I loved that he wasn’t fluffy or flaky, but rather, was assertive. He’d ask me where I wanted to eat and no matter how hole-in-the-wall or fancy it was, he would just take me there.”
She said he made her feel “found, heard and seen”
After being with her boyfriend for a mere 7-8 months before he moved to New Zealand to be with her, the new environment ended up tearing his alpha male trait because he had no job.
This experience, according to Eden, made him feel “emasculated, humiliated and belittled”
Consequently, Eden’s boyfriend started abusing her after three months in New Zealand. She actually felt her boyfriend succeeded in influencing her psychology the moment she met him
” I now understand that the psychological grooming started from the moment I met him. By the time the physical stuff happened, it had eroded so much of me that things like gut instincts had left me. I was a shell and his ragged little toy.”
The first physical abuse by Eden’s boyfriend was four months after moving to New Zealand. She called the police to rectify the situation while moving back to her parents.
Unfortunately, the boyfriend came back with persuasive apologies which was accompanied with tears and non-committal promises. Eden yielded into his big performance of tears and went back to be with him after two weeks. She thought he was remorseful and he would change but just as it is said, a man who batters a woman never changes and it became true in this scenario.
“And of course, I went back after two weeks because I truly believed he was remorseful and would do the work to be better. What an idiot I was? As if a woman beater will stop beating women after two weeks. This was just a sneak preview of what’s to come.”
The abuse became insidious as Eden’s boyfriend became a controlling freak. He ended up controlling her entire life by dominating what she eats, wears and the kind of hair style she does. In addition to this, she made her feel on a daily basis that she was not good enough.
“After getting back to him, things escalated very quickly. He controlled my entire life. From the food I ate to the clothes I donned and even my hair – I was convinced and ingrained on a daily basis that I wasn’t good enough and required fixing.”
Another detrimental effect she realized after getting back to him is the feeling of shame.
“Because I chose to move back in with him despite my family and friends advising against it, I was completely shackled by my shame and couldn’t seek help from them again.
“He fooled me once, twice, thrice – the shame was fully on me and the severity of the abuse just kept on escalating day by day. On top of this, because I never thought I would be a domestic violence victim, I felt even more shame for allowing myself to be treated this way. It was like Cersei’s walk of shame but I was ringing the bell for me.”
She described the physical abuse as terrifying, dehumanizing and life-threatening. Eden said her boyfriend stopped being remorseful after countless of these sporadic abuses and of course he also drained her financially because he had no job.
“At this point, he stopped apologising after his episodes. It was all my fault. I ‘made’ him move to New Zealand for me and it wasn’t working out for him so it was my burden to carry.
“Because of this, I felt the need to show him around our beautiful country and so I organised a special Queenstown trip for our 1 year anniversary. On my dime, of course, because he also drained me financially by making me feel less than, and so, I would always be willing to prove I could pay for things.”
Eden describes his rage- “When his temper got the better of him, his blue eyes would turn black and I would have to make myself docile to appease him as he would be completely unreachable.
” In one of these rages, I cowered on the ground with my arms around my head whilst he emptied a water bottle over my head- whether it was through violence or otherwise, his point was to dehumanise me – and he succeeded.”
The Final straw of the Abuse
Fortunately for Eden , she had the final straw of the abuse after two months later when he put her head through a wall (again). This time, she called the cops on him and he was arrested.
The sad part is she was left alone without her family and friends. But she knew deep down she was done with the abusive relationship.
“He was put in a cell overnight for domestic violence and let out on bail the next day…. I wish that I could have witnessed him getting what he deserved but at that point in time, all I wanted was for him to be gone. So, I made sure of that, at least. Plus, I told his best mate and dearest mother with photo evidence, what he did to me and what kind of man he was.”
NOW WHY DID EDEN STILL STAY WITH HER ABUSIVE BOYFRIEND?
In answering why she stayed in the abusive relationship, she had this to say,
“I want to explain to every person who has asked me this question, the brain goes into survival mode when it feels it HAS to. Being asked why I ‘stayed’ is one of the most natural questions but it honestly feels like bees swimming in my stomach, making their way up my throat.
“Perhaps, instead of asking someone why they stayed in an abusive relationship, ask what did they survive in the abusive relationship? Who did they survive? It’s the same thing. Ask what made them feel like they were unable to leave.
“Why didn’t they take opportunities to reach out, to ask for help?- It’s very simple, they weren’t emotionally or physically safe to. Not a fun fact – most people are seriously harmed/killed either just before or right after leaving their partner.
“Why didn’t I leave the abusive relationship? For me, I was too busy trying to put out flames on a daily basis just to survive and keep a job (which I barely did) because he had eroded all that I was, including my ability to think fully.
“I was in pure survival mode emotionally as well as physically. I wasn’t safe – clearly, but I felt I could protect my family at least and contain his rage to being taken out on me only. He had threatened to physically hurt those closest to me if I told them what was truly going on. He had threatened to kill them, to be frank.
“… The parallels are clear after having had him take my body violently and forcefully. I survived his physical rapes, and yet, the psychological and emotional violence felt worse. It was revolting and dehumanising.
“..I looked great; always put together, slim but healthy; but my eyes were dead. That feisty confident girl now had the self-esteem of an atom, and not only did I not stay because he apologized and begged as the story usually goes – no, I was the one begging him to stay, convinced that it was all my fault.
“I am now proud to say that I’ve found my passion and am back studying, this time with the intention of becoming a practicing psychologist. My own therapist said to me with this sense of knowing pain and truth, that you cannot know others’ pain without knowing pain yourself.
“She did not try to make my pain go away, but in a sense, pass on that baton that can only flow through those who have followed a path that I was choosing for myself. It is absolutely true.
“…Honestly, it took a couple of years of intense psychotherapy to even understand this of myself let alone forgive myself for it.
“My therapist would say “you have to forgive yourself.” BUT HOW? What does that even mean?! Even in her safety, I found myself making excuses for everything and blaming myself. “But my gut was screaming at me,” “my mum and best friend tried to get me out,” “why didn’t I go to them when they tried?” The words “you didn’t feel safe to” were an ‘aha’ moment for me.
“Domestic Violence is NEVER your fault – even if you’re a mess. When you feel like it’s your fault for something that someone is doing to you, that right there is the red flag that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.”
“Are you merely dealing with the blows that life deals you badly? Nope, their actions aren’t your fault. Did you sincerely apologise? Did you lean into that with vulnerability? Also, not your fault. Your brain has gone mushy convincing yourself you could change it. It’s called gaslighting, it’s real and insidious.
“I want to say that I’m most sorry to myself for being in an Abusive Relationship. That’s the empowering summation to it all.”