A Matter of Trust. Part 2.

A Matter of Trust. Part 2.

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The DominatorLast week I wrote about my trust issues and my first serious relationship. Little was I to know that I was going to go out of the frying pan and into the fire! Warning: This post is much longer than my normal 600 or so words. Please grab yourself a cuppa and settle in for a read!

I think before I start I need to make it clear that I am not writing this post for sympathy, I just hope that what I have gone through helps someone else out there in a similar position. The scars from emotional abuse last long after the situation has ended and it takes someone very understanding to help you work through what has happened.

I met W in November 1994 in a pub in Surrey. He was flirtatious from the outset. I ignored him. He had a girlfriend and wasn’t really my type. A month or so later he asked for my telephone number and I stupidly thought he was single when he arranged to take me out for a drink. I then found out that he had a girlfriend so told him that the date was off. He told me that he couldn’t break up with her until after she had finished his exams.  I thought this was really considerate but didn’t really think any more of it.

W carried on calling me and we chatted on the phone. I was appearing in a panto and, just after it finished, W told me that he had finished with his girlfriend so we went out for a drink. He was a gentleman, making sure I walked on the inside of the pavement and showering me with compliments. We started seeing each other.

Time went by, W moved in and, ever so subtly, he started to control me. One of the first times that springs to mind is when he went on a stag do. I was out at a drama meeting but he asked that, when I got home, I waited up for him to call so I could go and collect him. I did. He didn’t call. Eventually, he rang. At 5.45am. He insisted I come and get him. I was exhausted and ‘punished’ him by getting him to make the tea. He didn’t like it and sulked…for two days!

One evening we were out with friends in the pub we had met in. As the evening came to a close, a man came up to W and started to muck around with him and mock him. W lost control and grabbed the man by the throat, pinning him up against the wall. It took two of our friends to drag him off the guy. I was scared. I said nothing all the way home. The following day, I got phonecall after phone call checking I was OK, making sure I wouldn’t leave and even got flowers.

We were together 12 years and it is so difficult to put in here how much emotional abuse there was. Trying to sum it up won’t be easy but I am going to try.

  • If we ever went anywhere, I was ‘wearing the wrong thing’
  • I was always the one to cook dinner. It was constantly critiqued and was either too big a portion or too small.
  • If we went anywhere and drove, I would have to drive back as he would have been drinking. There was constant criticism about my driving – so much so that many of our friends did not want to travel with us.
  • If he went out he purposefully didn’t take a key so I couldn’t go anywhere (if I did then life just wasn’t worth living when I came back as he would invariably be sitting on the doorstep waiting for me)
  • If I ever went anywhere, the people I was with were ‘old dogs’ or ‘tarts’ and would have been cheating on their partners which would meant I would too
  • If I didn’t feel like sleeping with him, I was accused of sleeping with other men
  • I always had to pick up the takeaways, clean the house and do the washing. But it was always wrong if I did
  • For the first 5 years I paid all the council tax (he didn’t believe in it!) until we had a joint account where he didn’t realise he was helping to pay!
  • Whenever anyone paid me a compliment, he would take it away from me and make it about him

I fell pregnant at the end of 1997. I was scared and excited and a whole host of emotions. W insisted that he wasn’t ready and our only option was to get rid of it. Each time I spoke about going ahead, he would say that I wouldn’t be any good as a mother and if I did have it then I would be a single parent living on a council estate. The pregnancy was terminated on 2nd January 1998. Grace was to arrive 9 years to the day later. W went away to America to stay with his brother a week and a half later. Leaving me on my own. I should have left then but W kept ringing me and decided to propose to me. Years later I found out that he proposed to ‘shut me up’ but never intended to marry me.

Many, many times he would go out, disappear, never telling me where he was or what he was doing. I could have tried to have followed him but a majority of the time he used my car – leaving me without transport – or rode a motorbike meaning I couldn’t follow.

We went on a few holidays and two particular instances spring to mind. The first was San Francisco where we saw in New Year 2006. A massive argument erupted between us in a bar one night and he walked off, leaving me on my own and not knowing where I was.  I went back to the hotel foyer and waited for him. I didn’t have a room key and the hotel wanted proof as to who I was. W had it. Eventually I persuaded them to call the room – and he was there and told them to send me up. When I did get there, he threatened me, told me I was mad and then said he would call the police on me. I can’t remember what made him calm down. I slept in the armchair.

I found out I was pregnant again in May 2006. By that time I had found out I had an abnormal chromosome condition which could affect any children I had. W insisted that, because of this, I should get rid of it. Prior to getting pregnant I had asked him to make a decision. I was 35 and wanted children but if he didn’t I needed to go and find someone who did. He insisted he did but soon changed his tune when I was expecting. After finding out the results of the tests were normal (during which he put more and more pressure on me to terminate) I decided to book us a weekend away in Swanage to celebrate. From the outset, he was awful to me. We got lost on the way there. When we got there, he didn’t like the hotel. I unpacked a case in our room but he insisted it was disgusting. He told me we were leaving and went down to give the receptionist a mouthful of abuse and we drove off. I realised on the way out of Swanage that I had left some clothes behind. He got out of the car, sent me back to collect the items and started walking. I got there and the hotel were awful to me, they threw my items at me in a bin bag.

Throughout my pregnancy, the emotional abuse got worse. I was told that I looked hideous, that I stunk and was constantly accused of keeping him awake so I had to sleep on the sofa. He was a motorcycle instructor and said that I was putting him in danger. I was a driving instructor and taught up until 4 days before Grace arrived! One weekend it got so bad that I went to stay in a hotel. Not realising what was really happening.

Less than a month before Grace was born we moved out of rented accommodation and into a house of our own. The first night there was the last time we slept in the same bed. I had to start sleeping in the lounge. A few days later there was an argument over some food I cooked for him. I was going out for a Christmas curry with some of my friends. He didn’t like what I had cooked him, telling me it was ‘processed’. He pushed me over.  On Christmas Day he left me on my own to go and see some friends.

I went into labour on New Years Day. He was off on his trials bike. My Mum came over and helped me. She went home that evening. W put the tens machine on me and went to bed at 9pm. I spent the whole night in labour. On my own. The following morning he came in and saw me dealing with my labour pains. The comment? ‘Oh for fucks sake’ and he slammed the door. He then went off to complete the checkout of our old property and go to the bank. I rang my Mum who came straight over and insisted on taking me to the hospital where W joined us. This was around 9am. She stayed throughout my labour (thank god). Grace arrived at 6.37pm and by 8.20pm W had left. My Mum stayed until they found me a bed at 11.30pm.

I managed to delay going home for 3 days. I was scared and exhausted. The first night home was a nightmare. Grace was crying, I was crying and W got out of bed and came to the lounge (where I was still sleeping) to have a go at me for keeping him awake.

After this, the threats started. Threatening to kill and rape me. Accusing me of sleeping with someone else 6 weeks after Grace was born. It got worse and worse. A couple of times I went to stay with my Mum. When returning on the third time, I had made up my mind. If he wasn’t there, I was leaving. He wasn’t. Initially I gave him the benefit of the doubt – just in case he was working. He wasn’t. He was at the pub. I left. He went mad, and so followed over 18 months of hell.

I found out after I left that he had slept with at least 7 other women over the years we were together. He left an hour and forty minutes after Grace was born to phone, and then visit, the woman he was sleeping with during my pregnancy.  I paid a visit to this woman after I left W to tell her I knew that he had been with her on Christmas Day (by this point W had admitted to this). She insisted she did not know what she had been doing on that day. Rubbish. It was only April!

I was also paid a visit by a woman whom W had had a long-term relationship whilst he was with me. I found out that he had proposed to her and they had even bought a house together. Behind my trusting back. Fool that I am. She was a social worker and told me not to let him see Grace. She wouldn’t make a statement for Court though so this fell flat on its face.

I still half owned a house with him but he changed the locks. I found this out to be illegal so, one weekend when I knew he was going away, I paid a locksmith, took some friends, collecting mine and Grace’s things from the property, returning his video camera and leaving him a key. The front door lock didn’t need to be changed as he hadn’t locked it properly. He reported me to the police for theft of £300 that he had apparently got in a drawer. I had to be questioned on tape.

It wasn’t until my Health Visitor recommended that I seek help from Women’s Aid, that I realised what I had been, and what I was, going through. That everything that had happened had been abuse. There were other things that did happen that I had to tell the police about that are too personal and painful to talk about on here. There are many, many other things that happened that are too long-winded to tell you.

Many people have asked me why I didn’t just leave. This is the hardest thing to explain when you have been in a controlling, abusive relationship. Having already had one bad experience, I had started to believe it was me. I believed W when he told me that no one else would want me. I was scared, I was embarrassed but most of all, my self-esteem was low. I didn’t believe I deserved any better.

Women’s Aid helped me. They counselled me. They guided me. They supported me. I took a course called ‘The Freedom Programme’ and the images on this post are from the booklet that I still have.

To this day, I still have issues of trust. I put my trust in someone and feel so foolish that I never saw anything that was happening right under my nose.

Ross is a decent man. He understands what I have been through. He supports me and never gives me any reason to doubt him because he is open and talks to me about everything.

Dominator.Friend

Please take a look at the differences between ‘The Dominator’ and ‘The Friend’. If you need help then get in touch with Women’s Aid. They will help you.

I am pleased to say that I got stronger and stronger and, 3 years after leaving W, I took him to Court for breach of contract. He wouldn’t give me my share of money from our jointly owned property despite agreeing to do so in a letter between our solicitors. I couldn’t afford representation so, with some help from my sister-in-law, I prepared a court bundle of over 300 pages. I had to make 3 copies of this.  A week before the hearing, the house burnt down and I managed to get a copy of the fire report. I stood up in Court and presented my case. After an adjournment of a week to consider the case, the Judge called us back to find in my favour and award me the money I was owed plus costs, plus interest. I am still in some debt because of W but I would rather be that than still there. Thank goodness I left when Grace was only 3 months old. She never had to go through any of this.

Details on the Freedom Programme can be found here.
Details on Womens Aid can be found here.

MAD Blog AwardsI am so excited to have made this years finals of the MAD Blog Awards in ‘Most Innovative’ once again and would love the chance to win my category this year. If you would like to support me then please go to http://www.the-mads.com/vote/ and choose ‘Vevivos’ in the drop down menu. Also, if you would be kind enough to vote for me in the BiBs, my chosen categories are on my side bar to the right, near the top. Just click on those to take you across. Thank you so much for your valued support :) x

38 COMMENTS

  1. Well done you on writing such a hard piece, and on getting out in the first place. This all rang so true for me, I was in such a similar relationship in my late teens/early twenties, but luckily my degree course meant I had to live abroad for a year, and that gave me the strength to break free, had it not been for that I dread to think where I might have ended up. I’m so glad you got out and are in such a good place now.

  2. I’m so glad you managed to get out of this relationship and find a good man. I know too many intelligent, beautiful women who have been manipulated by dominating men and subjected to the kinds of abuse you describe – I don’t think some people realise quite how easy it can be to find yourself in a situation that, with time and distance, you would never subject yourself to.

    There are two relationships I had in my twenties that were going down this road, but thank goodness I got out of those after a couple of years – not really down to me I should add, I owe an awful lot to my friends. I understand completely the feeling that it is you who is at fault, however crazy that may seem to an outsider – and how men like this exploit your vulnerability to trap you in an ongoing cycle of lies and abuse.

    Thank you for writing this post and sharing your experiences. I’m not sure I could manage to revisit mine quite so frankly, though they are at the heart of the novel I’m currently working on… x

    • Many a true word said lovely Sophie. It is quite comforting to hear that you are not the only one and that many women get taken for a ride! I look forward to that novel of yours xx

  3. This is so awful, Victoria. I’m so sorry you suffered such a terrible time. Like you say, thank goodness you left when you did so Grace wasn’t exposed to any of it. I’m so glad you are happy with Ross and your confidence is soaring back with your very well deserved recognition for your blog and other work. xx

  4. Oh my goodness what a difficult time that must have been for you! its just awful that you had to go through that. Am so pleased that you managed to get out and move on. I hope anybody that is in your previous situation can take comfort in the strength you have displayed and seek help and refuge themselves.
    Such an emotional read. xx

  5. Vicky,

    Firstly well done on getting this all down on paper- it must’ve been tough going through it all again, but I really believe it could help lots of other people out there who are struggling to recognise the abuse they are suffering. I am so glad you found Woman’s Aid and that they helped you deal with some of it all.

    Secondly, I just wanted to say how plain sorry I am that you went through all this. Nobody should ever be treated in this way, and that it happened to you so often and for so long is just shocking.

    Great to hear you are now with the right person, and that your Grace did not have to grow up with an abusive father.

    Love
    Kathryn
    @katgrant30 recently posted..A first saunter to the shops – without buggy!!My Profile

  6. Victoria, this is an amazing gift that you have given to women (and men) everywhere. I am a retired college teacher- I taught psychology and sociology classes, and I would always spend several classes on these types of abuse/control issues. I WISH I had had your posts and your excellent graphics for my classes. You describe an incredibly complex issue perfectly, especially that inevitable, “Why don’t you/didn’t you just leave?” Thank you for your strength and bravery, even when you didn’t feel strong or brave. ♥
    Joy @ Yesterfood recently posted..Treasure Box Tuesday 12My Profile

  7. Just like Katie said above, there isn’t anything I can think of that will be a good enough response to this post. I just have to say, Thank You for writing it and sharing your difficult experience. It is not easy to understand why people stay in relationships like yours when you haven’t been through it yourself ut your post gave me some incite into it. Thank You #pocolo
    Loving life with little ones recently posted..A little bit of PsychologyMy Profile

  8. I’m so pleased you had the courage to break away from all that abuse hon, and that Grace never had to be around it. You are one amazing lady, don’t you ever forget it!

    I can relate to what you’ve said about not feeling you deserved any better. When your self esteem is so low, it can be easy to convince yourself that’s all you’re going to get out of a relationship. Especially as your father was so nasty to your mum, but Ross sounds like a really great guy :) It all came good in the end xxx
    Mummy Tries recently posted..A Very Happy Friday #MagicMomentsMy Profile

  9. You are very brave. I’m sorry to hear that you went through all of this. I’m pleased to hear that your daughter didn’t have to go through any of it. Abuse is not something that is obvious to the person being abused as it happens gradually and after being blamed for so much, it is easy to think that the person abused is at fault. It’s great that you were able to get some good advice to help. It is great that you are using your experiences to raise awareness as this will help others.
    Bek recently posted..Star AlphabetMy Profile

  10. Your story shows that a vibrant, bright and beautiful woman can get trapped in a horrific relationship but that there’s a way out. (Such as with the help of Womens Aid). And its clear from your other posts and KidsGlloves that Grace is flourishing under your guidance and love.
    Kriss recently posted..There’s something about Mary’s HairMy Profile

  11. Wow. It’s very brave of you to be so open and honest. I wish I was closer to just wrap you up in my arms and hug you right about now xx
    I went through a very similar experience from 13-22 with my two’s father where I was hit with a baseball bat, had knives held to my throat, was constantly put down and he too started seeing someone else behind my back.
    People ask why I didn’t leave and similarly I didn’t have the confidence or courage too. It was all that I knew being so young.
    One day however he said he didn’t want to be with me anymore and while he was at work I took the opportunity to pack and leave. The kids were just 2 and 11months, I moved in with my parents and 3 months later had a new home. BEST THING EVER. It was only then I realised what I had been through. Police offered to fit panic buttons on my house and I finally began to feel safe.

    I hope this post helps people in an unhealthy and unhappy relation to leave. It’s very hard but you only get one shot at life so you need to do what is best for yourself.
    I wish I had sooner xx

  12. Vic, you are so so brave, well done for having the courage to share this, your post is sure to help others who are in a similar situation but may not even realize it. Escaping from the sort of abuse you were subjected to is frightening and risky but you are living proof that escape and recovery is possible. I am full of admiration for you, as well as horror and sadness that you had to experience those horrendous years, unfortunately you are by no means alone and that is why I do the job I do, yet again I will be signposting clients to your blog as this post could really help those I work with who have experienced something similar. Thank you for sharing, you are inspirational. Cat x
    Cat Williams – Stay Calm and Content recently posted..How to communicate honestly – Meaning it Madness with Karin Hurt.My Profile

  13. Hi Vicky I know a little of what you went through. I was in the same type of relationship that was very controlling. We would argue – sometimes over nothing then he would hold me, I’d have bruising on my arms, he would put his hands around my neck. Then he would take an overdose, have to have his stomach pumped and be in tears the next day apologising. One day I was attacked, I thought I was going to be raped ….

    I am glad I left eventually. It was hard to do but so worth it.

  14. Oh Vic I’m so sorry that you (anybody) had to go through this. It’s always easy to say ‘just leave’ but really not so easy when you’re in that situation and the control starts off subtly. Having met you, it’s to your credit (and maybe Womens Aid?) that you manage to be so cheery and gorgeous with such a positive outlook on life. You are strong, and I’m happy that you’ve found a partner who cares and understands you. Hugs xx

  15. I’ve rewritten this comment about 5 times because there just isn’t anything I can write here which will be enough. Thank you so much for sharing this harrowing experience; I cannot even begin to imagine what you went through and what you must have relived by writing this post. I only hope that by speaking out you are able to help even one person to escape a similar situation.
    Katie Clark recently posted..Trying To Conceive After Miscarriage: Is There Hope?My Profile

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