Trigger warning – Domestic Violence & Abuse
I was 16 years old when I established my first proper relationship. He was 3 years older than me. At first, things were great, I thought I’d found true love. I thought I’d found the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with. The man who gave me the most beautiful children.
To be honest, the relationship became a bit of a blur, it started with him drinking more and more, starting with a can of lager as soon as he opened his eyes in a morning. It progressed to verbally abusing me, it then turned into physical violence, I was kicked, punched, slapped and dragged across the floor by my hair, thrown into cold baths fully clothed, objects thrown at my head and I even had a glass coffee table smashed over my head. I’d had my nose borken and pretty sure my jaw had been broken but I was too afraid to the hospital in case they called social services and took my children away.
He cheated on me with 3 different women, well, that’s how many I know of anyway.
Why didn’t she leave? He told me it was my fault, I was torn, I was broken, I was hurting and most of all I was depressed. After every infidelity and assault, he was sorry, he told me how much he loved me, how much I meant to him, how much he needed me in his life, that this would never happen again, but guess what? It did, not only did it continue, but it got worse.
I was weak and anxious, drowing in depression, drowning in a life I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t escape because I wholeheartedly believed he’d kill me. I feared he would leave my beautiful children without their mummy. The children I adored, and still adore with all of my heart.
I needed a saviour, I needed to find an almighty strength from a weak body & mind.
I’ll never forget the day when my saviour came in the form of a neighbour. at this point, my ex-partner had gone to stay with family for a few days to give us a much needed break. He turned up at my house either drunk or high, he came to cause trouble, he was in my house and the physical violence started, he attempted to strangle me on the stairs, somehow, with all my might, I managed to escape. I ran outside screaming and ran to my neighbours house with my ex pursuing me. Luckily my neighbour heard the commotion and called the police, she let me in and stayed with me until the police arrived and arrested him.
Why didn’t she leave? Well, she did.
This was my opportunity, the police had put a restraining order in place and I had agreed to press charges. The difficult part was that he’d pled not guilty.
A court case was imminent, he would be on trial, it would be up to the jurers to decide his fate, my fate.
The date of the trial arrived, I was expected to stand in court as a witness and I was petrified, I’d barely slept, eaten and I couldn’t stop crying, crying out of nerves, anxiousness, worry that he would be free at the end of it.
I was sat in a room at the back of the court with my friend when a court official informed me that he had pled guilty on the advice of his solicitor. I didn’t have to take stand. The relief washed over me like nothing else, however, the fear, helplessness, worry, anxiety, post traumatic stress, depression, self-hatred, pain and every other emotion I felt was still as dominant as it always had been.
A few weeks later his sentencing date arrived, I was not required to attend. A court offical called me to tell me that as he’d not had a criminal record before, he had been issued with a two year suspended sentence and the restraining order would remain in place.
That was it, he walked free. Free to have the life he wanted, free of punishment and liability. But was I free?
The phone calls and verbal abuse continued for about a year, he’d ring me and call me derogatory names, accuse me of being a bad mother to our children and sleeping around.
This lasted for about a year until he started to explore other relationships & seeking help for his drinking and mental health. Finally I was free.
Although I was finally free of the toxic, violent relationship, I wasn’t free of my thoughts, my mental health, my self loathing, the past trauma.
I’d eventually started to see friends again, I started to go out a little more, I started to socialise. On the outside, I looked like a happy, sociable, fun and together. The trauma was always there, when I was alone, I couldn’t sleep, i couldn’t eat, I cried, I let the housework slip, I didn’t know how to go on.
Well that was until I reconnected with a male friend of a friend via Facebook one day, we’d not spoken for a long time but I’d always liked him, he was intelligent and studying psychology at University, he was literate, kind, honest and I was starting to find him attractive, apparently the feeling was mutual and we went on a few dates.
We’d been dating for about a month when he took me out for a meal on New Years Eve, things had been going well, however, that evening as we chatted in the restaurant, he quickly became visibly annoyed. At this stage we were still getting to know each other properly, we had been speaking about our pasts, he really disliked the fact I was talking about my previous experiences and blatantly said he didn’t want to hear about it. He paid and got up to leave without me. He had driven us both to the restaurant so I had to go with him, otherwise I had no way of getting home, it would have been impossible to get a taxi in a busy city on New Years Eve. The drive home was uncomfortable, he shouted, he went silent, he just dropped me at my door. I went inside in tears and didn’t hear from him.
A few weeks later, I got a text, or should I say a sext, over the years, I realised this was his way of apologising, without actually apologising. He’d not speak to me for weeks, sometimes even months and then my phone would ping with an explicit image of him, or a paragraph that could have been taken directly from 50 Shades Of Grey.
Somewhere amongst all of this I’d heard along the grapevine that he’s been abusive to his ex-girlfriend. I don’t know whether i was blinded by love, lust or the fact the fact that he was intelligent & that he almost had a degree in Psychology, but I couldn’t believe it. We had a peculiar relationship, but he was nothing like my ex, or so I thought.
I don’t actually know why I kept going back. I guess to some extent, it felt mysterious, exciting that we would overcome an argument with hot, racy, intercourse. I’d never experienced this before, I’d never experienced this racy and tittilating lust before.
Our relationship went on like this for a while, however, he was living with his Grandparents, he had a part time job and was studying full time for a degree. I was moving out of my old house that I had iriginally shared with my childrens father. I had found a beautiful 3 bedroomed, detached, new build house in a nice area of our city. I took the plunge and sent him a picture of the house and asked him if he wanted to move in with me and my children. He jumped at the chance, I signed the lease, set up all of the bills, arranged removals and went shopping for some new decor for the house.
Things started off ok, but I soon realised he was very short tempered, moody and selfish. If it didn’t suit him or affect him, he didn’t care.
Like before it started with name calling, I was fat, ugly, a slag, a whore, an unfit mother, evil. It then turned into pushing, throwing me, pinning me down. The finanicial abuse then started, the house, the bills, everything was in my name, but he demanded that my wages were paid directly into his account every pay day so that he could ensure the bills were all paid on time, he told me it was because I was financially unstable, financially incapable, financially untrustworthy. I wouldn’t be able to live or manage without him.
After a few years, it transpired that a lot of things hadn’t been getting paid. The energy bill debt had amounted to thousands of pounds, the debt for the house we were leasing had also amounted to thousands of pounds, we were given an eviction order.
We managed to find another house, but the cycles of verbal and physical abuse continued. I hated the house, we leased it as an emergency, but it was horrific, it was old and needed a lot of work. But history repeated itself and we once again we were evicted because he hadn’t paid the bills. He had all of my wages, he had all of his wages, why were the bills not being paid? Where was our money disappearng to? I genuinely had no idea. We didn’t lead lavish lifestyles, neither of us drank, although he did like to buy cannabis.
We stayed at his mums for a while but it was there that I realised that she was just as abusive as he was, he’d physically assaulted me one day whilst she was at work. When she came home he went downstairs, leaving me sobbing on the bed. She’d only been home a few minutes before she had raced up the stairs screaming and shouting at me, to my shock she then also slapped me across the face, adding to the foundation of bruises and scratches that her precious son had left.
Once again, we managed to find another house, this was our third house in almost as many years. Again, I hated the house, just another house we’d signed a lease on as it was urgent. I had to get a house with him as my name was pretty much blacklisted from our previous houses & bills not being paid. There was no way I was going to get a house solely on my own. So back we were in the same vicious circle.
It was in this house that he punched me so hard that he’d broken my hand. He’d aimed for my ribs but instinctively I’d put my hand in the way to protect my body, my right hand took the brunt of the force. I’d gone into work the next day, it was swolled and turning blue. I had to tell my manager who was also my closest friend that I’d hit it on a door frame I was sent straight to the hospital.
At the hospital, I had an x-ray, it was established that my hand was broken. Under local anesthetic, the doctor tried to manipulate the bone back into place, but my hand shattered. I was placed into a cast, signed off work and a few days later I returned to the hospital to have surgery under general anesthetic and have my hand pinned back into place.
I was off work for 3 months, I had the wire that was fusing my bones back together in situ for3 months, I’m right handed and was barely able to do anything. I spent most of my days, in bed, in physical pain, in emotional pain, torturing myself for allowing me to fall into this situation again.
He couldn’t apologise enough, yes, he apologised, properly, not with a sext. He was doing everything he could for me when he wasn’t working, he cooked, he cleaned, he ran me bath’s, he bought me presents, he did the shopping, he smothered me with kindness and compliments. Had we turned a corner? Had this incident scared him? Had this incident made him realise that he did actually love me?
In short, no.
Once I’d returned to work, everything went back to how it used to be, the final straw was the day we split up. He couldn’t find his gym shirt, he was furious. He was shouting, calling me names, he was adament I had moved it. In all honesty, I genuinely hadn’t seen it. It turned out it was dumped in the corner of the bedroom floor in a pile of washing where he’d left it the day before. Things had calmed down when I asked him for an apology for shouting at me and calling me names. I wish I hadn’t, he flew of the handle and went for me, I managed to run down two flights of stairs, I was attempting to get to the front door, my daughter was right behind me, he pushed her out of the way but I didn’t make it. He dragged me into the dining room where he sat on me, hit me, dragged me around, then it came, both of his hands were around my throat, strangling me. I couldn’t breathe. I genuinely thought this was my time.
Little did I know at the time, my daughter had ran to the local phamacist and raised the alarm. They had called the police & within minutes they arrived. He was arrested.
The next day the police came to see me, they wanted me to press charges, I decided not to. I couldn’t even think about having to go through the whole legal process again, the potential of needing to stand as a witness at a trial. I advised them that I wouldn’t press charges, on one condition, the condition that he never makes contact with me again.
Sadly, that wasn’t the end, because this house was solely leased in his name, I was being evicted. I had to face that stress again, but this is where my luck started. An old colleague of mine had shared a lovely 3 bedroomed rental property on her Facebook page, it turned out to be a relatives, she put in a good word for me and regardless of my blacklisted credit history, they gave me a chance. I didn’t tell them my story, I was too ashamed, I was embarassed, I didn’t want pity. One day, I will tell them exactly what they did for me, how they helped save me, how they helped me survive.
But the question still prevails, why didn’t she just leave?
She did, it just isn’t as simple as just walking out of the door, it’s fearing that your abuser will find you. It’s fearing that when they do find you they will kill you. It’s fearing that you won’t cope alone. It’s fearing that you’ve endured what you have because it’s you fault. It’s fearing lonliness. It’s fearing that this is the life you’re destined for. It’s fearing losing everyone around you. It’s fearing the unknown.
I can say, since leaving my last relationship 5 years ago, I have been happily single ever since, I haven’t considered dating once and that’s been eniterly my choice.
What I have learned is that I can cope on my own, I’ve coped more now than I ever have. I have learned that my depression was brought on mostly by my environment and by leaving that behind my mental health has improved massively. I have learned that all of my bills are paid when I’m in control of my own finances. I have learned that I don’t need to depend on anyone. I have learned that I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. I’ve learned that life can much brighter and I can be happy in myself.
I countinue to grow, I have the most wonderful children. I’ve had two promotions at work. My next big goal is to buy a house, on my own. So I can shove a big middle finger up to my abusers who told me I couldn’t survive without them. I have decided to add donations forms to my site to hopefully help achieve my dreams, as single parenting can be expensive. Please don’t ever feel obliged, however, any donations will be received with a huge amount of gratitude.
If you are a victim of abuse, please know there is hope. Please know that there will be a right time. Please know that there is support available. Please know that you will be happy again. Please know that you have a voice. Please seek help.
I’ve included a few links below of highly recommended books for men & women based on surviving and recovering from domestic abuse.
https://amzn.to/3pPXpLx – The Recovery Toolkit: A 12 week plan to support your journey from Domestic Abuse by Sue Penna
https://amzn.to/3cocwZC – Start Here: A Crash Course in Understanding, Navigating, and Healing From Narcissistic Abuse by Dana Morningstar
https://amzn.to/3CEzqq4 – Domestic Abuse: Men Suffer Too by Hanson
https://amzn.to/3e5jkf5 – Emotional Abuse Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Manipulation and Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem Paperback by Dr Theresa J. Covert
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