Narratives from domesticshelters.org
I lived in a violent marriage for years. I was very naive at first and really didn’t know people like him existed. He would kick me, slap me, push me, trip me over, throw things at me, stand on my feet, yell abuse, call me names like ‘social cripple’, the list goes on and on, but he never punched me. In fact he would say to people that he couldn’t stand ‘wife bashers’. He would tell me that he didn’t want the children to play with so-and-so’s children because they were a bad influence. He tried to isolate us from all those who loved us and new people we met would go through character assassinations by him. Life was continuous hell, fear and horror and he always blamed the children or me for his violence. Things got a lot worse towards the end. He would threaten to run us all off the road in the car and kill us. The violence became a daily occurrence if not several episodes a day.
How I coped
Basically I coped by trying to keep him happy so he wouldnt do these things to us. I believed for a long time that it was my fault or the children’s. I cried a lot when he wasn’t home. I lost all my belief in myself. I was totally isolated and spoke to no one about what was happening. I don’t think I really did cope except to hide it from the world and from myself.
How the situation changed
When his violence became much worse and was being directed at the children I changed. I began to read about self esteem and positive affirmations. I contacted a friend I used to know who worked in a Woman’s Centre and speaking to her made me realise we were not alone. Finally I began to see the reality of what was happening. When we left I believed he was going to kill us.
What helped me
The Domestic Violence Center women have helped me so very much. The support and understanding and sharing of experiences. Counselling, and I have done some violence recovery and self confidence courses. When the Family Court recognised what hell we went through and ordered absolute no contact for him with my children, was a big turning point in my healing. Good friends and family have been wonderful as well.
What I would say to others
If I could come and help you leave I would but it is you who has to do it. Leaving permanently is the only thing that will change the situation. You can’t make him better no matter how much you love him. It is NOT your fault, it is his. You are a wonderful person and deserve so much better.
You are not alone, there are many people who know what you are going through. Reach out to people and contact support groups like those who own this website, they are the experts. Most of all believe in yourself and know you are strong.
- My journey to hell and back began twelve years ago. I met him when he moved in next door to me. We became friends and later he moved in with me and we became an item. He had me hook, line and sinker, a real charmer. He was a rebel, and life became fast and exciting. Parties, dancing, drinking and then more drinking. I didn’t see it coming…he had been drinking all day, and then his old girlfriend arrived. I was upset…The next day when he arrived at the flat he was full of remorse – things would be different, he wouldn’t drink and he would never hurt me again. I believed him; things did improve for a while. Soon I discovered I was pregnant, he seemed over the moon with the news. A few months later he came home drunk, and after arguing he punched me…Returning home I gave him an ultimatum – his mates or me. He chose me. However after our baby was born the drinking and abuse continued. I stayed, as I could not see a way out. Brief times when he was sober, things seemed pleasant…As people became aware of my situation, I had learnt to hide the bruises and he was good at not leaving them where they could be seen. Over the years I took out several Intervention Orders on him, which I then dropped when he made his promises and sometimes, even, threats against me. He received a jail sentence of several months… I still didn’t leave. During his time in jail I visited often – he made more promises: no more drinking, no more abuse. When he left jail, things were great for a while, and I hoped that his time in jail had changed him. I got pregnant…we moved again, this time to be closer to his family, as I was going to need help and support with twins on the way. This was a move I should never have made. His father also had a drinking problem; they were a bad influence on each other. During my pregnancy he abused me again and again…There were times when he was at the hotel with his parents, I would pray that someone would knock on my door and tell me he was dead, rather than face him coming home. I was trapped; the only people I knew were his family. I had no way out…Life was tough and often there was no money for food. I stopped eating so what we had would go further. As long as he had his beer he didn’t care…Every day I lived in fear, never knowing what his mood would be. I knew I had to protect my children. I found the phone book and looked under ‘Domestic Violence’ in the front. I got several phone numbers; I started with the first. The first few refuges I rang were full and asked if I could wait. Finally I rang a Salvation Army refuge, and an elderly man answered; I don’t know how he understood me through my many sons as I tried to tell my story. He said `not now, tell me when you get here, do you need help, how soon can you get here?’ my reply was` we are on our way.’ I grabbed my box of photo albums, a garbage bag of clothes for the children and myself, and took my dog, which had been a loyal friend for many years, and we left. Driving early that morning, I was a little scared of the future, but not like I had been every day for the last five years…I changed my name, and began to rebuild my life…Fourteen months later, after I trusted the wrong person, he contacted me. He pleaded with me to believe that he had changed, he had been to counseling, anger management etc. etc. He was really convincing – the old charm was back. I agreed to give it a trial, but said that things would have to go slowly. He could not live with me. And no more alcohol. He saw us once a month to begin with as he lived a long way away. Soon he moved to the town where I was living. One weekend when he was staying with us, he started drinking. We argued and I asked him to leave, but he refused. I went to phone the police… I was able to break away and I ran out the front door. He caught up to me in the neighbour’s garden..A female voice called out that she had called the police and he fled. I believe if it wasn’t for the intervention of a stranger, I’d not be here today!