Last 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.
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.