“Zoek geen hulp voor de ander, zoek hulp voor jezelf. Jij bent nummer één. Zet jezelf op de eerste plek en ga vanuit dat oogpunt leven.”

Ik bescherm mezelf nu. Dat deed ik eerst niet. Op de eerste nacht samen vertelde hij over zijn ervaringen met huiselijk geweld. Hij kwam uit een gewelddadig gezin. Ik had ook zo mijn dingen meegemaakt. Ik heb diverse kinder-trauma’s en die heb ik nooit kunnen verwerken. Mijn identiteit was niet volledig gevormd en daardoor was ik extra kwetsbaar. Ik was in die tijd dus niet erg stabiel en heel erg onzeker. Die nacht was er direct een klik en we voelden verbondenheid en betrokkenheid. Het was meteen Bonnie en Clyde. Hij droeg mij op handen. Ik hoorde iedere dag hoeveel hij van me hield, hoe geweldig ik was. Hij overlaadde me met cadeautjes, knuffels en lieve kaarten. Alleen, na een paar maanden veranderde dat. Toen was het al te laat eigenlijk. Toen zat ik in zijn web gevangen.

In fact, no one ever knew how serious it was at the time. They couldn't have known, because I kept it to myself. I didn't want to burden other people with my problems. I chose to stay with him. So it was also my own responsibility. I was also ashamed. You don't want to say how bad your relationship is. You want to keep it a secret from the outside world.

Just as a mother does not abandon her child, I did not abandon him. You take so much from someone. Out of love, you think. You're trying to save someone. My feeling of caring for him was greater than the feeling that what was done to me was not right.

You are all alone in such a situation and you think you are very tough and that you can handle it. At the time, I didn't see myself as a victim of domestic violence. I did occasionally see photos when it came to domestic violence. For example, a woman's face with a black eye and facial mutilations. I didn't look like that.

At one point I secretly started saving money. Then, without him knowing, I registered with a college and a housing association, so that I could rent an apartment in another city. With all the resources I had created myself, I started to disconnect - and that took another two and a half years. Every week when I came to his place I took some personal items with me in my travel bag

I lived in a prison before that. I had no freedom. But after it ended, I fell into a black hole. Because I no longer had someone who called me a hundred times a day. There was no one left to check on me. Suddenly I was free. I never thought of suicide during the relationship. It wasn't until later that I became suicidal.

Six months after the relationship ended I really realized what had happened to me. Then suddenly it dawned on me how serious it all was. I was then also a victim of senseless street violence. After going out, I was beaten up for no reason by a group of people with a glass bottle. That's why I ended up in the emergency room. They called in victim support for me.

All kinds of things came up. Flashbacks, nightmares and fears. In the street I started hyperventilating and started having panic attacks. I constantly had the feeling that people wanted to attack me. I was afraid to go outside for three months. When one of the victim support workers came to my house to talk, I burst into tears. He asked if I had dealt with violence before. And of course then everything came out. Then the recovery could really begin.

Hoe langer je in zo’n situatie leeft, hoe langer je herstel zal zijn. Dus je kan niet vroeg genoeg beginnen met de prioriteit bij jezelf te leggen. Jij bent nummer één. Zet jezelf op de eerste plek en ga vanuit dat oogpunt leven. Je gevoel zegt heel veel. Dus luister naar je intuïtie en luister naar je gevoel. Zoek geen hulp voor de ander, zoek hulp voor jezelf. Niemand hoeft het te weten. In mijn geval wist ook niemand het. Speel het slim, ga naar de huisarts, laat je doorverwijzen, maak een plan om weg te gaan. Speel het spel dan maar. Je kunt alleen jezelf helpen, laat al dat andere los.

During my therapy I learned to recognize my triggers. I am very much triggered by violence. Still. Maybe I look very friendly, calm and gentle. But I also have a very dark side. And it came up during the relationship. If someone constantly challenges you and triggers you like that, there will come a moment when you give the first blow yourself. So I did. And the recovery focused on how I could bring that inner anger and frustration into myself.

How do I deal with that, because it will never go away. It will get less. So I can't see a violent movie. When I watch it, I get nightmares or fears. Violence in the street, I always want to get involved

When I got into a relationship with my current husband and had to deal with a bonus family, I relapsed. The new housing situation brought so much tension with it that stress struck again. As soon as I received signs of PTSD, I immediately contacted my therapist. This was followed by many years of conversations in the trauma department at the Riagg, until after my son gave birth. My therapist guided me through the process of becoming a mother. That was really nice.

After my delivery, the end of my therapy was in sight. Only then was I really healed from my past.

Herstel moet denk ik vooral gericht zijn op zelfontwikkeling en eigenliefde. Ik weet wat ik waard ben. Ik weet dat ik een goed hart heb, gevuld met liefde. Ik doe dingen uit liefde. Hoe een ander dat oppikt, zegt niks over mij. Dat zegt iets over die persoon en daar moet die persoon zelf aan werken. Ik ga dat niet oplossen. Want als je een relatie hebt, dan ben je iemands vriendin of vrouw. Je bent niet zijn psycholoog of therapeut.

I am no longer so hard with myself. I was always very strict, very perfectionist. But if something doesn't work, it doesn't work. Too bad. Today is an off day. Tomorrow is a new day.  

Maak je je zorgen over iemand in je omgeving of heb je zelf hulp nodig? Bel met Veilig Thuis, ook als je twijfelt. Je kan daar terecht voor advies en hulp als je je zorgen maakt om iemand of als je zelf in een vervelende situatie zit. Veilig thuis: 0800-2000. 

Other portraits