Stories of Hope & Survival: Day 7
For the last 6 years I have been trying to rebuild my life after leaving a relationship that left me half dead. It took me several attempts to finally make the break with the help of Women’s Aid. I eventually found the courage and strength I needed to leave, and never go back.
I wish I could go back in time and tell the woman I was back then, to stay away from the good looking dark haired man who in the beginning seemed to be everything I ever wanted. He treated me with respect and asked me so many questions about myself and my life that I thought at last I have found someone who is genuinely interested in me and I fell hook line and sinker. I would whisper in her ear ‘he is only asking you all those questions to see if he is able to get any control over you, he is a master at picking his victims and if you appear too strong he would walk away’.
He finds out what he needs to know and the reeling in begins and weeks later he has moved in. I didn’t even remember asking him to do so. His feet are under the table everything is moving so fast I haven’t had time to think properly.
He slowly starts to verbally put me down, sly comments meant to knock my self-esteem come out of the blue and leave me wondering what I did wrong. My friends are becoming less; he is all consuming, the friends I do have left he makes a pass at, so one by one I drop them. He says I only need him, why bother with them?
He stays in bed half the day and is not contributing anything to running the house and is making my life and my children’s hell. We all walk around treading on egg shells he is turning into a monster, but I still think it must be me. What am I doing so wrong? I dress nice, I clean, I cook. He doesn’t keep a job and is openly smoking drugs and getting drunk. Now he comes home and screams at me regularly. I begin to dread him coming home, but when he stays away for days I miss him so much I feel sick.
The slaps start, then trying to drown me in the sink, trying to rip my eyes out and pulling my hair. I don’t scream any more I don’t want my kids to hear. I join him in his drug taking, it masks the pain I feel inside. Eventually I am as addicted to him as much as any drug.
I move house because he says my family interfere too much in our business. I lose every bit of dignity as I watch him have affairs and boast about who he could have. I get so depressed I want to die, this man is getting more and more power, he controls everything.
I shake when I hear the gate opening not knowing what kind of mood he is in when he comes in. Sometimes he is happy and brings me chocolates and treats me well, the next he is screaming spitting at me towering over me making threats hitting the table grabbing me by the throat his eyes are mad and I know nothing will stop him. I plead, cajole and say sorry, not knowing what I have done.
Everything I love has been destroyed by this bully of a man but I now cling on, I can’t be abandoned by him, he says no one will want me any way. I am disgusting and when I now look in the mirror I see he is right. The weight has dropped off me, my hair is greasy and I am a mess. The woman I was when we met was smart, in control of her life and now I am a wreck and my warped thinking doesn’t see that it’s him who is breaking me.
I feel the bones sticking out of my bottom when I try to sit down, my cheeks are gaunt, my eyes have lost any signs of life – I am slowly dying. I smoke more and more drugs to stop me feeling anything at all and he looks at me disgust. He’s openly having affairs and telling me about them now, no longer hiding the fact that he could leave me if he wanted at any time, laughing when I cry and when I beg him to stop.
Even the animals I had were abused so much that I had them put down to save them being hurt any more. Everything I loved gone, my children left home as soon as they could and then he had nothing or no one to hold back his reign of terror. He had total control then.
I was getting weaker and weaker, I came across a leaflet with the Women’s Aid helpline number on it in a café. I rang them sobbing, please help me I cried. The woman arranged to meet, me she let me pour out years of pain I had told no one of, I was ashamed and still thought it was my fault. The woman was kind she never judged me, never looked disgusted at what I told her just listened and said we can help you – I was so relieved someone believed me at last.
I would like to say I left for good then, but I didn’t, I went back one more time. Nothing changed though, in fact it got worse after initial that honey moon period.
The seed had been planted in my brain. I remembered the woman saying we will be here for you if you ever need us again. I picked up the phone and with their support I left for good.
I am now rebuilding my life. It’s not been easy and at times it’s been very lonely but I can wear what I want, laugh, have my grandkids over and there is no more walking on egg shells. I am disabled, the stress wrecked my body, but I am here a lot wiser, having worked the Freedom Programme which Women’s Aid run. I also went into rehab and turned my life around.
There are different kinds of abusers, but all ultimately want control. I am one of the lucky ones. I got away with the tremendous support I have had from Women’s Aid.
[Name has been changed to protect identity]