For the first time on the blog, the writer of this article chose to remain anonymous.
Whilst she wanted to share her story and try to help other women in similar situations, she was worried about putting her name to her words. Worried that she would (again) be silenced by people who have tried to silence her before, and worried for the impact that has on her family - who are her number 1 priority.
I'm SO angry for her that this is what she still has to deal with, as if what she has been through isn't enough. Having said that, I'm also SO proud that she is still speaking out, and I know that she will continue to do so.
This one's a big one, but trying to condense 6 years of abuse isn't easy. If this brings up any concerns for you in your current relationship, or of a friends relationship, please scroll to the bottom for some suggested ways to reach out for help.
I am a single Mum at 34. I have 4 children. 1 boy who is 8 (from a previous relationship) and 3 girls who are 3, almost 2 and 9 months from my relationship with my abuser. There is a 14 month gap between my first girls and a 13 month gap between the last two, I was basically pregnant for three years straight.
My abusive relationship started in 2011. There were red flags from the very start, but he swept me off my feet so fast I guess I ignored them, or let them slide because I so badly wanted this relationship to work after already having a failed one. I wanted the happy picture I had painted in my head of husband, wife and kids, to become my reality. He told me everything I wanted to hear and more. He was almost too good to be true.
I had moved in with him within 6 months and moved my son and I interstate to be with him. He worked away through the week so it was a very lonely and isolating time for us having moved to a new town and not knowing anyone. It wasn’t long before I found out he was having emotional affairs with numerous women via social media. I confronted him while he was away working, only to be thrown words like ‘I will die without you’ ‘you are my whole world’ and ‘you are my soul mate - please don’t leave me’. I felt bad for him even though he was the one who had done the wrong thing. He was very good at making me feel bad for his wrongdoings.
I left it until he returned home. I tried to confront him again, only to be then thrown things like ‘you don’t know what you saw, you’re crazy’; ‘that didn’t happen - prove it’; ‘stop trying to create drama’ and ‘you have no proof of it happening - stop being so sensitive’. It’s like he was punishing me for confronting him about his unacceptable behaviour.
The verbal abuse started. I could never quite pin point why he would have these rage outbursts, but I knew it was because something had not gone his way or I had stood up to him about something. He would never take ownership or responsibility for his actions - or see any wrong in yelling and screaming in my face. He would never apologise. Life just went on. There were numerous times he would stand over me as I was cowering in a corner, screaming obscenities at me for god knows what reason. I would cover my ears and let him do what he needed to do for it to be over. I would never bring it up because it would anger him further. It wasn’t worth the stress. And he would always turn his issues around to make them my fault.
He would chase me down the driveway in my car as I was trying to leave arguments, to try and remove my son from the abuse. He was controlling and very manipulative. There was one instance where he screamed at me in front of my son. My son tried to push him away from me (he was only 4) and yelled at him to ‘leave my mummy alone’.
That was my cue to leave.
We packed up and moved back home to live with my parents. I did this without him knowing. I wasn’t prepared for another screaming match, which would result in him manipulating me to stay with him.
He started telling me he had changed, he was getting help, he was a different person - all of which I naively believed. He had manipulated me with his lies and controlling ways again, I just didn’t see it at the time. My family and friends never said anything because they knew he had me so convinced that he had changed. Little did I know he was emotionally abusing me - telling me what I wanted to hear. He was very good at what he was doing and a short time later we were back living together.
Not long after that that I was pregnant.
That perfect picture I so badly longed for was almost a reality for me again. I saw hope.
We moved to a bigger house, all seemed happy and going along smoothly.
It was not long after giving birth that the abusing outbursts started again. The first being as I was breastfeeding my daughter, she was only 3 weeks old. I recently worked out it was because I saw an old school friend in hospital the same time we were there, and he got jealous and accused me of cheating on him with this person. He told me to pack my shit and leave. I had just given birth.
I was never allowed to have friends, he was jealous of almost every friendship I had. I wasn’t allowed to have people come to the house unless he was there, or go to my family’s house without him being present. If I did, he would make me feel guilty about it, saying, ‘am I not enough for you? You don’t need those other people in your life - you have me’.
I did what he asked because it kept the peace.
My emotions had left, I had no sense of reality, I was being lied to and verbally abused and I was raising two children at home on my own whilst he worked away. 4 months later, I was pregnant again. This is when things started to really unravel. This was when it hit me that I wasn’t going to be a teacher anytime soon - but a stay at home Mum. Not that that was a bad thing - it just wasn’t what I had planned on doing. It took a long time to adjust to that. 3 months after my third was born - I fell pregnant again. I dealt with this much better because I had been through it before, this was going to be a breeze!
It was hard work though. I was home alone 4 days a week raising 3 children (2 infants) and pregnant. No help, just me. I was exhausted.
I wasn’t working so I had to ask him for money to buy nappies and formula because he never allowed us to have a joint bank account, he would yell and scream because ‘he’ worked hard for ‘his’ money, and would make he feel guilty for not being able to work.
When he was home on weekends he would make me feel guilty for wanting to take a nap, or relax and watch some TV. I needed down time and he never allowed it. I was at my breaking point. Not because of my kids - because of him. He never understood.
It was then that he started to tell me he thought I had Post Natal Depression. This angered me because I was tired and emotional because of his constant guilt trips and controlling ways. I was in a daze of reality - what was real and what wasn’t. I was exhausted because of him and his abuse towards me - no other reason. He kept bringing it up - throwing it in my face, again and again, almost to the point where he had me believing I did have it. I didn’t feel any of the symptoms of PND, but I wanted answers as to why I was feeling the way I was.
I still didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship at this point.
I went to my first therapy session (I didn’t tell him I was going) and I explained what had been happening for the past few years. Her response - ‘You don’t have PND, you are in a vulnerable place in your life being pregnant with 3 other children to care for, and you are in an abusive relationship. You need to get out’.
She pointed me in the direction of help and my quest for understanding my experiences from the past 5 years started. I was amazed to know that domestic violence was not only physical. It had never occurred to me there were other factors to abuse in the home.
I did work with a local non violence organisation who helped me become more aware of what was happening. It was like all of a sudden everything just started to make sense. All the pieces of the puzzle were being put together.
In Sept 2016 there was an incident where he was withholding my child, and I was 7 months pregnant. He screamed in my face as I was trying to give my daughter medicine and I retaliated. I had been told by my therapist that it was OK to start letting myself feel emotions again. Having shut them off for such a long time - the anger had built up and I lashed out. This was when I decided I could not be in a relationship where I was pushed to this point.
I started to plan my escape - much to his dislike.
He tried everything in his power to keep me from leaving him. Abusive phone calls, texts, emails. I had to change my phone number and my email address because he wouldn’t stop. He was sending 30 emails a day. Threatening me that if I left him he would ‘break me’.
I didn’t care. My mind was made up. I wanted my kids to not have to be exposed to this violence - nor did I want to have to deal with it myself, anymore.
He tried many manipulative tactics to try and get me to change my mind and go back to him. He would never take no as an answer. He wanted his own way. He would disrespect the boundaries I was trying to establish and I ended up getting an AVO just so he would leave me alone.
The hardest part in all this was not having people believe me, having known what he has done to me, in my home, in front of my children. I was harassed and bullied by a friend of his, who knew what my kids and I had been exposed to. His friend told me I was a vindictive mother for not allowing him in the home with my children, that everyone knew he was a great dad. His friend's wife reached out to me, asking what was happening and if she could help. I tried explaining my side of the story and told her, ‘I would never allow your husband to step foot in my house if he had called you a slut in front of your daughter, I’m disappointed you allow him in your house’. Her response was, ‘oh that’s no good he called you that, but I hope we can still drink together’.
I had tried to explain my story to them, but getting this response shocked me. I couldn’t allow people like this in my life. I had masses of support from my amazing family and friends, but just having one or two people doubt you or think you are lying is very hard to deal with.
I’m sharing my story because I want other people in similar situations to know there is help available. There are people out there willing to help and listen. That we are not ‘crazy’ like they make us out to be. That this is real life. My message to other women living in these situations is to reach out and talk to someone. Anyone. There is so much help available that I didn’t know existed, and it has helped free me from a very toxic environment and abusive relationship.
This is happening in homes far more often that it should. A year ago, I didn’t even know I was in an abusive relationship. I thought it had to be physical to be abuse. But I now know abuse comes in many forms. And I now know he never truly loved me, because you don’t do this to someone you love. Once is a mistake - twice is a choice. He chose to do this to me over and over again.
So my choice was to leave.
In the end I had to forgive him. Not for what he had done to my children and I, but because I needed to forgive him for myself. I could no longer hold onto the hurt and anger he has caused me and I needed to be the best Mum I could be to my kids. Holding onto this anger wasn’t helping. So I forgave him for him being the way he is. It’s not my issue to deal with - it’s his. These are his demons to fight - not mine.
I am proud to be where I am today and proof that you can escape an abusive relationship and start living a happy life again. That there is hope. There are very dark days, but you work through them, and things get a little better day by day. I have accepted that this life I have now is my perfect picture. The image of how I envisioned my life to be isn’t what I expected, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am truly blessed to be with my children every single day and live the happy life we all deserve
My son often says he’s so happy he doesn’t have to hide in his, room protecting his sisters anymore because 'he' isn’t here ‘yelling in Mums face’. This breaks my heart. And this is why nothing and no one will ever stop me telling my story. Ever. That’s why I’m speaking out. I’m not afraid of what anyone else thinks and I want other women to feel the same.
If you are experiencing abuse in any form, please reach out to family or friends,
or make contact with one of the following organisations -
Remember, if you are in immediate danger, call 000.