Tag Archives: control

Nowhere to Go

Will someone restrain this dominant male
who simmers with rage from his head to his tail,
yet hides it beneath a wrapping of smiles
and flattering words and shimmering wiles.
He pulls out his history and smudges the files,
stretching the inches and shrinking the miles,
then lays me down on cracked and torn tiles,
blinding my mind as my flesh he defiles.

Will someone please free me from this man
who puts in the boot whenever he can;
a boot that’s concealed by a subtle disguise
as a kindly look or a word to the wise,
or misunderstanding, or a fault in my eyes,
or a generous gift of mini-pork pies.
He pretends to be hurt and he looks at his feet,
when I remind him once more that I never eat meat.

Will someone please help me, I have to escape
from the crushing abuse and the practiced brain-rape.
I’ve tried every way that I know to stay strong,
but he’s chipped me away for far too long,
and everything about me seems so wrong.
I’m floating in nowhere, stuck on a prong.
I’m stupid and worthless, I don’t belong.
There’s nowhere to go, but I need to be gone.

.

There are those who despise women caught in this horrific trap; folks who say “It’s her own fault. She could leave if she wants to. She must enjoy the abuse.”

They are mistaken. They they lack both empathy and imagination.

Never under-estimate the destructive skill of the brain-rapist. If you get too close he will tear you apart. He is likely to leave you mentally crippled, unable to escape until he chooses to let you go. Even then he might continue to play cat-and-mouse with you, begging you to come back, promising he’s changed. He will use your family and friends in order to get his way. He’ll trick them, make them believe that he loves you, that you will be happier with him. He’ll get your children to beg you to reconcile with their dad. Don’t be fooled.

You might be determined to make it work. Maybe you’ll tolerate being given no grip on the purse-strings… being presented chocolates when you are dieting… being accused of flirting when you say hello to a man you work with… watching your partner deliberately pretend to be in love with your worst enemy… seeing him buy your favourite perfume for her birthday and saying that it is HER favourite, wrapping it carefully… picking up a cheap fake sandalwood spray from the pound shop for your birthday… pushing away a meal that you know he likes, saying “That looks awful, I can’t eat it” whenever you have guests to dinner… suggesting, from his disgusted glance, that you’re a mess when you’ve taken particular trouble over your appearance… never doing an ounce of restoration work in the crumbling house, yet becoming annoyed when you pick up the timber, the plaster, and the tools, and set to.

You start to get the message – you are worthless, you are ugly, boring, irritating, clumsy, stupid, dumb, crazy, deluded, sluttish. You are nothing, yet still you have to pander to his whims. You must find money for his half-baked business ideas, even though he holds all the cash. You have to wash and iron the clothes that your thieving stepson changes out of twice a day to save himself from showering.

He somehow manages to cheat you out of the deeds to the house that you alone paid the deposit on (from the sale of your previous home). You ask that your stepson’s fish tanks be confined to his bedroom. Within weeks someone has bought seven tanks. They’re scattered through the living room and hall. The smallest is four feet long. The house belongs to him and his son. At best, you are a skivvy. Your children are less than that.

Your stepson makes your four-year-old daughter put her hand in the piranha tank. He pushes cake into her face at her fifth birthday party, to humiliate her. He pimps up his bedroom with new carpet, picture, bedding. He buys new clothes and can’t afford to give us  housekeeping money. What little cash there is starts to go missing. You make meals out of nothing. You set a trap for the thief, already knowing it is your stepson. 

You win a round; you throw your stepson out. He goes back to his mother, makes now friends, learns a new trade; house burglary.

The house gets repossessed because you so-called partner hasn’t paid the mortgage. He’s spent all the money on a fax machine which he doesn’t need, a car which he has to arrange to be stolen since he can’t afford the repayments. It’s just another insurance scam to add to all the others. 

Friends, family, strangers are all thrown into this pot of poison to be fed to you in bruised and burnt portions.

You watch your children walking in the rain with holes in the bottoms of their shoes, keep your mouth shut when he steals from shops. You tidy up the mess he leaves whenever he carried out a task, apologise when he discovers you forgot to put the toolbox away after using it yesterday – even though you’ll be using the tools today. He interrupts with childish jokes when you try to discuss something important with a family member or friend. He pulls the rug from under your feet, day after day, in every way he can.

Although you know he’d never hit you, you feel physically sick when he gets angry, and his anger is always simmering beneath the surface. He lies and cheats his way through life, often with no cause. 

Your daughter has holes in her shoes again, but there’s no money for new ones, as he’s just gone out and spent a stupid amount of money on a navy pleated skirt and beige twin-set from the Scotch Wool shop. He knows you wouldn’t be seen dead in it; that’s what makes it the perfect choice. A few weeks later he buys you an XXL man’s tee-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians”. He acts offended, pretends to think you’d find it funny. You have friends who are lesbians, and they weren’t amused, either.

You fall ill. You are ill for weeks. The pain increases until you can’t leave the house without help. He refuses to take you to hospital. You get worse. One night, your six year-old daughter finds you curled up on the stairs, unable to move, afraid you are about to die. She wakes the only sensible person in the house – her eight year-old sister, who calls for an ambulance. You are put on antibiotics, but you’re ill for months. You later find out that the infection had been left for so long that you could have died. He tells you he wasn’t to know you were so ill.

While you are bedridden, things happen behind closed doors. You don’t find out about them until years later after you’ve escaped him…

You are surprised when he agrees to go with to see a marriage guidance counsellor. You think that maybe he wants to be in a happy relationship after all. The counsellor is a woman. Blinded by his charm, she hangs on his every word. She tries to hide, it, but she thinks you are a neurotic fool. Everything you say is turned against you.

You hate her for adding to the damage, yet you begin to doubt your judgement, your sanity.

You get up in the middle of the night, walk to the bridge over the river, watch the scummy water swirl. You think of your children, your mother, try to weigh your pain against their love. You have no value. You are worse than shit on an acrobat’s shoe. You try to jump, but you see images of your children in the grasp of that man, with nobody to protect them; your children with no mother to watch them grow. You go home, climb into bed, lie right at the edge so there is no risk of any part of you touching the monster who sleeps. 

You take that 3 am walk again and again, each time recycling the same thoughts. Deep down you’ve always known you’d never jump, but it’s reassuring to feel you have the option.

You try to find ways to feel worthy, working harder and harder in every way, cooking, cleaning, knocking down walls, designing, stripping woodwork, waxing, rendering, sawing, screwing together custom shelves, making everything from scratch out of whatever you can find. For some reason he demands your presence when Eastenders is on. You obediently sit through it, trying not to wriggle while the unlikely story painfully unfolds. He slackens your strings and you slink away to finish painting the bathroom cabinets you built, not understanding that he resents your ability to do so many things well; that every time you pick up a hammer and knock in a nail, it’s comparable to constructing your own coffin. On the other hand, if you didn’t do these jobs, he would be angry that the place was so decrepit.

He enjoys attacking your political views, your ethics and your compassionate nature. He belittles everything you stand for, everything you do, everything you are, his every action, word and look designed to destroy you.

There are big things, like the way he sabotages your efforts with the children, and crazy, petty things, like the coffee issue. For twenty years he never drinks coffee in front of you, saying he doesn’t like it. After you leave him, you will learn that he enjoys coffee, but since it is your choice of drink, he must oppose you. 

You sing loudly to drown your thoughts, but you can’t ignore how the abuse goes on and on and on. Always you are in the wrong.

If you tell your friends, few of them believe you – even if they have seen a couple of his games. He always covers them up with a joke, or finds a way to wrong-foot you – or they don’t care, because they are flattered by his attention… but some… some know. Some recognise it the moment they set eyes on him. Some shudder, and never want to be anywhere near him again.

They are the wise ones; the intuitive, insightful, unshakeable angels.

They are your saviours.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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The Author of my Being. Part 1

MY DAD. By Jane Basil, aged 8 years and 7 months

My dad’s the best. He can do anything. He can draw and paint, make sculptures and pots,build walls and shelves, and fit doors and window frames. He can answer any question and tell you whatever you want to know. He’s the cleverest dad there is.

My dad’s quite famous and is sometimes on TV. People want to meet him, and talk to him about art. I think he likes the women that come to see him best. They come a lot. 

My dad treats me well and tells me I can do whatever I like with my life. He says the only limit is my ambition. He knows I’m a girl, because everyone says that when I was born he was thrilled to have a daughter, but he lets me do the same things as him. I can help to mix concrete, and put up a course of bricks. I can knock nails in straight almost every time. Yesterday I carried tiles up a ladder, and handed them to him, so he could mend the roof, but today I’m helping my mum in the kitchen.

Dad’s in the studio side of his workroom doing stuff I can’t help him with.

My mum’s lovely and ever so kind, and cooking’s all right, but it’s for girls. I’m certain there’s been a mistake; I was meant to be a boy.

>

I’m ten years old.
Naked women crowd our living space,
their painted shapes pressed against framed glass,
or shaped in oak and in clay, arranged just so, on every flat space.
Shelves bend beneath the weight of fat albums
brimming with glossy breasts and hips, captured in Kodak Bromide.

In the workshop, chippings curl beside finest chisels.
Deep within an oaken block, another naked form
waits patiently to be unpeeled by her master’s eager hand.
No more than a coy shoulder is yet revealed.
Her eyes have not been created, and cannot see the devan,
where a lady lies, and the camera clicks.

My mother speaks gently of the aesthetic beauty of the fleshy curve,
making no mention of lascivious urges.
I see no trace of bitterness on her face,
or guess at any untold ache.

I’m too young to think of lipsticked kisses,
of tangled tongues or stolen intimacies.
Too young to place the scent of my father’s sins.
I think he’s the best; I bask in his praise
and revel in every task he sets me.
He seems to silently accept that I need to be a boy.
Maybe he sees that it’s better this way,
as girls are prettier than me

To my shame, my body is changing.
I can’t stem the growth, or the flow of blood and time.
All the same, I feel proud when my father suggests photographs;
he’s taken no pictures of me since I was three years old,
and even then his act was unwilling.

I choose a bulky jumper to cover up my determined bumps.

After a couple of clicks, he wants me to take it off.

He’s my father, so where’s the harm?

(A lifetime later, I still blush when I see what he has done to me. My blouse is a shiny sky blue, and he has made me pull at the hem, exposing the shape of my breasts, and look down, as if I am admiring them.)

Next, he wants me to remove my top. I love this man;
if it were possible,
I would stand naked for him, but I can’t.
I’m embarrassed, but there is something else,
something very wrong.
I try to grab it it, to find a diagnose,
but I feel dizzy.
My ears ring, making me stutter as I utter my refusal.

I’m hot, and something is dying. I can feel it in the air.

His game lost, he selects his consolation prize.
He chooses disgusting French kisses, and a grinding grope.
I see his eyelids droop as he considers the ultimate crime,
but he crushes the idea.

With a sneer he says
“I think you enjoy being kissed like that.
I think it makes you feel good,
but you’d prefer it with someone younger.”

I can’t speak for horror and lack of oxygen.
I feel nausea rising.
Grasping the door handle, I stagger
out into the fresh air and spit.
I spit and spit,
but the taste of my father’s iniquity has spread
to my gut. It has filled my lungs
and is making its way to my heart.

I

am

ten

years

old.

Without warning, war has begun.

There will be retribution for my denial of his will.

There will be revenge that he dare not steal his filthy thrill.

He will bend my childish spirit and redesign my mind.

>

I chose not to include images, as none would be appropriate, except the photos he took of me, and my scanner won’t let me upload them – perhaps it’s concerned for my modesty.

to be continued…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Unravelled

You pursued me, pretended to love me, when all you wanted was control.

The day you met my kids in that cafe, you encouraged them to misbehave – made believe it was a harmless game. You played like a fun guy to make them like you, but you were a fungus of the most poisonous kind, killing my mind.

Your behaviour changed on the day you moved into my place, taking control of every corner of my life. You held the money and you chose my clothes. Soon I was clad in ugly rags. You bought the food, yet said we had no money for my children’s shoes.

When I wanted to stop eating meat, you bought half a pig.

When I planned to give up chocolate, you showered me with the goo. You even bought me a man’s tee shirt that said “Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians”. How could I possibly have worn that?

You bought me another that was steeped in chocolate fragrance.

You asked me what was my favourite fragrance, bought it for another woman and made sure I saw it. You wanted me to think it wass for me, and I did, giving you the opportunity to tell me it was for Kaye.

You had fun with that nasty little game, and Kaye always played along. I was meant to see the expression on your face when you spotted her in the street, and you both intended to make me feel humiliated as you flirted with each other.

I saw Kaye try to play the same tricks with other men while their wives were present, but none of them played along.

You made me sell my house, and we moved. You adult son came to live with us, and the two of you made it clear that me and my children had no rights. You ganged up on us, making the most unreasonable rules. We were there for over a year before I discovered that my name was not on the deeds. You had stolen the home that I paid for. Meanwhile your son was stealing money, and you were blaming my oldest child. I laid a trap, and proved it was him. When I spoke to you about it, you stammered, looked lost, and then became angry.

“What abot Sarah,” you yelled, “she left her bag in the hall when she came home from school.”

That was one of the rules; my girls were not to leave their bags in the hall even for a moment. Sarah had gone to the bathroom before putting her bag away.

You fathered my two youngest children, and used them as a weapon against me, spoiling them and bullting them in turns, being deliberately inconsistant, making empty threats so that they ended up confused and warped by you.

You made me feel ugly and unappealing. I did my best to please you, but that only made it worse. Other men found me attractive, and even tried to steal me from you. At least three of them went to great lengths, but ai came to the conclusion that they were all crazy – why would they want someone as disgusting as me?

I shut myself off from friends as you humiliated me whenever there was an audience. If anyone came to dinner you would push you plate away, saying the food I’d carefully cooked looked too horrible to eat.

If I made an effort to look nice, you’d glance at me then turn away, as if my repulsiveness made your eyes hurt. The more I tried to please you, the worse you became. I could tell a thousand stories of your dirty antics, but I’m bored with talking about it.

You denied your warped psychology – tried to make me believe I was paranoid, and it worked. For a long time I felt too pathetic to leave you. You made me think I was too useless to survive on my own. It was only after I finally got away that I found out the worst of your crimes.

I must have been blind not to have seenwhat you were. The clues were there every time we walked down the street.

You should have gone to prison; for a while, that was what I wanted, but it was not my choice to make. When the secret reached the ears of the man who broke your ribs in revenge for what you did, you thought his sin was greater than yours, which goes to show just how sick you are.

You tried to unravel me, and for a while it looked as if you had, but I survived, and now I understand, it was you who was unravelled. My mother once said you were inadequate, looking sad as she spoke those words. She was a kind woman. I wonder if she knew what an understatement she’d made.

The Daily Post #Unravel

©Jane Paterson Basil

Building Stockholm

puppets

“Capture me,” he said. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

“Please, make me your slave… please.”

She listened, too mean and greedy to resist. Together they built a Stockholm den. He sweated and whimpered, lifting bricks, slipping in his dripping blood, while she became the cream of screamers, the boss of abuse, and he, the  castrated, slave.  

His bones grew old with her; grew cold beside the witch’s bitter flesh, her skin, thickened by chill trickery, folded into wrinkles. Her manifold control led him to an empty den, where he felt the chill of twenty winters, his distant gaze forever skimming the unreached heat of as many summer seasons.

From his dungeon, he dreamed of plump women primping in flimsy summer silk, stained the colour of dimpled sex – stilettoed angels riding white geldings – and wishes one would save him.

She’d speak soft words of love, and he’d lay roses on a pillow, where golden hair flowed into his eternity. His prison would lie between clean, scented thighs, and he would gleefully serve his time, hearing her whisper:
“Be mine,
forever, be mine.”

His bones grew old with the witch; yet still blood heated the extremities each time he dreamed of sheer summer silk.

A minor mission leads you past his prison, maybe a wish for milk, or a brisk stride. You ride no mutilated horse, wear no silk, own no stilettos, but his eyes strip off your crisp linen, remove your blue denim, dress you in red, give you stick-on angel wings, and sit you on a neutered white equine.

And yet: “Capture me,” he begs you, “make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

Through rusting bars he gives gifts of flowers and sweet promises, seeing your key, and thinking you will use it to set him free.

His education doesn’t run to Stockholm syndrome, and you’re not that bothered anyway. Figuring he should find his own way out, you amuse yourself, running a bunch of keys across the rusting rods, as he reaches, hungrily, for you, on lucky days grabbing your hand, or clumsily caressing a strand of hair, but Stockholm syndrome holds him there, between he who he has shaped into an angel, and the witch. After some months have passed in this way, frustration, desperation, love, or lust leads him to bend the thin bars, and – with a guilty glance at his ugly captor – step out of his den.

You shrug. Even if it mattered, it would be too late, and it doesn’t matter anyway. But you have been dragged into the game of three, so you play in some indifferent way, while the witch grinds her teeth, and retreats into the west to plan her strategy.

He looks to the East, where golden hair flows into his obsolete eternity.

“Capture me,” he cries. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

The crone’s old-fashioned three-fold plan is drawn; mildly entertained, you fold your false wings and watch the first wet offensive, as raging rhetoric foams and spits from her aging throat, only to be pressed back by his desire for those sweeter meats which have driven Stockholm Syndrome into a deep sleep.

Next, she sets the spoilt daughter on him; wraps her round his neck, but Stockholm Syndrome sleeps on, letting him wriggle free, but she – seeing symptoms of weakening – leaps, feet flying, into her final, foolish strategy.

Crying like a crocodile, she says she’s sorry for the misery she imposed – the daily dose of insults, the criminal damage, the black-and-blue bruising, the theft and the greed. She claims she has seen the light, and promises that from this day on, she will worship at his feet.

Stockholm Syndrome stirs and is woken by pity. He forgets she is a scheming witch, and though he has no wish to be with her, his wilfulness bends to her will.

He finds you on your imposed gelding, and begs to keep your friendship, hints at secret meetings. His body speaks louder than his lips. His tears dampen your wings, loosening them. A weight is lifted from your back as they flutter and fly, to be taken by the wind.

“Capture me,” he murmers. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

Yet he seems to think the wings still cling, and to believe he needs to be sweetly enfolded in them, though his deepest wish -hidden only from him – is to be squeezed between them, so tight that he can’t breathe. He can’t perceive his own strange, dank deviance.

You  think of the many symptoms of his extreme idiocy, and you give him a pitiful smile. He is declaring his unending love even as you turn away, refusing to make him your slave.

The witch approaches, and rubs her skin against his. At his first flinch, she knows that her victory is hollow. She has won his company, but lost most of the control he teasingly forced upon her. He loves you, and it shall ever be so, but you wouldn’t make him your slave, so he returned to the only Stockholm he will ever know.

At last they have a couple of things in common. They watch each other from opposite ends of the room, staring, glaring through icy eyes, and they cry, each for their own, lonely loss. They share a supreme, stupendous, mutual stupidity, of which they had both shown strong symptoms from the beginning. He’s afraid to leave, and she refuses to let go.

And what of you? Fortuously stripped of your silly, misfitting wings, you feel whole. You give a wicked grin, you are happy to be free of the idiosy, but you do not forgive rejection. Walking beneath their window, you raise your voice and sing:

You hear the clear, painful clink of twin sets of chains. A naughty giggle escapes your throat, to grow and become an uncontrollable guffaw, as you picture two puppets pulling each other’s strings, and becoming hopelessly entangled, and you know they are both to blame.

An echo fills the air: “Capture me, make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

“Please, make me your slave… please.”

 Laughing heartlessly, you step up your pace, and walk jauntily away.

Written for The Daily Post #Symptom

Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” – Wikipedia

©Jane Paterson Basil

The worm has turned

jeans-428613_1280.jpg

what?
am I supposed to be grateful?
I’ve had my fill of men taking control of my life.
it usually begins with an unwanted gift;
some are ignorantly selected,
others, deliberately designed to bulldoze my ethics.
I told you I don’t buy new clothes; I don’t want them,
won’t wear them,
so I’ll donate what you gave me to Oxfam,
an while I’m browsing
I may find some donated thing that I like;
but even by proxy, I refuse to engage
with the wasteful side of the fashion trade.

what?
no doubt you think yourself generous
to have presented me with these feminine jeans,
but that rare time you allowed me a minute to speak
you didn’t listen;
or did you forget what I said?
while in certain places I curve like a woman,
I have the hips of a boy;
in no way am I a Marks and Spencer lady
and neither do I wish to be.

what?
did you think you could buy me, win me
for the price of a pair of jeans which I didn’t want
and which don’t fit?
maybe if you had listened, instead of forever waffling about
your carefully manufactured troubles and
your chosen style of emptiness,
and saying
all I want is someone who loves me for myself,
you would have had more success;
but of course, if you had to listen, for even a second,
to somebody else,
it wouldn’t have been worth the stress.

The Daily Post #Generous

©Jane Paterson Basil