AbuseTalk with Jennifer Gilmour

[00:02:38] Welcome September. It’s nice to have you here. Now, as you can probably tell from her accent, you’re not in the UK. So, whereabouts are you?

[00:02:53] September Burton: I still live in hiding, so I don’t actually disclose where I am at this point.

[00:02:59] Jennifer Gilmour:   Talk to us just a bit about your journey. And I really particularly would like to follow you from that experience that you’ve been through and right to maybe where you are now. Tell us about what’s happened in your story.

[00:03:24] September Burton: Sure. So my story began about six years ago. I met a man and he seemed like the greatest man I had ever met. And we started out as friends and spent a lot of time together, just sort of being drinking buddies and hanging out, developing a friendship. Over time, eventually things transformed and the relationship became romantic and we ended up, we have three children together. The first pregnancy, he asked me to have a child with him. I already had children from a previous marriage. And so he said you’re an amazing mother and I want you to be the mother of my children. So will you have a child with me? And so we did and then as soon I got pregnant, he sort of switched. There was a moment where there was a switch in his eyes and I even saw it happen. It creeps me out looking back, it’s a haunting memory that’s burned into my brain basically when I saw the switch in his eyes. And what that was, I think looking back is really the moment where I went from being an autonomous, independent human being, to being his property. As soon as I got pregnant, he owned me in his mind. And so, he became increasingly abusive. Psychologically and emotionally. There was physical later, but it took a little while for it to escalate to that point. So on the surface he really, truly is like the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. If you were to meet him right now, you’d be like, Oh, he’s such a nice guy. He’s really great. And he he’s an attorney. And so at the end of the relationship, he decided that he needed to set everything up and, he set me up, he, entrapped me essentially. And set up circumstances to make me look like a terrible person and a terrible mother to the courts. But he spent seven months setting it all up and building this case against me before he left. And so it was, it was pretty intense and I did snap at the end. But, it’s kind of interesting because at first I was like, Oh no, I snapped. And I was screaming at him and in the recordings, like you hear me screaming and I’m just not OK. So I sound horrible. I really do. And I slapped him across the face. And now it’s like, wait a second–this man recorded me all day, everyday for seven months and manipulated me like crazy. I told him that I was struggling with postpartum depression cause we had, we had our daughter and then almost immediately I unintentionally got pregnant with twins. So I had three babies in less than two years. And so I went to him and I said I think I’m struggling with postpartum depression after the twins were born. And instead of offering any encouragement and saying, let’s get you some help let’s, do something, what can we do for you? He started recording me and manipulating me. So, but looking at that now, from the perspective that I have now, the different level of understanding about the abuse and all of that, because I’ve been in therapy this whole time. I still see a therapist to this day. So, looking at it from a different perspective, it’s like wait! I snapped, I screamed, and I slapped him across the face. I didn’t pull a knife on him, I didn’t pull a gun on him, I didn’t do any of those things. I slapped him across the face. If you really look at what happened, like. It’s kind of, not that bad from what he had just done to me, you know?

[00:07:29] Jennifer Gilmour: Yeah. Somebody once said to me, you can have like a dog in a cage, keeping it there. And every day somebody go up and poke that dog every day, tantalizing it. And maybe, 30 days maybe longer that dog is finally let out, what’s going to happen to that dog? They’re going to attack aren’t they? And that made me feel a lot better because I have, there was a moment in my relationship, I can relate to what you said where I just snapped, it got to the point where I couldn’t deal with it. For so long and it’d been years that I’d held it together and I’d finally snapped. I think I kicked him in the shin and that was used against me profusely, like over and over again. It hadn’t been a consideration as to actually what led to that point in his mind. I think sometimes accepting that, for me that wasn’t probably the right move, but knowing it took so long to get to that point. So I think quite a lot of people will be able to relate to what you’re saying. Because I’m sure there is that point of, if it’s not understanding, then it’s a point of breaking down in a certain area. And one thing that I thought was quite interesting that you said was that you knew by the way he gave you this look, he changed. So, and you mentioned it haunts you today. So how do you think that came about for him? Do you think he is aware of it?

[00:09:25] September Burton: Mmm. I don’t know. Narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathic personality disorder. I think in seven months of recording all day, day is kind of on this sociopathic side of things. But I’m not a mental health professional. But I don’t know if he’s aware, so I want to say yes. I want to say yes, he’s very aware. He knows exactly what he did and he knows exactly that he saw me differently pre pregnancy, but I don’t know. We’re also talking about mental illness, so I don’t know.

[00:10:00] Jennifer Gilmour: Hmm. So do you think he was, it was like a, I don’t want to say a trigger. But there was something that changed in him because of a situation. So is it a situational change, do you think? You mentioned the pregnancy.

[00:10:15] September Burton: I think it was the pregnancy. I think it was me getting pregnant and him feeling like knowing that I was trapped in the relationship, but the pregnancy, I held on part of why I stayed for as long as I did was because I really believed that it was better for the kids if we stayed together. And especially since I had brought my older kids into this, there was so much guilt and shame about admitting to myself that I had brought a man into my older children’s lives that was only ever going to hurt them like that. That was hard. That was something that I had to deal with after the end of the relationship that was really incredibly difficult for me to come to terms with.

[00:10:54] Jennifer Gilmour: Yeah. It’s not your fault, is it? But I could understand why you would feel like that as a mom. I’m a mom myself, so I feel like I can relate to you quite a bit. I know you’ve mentioned that you went through years of emotional, verbal, physical abuse and the abuse of power. You’ve mentioned it’s a common thread between women with abuse stories. I found common ground with you there. So. I’m guessing that you’ve spoken to many people that have gone through similar to what you’ve been through then.

[00:11:41] September Burton: Yeah, I had to heal first before I started opening up and really sharing my story. But when I was done with the healing process or, well, I don’t know that you’re ever done with the healing process, but when I got to a point where I felt, okay, I can do this now. I found a tribe. I found this whole subculture and it’s not just in the U S, you’re in the UK and we’re having this conversation right now. It’s everywhere. I’ve had conversations with people in Australia. It’s worldwide. And, it’s an epidemic and it’s amazing because we all have such similar stories. Like you’re talking about how you snapped and kicked  him in the shin and then they used that against you. That’s the abuse power that I’m talking about because they’re not taking into consideration the fact that as a human being, you can only take so much. And so, If you’re being coercively controlled and you’re in that type of abusive relationship where, like you said, they’re just poking every single day. Eventually you’re going to snap and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be human. But I think the abuse of power comes in in the family court system where they look at that and they say, Oh, you must be crazy. You kicked him in the shin. Or, in my case, you slapped him across the face and screamed at him and it’s like, but look what he did to me. I told him I had postpartum depression and he hit record rather than giving me any sort of support. Like you can only take so much. Every woman’s story that I found has so many commonalities. It’s scary.

[00:13:27] Jennifer Gilmour: I was thinking, the best way I could describe it to people in a way is that it’s the same behavior, it’s like a painting, It’s just got this different detail to it. So everybody could paint a similar picture, but it determines on what kind of pen issues, what kind of brush it’s just masked in a different way. But generally, what you were saying about meeting other people and having that common knowledge and understanding and like mindedness and things that we’ve gone through. Actually, your ex could be mine. And you find that actually, what you’ve just said, reminds me of mine. And it’s a psycho behavioral issue, isn’t it? Now, you mentioned, which I thought was really, brave of you to say, because I don’t think it’s recognized very much, but you said, about recovering, healing, or until you get to a point that you’re able to talk about it, but you may not ever finish that healing journey. Which, I’m right with you on that one because there’s a lot of people that could sell you programs and it’s a quick fix. I know there’s hypnotherapy out there, I haven’t really explored that, but I think I will always live with what happened. I have just got to learn to live with it. So, what helped you to get to that point, being able to open up about it.

[00:15:05] September Burton: I surrounded myself with loving, nurturing women. And that was the biggest healing piece for me.  I went somewhere and I got myself a tribe of women who understood, women who were older, and wiser than I was. Women who had been through it, overcome, were on the other side and were helping me piece my soul back together. Because I don’t know if you felt this way, but at the end of the relationship I remember telling him one day, I said, I feel like my soul has been sucked out of me. So really, when I was going through that intense healing journey, it was really about reclaiming my soul. That was what I was doing. So, it was the women. And that’s a big part of why now I’m so into the idea that women have to band together. If we want to stop this, and we can, we do have the power, but we can only do it together. We have to work together. We have to be there supporting, building, encouraging, nurturing, loving each other. And when we really give each other that energy, that’s when the whole game changes. It’s going to change so fast. It’s going to be like a single generation.

[00:16:20] Jennifer Gilmour: If we all just came together and did it, how can you, how would you envision that we could put a stop to this type of behavior?

[00:16:30] September Burton: I don’t think that it is anything where we would need to do as far as stopping anything. I don’t think that it’s like take on the family court system. I don’t think that it’s marching or protests or any of those kinds of things. I honestly think that if women come together, we have this magical, powerful energy about us, that when we’re supporting each other and we’ve got each other’s backs, they just simply won’t get away with it. None of them will be able to be in a relationship because we’ll all be talking and be like, no, no, no, he does that. No, no, no. I’ll get out of that relationship and we’ll help each other see those early red flags and just get out of the relationship. And so they’re all gonna be single and they’re going to be like, wait, I want a relationships, we kind of like women and we’re going to be watching out for each other. For myself, if I had listened to my intuition and if I paid attention to those early red flags, I actually say they weren’t red flags, they were flashing neon signs. If I had had that loving, nurturing support from somebody else who said are you sure you want to be in this relationship because he’s doing this and this and this, you might want to rethink this one. If it had that, I would’ve gotten out of the relationship. But there’s a lot of financial stuff going on too. And so we need to, as women, we’ve got to get a hold of our finances to be empowered financially.

[00:17:58] Jennifer Gilmour: Definitely

[00:18:00] September Burton: Susie Orman is huge in getting women financially independent. So, reading her books and learning, what does it really mean to be financially independent? Cause for me, if I hadn’t been financially dependent on him, I would have left long, long before I did. But that’s a huge piece and they know that. So yeah, I think that was a big one.

[00:18:26] Jennifer Gilmour: Yeah. That I like, I agree with you on the financial aspects of it, because by the end of it you’re, if you haven’t got that financial then you’ve still got all of the other stuff to overcome to be able to get out of the relationship. The finance side then adds on this layer of where am I actually going to go? Who am I going to be? How am I going to survive? And then your reaction to survive is to stay, isn’t it? You mentioned there were signs that were actually probably right there flashing right at you. Could you give us a few examples then? So it might help somebody out there. I think it’s really important to share signs from other people because they could be different between many others.

[00:19:20] September Burton: Well, that switch in his eyes that I saw. And I even knew in the moment I knew something was wrong. And if I had noticed that and said, something’s wrong and really listened to myself in that I probably would have, even though I was pregnant, I probably would have gotten out of that relationship. Then another one that happened probably the first one that I can really recall is, I remember one night we were still fairly early in dating, we’d been together probably two or three months, somewhere around there. And we were at his house and he had invited some friends over and we were playing a game and I didn’t care about the game. I was playing the game, but I just didn’t care. I was putting no real effort into it. And it was a strategy game. I was just there to drink and have a good time. That was what I cared about. So I was just goofing off. And then, I made a move in the game that I guess he found impressive and he said in front of everybody, Oh, I’m so glad she’s learning. And I was humiliated in that moment. What I realize now is that he humiliated me in front of his friends and that was the only time that he did it, but he humiliated me in front of his friends. And so even though that’s kind of on a small scale, when you think about it–if he’s willing to do it on a small scale, he’s willing to do it on a big scale. So in the family court he made up the most horrific lies. He threw out child abuse allegations. I mean, he said the worst possible things about me that you can imagine. And so if he was willing to do it on that small scale, of course he’s willing to do it on that bigger scale. Of course. So little things like that are huge red flags. One of the things about him is that he plays a sport and he coaches as well. So, like half the year he’s coaching. Well, there’s this side of him and then the other half of the year, he’s not coaching. And he is a completely different person. It’s almost a multiple personality side of things. It’s almost that extreme, that he is just a completely different human being. So it’s not good. It’s not healthy. And I saw that right away, that first year we were together,

[00:21:49] Jennifer Gilmour: Yeah, obviously you’ve mentioned a couple of reasons for why you think you stayed there, even though you knew, you had this gut feeling, what was the reason you stayed?

[00:22:03] September Burton: He was good. He was really good at the coercive control. And so what I would do is I would approach him and confront him on things that he did like that night that he humiliated me. I confronted him about that and let him know that I was not okay with that. And he always had the perfect answer. Always. What I’ve learned now though, is that if something, and I’m sure this is true for a lot of these types of abusers, but if I would confront him on something and a response would just instantaneously roll off his tongue, it was a lie. If he stopped and paused and actually thought for a second, then he was much more likely to actually be telling the truth. Now, for him to stop and pause for a second probably happened five times in five years, because most of what he said was lies, but I did learn that there was a difference between when he was lying and when he’s actually telling the truth.

[00:23:03] Jennifer Gilmour: Yeah. It’s easy to look back, isn’t it? Like you said, looking back on everything in hindsight and going, do you know what it was? They’re screaming. You know my face and you know, how did I not action it or action it a different way. And sometimes we can kick ourselves about it. I know I do. So what can we do then if we recognize these signs, how can we spread the word and let younger generations know what to look out for?

[00:23:39] September Burton: Well, going back for just a moment, I think another reason to stay is because as women we’re conditioned to justify their behavior. So in our minds, somehow we justify, okay, well he was just drunk that night, it’s okay. Because he was upset because he lost a game or he lost a trial. So he was just upset. We’re taught to justify these behaviors. That’s what I do a lot. I’m sure a lot of other women do it as well. So, to answer this question that you just asked, I really feel like one of the messages that I want to push out there is we’re taught that if he ever lays a hand on you, you get out of the relationship immediately. No questions asked. He does it once he’s going to do it again, kind of a thing. Right? But we’re not taught that about emotional and psychological and financial abuse and sexual abuse, even because unless it’s like straight up rape, like tying you down and raping you, then even sexual abuse is kind of a gray area and we sweep it under the rug. He asked me to do this and I wasn’t comfortable with it, but I did it anyway, just to please him, things like that. That’s sexual abuse right there. So, I really feel like if there’s emotional abuse, there’s psychological abuse, financial, sexual, any of it, spiritual, any type of abuse whatsoever, you get out.

[00:25:20] Jennifer Gilmour: Hmm. Yeah, definitely. Well you, you now talk about nutrition and how that helps. So let’s talk about what you do now in your work because obviously, you’ve gone through this experience, but you’ve had that time to practice healing, you know, taking it forward. You’ve got almost, not a new life, but a different way of living. So tell us about what you do now.

[00:25:51] September Burton: So with the nutrition, we have this message that’s really, really being pushed out nowadays, which is the self love message, self care, self love. But I feel like the foundation of that is in what you’re eating. And when you’re eating clean foods, a lot of leafy greens, a lot of vegetables, a lot of things like that, it actually helps your body process those emotions that you’ve experienced. Because inside of your body, emotions are very real, they’re molecules, they’re tangible, they have substance. Outside, we kind of think of emotions just like these fleeting things, and there’s nothing real to them, but inside your body, they are molecules. And so they need to be processed. Your liver has to process them, your kidneys have to process them, and then excrete them and get them out of your body. So, a big part of my position is that if you’re taking care of yourself and if you’re eating healthy foods, then you’re actually helping your body process those emotions, get them out of you. And that’s a huge piece of healing is you’ve got to get those emotions out of your body.

[00:27:01] Jennifer Gilmour: Yeah, no, I agree. And, actually I was just thinking that the most obvious really for that is stress, isn’t it? Because stress has an impact on our body and that’s been told to us, about how it can affect our mood, everything, really, eczema, different kinds of other problems. So perhaps, what we eat will obviously add to that. I know for me, I’m on a bit of a journey at the moment. Eating for me is really difficult because I had comments about me that were said in that relationship. So mine isn’t just a case of getting healthy in terms of what I eat. It’s also about my mindset over it and trying to overcome the amount of barriers that have been put in place over those years. So, if there’s anybody feeling like that about their body image what would you say could help that side of things?

[00:28:06] September Burton: Well, to speak to the stress that you were just talking about, a lot of us who have been in these types of relationships actually develop  Complex PTSD. I have a diagnosis of Complex PTSD. And one of the things about PTSD is you actually stop breathing. You hold your breath or you breathe very, very shallow breaths because you’re always on alert for the next attack. So breathing exercises is huge. I have breathing apps on my phone that tell you to breathe in and then breathe out. Those are really, really helpful. I try to do those several times every day, just to make sure that I remember to breathe. Cause  I’ve been out of this relationship for a year and a half now and I still catch myself holding my breath every single day. So, I think that’s a huge piece for stress. And then, personally, I do an active meditation everyday, like a centering exercise. So I take 20 minutes and do that every single day, just to bring the relaxed, calm sensations into my body. And then, when you get stressed out, you can remember, Oh yeah, I know what it feels like to relax. So you can draw on that. And even if you’re in a stressful moment, you can draw on that. Another thing speaking directly to what you were talking about with body image issues and things, because you’ve been shamed. There’s something called amino acid therapy, and that might be something that you want to research a little bit. But the basics of amino acid therapy are that there are specific amino acids, like tryptophan and GABA and DLPA, and things like that that are precursors to serotonin and dopamine and oxytocin and all of those neurochemicals that are your happy, feel good neurochemicals that make you feel good about yourself and about your life and about your kids. If you don’t have enough of those amino acids, then your body isn’t able to make the serotonin, the dopamine, things like that. So, amino acid therapy is really just about using supplements and boosting your levels so that you can take charge of how you feel.  

[00:30:23] Jennifer Gilmour: That’s really interesting. That’s certainly something that I’ve learned today. I’ve not heard of that kind of therapy, so yeah. I’ll have a look at that. Thank you. Obviously I’ve had a look at some of the things that you’re doing, you’ve got a couple of books and things for nutrition and fertility. Do you want to talk to us a bit about that? I know you call it 4 Months to Fertile.

[00:30:45] September Burton: Yeah, so I’ve got this self love diet on my blog, Septemberburton.com, which is where I share my whole story. You can find the self-love diet and that’s a six week eating plan. That’s completely laid out for you so that you don’t have to put any thought process into it. All the shopping lists are laid out the meal plans. It’s all there for you. And that’s really just to take stress off of you. So there’s that option. It’s only $27. It’s really, really inexpensive. And then I do nutrition for surrogates. So, if being a surrogate mom is something that anybody has ever considered…as you’re healing from abuse, it’s not the time to be a surrogate mom. But I do have that on Hawaii surrogacy. I do have a nutrition plan on there as well for surrogates. And then the 4 Months to Fertile is a little bit more intensive. I don’t really do that one so much anymore. That was something that I was doing before I got into this abusive relationship. But I do still run the Colorado Fertility Conference so I’ve got a fertility podcast and things like that.

[00:31:58] Jennifer Gilmour:  It sounds really interesting. I’m certainly going to have a look at that self-love plan that sounds really interesting. What I’ll do is I’ll put the information. So anybody that’s listening can click right through to anything that September has mentioned today. I want to say a personal thank you for sharing parts of your experiences. It’s not always easy to share that part of our lives, so thank you for taking your time to talk about the signs and what you’ve gone through. And also the other side of it, the good side of it the taking those next steps into our new normal or reclaiming your soul, as you said. Thank you so much for spending the time with us. And I guess what I always say is together we are louder. Really, doing this and speaking with one another and discovering and sharing really helps other people. So, thank you so much for joining us. Did you have anything else you wanted to say before we close?

[00:33:05] September Burton: Just some words of encouragement for anybody who’s listening to this podcast. If you’re in an abusive relationship, just surround yourself with loving people. And if you need to reach out to me, what I tell everybody is I believe you. Because that was one of the biggest things for me was that people didn’t believe me. And I was like, no, no, I know he looks like a nice guy, but he really is not. And so you just need somebody to believe you reach out to me, social media, email, whatever. I believe you. I believe you. I see you. I know that it hurts. And so if you need some support, you can reach out to me.

[00:33:41] Jennifer Gilmour: Oh, well, thank you. A powerful message there too, to close it. Thank you so much September.

https://jennifergilmour.com/

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