My childhood abuser just framed me for murder. I need to let the world know the truth. Part 1.

Two years ago, I finally broke free from my abuser. Not an ex-boyfriend or a barbarous family member, like so many tragic cases, but my brother’s wife – Jodie. She had kept me under her grip since my brother first met her when I was 11 years old. I was a damaged young girl after my neglectful, alcoholic mother had raised me poorly, and I was the perfect prey for an abusive sociopath. Taking advantage of a messed up young girl, she would feed me alcohol and cigarettes in an attempt to appear trustworthy and cool, she would make me watch movies with graphic sex scenes to make me feel guilt and shame, she played on my insecurities and bullied me whilst acting like my best friend and regularly manipulated me into questionable situations which she knew she would be able to blackmail me with. Just when she would start to push my young mind too far, she would shower me with affection and gifts, and I truly believed that she loved me.

I know that tragically many people have been through something similar, be it from toxic family members, cruel ex’s, maybe people masquerading as friends. If my awful experience has taught me anything, it’s that I would always offer anyone in the same position that I was a simple piece of advice: Run. Because if you don’t, your abuser will find a way to tear apart your life, like mine has done to me.

When life gives you someone who is attractive, intelligent and sociopathic it can be a deadly combination, as I found out first hand. Jodie had fooled everyone around us into thinking she was some sort of Goddess, when in actual fact she was nothing but a wicked hag hiding under a beautiful mask.

Anyone who tried to alert my brother to her iniquitous ways would find themselves quickly ejected from his life. I remember the story of when he first told her he was madly in love… back when I was a kid and he was in his early 20s. She had forced him to ring every one of his friends and tell them he never wanted to see them again. He had to do it to prove to her that he loved her more than them. Why would she force him to cut them from his life, in such a brutal and isolating way? Because they were onto her. They had tried desperately to warn him she was crazy, so she convinced him they were trying to turn him against her because they were jealous of him getting such a beautiful woman. They obviously wanted her for themselves.

As I entered my teenage years, my mother sunk into the gloomy prison of alcoholism and I regularly had to spend weeks at a time living with my brother and Jodie. In such a vulnerable state I was easy pickings and before long she had convinced me that I saw her as the mother I needed, the best friend I’d never found and the sister I’d always wished for. I grew up with Stockholm syndrome and I just couldn’t see past the cunning mind games she continuously played on me.

Luckily, when I was 25, my other half and I decided to have a baby. He was wise to Jodie’s ways and encouraged me to distance myself from her. He knew I needed to realise her true intentions for myself, but his gentle guidance helped me slowly loosen the grip she had on me. I stopped seeing her as regularly (and consequently my brother and their children), and though I missed them desperately I knew that it was the only way I could break free.

She still sent me messages where she would try and remind me of her hold on me, mentioning things that she knew would trigger my anxiety, making thinly veiled threats that were designed to make me feel like I had to stay in contact else she would expose things about me that would ruin my life. She would slyly insinuate that I would be nothing without her, knowing my self-worth had always been low. Sadly, I’m sure that many know the tactics that these disgusting abusers use.

But I stayed strong. My other half helped me find confidence in myself and in his love for me, and before long it was glaringly obvious that she had been controlling me like a puppet since I was a young child.

As she realised her control over me was weakening, she started to unravel. Her messages got more threatening, and she even started following me around in her car. I would hear an engine behind me, I’d turn and there she’d be… crawling behind me in her fancy 4X4 as I walked along. She would always smile, a wolf in sheep’s clothing waiting for the right moment to pounce. It was chilling but at least I realised how reliant she was on her control over me and that gave me strength.

I tried to tell my brother and he didn’t believe me. We had a colossal row. She told him I was a liar. She asked him not to blame me, saying that my abusive childhood had clearly messed my head up and I was lying for attention. He believed her, of course.

With the glass finally shattered for me, my other half and I moved to the other side of England shortly after our daughter was born. I’m ashamed now to say that I completely cut my brother out in my desperation to break free from his wife. It would be easy for me to say he deserved it for not believing me, however I knew he was a victim too and so it was cowardly of me. I had to, though. I hope that is understandable.

I changed my mobile number, I set up new social media accounts with a false name and only added my closest friends and no family members. They were all rotten to the core, anyway, so it was no great loss.

The day I actually moved away was one of the most exhilarating days of my life. The release of the chains of abuse is wonderful, but also exhausting. It took me 6 months of solitude to start to feel safe. Of course, there’s a lot more to my story but the focus of this isn’t me. It’s my brother.

Fast forward 2 years, I was doing quite well considering the PTSD I had suffered through. My daughter was nearly 3 and we had another baby, a little boy. I adored being a mother. I put everything into it. Those who assume that victims of abuse and neglect go on to be bad parents couldn’t be more wrong. Well, not in my case at least. I had found my calling.

My other half was flying through the ranks at his job and we were renting a beautiful house within commuting distance to London. I’d started some courses and my future looked bright. Everyday I remembered what I had come from, and I was grateful for the turn of luck the universe had finally offered me.

Sometimes I would feel very uncomfortable about having cut my brother off. I missed him, of course, but I also felt guilty. Though I recognised guilt as a side effect of my abuse, it still engulfed me. I had also lost my four nieces and nephews, potentially leaving them in the clutches of a sociopath. Yet it felt like a price I was willing to pay. Most days I thought about what sort of person this made me and I hated myself for it, but I buried it down.

I had a strained relationship with my mother, but during one of our quarterly telephone calls she told me that my brother had phoned her in tears a month previously. He told her that Jodie had turned all of her family – who had become his family and only friends – against him, and that he had no one left. He told her that he and his wife had broken up after they’d both had affairs and he felt everything was falling apart around him.

I knew that if he was talking to our mum about his personal life then he must be totally desperate and I felt genuinely concerned that he might kill himself. I know that probably seems irrational, but he had no one in his life – she had made sure of that. I thought of where I might have been, if my other half had not wandered into my life. I shook that thought away, quickly.

For the next couple of weeks my brother was on my mind a lot, as were his kids. I didn’t want to jump into contact, because my brother had often been just as toxic as Jodie. I knew that this was her influence, but after 18 years she was a huge part of him. I discussed it in depth with my other half, and I decided that I would send him a message.

Annie: I just want you to know that if you’re having a hard time, if it ever gets too much, you can always, always talk to me.

I received a reply almost immediately.

Pete: My marriage is falling apart and I’ve got no one left.

Annie: You’ve got me. You’ll always have me.

And so began an exchange of messages that caught me up on the more recent events in their destructive relationship. I discovered that it was true that they both had affairs, but they had continuously tried to ‘work at it’ after a weekend of drinking, fighting and fucking. The thing was, it wasn’t them who were trying – only he was. She was still having the affair, with a woman she had met in a pub. She wasn’t even making any attempt to cover it up! She didn’t care what it did to him, she only cared that he continued to worship her. And like a fool, he did.

I told him if he didn’t get away then she would never stop. She would bully him, humiliate him, cheat on him, destroy him. I warned that she would be the end of him.But he remained sure she would change. At the end of every wild weekend she would cry on his shoulder and blame him for everything she did, so that he felt culpable and wanted to make amends.

It was hard listening to his life crumble around him, but I knew it was only a matter of time before he realised how disgusting her actions were and the time was sure to come when he had had enough of her taking advantage of him. I could see that every weekend led to a deeper revelation, and slowly she was exposing her tricks. She was unravelling again.

My brother and I didn’t speak all the time. I wouldn’t hear from him all week, then when they had a row and he had no one to talk to he would message. Sure, he was using me… but that was okay. He needed to.

A month later the time I had been waiting for arrived. He had finally broken it off properly and moved into a hotel for a while. He did move back to their marital home shortly after, but it was purely to be around the children and to save money. He was insistent that they would remain separated, though, and I actually believed him.

One Friday evening, I received a message from him.

Pete: I’m seeing someone. I haven’t said anything to you yet, because I didn’t want Jodie finding out, but she told me last night that she knows. Do you remember Abi? My ex?

I thought back to when I was 7 or 8 years old, when Pete would have been in his late teens. Of course I remembered Abi, with her wavy red hair and rosy cheeks. She had been kind, truly kind. I was ecstatic for him. He told me more.

Pete: We’ve met up after all these years and it’s like we had never been apart! I’m so happy Annie. I can’t believe I spent all these years being miserable. I remember what it’s like to love and respect someone. And have someone love me too. The last two weeks have been the happiest of my life.

I smiled for my brother. Of course, I wondered if he was rebounding, maybe even regressing, but perhaps this was just what he needed to break the chains his vicious wife had shackled him in. In almost 20 years I couldn’t remember a time when I had believed he was genuinely happy, and finally he seemed it.

Annie: I’m so pleased for you. That’s wonderful news. How did Jodie take it? Did you tell her, or did she find out?

Pete: Not well, lol. Nah, I didn’t tell her. I have no idea how she knows! Maybe she guessed I was seeing someone? Because I’ve been out all the time? And then saw a notification pop up on my phone or something? I dunno. She came back last night after being out all night and lost it, though. Screaming that she knew about me and Ali. She was mental. Look what she did:

He sent me a picture of a coat on his kitchen floor. It had both arms cut off and was cut through the body, too. It chilled me.

Pete: It was my favourite coat, too. Lol.

He was taking it lightly, and I was concerned.

Annie: That’s scary, Pete. Where is Jodie now?

Pete: Out. Stormed out not long after she did cut up my coat, lol. She scared me a bit, tbh lol. She heard the kids coming out of their rooms and threw herself down the stairs and screamed at them to call 999, shouting “He’s really hurt me!” Kaden saw her do it though. Then she left.

So my eldest nephew was starting to see through her lies now, too. I told my brother how concerned I was, but he just couldn’t stop talking about Abi. I couldn’t help but smile, despite everything. Pete told me that three of his four kids were away camping with a children’s group, and he was at his marital home with his middle son, Mikey. Mikey is non-verbal. Then Pete dropped another bombshell.

Pete: I didn’t really want to tell you this, but Jodie got me arrested a few weeks back. It’s what gave me the push to finally end it. She came at me like a bull and I slapped her. I’m so ashamed 😦 But she was running at me an I thought she was going to attack me! I know I shouldn’t have done it but it didn’t mark her or anything, it was light, I swear! I know that doesn’t make it ok 😦

I thought about this for a few moments before easily settling on the fact she deserved it. That makes me sound cold, but right then I had no sympathy for her. This woman messed so many lives up. She was a thug. I’m a proud feminist but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel she deserved a lot more than a slap. I said as much.

Annie: You’re not going to get a bollocking from me, Pete. I don’t doubt for one second that she deserved it. I bet she deserved a lot worse. What happened with the police though?

Pete: I have to attend a course for 6 weeks with a bunch of men who batter their wives. If I don’t I’ll get charged with common assault. But she can still press charges anyway and she keeps saying she will.

Course she does, I thought.

Annie: What a bitch. She’s going to get what’s coming to her, one day.

We stopped messaging for a while and I watched some television while I thought of everything Pete had told me. Jodie had certainly been acting shifty, but that was nothing new. The more I thought about it, though, the more uncomfortable I felt. I got the distinct impression she was trying to set Pete up for something. The question was, what?

Part Two

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