Harriet’s domestic abuse story starts like so many other with only ocasional violent attack which she is able to ignore for the progress of the family. But over time the controlling and jealousy became too much and the violent attacks to severe to be ignored any longer.
Harriet didn’t have a history of domestic abuse, and she recognised it when it began and yet she was still drawn in, slowly but surely being brainwashed into accepting the violent and controlling behavior of her husband. It was only after 24 years of marriage that she finally realized what had been happening, and that it was time to put an end to it, and even then it was only due to something her daughter said.
I was brought up in a loving family by my parents. Had friends, a loving sister and lots of extended family. I was never a very confident person and always stood back and watched. I was in very few relationships, which never lasted long and I was always left hurting and wondering what I had done wrong. In 1999, when I was 18 and had not long passed my driving test, I drove some friends out one night and met a group of guys, and I offered to take a couple of them home. I got on well with one of them and the next day, I turned up at his door to see if he fancied going out for a coffee. It moved pretty quickly from there. My best friend (best friends since 14) hated him from day one, but I always thought it was jealousy on her part that he was taking me away from her. The feeling was mutual though, so there was always a constant battle between them.
In 2000, we went on holiday to Australia for the first time. He told me it was somewhere he’d always wanted to live, even though he had never visited the country. We did have a great time and, whilst away, we got engaged. When we got back, we moved in together and had an engagement party. Things seemed to be going great. There was always an issue with other male attention, me going out, and the thing I never noticed at the time, MONEY! He always used it as an excuse for me not to go anywhere. However, if he wanted us to do something (holiday, new car, furniture, etc.) it was always manageable. He was never a sociable person unless he knew the people well, and he didn’t like how I would chat and be more outgoing than him.
We married in August 1994 and were surrounded by family and friends and although the day was a whirlwind, I was happy. It hadn’t really dawned on me by this point that even then that we weren’t very sociable unless in a crowd of others. We even had 2 couples come on our honeymoon with us. I always worked and contributed to everything, but he soon became in control of the bills and the money in the bank. One day, he got very jealous when out and was also not a great drunk especially whilst on spirits. When we got home, he took it out on me and left me with bruising up my arm. Funny, I don’t really remember this or lots of things that happened as I have obviously chosen to block them out. However, I have now been told that I did call my Mum to let her know what he had done. She told me she came over and he told her it was none of her business and to leave us alone. From that day on, I chose to keep it all to myself. We moved to a bigger house, had 2 children and settled into what seemed like a pretty normal marriage.
In 2004, not long after the birth of our second child, my ex was made redundant. By this point, we had gone down the route of applying to live in Australia, having visited again twice. I had put a stop on things as I couldn’t leave my family. However, a job offer came up that we couldn’t really miss out on, so in September 2005, he left me and the kids to sell the house and pack up whilst he went over to start work and find a house for us. In January 2006, he came back for our leaving party and a week later we left for our new life in Oz. By this time, my best friend had also moved to Australia, so I was excited to be nearer, with her being just 2 hours away.
Things seemed to go well, and after 10 months we had gone from renting to owing our own 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a swimming pool. I loved our life and knew, or thought, we had done the right thing. But he very quickly got into the habit of going out every Saturday, drinking, which then carried on into drinking in the house. There was very rarely a day when he didn’t drink. I worked from home and we then built an extension onto the house, and money soon became very tight. He was very hands-on; He did all the shopping and cooking, and helped do housework too. He was still in control of the money and I was given money when I needed it, but always had to justify what it was for.
But he very quickly got into the habit of going out every Saturday, drinking, which then carried on into drinking in the house. There was very rarely a day when he didn’t drink.
There were a few more violent attacks which again I have chosen to block out, but a few of these were witnessed by friends. Of course, the next day he was always sorry and would never do it again….. We never talked, I couldn’t without being put down, and I soon learnt to completely bottle things up. I hated him touching me and would always pretend to be asleep when he came to bed. That usually didn’t stop him and I would just lie there hoping it would hurry up and end. In March this year, we went back to Scotland for a 3 week holiday to surprise my sister for her 40th. We couldn’t afford it, but my Dad offered to pay for me and the kids (he couldn’t get the time off work). A couple of weeks before we left, my ex decided he could come for a week and asked me to call my Dad to see if he would pay for him too, which he did. We had very little spending money and, during the first week, most of it went, leaving us with very little to live off during the remaining time. Once he left, my phone had to be permanently charged, I had to talk to him when he wanted and he would tell me what I had to do each day. When we left to come back, there was this nagging doubt in the back of my head which I put down to being homesick and not wanting to leave. I then fell into instant depression and, for the next 6 weeks, I cried. I wouldn’t talk and I was so confused about everything. About a week before I worked it all out, I was lying trying to sleep, when I was woken up with him forcing me to have anal sex. I cried the whole way though it, but afterwards he cuddled me and said he was sorry if he hurt me.
My daughter, now 15, also sussed that something was up and, one day when out, I stopped the car to have a chat with her. She asked me if me and her Dad were going to split up. I told her that we probably would, and this is what confirmed it for me finally. She told me that everything he did was because he loved me. I knew then the one reason I was staying with him was actually doing more damage. I agreed to go to the doctors as my ex wanted me to get treatment for depression. I had also spilled things to my best friend and her family by this point, who were also offering me great support. There was no turning back by this point, and on the 24th May, I told him that we were over and explained that I could no longer live in a domestic violence relationship.
We agreed to live in the same house whilst we sold it and moved back to Scotland. The month following was the worst ever. He didn’t handle it well, and went from being happy to crying, trying to persuade me to take him back and constantly asking for sex one last time. By this time, I was working a second job and he decided he was an unpaid housemaid and babysitter – even though the money from my job went straight into our bank account and I never saw any of it. He didn’t want to admit to anyone why we had split. However, we agreed that he would tell family that he had hit me once and that was enough to end our 24-year relationship. On the 22nd June, he went one step too far. He didn’t like me still being in so much control of my life and, after going to the pub straight from work and continuing with a bottle of bourbon, I woke up early the next morning to his hand on my leg telling me I was still his wife and he could do what he liked. Our 9 year old son was in the bed beside me, but I froze. I cried, which eventually woke him up and subsequently our daughter too. What followed was a horrific 3 hour attack which included his hands over my mouth and nose, hands round my throat, telling me he had nothing to lose by killing me, trying to rape me, hitting me, smashing my phone and lots of verbal abuse.
Today, as I write this, I am free, my domestic abuse story is coming to an end. We are still currently living in the house, waiting on the outcome of the court case and trying to put our lives back together. I have met the most amazing and caring guy who means world to me and has shown me what I have always wanted in a relationship. Yes, we still have our ups and downs, but with help from great friends and family and my beautiful new partner, I know we have a great future to look forward to.
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