In her personal domestic violence story, Amelia comes to the realisation, that her entire marriage was horrific and she had finally succeeded in leaving an abusive relationship. This is her story:
It is only now – 3 yrs after he left – that I have realised that it wasn’t just the first and last few years of the relationship that was abusive, it was all of it – 21 yrs. The times when there wasn’t any domestic violence or any obvious abusive behaviour was the times that I was totally ‘under control’, the times when I stuck to the rules and didn’t go against them, the times when I didn’t have an opinion or wasn’t outspoken, when I didn’t enjoy talking to other people (especially if they were male!), the times when I kept the house immacutely clean, the kids were clean and quiet and the times I didn’t go out and leave him to fend for himself.
I met him when I was 21 and he was nearly 20 years older than me, for the first couple of months we had a great time, spending all our spare time together then we got a place and moved in together. I thought it would be fun, after a night out we could go home together but it wasn’t like that, he didn’t want to go out, then when we did go out he started suggesting I went to visit my parents, he said that Friday nights and Saturday lunchtimes were when ‘blokes went to the pub’. By the time Saturday evenings came around he’d then had too much to drink to want to go out or to be able to stay out too long, I just became his taxi driver.
When we moved in together he soon began asking about my previous boyfriends. He wanted to know how long i’d known them before I slept with them and where and how it had happened. When I was vague or didn’t want to answer his questions he would get angry, as soon as i got frustrated with him and raised my voice, pleaded with him to stop or tapped him on his arm he would hit me. I would be covered in bruises, mainly on my arms. The main effect of this violence was that I started to change – I stopped being myself. I would avoid any conversation with friends when we were out that would have anything to do with my life before him, I didn’t look at or talk to other men. During sex I didn’t initiate anything or lose control of myself, he wouldn’t like this and would start questioning me about things again.
This is how it was for the next 11 yrs or so, during that time we had 2 children, also during this time there were just a few times when my partner would get angry, maybe push me or call me names, I always thought that his behaviour was my fault, mainly due to the thoughts instilled in me by him at the beginning of the relationship.
Then he found out I was having an affair, this is when the violence really escalated. I could never talk to him and he didn’t accept that I was very unhappy. There were a couple of times when I left but it would only be for a day or night and then he’d say the kids were missing me ‘come round for tea’. I didn’t want to be away from my kids but I couldn’t drag them away with me to god knows where either. I had nowhere to go where he wouldn’t find me, so I thought it would be better staying until the kids were older. During this time he asked me to marry him, I thought it would make him happy and that the bad times would stop – I was very wrong.
The domestic violence continued throughout 2000 – 2002, the reason he used was that I’d been unfaithful – it was his ideal excuse for his behaviour, he made me feel so bad about myself and for hurting him, that I believed I deserved that kind of treatment – I was at one of my lowest points in my life. The treatment I received for not wanting to give him oral sex was the same if I forgot to buy a loaf of bread – he would get angry, hit me, call me names, then shut himself in the bedroom each night (if the door was shut that meant I had to sleep on the settee or in my daughters bedroom). It would usually be 3-5 days before he spoke to me again, usually in time to take him to the pub at the weekend.
At the end of 2002 I developed a close friendship with a guy I’d met, he cared a lot for me but I didn’t want him or anyone else to intervene, I thought it would just make it worse. My husband found out about this relationship after a couple of months and the violence was really bad for a while. I wanted to leave but I couldn’t I still thought it would make things worse.
For the next 3 years things just carried on much the same as they had before, I would try and not ‘wind’ him up and just do what he wanted but there were still episodes of violence, usually at bedtime I used to lie there almost paralysed with fear that he was going to kick off. If he did it would start with him saying how he felt less of a man because of ‘what I’d done to him’, he told me he couldn’t stop thinking about it, this would then escalate to calling me names, asking me questions, then hitting me, trying to strangel me or kicking me out of the bed and onto the floor.
He started to say from time to time that he couldn’t stand it anymore and he was going to leave, then a couple of days later he would change his mind. I had to be careful that he didn’t see my disappointment each time he changed his mind.
He finally left 3 yrs ago, I really thought that I’d finally got my freedom and my old self back but it wasn’t to be – 2 weeks after he left he phoned me one day and asked about me going round for sex at his place – just for 6 weeks he said, just until he gained some confidence and was able to move on and meet someone else. I really didn’t want to and we argued on the phone for an hour or so until I finally gave in. When the 6 weeks was up he wanted to do it for a little longer and it went on and on like that until a couple of months ago – I finally realised he wasn’t going to put an end to it, I was really finding it more and more difficult to cope with and I was almost at breaking point. With the strength, belief and support of a great friend who I had confided in I told my ex that it wouldn’t be happening anymore and that I was now seeing someone. After a couple of more phone calls, plenty of threats and intimidation my ex is now leaving me alone.
Initially I thought I would just avoid him for a few weeks but now I have decided not to speak to him or have any contact with him ever again – he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong but I know different. I now know that not only that this wasn’t my fault but its not only me that this has happened to.
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