When you have left a domestic abuse relationship, the "No Contact Rule " is one of the most important things you can put in place. This is of course is only completely possible when there are no children involved in the relationship. Where you have children please contact the National Domestic Violence helpline http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/ for advice on how to handle communications.
What I found when I ended my domestic abuse relationship was that my ex tried everything possible to contact me and this seems common amongst most domestic abuse perpetrators. As controllers they find it very hard to accept that you have escaped their control. Control is something they crave, and they will do anything to get this control back.
There are various tactics they may use, so I'll run through a few of them:
Return of the Prince Charming Act
At first they may try and remind you of the initial honeymoon period when they were doing their best Prince Charming impression and everything seemed too good to be true (mainy because it was!). So don't be surprised if after leaving you are swomped with telephone calls, love letters, poems, emails, texts begging for you back and gifts galore.
Throughout this period its important to remember that whilst they can act Prince Charming - they can only keep it up for a limited period and once you return the abuse will increase and get worse, as they'll want to "punish" you for daring to leave them in the first place.
The best way you can respond to the Prince Charming Act is to ignore it. Don't answer the calls, don't respond to emails, texts, letters. This goes against what you would normally do as a caring person but remember you are not dealing with a normal break up you are dealing with a manipulatve domestic abuse perpetrator.
The Sympathy Act - Playing the Victim
Once the Prince Charming Act hasn't worked and they realise that you meant it about ending the relationship they will try and play on your caring nature some more and go for the sympathy card. Don't be surprised if at this point they reveal some childhood abuse that "made them this way" or they may claim to be suffering from a mental illness such as bipolar.
The important thing to remember is whatever may have happened to them before (if they are telling the truth) is NOT an excuse for the abuse they bestowed on you. A lot of people have bad childhoods and choose to treat people the right way. If they have said they have a mental illness, ask yourself if this "illness" only ever was directed at you. If they were normal at work and with everyone else, and the horrible side was only directed at you then the reality is that the "mental illness" is just another excuse for them to avoid responsbility of the abuse they subjected you to.
They may during this guilt trip suggest that they cannot live without you and imply that they're suicidal. Obviously if you are concerned contact someone who knows them, or the police - their lives are not your responsibility.
The best way you can respond to the sympathy act is to ignore it. Don't respond in any way.
The Changed Man Act
Even though they haven't been able to change up till this point, once you've left your abuser may promise that he's changed or that he will change and is going to get help. Please be aware that for a domestic abuse perpetrator to change it would take tens of years of specific counselling for it to work. Even people that work with perpetrators admit that true change is rare, and some pretend to change just to get their victim back, and then the abuse starts up again, and is worse.
The best way you can respond to the changed man act is to ignore it. Don't respond in any way. Instead get yourself a copy of Lundy Bancroft's "Why does he do that? Inside the mind of angry and controlling men", it won't take long to read and you will relate to it that much that you'll say it could be written about your ex.
Once he's realised that he can't get to you directly, he will move onto your friends and maybe even loved ones. He will repeat the first three acts: Prince Charming, Sympathy and Changed Man act to them. Unfortunately they will not have experienced the full effect of his abusive personality, so don't be surprised if your previously supportive best friend suddenly tells you to give him another chance as secretly he's been in contact working on her sympathy.
Of course the manipulation may take other forms and you might find your ex spreading untrue rumours about you, many of which ironically will be things that he did within the relationship, this is what people refer to as "projection".
Hopefully you will already have blocked him on facebook and all other social media as pretty soon after he has realised its definitely over he will be posting pictures of him and his latest victim (which he probably already had lined up) - manipulatng everyone to think that it must have been you as who was the problem, as he is happy with someone else and has "moved on".
The best way you can respond to the manipulator act is to ignore it. Don't respond to him in any way. For the people you really care about that he's been working on tell them that ending a domestic abuse relationship is not the same as ending a normal one and he is just acting out typical things that a perpetrator does. Suggest that if they really want to help and support you they should also read Lundy Bancroft's book and they should also break all contact with him. For any other people that are friends with him and more likely to pass him infomration on you - apply the no contact rule with them aswell. All these people should be blocked on social media like your ex.
Whatever tactic he takes do not give in and meet up with him as this could potentially be disastrous.
The Fear Factor
The fear factor will have been present through out the relationship. Your abuser may have been able to swop from looking at you with "love" to looking at you like he wanted to kill you with ease. He may have got into jealous fights over you or threatened men who dared to look at you "his property". He may have threatened to kill you or hurt your family if you ever left. Women are most vulneable to serious attacks from their domestic abuse perpetrator around the time of leaving which is why its so important to get advise from Womens Aid, Refuge or your local domestic abuse charity to plan a safe way out.
He will also use fear in a different way by chipping away at your personality, independance and confidence so that you fear that you can cope in the big wide world in a life without him...but one thing is for certain - you can cope...and you will be a lot happier for it.
The fear can continue after you have left and this is when the stalking and monitoring may step up a gear again. This is another reason why the "No Contact Rule" is vital.
You will need to take steps to protect yourself, and here are a few suggestions:
1. Change your passwords on any email/ social media accounts you had that he may have gained access to.
2. Block him and his family and people he is close to on all social media.
3. Restrict your profile for any joint friends that you want to keep on facebook. Don't accept any new facebook friend requests unless you know who they are.
4. If you are still living in the house or you had seperate houses - change your locks.
5. Decline invites to any social occassion he is invited to - this may seem unfair but its really not worth the risk and seeing him would only bring back bad memories.
6. If you work for the same company, inform Human Resources and ask them what their Domestic Abuse policy is to see what they can put in place to protect you.
7. If he ever turns up on a night out ignore him, make sure your friends always stay with you, inform the bouncers and if he gets too much call the police.
8. NEVER let him in if he turns up at your house.
9. As repeated throughout this blog don't reply to calls, texts, emails etc.
10. Do keep a log of every time he has atempted to contact you with dates and times, and keep voicemails, texts and emails. If any of these threaten violence don't hesitate in calling the police.
As I learnt last year you will also come across people in general life or on social media sites who display traits typical of a bully and/or an abusive personality. These people will manipulate,lie and play the victim to get their own way and the "no contact rule" is the best advice to use for them too.