I suppose, looking back, I knew from the first day of my marriage that things were “not right”. As I stood at the top of the aisle one of the ushers took my hands, looked straight into my eyes and said “you look absolutely beautiful – I have never seen you looking so wonderful before”. In an instant my heart fell as I knew that I was marrying the wrong man and that my soon to be husband would simply turn around, take one look at me and say “you are not wearing that awful looking thing are you?”. He didn’t disappoint me.
At that point I didn’t realise that I had been “worked on” during our 7 year courtship. I didn’t realise that my self esteem had already been dented and that my confidence was badly bruised. Had I realised this and had I known how things were to turn out I would, honestly, never have married him. The fact that none of my friends came to the wedding and that my family seriously did not like him meant nothing. We now had “our friends” there – friends of his with whose girlfriends/wives I had become friendly. Family, they will stand by you anyway so that doesn’t really matter – thankfully they did.
The first blip in our relationship can whilst we were on honeymoon. I had been so busy on the run up to the wedding that we hadn’t really seen all that much of each other. He had been working on my car and I had been using my dads car (it was much bigger to carry about all the things I had). Anyway, having fixed my breaks he returned my car and I left it at my parents house until I was due home. One day my Dad thought he should give my car a run so he jumped in. He felt that there was something not quite right so he took it to his own mechanic. It transpired that my beloved husband had “fixed” the breaks with panel pins – I had to travel 2 hours on motorways to and from work each day – one sharp break would have spelt tragedy! To this day when I repeat this it is like it happened to someone, so I don’t do it very often. Even my closest friends who know the most intimate details of our breakup only found this out within the last few weeks – when they came to a Womens Aid meeting with me – with everything he did to me I STILL cannot believe that he hated me SO much that he would have seen me dead or that he would have risked going to prison just to get rid of me. Did he not love me or was it for the house and the money?
I didn’t give in, not even then. It would have been a mistake, he wouldn’t do that to me. A few weeks later saw me in hospital with a gastric problem. D & V carried on for 5 days (I have underlying health problems which meant I had to have a drip). I lay in that ward with no clean clothes, underwear or toileteries for the first 5 days because he wouldn’t bring them in to me. I must have been stinking to the heavens. My mother hadn’t been told I was in hospital and when she eventually came in she ran off to sort me out.
By this time I was seeing less and less of my family. I wasn’t allowed to see them. It was work, housework then bed. At one point I managed to dye 4 of his 5 white “work” shirts green in the washing. I offered to pay for new ones but was made to wait until he came in from seeing his friends – often 11pm – then I would have to start to wash the shirt (in the washing machine on its own!!!) and dry and iron it. We had no tumble drier so it was no easy task. Whilst I was waiting for the machine to finish I would have to straighten the bath mat, left a bit right a bit style, whilst he stood over me to manage the process and then pop into bed beside him so that I could then jump out and in until the curtains were closed to his satisfaction and there was not even a peep of light coming in. He wouldn’t say whether or not the curtains need more altering until I had got back into bed – then I would have to get out again. Each time the bath mat or the curtains were not altered correctly there was always the possibility if a punch or a kick.
The behaviour became even more bizzare. Not only could I not see much of my parents if I was caught on the phone to my mum he would pass me and kick me in the shins with his work boots on (invariably I would have phone mum when he was out at work and he caught me when he came home). One night he punched the light socket out of the wall with his fist because I had left the hall light on. Another night he smashed my briefcase throught the bedroom wall because I had left it in the livingroom. If I bought the wrong milk he would pour it over the living room carpet and insist it was my fault as I had bought it and I had to clean it up – always under the threat of violence. The strangest of things was that the cat was never allowed to sit on my knee. If he walked into the room and she was on my knee he lifted her onto his. Looking back I think the was frightened that I got some strength from the cat – something loved me.
I think that I finally realised that I was not in a normal relationship when he shouted “right you f_ _ _ face put that kettle on” up the stairs of the flat to me – in front of the neighbours. Seemingly the neighbours husband – after hearing such things a few times – had him by the throat. The neighbours, however, are still friends with him to this day!!!!!! My work colleagues became afraid of him as he constantly came into work and downed my ability to them. It was one of these work colleagues – yes he was male but he was genuinely just a friend – who sat me down and made me see that I was so much better than this. He was a really good looking guy and didn’t have to speak to a “f _ _ _ face cow” like me, and I was so touched that he had taken the time to bother talking about this to me – when he really didn’t have to – that I listened and I took action.
About the same time my mum discovered that hubby was stealing money from me. My bank statements, thankfully, still went to my parents house as I hadn’t changed my name and address at the bank. Mum opened one and discovered that when I had thought I had mislaid my bank card in the house for a fortnight he had been taking money from my account. I was the main earner and not only could I not afford to buy a new pair of shoes I couldn’t even afford to have the ones I was wearing healed!
One Friday afternoon I told my boss that I might be upset on the Monday as I was planning to leave my husband that night – he offered me a works van to help me get out asap – he was so pleased for me. I went home and I started packing. Hubby cried for a bit then went out to see friends and I finished packing. I slept on the sofa that night and he didn’t encourage me to come to bed. The next morning he cried a bit more, for about 15-30 minutes, and then went out with friends again. I took only my personal belongings and things that I thought I might need such as linen – but always the stuff he didn’t like. On closing the door I knew that was the end of my relationship. Instead of him locking me in I was locking ME out!
Not quite over………….two weeks after the split I had gone to the movies with my new flatmate and when I came out he had parked his car – in a huge car park – bumper to bumper with mine. My pal thought that this was odd but I told her that he must have a new girlfirend. If he had been alone he would have put a sarky note on my windscreen, if he had been with his mates they wouldn’t have let him park anywhere near my car so there was only one other explaination – and, I found out later, from his cousin that I was right, she had bumped into them in the cinema. Was I not just so happy that there were 12 movies showing and he didn’t know which one I had gone to see! He, of course, wouldn’t have been in the same movie as me because my pal and I had gone to see “Sleeping With The Enemy”. Not at all realising just how closely it had mirrored my own relatioship I cried almost from start to finish.
The upside of this is that I have now been happily married to my second husband for 16 years and have a wee boy. We have our ups and downs like any couples but ours is a level playing field and we meet there as two equals – and that is how a relationship/partnership should be in my mind.
Am I glad I left? Of course I am – but it was easier for me as I didn’t have to uproot children.
Would I have left if I had children? Yes I like to think that I would.
Is there a one defining moment? When I realised that I was worth so so much more – any human being is. You get taken to court if you beat your dog so why do you think that you can beat your wife/partner?
So who did I leave for? ME ME ME ME ME. The only piece of advice I would give anyone planning to leave and abusive partner is leave for YOU. If you have kids then leaving for you IS leaving for them as they don’t want to see mum treated like this – and they do see. Even if you think they don’t THEY DO. DON’T leave for another man. Take time out for yourself, TLC for the kids, if you have any, and TSC (tender self care as my male pal told me) for yourself.
I was on my own for about 18 months – there were offers but I never took anyone up on them – and then I met my “now husband”. I knew within 4 weeks this time that this was for keeps – it can be the same for you if you can only believe how much you really are worth. I really really hope that you can.
With much love.