My name is Merli Kaunissaar. I am a survivor of domestic violence. I think one of the reasons why I ended up in an abusive relationship comes from my childhood. My father was away all the time, had many mistresses and I remember a lot of arguments with my mother. I had to grow up very fast when I was 11 years old and my father went to prison. Basically I didn’t get any good man’s influence. My mother was so fragile and I took too much responsibility on myself. Suddenly I did not have any childhood anymore. Later, my parents separated when I was 16 years old.
When I was 19 years old and I went to university, my mother had a new man, an abusive one. I didn’t understand how she can be with someone who is beating up her. 7 years later I was the one who was in abusive relationship. Then I understood. I didn’t know much about domestic violence or narcissists. At first I thought that everything was my fault, there are two sides in every fight. He was so jealous and controlled me from a very early stage relationship. That guy wanted to know all the time what I was doing, with whom I was hanging out and asking pictures. At first it felt cute. I know now it is a big red flag, he just wanted to control me all the time. I wish that they could teach those things at school, what is normal behavior in relationships and what is not.
Everything started with yelling and giving me bad names. It was just yelling and ugly words, I comforted myself. Then he pushed me, it was just a push, I comforted myself. Then he pulled my hair, it was just pulling my heart I comforted myself. Then he started hitting me, suddenly giving bad names, pushing me, pulling my hair weren’t so bad anymore. At least he didn’t hit me until he hit me again…
Every time he promised that he won’t do it again. Everytime I believed, I also believed that it was my own fault. Why do I have to wear red lipstick when he doesn’t approve of it or why do I have to wear that dress when he doesn’t approve it. I tried to change, tried to be that kind of decent woman he wanted me to be.
We went to couple therapy, I was so fragile, devastated and had remarkable bruises on my arms. Everything went worse after couple therapy, now I know that it is not recommended in abusive relationships. I was honest and later I got beaten up because of that. Again I tried to be that kind of woman he wanted me to be.
I didn’t go out with my friends, didn’t see my family, stayed at home, didn’t drink alcohol. I tried my best until he wanted to forbid my travels (I love travelling). I didn’t agree with this one and I got so beaten up that I ran to the police. I ran from my life to get back my life. I think my cup was full, I didn’t handle it anymore.
Luckily I got a restraining order and he got a criminal record because of abusing me. Also state provided to me psychological help. My therapist was a good one. It felt so good when she said that nothing was my fault and it is normal to still love this person… I didn’t want to end this relationship, I loved him from the bottom of my heart, I wished that the abuse would stop. But it didn’t.
Those kinds of men don’t change, never. I was so surprised when I read the Lundy Bancroft book called “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Man”. How does he know my man?! Now I know that there are those types of men who are narcissists, who abuse their partners no matter what, that’s the way who they are and what they do to feel power. I really wish that those learning starts from the basic schools, maybe even from the kindergarden, maybe there are less victims when women are prepared that all the guys are not good.
Now I am helping other women who are/who have been victims of domestic violence. I just finished my peerconsulting studies. If you are in an abusive relationship at the moment, please talk with someone you trust, please keep all the evidence (for example I wrote the blog and kept all the threatening screenshots). I know that you want to do your best to make this relationship work but when the guy once abuses you, he will do it again, he won’t change, he is just manipulating you and he is doing it because you let him do it. I believe that every woman deserves a happy life with a secure partner. Please, if he has taken everything from you, keep one thing you are not okay to give away and maybe this helps you to end this relationship. Like I did with mine when he tried to forbid travelling.
If you are looking for help in Estonia, here are some numbers where to call (also you may always write to me and ask help).