Code of Practice

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Code of Practice

Following my last blog about the continued failure of the police, I received a letter from the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) of whom I had also raised concerns to.

A fair response

The contents of their letter was, to be fair, very educational and informative.

Within the said letter it stated that the police and CPS operate on a policy (or frame work) called ”The Full Code Test’.

Obviously, I then ‘googled’ the said phrase and followed what they said and measured how it matched up with my experiences. It was to be fair, enlightening, and showed that they had not operated fairly in my case.

Checked and cross referenced

The specific page I used was;

https://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/code_for_crown_prosecutors/codetest.html

Below is the response I then sent to their complaints officer of whom offered me the insight to how the CPS and police work when considering a prosecution.

As stated, this was pretty enlightening. So as a result I decided to publish my response so that anyone else in the same or similar position can also cross reference their own story with the police and CPS response.

For obvious reasons I have hidden the names of specific people.

My response

Dear Mrs XXXXX

Thank you for your letter dated 12th December 2017.

I have of course, noted the contents. I am without doubt deeply disappointed with your response and as such I would like you to reconsider based on what I wish to highlight.

As with your letter I too would like to break down my response into two parts, namely ‘that I was arrested and charged although there was no evidence’ and ‘the CPS did not want to pursue a prosecution against my ex’.

As a result of your letter I too researched your policy of the ‘Full Code Test’ and as a result it appears to give me greater strength and emphasis to push my complaint to you further.

As you know there appears to be 2 sections that you have to consider (I don’t intend to teach you to suck eggs – but I feel it is a relevant point to raise).

Firstly, if we consider The Evidential Stage it states;

  • Prosecutors must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge. They must consider what the defence case may be, and how it is likely to affect the prospects of conviction….

The only evidence that my ex supplied was a statement by her daughter (hardly impartial) who clearly stated in her statement that she was not in the room when the supposed assault took place. Furthermore, there was no photographic evidence or any other forms of evidence to support my ex’s claim.  Furthermore, the supposed incident happened several weeks previously to her malicious 999 call to the police.

Hence, I will highlight the fact that there was sufficient evidence to satisfy any prospect of a conviction.

  • The finding that there is a realistic prospect of conviction is based on the prosecutor’s objective assessment of the evidence, including the impact of any defence, and any other information that the suspect has put forward or on which he or she might rely. It means that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury or bench of magistrates or judge hearing a case alone, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged. This is a different test from the one that the criminal courts themselves must apply. A court may only convict if it is sure that the defendant is guilty.

 It appeared following my questioning that at no point was my defence ever taken into consideration (I will of course go into greater detail of within the second section of this email).

As stated the whole case rested on a weak statement from a biased witnessed who actually didn’t witness anything. I am sure that you are aware this is far from satisfactory to consider any form of a successful prosecution.

With this being the only form of evidence, it was clear that an objective and impartial and reasonable magistrate would not convict – there is clearly a lack of evidence. As a point of note, this was also stated by the magistrates summing up at the end of the hearing.

In effect there was nothing to contribute or support a view of beyond reasonable doubt.

  • When deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, prosecutors should ask themselves the following:

Can the evidence be used in court?

Prosecutors should consider whether there is any question over the admissibility of certain evidence. In doing so, prosecutors should assess:

  1. the likelihood of that evidence being held as inadmissible by the court; and

I appreciate that as this was the only evidence she had thus the magistrates had nothing else to consider

the importance of that evidence in relation to the evidence as a whole.

As stated this was the only piece of evidence of which the magistrates had available to consider

  • Is the evidence reliable?

Prosecutors should consider whether there are any reasons to question the reliability of the evidence, including its accuracy or integrity.

The evidence has questionable quality. It was written by her 17-year-old daughter who obviously wished to support her mother, thus was biased and lacked integrity. Furthermore, she also stated that she was not in the room when the supposed incident happened.

This was the only piece of evidence available so could not be supported by any other form of evidence.

Furthermore, the incident supposedly happened several weeks before the 999 call to the police. I could not recall what I was doing on that suggested date let alone claim to have assaulted her. It all seems very convenient on her behalf to suggest such a date. Hence, based on The Full Code of which you operate, her claim and evidence does not stand up to reliability, accuracy and integrity.

  • Is the evidence credible?

Prosecutors should consider whether there are any reasons to doubt the credibility of the evidence.

I think I have proven this beyond reasonable doubt.

Next, I would like to consider The Public Interest Stage.

As you are aware this is a large section to cover so I will be as brief as I can highlighting failures at this stage.

In every case where there is sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution, prosecutors must go on to consider whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.

I struggle to identify any area of protecting the public interest in this case.

I have a good standing within the community and have a history of good character. To support this fact the occupations that I have held and still hold would require me to be of good character. I served as an Officer in the RAF, I am a fully qualified teacher and a paramedic.

4.12 Prosecutors should consider each of the following questions:

  1. How serious is the offence committed?

The more serious the offence, the more likely it is that a prosecution is required.

According to her statement I had supposedly spat at my ex. Well if this had happened I am sure she would have photographed it to support her claim (but there were no photographs as the event had never actually happened). I assume the idea of claiming to have spat at her would mean that there were no long-lasting bruises to call upon – it’s all very convenient.  Furthermore, I would like to suggest that the act of spitting is not really putting the public to any form of risk of further harm or damage.

  1. What is the level of culpability of the suspect?

Culpability is likely to be determined by the suspect’s level of involvement; the extent to which the offending was premeditated and/or planned; whether they have previous criminal convictions and/or out-of-court disposals and any offending whilst on bail; or whilst subject to a court order; whether the offending was or is likely to be continued, repeated or escalated; and the suspect’s age or maturity (see paragraph d) below for suspects under 18).

As stated I have no criminal record, I am of good character and my careers endorse this fact. Furthermore, I can argue that every human being is also capable of spitting, hense it’s an irrelevant argument.

  • The cost to the CPS prosecution service and the wider criminal justice system, especially where it could be regarded as excessive when weighed against any likely penalty (Prosecutors should not decide the public interest on the basis of this factor alone. It is essential that regard is also given to the public interest factors identified when considering the other questions in paragraphs 12 a) to g), but cost is a relevant factor when making an overall assessment of the public interest).

I dread to think of the costs of this case. When no true and scrutable evidence was really supplied and was not really held in the interests of the public.

This now brings me to the second part of this email.

I currently have a complaint on-going against  Inspector XXXXXX. The complaint is to question why he has not pursued an arrest of my ex based on your principles of prosecution.

Following my acquittal, I raised a complaint to West Mercia Police stating that my complaint of domestic abuse had not been considered or investigated. The reply I had from Inspector XXXXXX was far from satisfactory and did not stand up to scrutiny. Unfortunately, the complaint is still within the processing stages.

However, based on your principles I would like to highlight why I consider to have a justifiable case for prosecution as opposed to the case you had upon myself.

Firstly, if we consider The Evidential Stage;

  • Prosecutors must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge. They must consider what the defence case may be, and how it is likely to affect the prospects of conviction. A case which does not pass the evidential stage must not proceed, no matter how serious or sensitive it may be.

At the time of my arrest I informed the police officer that I held diaries, emails and texts, witness statements and evidence from my work (XXXXX XXXXX Ambulance Service) highlighting the history of abuse I had endured at the hands of my ex-partner. At no point has this ever been called upon or requested. In effect I am able to supply evidence from a range of individual and professional witnesses.

I am sure that with my evidence it would be more likely to secure a prosecution that the case you had against me.

  • The finding that there is a realistic prospect of conviction is based on the prosecutor’s objective assessment of the evidence, including the impact of any defence, and any other information that the suspect has put forward or on which he or she might rely. It means that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury or bench of magistrates or judge hearing a case alone, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged. This is a different test from the one that the criminal courts themselves must apply. A court may only convict if it is sure that the defendant is guilty.

I would consider that based on the same principles you applied to my case you would find enough evidence to pursue a prosecution against my ex. As stated I have a range of statements from independent people to prove I was a victim of her abuse and other evidence of which could be supplied.

  •  When deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, prosecutors should ask themselves the following:

Can the evidence be used in court?

Prosecutors should consider whether there is any question over the admissibility of certain evidence. In doing so, prosecutors should assess:

  1. the likelihood of that evidence being held as inadmissible by the court; and

It would be due to its range and depth

  1. the importance of that evidence in relation to the evidence as a whole.

I have far greater evidence than that used against me.

  • Is the evidence reliable?

Prosecutors should consider whether there are any reasons to question the reliability of the evidence, including its accuracy or integrity.

I have medical evidence as could be supplied by my GP. I also hold evidence from my employer (XXXXXX XXXX  Ambulance Service) of whom I would argue would be independent and high with integrity. I also hold statements from a range of people from all manner of backgrounds that were aware of the abuse my ex subjected me to.

  • Is the evidence credible?

Prosecutors should consider whether there are any reasons to doubt the credibility of the evidence.

It is credible (see my answer above). It has been supplied from independent people with a range of views and history of my case.

I would now like to consider The Public Interest Stage

  • In every case where there is sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution, prosecutors must go on to consider whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.

This for me is an area of concern. I learnt that she has a history of abusing her partners. She had previously sought prosecutions against two of her exs for a range of various reasons. Furthermore, and this is my major concern, she works with young children at a local primary school. To put this into perspective, if I knew the past history and temperament of this member of staff I would not allow my children to attend such a school. I don’t think this is an unreasonable approach as the evidence I have is beyond reasonable doubt.

  •  It is quite possible that one public interest factor alone may outweigh a number of other factors which tend in the opposite direction. Although there may be public interest factors tending against prosecution in a particular case, prosecutors should consider whether nonetheless a prosecution should go ahead and those factors put to the court for consideration when sentence is passed.

 Prosecutors should consider each of the following questions:

  1. How serious is the offence committed?

The more serious the offence, the more likely it is that a prosecution is required.

When deciding the level of seriousness of the offence committed, prosecutors should include amongst the factors for consideration the suspect’s culpability and the harm to the victim by asking themselves the questions at b) and c).

This clause raises a number of options.

Firstly, are you able to prosecute based on wasting everyone’s time on a none winnable case based on false evidence?

Secondly, my ex has a track record of abuse against me and other men. Surely this must be within the realms of public interest?

Thirdly, I hold evidence of abuse against myself.

Fourthly, I always assumed it was illegal to request a witness to lie on their behalf and under oath. As in this case where she got her daughter to make a false allegation to support her mother’s statement.

  1. What is the level of culpability of the suspect?

Culpability is likely to be determined by the suspect’s level of involvement; the extent to which the offending was premeditated and/or planned; whether they have previous criminal convictions and/or out-of-court disposals and any offending whilst on bail; or whilst subject to a court order; whether the offending was or is likely to be continued, repeated or escalated; and the suspect’s age or maturity (see paragraph d) below for suspects under 18).

Prosecutors should also have regard when considering culpability as to whether the suspect is, or was at the time of the offence, suffering from any significant mental or physical ill health as in some circumstances this may mean that it is less likely that a prosecution is required. However, prosecutors will also need to consider how serious the offence was, whether it is likely to be repeated and the need to safeguard the public or those providing care to such persons.

I would consider that she had planned the 999 call for some time. Especially when she claimed to have been a victim several weeks before the call. Also some thought and consideration would have gone into the thought of what she wanted to claim.

As stated she has a track record of making these allegations (of which have always been dismissed). Hence I consider her actions to be premeditated and planned against myself. With this operation alone I would argue that she is still considered to be a risk to all males who come into contact with her.

  1. What are the circumstances of and the harm caused to the victim?

The circumstances of the victim are highly relevant. The greater the vulnerability of the victim, the more likely it is that a prosecution is required. This includes where a position of trust or authority exists between the suspect and victim.

Due to what I had experienced I now suffer with PTSD, anxiety and depression which has been directly linked to the stresses I have recently endured by my ex, the arrest and the subsequent pursuit of some form of equal justice. To-date, I have still not returned to work.

This has also re-enforced the view that male victims of domestic abuse are ignored by the authorities and as a result don’t bother to report such crimes. I would, therefore, assume that this is a case that is essential to the protection of the public.

Prosecutors must also have regard to whether the offence was motivated by any form of discrimination against the victim’s ethnic or national origin, gender, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity; or the suspect demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on any of those characteristics. The presence of any such motivation or hostility will mean that it is more likely that prosecution is required.

Based on my ex’s history and they way she has brought her daughters up, it would appear that she is a man hater. She has openly talked about how all men are ‘bastards’. Thus she is specifically motivated against males. This is further enforced by her track record of trying to prosecute other men.

In deciding whether a prosecution is required in the public interest, prosecutors should take into account the views expressed by the victim about the impact that the offence has had. In appropriate cases, this may also include the views of the victim’s family.

As previously stated, I now suffer with PTSD, anxiety and depression of which my GP directly contribute to the stresses I have recently endured by my ex, the arrest and the subsequent pursuit of some form of equal justice. To-date, I have still not returned to work.

This has also re-enforced the view that male victims of domestic abuse are ignored by the authorities and as a result don’t bother to report such crimes. I would, therefore, assume that this is a case that is essential to the protection of the public.

My confidence with the police and the legal system has now developed into a view of total distrust and failure. The one and only time I had ever requested help from the police they failed me on a number of occasions. Furthermore, there are no viable male refuges of which I could have moved to.

  1. What is the impact on the community?

The greater the impact of the offending on the community, the more likely it is that a prosecution is required. In considering this question, prosecutors should have regard to how community is an inclusive term and is not restricted to communities defined by location.

As stated she has targeted males to make false accusations and has manipulated her own daughters to hold men in low esteem.

I hope that these points raised will help you to reconsider my original complaint. Although I am aware that you have no powers over the police I am sure you can see (by your own measurements) that I was treated unfairly and heavy-handedly. I also include the CPS within that specific claim.

I trust that you will look again at my complaint.

I look forward to hearing from you again in due course.

 

Kind regards

 

Nightmares

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Nightmares

 

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Nightmares

I recall as a child often waking in the night after a nightmare. After all of these years I cannot recall the exact nature of these dreams but I can remember waking in my bed crying. After a while they must have subdued as there have been many years between my childhood night terrors and what I have experienced lately.

Knowing things are not right

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Nightmares

It does not necessarily mean that by not being able to recall the dreams that they did not happen. Sometimes I have awoken with a feeling that things were not right. This is often in the dead of night when there was no reason to either be awake or any reason to have been awoken following the dream.

Illogical

However, sometimes I can recall the visions and they do seem to have a relevance to what has been going on. Many of the nightmares have been based on things that have either happened recently or from events I experienced many years ago. There seems to be no logic to their visitations as time, when it comes to dreams, does not appear to be linier.

The problem with night terrors is the feeling of vulnerability. From the dreams, I can recall experiencing a feeling of helplessness within the horrors I am experiencing. These horrors can be based on recent experiences or a time that I would rather forget. As stated it has no logic and time has no relevance to the dreams. In some dreams I am a child again, or an adult fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am also aware that some of the dreams are events related to events from a few months ago.

Recent nightmare

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Nightmares

However, I have recently experienced dreams that are somewhat out of the box. Last week I dreamt that I was a soldier during the first world war. The environment was real. I found myself fighting Germans in a deep muddy trench where puddles splashed onto my uniform. The faces of those soldiers I was killing were real with uniforms and facial features. However, during the fighting I spotted my ex in an enemy’s uniform trying to kill me. The strangest this was that I was unable to fight her off.

I am aware that all manner of interpretations can be made with regards to this specific dream. But when it effects your health interpretation has very little importance other than you want them to stop.

Now, I am aware that this may sound very strange but I think it reminded me of my vulnerability whilst I was with her. For heaven’s sake, I was able to fight off a number of heavily armed and experienced combatants yet I was helpless when I was in her line of fire.

There a vast range of other experiences I can give but the common denominator is based upon the wickedness I have experienced.

Waking becomes an escape

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Nightmares

Waking becomes a relief and an escape from the reality of that moment. Yet, I am able to recall the dreams much better than when I experienced them many years ago. I have often awoke completely disorientated and the confusion is compounded because the reality of the dream does not match up to the room in which I awake in.

To explain this better, the reality of being in the trench was tangible. I could feel the mud under my feet. The smell of blood, sweat and explosives are also real. The physical effort of fighting could be felt in my muscles (I am also experiencing physical pains on a daily basis) and the sounds are loud and unmissable. But when I awake, the complete opposite is the reality. The room is in darkness and my safety feels assured. Yet it wakes you with a jolt of which is difficult to grasp when you are not sure of which reality you now find yourself in.

Walking away

It’s silly really, but as an adult I can distinguish the difference between the dream world and reality. Yet the fact remains that whilst curled up in the safety of a new home, warm in bed, we are perhaps all vulnerable to things out of our control. And I feel this is where the terror lies. There is no escape because we have no control over our dreams. In the waking world if I feel unsafe or uncomfortable I have the option to either get up and leave or address my concerns directly. However, we don’t have that luxury in a dream. We are carried by uncontrollable forces into undesirable circumstances. And this is not nice at all.

After leaving the forces many years ago I also had similar experiences that were evident but slowly faded away. However, these present dreams now seem to overlap what I felt I had recovered from before.

Night vs day

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Nightmares

These restless night obviously have an impact upon my day time pursuits. As previously mentioned in recent blogs, I am constantly tired and crave a decent night’s sleep. Yet my sleep is often either broken by the night terrors or the physical pains I feel with my PTSD. It’s no surprise that abuse victims and people with depression feel so tired and ill all the time. There is, in effect, no escape from both a living nightmare and those of which invade our thoughts during the night.

Taking time

I mentioned these dreams to my GP when I saw him at the beginning of the week. He directly attached them to the PTSD I am experiencing. What was extra worrying was the fact that it may take a while to recover from the situation I now find myself in. It is only complete exhaustion that allows me to get some sleep but this is often hard to predict as it sometimes happens during the day.

Physical Pain and Anxiety

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

I have recently written a couple of blogs about feelings post stressful situations. If you recall I wrote about not feeling anything (Is feeling nothing an emotion?) and about physical reactions following stress (why am I so tired all of the time?).

Simple research

I have researched (although not deeply) about why I feel the way I do. I have found some useful tips and others have just been general common-sense answers.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

It has been shown that chronic pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues. In particular, people who have experienced trauma and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are often at a higher risk to develop chronic pain.

Evolution of pain

However, recently my mental pains have evolved. As previously stated I have been going through a period of tiredness and now I find myself suffering with physical pains.

The only way to describe how I feel is to liken it to the pains following a heavy period in the gym or after a boot-camp. Not only am I still tired but I feel aches and pains in my joints, back, feet and suffer terrible headaches.

Debilitating

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

These pains are prolonged and have seemed to not have stopped since I noticed them. Let me be clear, I have not suffered any form of physical injury or have previously suffered with any similar symptoms. But I am sometimes finding that the pain can debilitate my ability to move with ease. But to make matters worse I have realised tonight (which is why I am writing this blog) is that it seems to be increasing my feelings of hopelessness, depression and anxiety.

Full circle

I really thought I was doing well. A few months ago, I locked myself away from people and sat in my room either reading or watching TV but again I am finding that I am becoming introverted again. I have no time for other people and don’t really enjoy going out and about like I did recently. I have gone full circle. I felt I was getting better and now I find myself back to how I was. This ‘merry-go-round’ is exhausting in itself.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

I am familiar with the knowledge that emotional stress can lead to stomach pains and headaches. But I am wondering if my muscles are screaming out after a period of tension – is there a correlation? Have my muscles and joints become fatigued and so, as a result now become inefficient?

Awareness

I am aware that I am still stressed. I have not had any proper conclusions to my previous issues and concerns following my abuse. I have raised formal concerns and mentioned how my mental and physical health is declining. Yet I still await answers and explanations. Never in my life have I realised how wicked and cruel society can be to those of whom are finding things difficult. Perhaps my anxiety and stress has found a new focus at the abandonment I now feel by people who should have helped conclude the events I have had to endure.

Is this another branch of PTSD?

I think it may be reasonable to suggest that this is another form of PTSD. I have had this for a while and I have been able to manage it to a satisfactory point. However, I think my cup has recently overflowed and it has all become too much. Peter Levine, an expert on trauma, explained that trauma happens;

 “when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelming.”

Most researchers disagree on a precise definition of trauma, but do agree that a typical trauma response might include physiological and psychological symptoms such as numbing, hyperarousal, hypervigilance, nightmares, flashbacks, helplessness, and avoidance behaviour. I can accept all of these points.

Survival mode

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

During and after my recent events I can now see that I fell into a ‘survival mode’ and so it may be acceptable to consider that I am having difficulty to revert back to ‘homoeostasis’ of which seems so distant to remember.

It’s all so different but the same

This has seemed to create a vicious circle of which is difficult to ‘jump’ from. I have actually found that I handle stressful situations so differently than before. I recently witnessed what would be considered a stressful situation (an accident on the motorway). As expected I felt nothing and had no consideration at all for the events as they unfolded. However, my physical and mental pains are making me feel as if I am being traumatized all over again, but in a different way. Perhaps I am not explaining this at all well. I just hope that you as the reader can understand what I am trying to say. I don’t feel stressed about stressful situations but I am getting stressed about how I have changed physically and mentally.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Physical Pain and Anxiety

Although people may not be aware of the lingering effect of a traumatic situation, or believe that the traumatic event has been put behind them, my body seems to be clinging to unresolved issues.

It needs to be stopped

I am due my final counselling session tomorrow but I actually feel I need it now more than ever before. Again, I think I need to lay down the banner of ‘blokeyness’ and consider that my PTSD is rearing it’s ugly head again.

Forgive – Why should you?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?

Religion preaches forgiveness

Let’s make this clear from the start. I am not religious. I was brought up as a Methodist but gradually turned my back on formal religion as I grew older. There are many reasons for this but far too many to include in this blog. Not being religious does not make me a bad person. Far from it. I’m more at peace than most of the religious people I know.

Today I attended a funeral. I always enter a funeral with an open mind. When it comes to religion I have a level of respect for people who can have a belief in something that has questionable ‘facts’. I’m not having a ‘pop’ at religion. As I see it, it offers relief and support to those of whom require it. That must, therefore, be a good thing. Anyway, one vein I have found with most religions is its attempt to ‘forgive’. This is a massive request to ask of most people. Especially people who have been hurt or are hurting right now.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?
Religion

From my own perspective, I have experienced hatred (I’ve possibly been hated too). But I have found my hate turn to resentment then pity, and finally apathy. But why is forgiveness not the answer to all the hurt and pain we feel? I know (deep, deep down) that is probably the best thing to do. But I don’t think ‘forgiveness is the ‘be all – end all’ to the pain of abuse.

Does forgiveness deny the pain you have been subjected to?

I am trying so hard to forgive my ex for the things she has said and done. I refuse to excuse the reasons for her behaviours as she is responsible, as an adult, for those actions. And ultimately the consequences, to both herself and I.

I just feel at the moment, a sense of pity. Pity because she has no idea of what she has done, the problems that this has caused and the damage it has done. Furthermore, I feel pity for her as she will one day wonder why she is alone. She cannot depend on her looks for ever. They fade. But real beauty is based on character and personality. And hers, ladies and gentlemen is ugly. I feel pity for all of those things. Yet I still find it hard to forgive.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

I have seen it said in many self-help books that forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem

Yet, she was the cause of all these problems. I have been proud of my physical health in general. I have never attended hospital although I do have a history of depression. I’ve never even had a filling. But the abuse I suffered left me with a greater level of anxiety, a greater level of depression and PTSD. And little, if any self-esteem.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?

Yet I still feel pity for her, because I know I will get better. Her life is based on denial and bitterness. Her problems cannot be treated with medication alone. So I don’t need to forgive. I just have pity for her.

Forgiveness isn’t always a good idea.

I have literally found tonnes of literature stating that forgiveness can improve your mental and physical health. It also focuses on the idea of easing anxiety and depression.  Letting go of a grudge, it seems, may be up there with exercising and getting enough sleep as one of the best things you can do for yourself. But I believe that refusing to forgive is a healthy frame of mind that protects you against further damage. It further stops you from being someone else’s ‘door mat’. What’s wrong with that? From my point of view, nothing. I’m more than happy to promote self protection.

I think it is wrong and a fallacy to suggest to anyone that they cannot move on without forgiveness. To even suggest that this is the only way out of unhappiness is a cruel suggestion, especially when no one else has walked in your shoes. Let’s make it clear, it’s not anybody’s place to tell you when to forgive or not. It is your decision when, and only when, the time is right. Whether that is today, next year or never.

Forgiveness isn’t the only way to move on.

I have found that wanting to move away from the damage and hurt (isn’t that what we are trying to do?), does not require you to say “I forgive you”. You can get the same relief and escape from your pains by taking a new approach to problems.

Previously, my approach usually meant rolling over and accepting her poisons. However, my new approach involves; counselling, medication, keeping a journal and so on. I’ve not forgiven, yet I’m feeling pretty good. I think this is mainly down to the fact that it wasn’t me, it was all her. What is there to forgive when she would never change anyway. Forgiveness would be an utter waste of time. I have no anger, just pity for a lost soul. A soul who think’s its ok to abuse in all of it ugly forms.

Forgiveness gives licence to the abuser to remain blind

There is enough pressure already to try and rebuild our lives without the added pressure of not forgiving.  Especially to those who abused. And by the people who had no idea.

Undoubtably, I will probably get a long line of people criticising what I have said. That is perfectly fine. We are all entitled to our opinions and this is mine (I make no apology for it). But from my point of view if I forgave she would not see the damage she had done. because I had seemed to forgive so easily. I want her to know she has done wrong. Deep down I want her to stop for her own well-being. That does not require forgiveness. It requires pity.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed is king

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?
In the kingdom of the blind

But, I firmly believe that you should not be carrying the burden of not forgiving. No one can point the finger at you and condemn you for feeling pain and distress caused by others. After all, would our abusers condemn us for standing up for ourselves. Mine didn’t condemn, she just dug herself in even deeper and I walked away. Therefore, I have no reason to forgive someone who continues to damage everything around her and will continue to do so. I just pity her.


Forgiveness Is wrong

 

Anxiety After Abuse

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Anxiety After Abuse

Anxiety is a good thing. It stops you from heading into dangerous or unusual situations. It is a normal reaction to things that we dread.  For example, as a teenager, I always felt anxiety before entering the exam hall. As an adult, I get anxious everytime I have to have a blood test – I just hate needles. I have known other people become anxious if they spot a spider within close proximity. Everytime I get anxious my mouth goes dry, my breathing increases and I feel light headed. Sometimes I sweat and I can hear my heart racing. But this is normally a short lasting period of panic.

There is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s good and it’s natural.

But what is life like when anxiety takes over everything?

Earth shattering legacy

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Anxiety After Abuse
Shattered

I have given this some thought today. The only example I can give is that after an earth quake (depression) there is always an after shock (the anxiety). After having my personality shattered I then started to question what I knew or understood. This led to having anxiety about doing normal everyday things that I had previously taken for granted.

My anxiety gave rise to other psychological problems. Such as:

These feelings became a problem when they were too strong to deal with. My anxiety generally made my life difficult and making choices even harder.

Domestic abuse and anxiety

Following research, it has been established that sufferers and survivors of domestic abuse experience increased levels of anxiety. Living in constant stress or fear can indeed create a constant raised level of anxiety.

I always lived in fear of what I would expect to find when I got home from work. The above examples of how I felt (dry mouth, increased heart rate and so on) was often a characteristic of my journey home. However, I could also add the churning feeling inside my stomach. Once home, I would feel anxious about her ever-changing moods and behaviours. This anxiety was a result of living in fear. And this living fear became a habit which increased my anxiety and depression. And so, the constant cycle continued.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Anxiety After Abuse

Constant high anxiety

When I found that my living conditions were stressful I had no opportunities to off load, other than going to work. I was not allowed out on my own and I had to contact my partner at least three times a day when I was at work (sometimes I had to include a photo so she could see I was in uniform). I had no opportunity to relax or de stress. Also, I couldn’t socialise with friends or family and so had no escape from the captivity I found myself in. What was worse was that a home should be a haven yet it became my prison.

However, what I found once I had left was that the same levels of anxiety still existed. I had learnt that following the lack of support I had received, and the lack of help from the authorities the world is a dangerous place. I felt vulnerable and often experienced nightmares. In effect, the life I had led remained after leaving the environment. Now, I have become accustomed to the feelings of fear and vulnerability even though I was no longer living under that regime.

Further research found that people who are exposed to any form of abuse or persecution, tend to develop extreme social anxiety, or/and stress related illnesses. Sadly they can also develop confusion over their own identities.

Anxiety after domestic abuse

Lasting effects

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Anxiety After Abuse
Lasting effects

Emotionally abused people can experience post-breakup symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I worked out I had PTSD after taking a walk one afternoon.  I heard a song that she used to like and my mind was rushed back to a moment I heard it in the kitchen. This time in the kitchen was when she said she was going to have me killed. Other occasions also cause PTSD such as smells, colours and even types of cars. My mind would associate these ‘items’ with periods of stress and unhappiness. As a result it took me a while to try and do normal things like listen to certain songs. Even shop in certain supermarkets. I no longer visit certain places, not only for the fear of bumping into her but because these places have so much association with the cause of my problems.

Anxiety has left me hesitant although I am able to often hide it well. My anxiety has taught me to be even more suspicious of authority or kind actions by others.

I know that this will be overcome. It has to. I have a lot of support in place and I have created nice, easy personal goals to give me a level of achievements of which to reflect upon. The abuse left a long dark shadow that created, depression, PTSD and anxiety. With enough light and reflection this shadow will recede and I will be able to replicate the person I eventually want to be.

PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

Making sense of PTSD

Having now left an abusive relationship I found that struggles began in other areas. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) became a daily (and nightly) problem. For me this didn’t make any sense, here I was now free of any form of abuse -although I was struggling with depression. Yet I was experiencing all manner of ‘flashbacks’. Furthermore, there was no initial trigger or understanding why they were happening. The worst was waking up following a bad dream thinking she was in the room with me.

Having to admit to being a male victim of domestic abuse (especially sexual assault) was extremely difficult. Perhaps these episodes of PTSD was a way of venting this frustration against a world of whom I considered did not care – this was enforced and endorsed by the police who failed to react or support me in my claims.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship
Flashbacks hurt

My experience of PTSD

Enduring any length of abuse whether physical, emotional, sexual or psychological will leave some form of mark. Some domestic violence survivors, like myself, will suffer PTSD. Suffering these emotions does not indicate any form of weakness.  I have had to deal with my PTSD which has made me relive my ordeal through flashbacks and nightmares that have interfered with my ability to function normally on a daily basis. This has often left me tired or uninterested in doing daily activities. Further symptoms are listed below

The symptoms of PTSD can include

  • Intrusive memories of the abuse – this can come following certain songs or smells or even being in certain places at certain times. There are no strict rules to this – it can just happen anywhere at any time.
  • Loss of interest in other people and the outside world – I found that I isolated myself from friends and was happy to stay indoors.
  • Insomnia (see my post on depression and sleep)
  • Agitation – I found that I would often jump at the slightest movement by other people
  • Depression – (see my article on depression)
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, fear, despair, guilt or self-hatred. I questioned my self worth. If I could allow one person to do these things to me what was my true worth?
  • Physical pain that migrates throughout the body. I experienced headaches and joint pains.
  • An inability to imagine a positive future (why depression makes you feel guilty)

Following research I found that these symptoms will last for at least a month and can occur either directly after the trauma, or be delayed, beginning six months, a year or 20 years after the abuse has ended.

 Treatments

Everyone recovers at their own pace. As a minimum you should be seeking help and support from your doctor.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship
Medications.

I had to move to temporary accommodation and as a result I registered with the local GP there. I must stress that from the outset they were fantastic. She took the time to listen to events and and aftershocks. I was prescribed medication for both my depression and my sleep problems (see my relationship with medication).

My work supplied and paid for counselling sessions. Initially, I was cautious about sharing my thoughts and experiences with a complete stranger but she allowed me to work at my pace.

Afterwards

I wondered if the effects of abuse would ever go away. Yes, I am still jumpy at times and I still experience thoughts following certain triggers but I recognise these now and can prepare myself for this. I have not fully recovered but I sense a certain amount of freedom from PTSD. There was a time when I stayed silent about the abuse but a part of my recovery was to share what happened either with friends or by writing it down (via this blog), medication, counselling and a slow recognition of my own self-worth.

http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/ways-to-care-for-a-loved-one-undergoing-ptsd-k0717/

Dealing With PTSD Symptoms After Leaving Abuse

Male victim of sexual assault by a female partner

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Male victim of sexual assault by a female partner

Sexual assault by a female partner

Being sexually assaulted by your partner is perhaps the most difficult fact to admit or even share.  But it happens at a greater rate than is initially expected.

There is an expectancy that men should accept any sexual advances set by a female, but this is wrong. Men who have been sexually assaulted or abused  also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity.

1 in 5 males will experience sexual abuse

Nearly 20 per cent of victims of sexual abuse are male and one in five males will experience some form of sexual abuse in their lifetimes, but these numbers could be much higher, because we only have the statistics that are reported to go on.

It has been found that  11 per cent of rapes being reported are by men. But men are also 10 times less likely to report rape.

Consequences of sexual abuse

Listed below are some of the consequences of sexual abuse. These of course are not exclusively male consequences

No means no – regardless of gender

No means no is a statement that can be used when you turn down someone’s sexual advances, and then they try to persuade you otherwise.

Any unwanted sexual advances is wrong, uncomfortable and sickening.

The media tends to focus on unwanted attacks by men on to women, but the reverse is also a factor.

In short, it means “I said no, so BACK OFF and LEAVE ME ALONE”.

Sexual Act

Some men feel shame believing that they should have been “strong enough” to fight off their partner. Many men who experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault may be confused and wonder what this means. Having an ejaculation does not equate to consent. These normal physiological responses do not in any way imply that you wanted, invited, or enjoyed the assault.

What happened to me

My ex often forced me to have sex against my will. My objections to sex arose when I decided I wanted to leave her in October 2016. To combat her advances I would either pretend to be asleep or get drunk prior to going to bed. I sometimes used the excuse of having thrush to avoid penetrated sex with her. It was not unusual for her to hold my sexual organs against my wishes. If sex took place it was always in the dark with my eyes closed. Sex was not an enjoyable occasion with her and I acted beyond my will or consent.

My ex always blamed me for her or her behaviour and told me that all men were “bastards”. She also wished to punish me for the fact that, in her opinion, her ex (the policeman) got away with assaulting her.

Of course, I did not often recognise the signs and often made excuses for them. It is only now that I can see them for what they were. They were wrong and I deserved greater respect and dignity that I was experiencing at the time.


A Self Help Guide for Males Who Have Been Sexually Abused

Telegraph – male victims of sexual abuse

10 Ways Female Sexual Predators Assault Men And Boys

How common are sleep problems in depression?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How common are sleep problems in depression?

Depression and Sleeping

Depression is often connected to problems with sleep. It can either be too much sleep (hypersomnia), or too little sleep (insomnia). There is also some debate about whether it can be the cause of weight gain and/or weight loss. This blog considers all of these factors and the benefits of medication, namely anti depressants and zopiclone.

It has been estimated that more than 80 per cent of people suffering from depression have problems with their sleep, usually not getting enough . However, I have found that during my periods of depression I sleep more.

Being tired effects everything

This type of tired is like a constant state of exhaustion, which takes over your body from top to toe.  It starts from the mental exhaustion from the daily battles you have inside your head. It affects your emotions, causing hypersensitivity and complete numbness and running the emotional gauntlet in between. Having to constantly explain or justify why you’re tired is exhausting in itself.

Being tired stops you being focused

Being constantly tired makes you feel weak and vulnerable. It makes every decision harder to make and often means not being able to think clearly or focus on the things you previously took for granted.

How do I manage my sleep problems?

I find that my sleep regime is dependant upon the events of the day and my general mood. There are, however, two major considerations that help me sleep;

  1. Going to the gym. This has been beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it offers a routine.Take a look at my blog entitled I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better?  I tend to go in the morning and then have the afternoon to ‘get things done’. Secondly, it was highly recommended as a form of treatment as the body produces ‘feel good chemicals’ into the body following a good work out finally, it gives me an appetite when I leave otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother eating.
  2. Medication. It took a while for my medication to work but this is a well known consideration when taking anti-depressants. In my case I found that it took about four weeks and an increase in dosage. Read my blog called My relationship with Sertraline. Is it ok to consider medication?  and Being a bloke means you can’t take medication

Sleeping patterns of somebody with depression is very different to normal sleeping patterns:

·         It takes much longer to get off to sleep

·         The total sleep time is reduced

·         There is little or no deep sleep

·         REM sleep occurs earlier in the night

·         There are more frequent wakenings during the night, which may last long enough for the person to be aware of them. The person wakes up earlier in the morning and can’t get back to sleep, even if feeling very tired.

What can I do about my sleep problem?

For those of you who are finding it difficult to sleep it can be extremely distressing. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to try and improve your sleep.

Sleep problems – mind

Below is some general advice for anybody who has difficulty getting to sleep.

·         Get into a routine with your sleep times. Get up at the same time each morning, even if you have not had a good night’s sleep. Don’t sleep during the day, and don’t go to bed early to try and get more sleep – you are likely just to lie in bed thinking over problems. Go to bed in the evening when you are tired.

·         Take some physical exercise during the day. This helps to make your body more tired in the evening and makes it easier to get to sleep. . Exercise is good for you physically, and there’s also research that suggests that exercise can have an antidepressant effect. Take a look at my blog entitled I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better? 

·         Avoid exercise in the two hours before bedtime. This is because exercise ‘activates’ the body, which can make it difficult to get off to sleep.

·         Avoid watching disturbing or violent films prior to bedtime.

·         Avoid drinking caffeine (tea, coffee, cola) in the evening after 6pm. Caffeine is a stimulant and can prevent sleep. Drink no more than four cups of tea, or of coffee, or cans of cola in a day.

·         Drink herbal teas or milky drinks such as Horlicks in the evening. Herbal teas don’t contain caffeine and milky drinks have been shown to be as good as sleeping tablets for many people. However, be aware that chocolate or cocoa milk drinks often contain caffeine.

·         Avoid heavy meals in the two hours before bedtime. It can be extremely difficult to get off to sleep with a full stomach.

·         Avoid alcohol in the evening. While alcohol is sedative, it is not a good idea to try to use it to sort out a sleep problem. This is because alcohol does not lead to normal restful sleep. In addition, alcohol causes you to pass increasing amounts of urine, which further disrupts sleep. Unfortunately, a significant number of people with depression develop an alcohol problem from using alcohol to help them sleep.

·         You should associate your room with sleep: avoid having a TV or radio in your bedroom. For similar reasons do not check your mobile phone in bed or work on your laptop.

·         Your bedroom should be warm and familiar with a comfortable bed and duvet, etc. Ideally, the room should be decorated in a relaxing way. This all helps in associating the room in your mind with restful sleep.

Zopiclone

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How common are sleep problems in depression?

During my professional life I came across Zopiclone a number of times. I was aware that it was normally prescribed for insomnia but had never put sleeping problems and depression together. I did find that early on following my arrest I was subjected to regular flashbacks of events that happened during my relationship with my ex. Initially my GP was hesitant to prescribe zopiclone but we concluded that it was worth a try to help me get some form of sleep and rest.

Zopiclone is usually prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Long-term use is not recommended, as tolerance and addiction is known to occur.

How have I found Zopiclone?

I’ve been lucky with Zopiclone as I have managed to avoid some of the well known side effects. These are listed as being dizziness, nausea and vomiting,  headache, confusion and nightmares nightmares. However, be aware that just because they work for me doesn’t necessarily mean they will be right for you.

Is having a lack of energy a sign of depression?

More than 90 percent of depressed people experience overwhelming loss of energy. This can cause a person to stay home and avoid social interaction, and prevent a person from starting or finishing projects, maintaining previous interests, or exercising. The effects of diminished energy compound the effects of depression, when work, school, and family obligations are compromised. Also, lack of activity results in loss of muscle tone, muscle mass, and, eventually, bone mass. In turn, these effects lead to degeneration in physique, strength, and physical well-being.

Can depression lead to weight loss or weight gain?

When depressed people lose the energy it takes to accomplish basic tasks, important needs such as eating are compromised. Many depressed people lose their appetite, which results in erratic eating habits and missed meals. Subsequent weight loss may result in nutritional deficiency and mental and physical sluggishness. Some people with depression have an increased appetite and gain weight. These people are usually the same who oversleep.

Manage your sleeping patterns

Problems sleeping are therefore, normal when it comes to dealing with depression. It does need to be managed otherwise it can create problems in other quarters and this may lead to an ever decreasing circle of despair and problems. Go and speak to your GP and have a go at trying out the gym.

Ending a toxic relationship – recognise the time to leave

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Ending a toxic relationship - recognise the time to leave

Happyness comes from making decisions

Sometimes, happiness comes from making tough decisions about our relationships. Ending a toxic relationship is important to create some form of happyness

Some people have a destroying personality

Some people boost our energy reserves. Others drain us dry. In reality, we each have choices. We often get to decide who we allow into our lives. Not everyone  deserves all you have to offer or all of who you are. Therefore, ending a challenging relationship might just be what’s needed.

Being in a happy relationship is part of life’s plan. Happiness is part of that plan. Health is part of that plan. Stability is part of that plan. Constant struggle is not and shouldn’t be.

The status quo is an easy excuse

It’s often more comfortable to stay in the broken relationship rather than risk the unknown. There are countless rational excuses that keep us in the status quo. They can range from;

Being too…

  • busy,
  • tired,
  • broke,
  • needy,
  • and so on.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Ending a toxic relationship - recognise the time to leave

Is it ever a good time to exhaust yourself mentally and physically? Is it ever a good time to operate from a place of shame or guilt? What about continually repeating the same behaviour that created the problems in the first place? By continually attempting to fix the unfixable is crazy but understandable.

Let’s get brave and tell the truth.

Start by observing the thoughts running through your head. How do you honestly feel about the person in question?

Questions to ponder:

  • Is the pain too great to stay the same?
  • Do I constantly picture an alternate reality?
  • Is it impossible to make boundaries?
  • Am I the only one that is willing to meet in the middle?
  • Is getting an apology (when it’s truly deserved) like pulling teeth?
  • Does this relationship take more energy than it gives?
  • Am I completely fatigued when I’m with the person and energetic when they’re gone?
  • If it’s a romantic relationship, are the sparks dead?
  • Is the only thing holding me back my fear of change?
  • Am I afraid of what people will think of me if this relationship fails?
  • Do I find myself missing the old me?

How to say Goodbye to Toxic Relationships

Deciding to end a relationship might not be the same as actually leaving. The more entangled you are, the more logistics might have to be worked out. It’s OK to take your time and plan the exit and the next phase. I’ve heard it said that the hardest relationships to get out of are the ones that are the most dysfunctional. The stress definitely takes its toll. That’s why it’s ok to get some help.

There’s no need to force the other side to see your point. If they were going to see it, that would have happened a long time ago.

There has been a range of feelings from shattered hearts and some serious soul searching. Sometimes I wish I had more compassion and better communication skills; other times, I wish I got out sooner. Clearly, it’s not always simple.

I now know that grief is good. Feel it. Heal it.

Has my life really fell apart now I’ve moved on? Maybe. It feels like it considering what I’m left with at the moment, but maybe that’s exactly what was needed to build the life I’ve been meant to live.

I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression I've been busy keeping myself busy - a good way of feeling better?

It’s good to keep busy. Have a routine

I’ve quickly learnt that I don’t like sitting there and doing nothing. I tend to find that my mind wanders and reflects on past events and present outcomes. I’ve learnt that my personality requires me to keep busy. Having a routine makes me get up and get things done.

If You Keep Yourself Busy, You Won’t Be Depressed?

Joining the gym

Initially it was suggested to me to join a gym. It was a good idea, and as it helps my mental health I’m also hoping that it will help eradicate my belly. I’ve found that I have become somewhat competitive with myself. Over the last few weeks I’ve increased my times on each machine and raised the difficulty level. It’s kept my mind focused whilst I am there but it has also given me a sense of achievement.

I must admit that I had some initial reservations about the type of people who would be there. Would they all be “body beautiful” laughing at me with my belly and skinny pale legs. But no. There was all sorts. Some old, some young, some large and some small. It appears on observation, that there is some form of etiquette whereby you don’t talk to anyone (unless you know them and came with them) and you don’t do eye contact – which suits me. You just get on with your task and you’re left alone, which is just ideal for people like us. On reflection, I wasn’t the worst there but equally I wasn’t the best.

Benefits of joining the gym

Writing my blog

I’ve  found that this site and it’s management has become an obsession.  I’m constantly trying to improve it, add to it, check to see if it’s easy to find on Google etc… I’m equally hoping that at some point this page will find someone of whom it will help and possibly share their thoughts too. It’s almost like a Robinson Crusoe of the internet world. However, it’s been good to share my thoughts and feelings and I would recommend anyone to do it – perhaps they will be better at it than me.

Being busy has helped?

I have found that filling my day with something is an essential thing to stop negative thoughts and feelings. This does, I must stress, go hand in hand with my medication and counselling. I cannot rely on these things alone but together, they were a big step to take but a good one.