My story is a common one, a sad one and one that didn’t need to go on for so long – I know that now. Now that I have left! I was one of the lucky ones who got away from what was happening. I didn’t see what was happening whilst I was in it. Like so many, I had been led to believe that I was the issue. I was ‘too sensitive’, ‘paranoid’, ‘a flirt’, and so many other things too.
I was actually still in school when I met him. I was 14 and he was 24. He was engaged to his soon to be first wife. He would flirt with me, but I kept him at arm’s length, and I was flattered by his attention. Especially as he was older than me and had a partner.
As the years went by our paths would cross and we would see each other out and have a drink together, he would make it clear that he fancied me and I would laugh it off. Then when I was 21 we realised that I was pregnant at the same time as his then wife and us and our partners would all stand and chat. We got along well.
A couple of years later and my Daughter was 12 months old. Her Father and I had split up and I bumped into him in town. He told me that he had been having an affair and was getting divorced from his wife, who was being very difficult and not letting him see their Daughter. He told me of all of the bad things that she was doing to him and how he was being taken advantage of … and I believed it! We became friends and then very quickly we became more. It wasn’t long and he convinced me that he needed a key for my house (because I was a single parent and he wanted to make sure I was safe). However, not long after that I came home and all of his stuff, including his 2 dogs, was in my house. We hadn’t discussed him moving in but there he was. It became apparent that his temper was short but I made allowances and I felt myself rushing back to the house before he got home from work or not leaving at all if he was at home so as to avoid the arguments and bad moods. Anything could set if off – where I was standing, was a common trigger, because it was always in the wrong place. I wasn’t allowed to be sitting down when he came from work as that would inspire name-calling and insinuations that I was lazy. He would control how many biscuits I ate out of the barrell, when I saw friends and how often I saw family, he checked the mileage on the car, made me pay for exactly half of everything despite me working part-time to look after both of our children and him earning nearly 4 times as much as me. He expected me to answer my mobile immediately and on top of this I discovered he had a porn addiction. He would inflict various sex acts on me that I didnt feel I could say no to, including using vegetables, using recording equipment without my knowledge, talking to web cam models, enacting rape (even though he knew I had been a victim of rape in my early teens), he would also tell me who he would like to have sex with while penetrating me or forcing me to give him oral sex.
When my Daughter was 5 I found the courage to move out. Unfortunately this didn’t last, he became loving and attentive and made such a big effort with my little girl that my heart melted. That and I found out I was pregnant with his baby. Unfortunately pregnancy makes me very ill and I couldnt even get out of the bed without being sick. I moved back home with him so he could help me with my Daughter. As soon as I gave up my own house to move back in his behaviour reverted to type and now I was unwell with the pregnancy too. He told me he didnt want the baby and that if I ‘didnt get rid of it’ he would ‘push me down the stairs’. I cried, I begged but nothing changed his mind. He came to every Drs appointment with me to ensure that I had a termination. I still had to give in to his sexual demands despite feeling so ill. After the procedure he returned to work and I was at home on my own, still feeling groggy from the anaesthetic and I did actually fall down the stairs. When he came home I was still on the floor and bleeding. He helped me up to bed and then took my Daughter out for some food and left me home alone again.
I reached a point where I was miserable. I had no voice, I had alienated myself from friends and family. I was a prisoner in my home – unable to even turn on heating in bad weather – unless I had permission. He knew my every move and I was at my wits end. The one day we were in the lounge, him, me and my Daughter, he told me to look at something on his laptop and my Daughter leaned back and looked and he hit her. He had raised his fist to me before but never hit her – at least not in front of me, although she later told me that he would ‘smack her’ if she was naughty. My Daughter looked at me in surprise, crying and rubbing her head and I asked him if he had hit her. He told me no! That was where my strength came in. I kept quiet but that night when she said it still hurt I resolved that we would leave and he would never get the chance to do that to her again.
I was lucky, I knew where to go for help – the Council’s homeless team were amazing and it was through their shock at what I had been through and their attempts to put me in a hostel that forced me to see that I was in an abusive relationship. I went home that night and read and read information about it. I knew we had to get out. It took a couple of months of planning, and he never knew what I had planned but I got out. I kept it quiet from him and knew he would be really angry if he thought it was over. I led him to believe that I needed space. He was perfectly nice about it and even tried the same trick of needing a key to make sure I was safe. I am ashamed to admit that I gave him a key and, in that timeframe my computer was broken into, and someone entered my home on many occasions to move things about or pull back my blinds in the window – things that frightened me, although he never admitted it.
My Daughter and I stayed strong and we spent 4 years in that house alone. 4 valuable years, getting to know ourselves again and knowing we were both safe. Only 3 men entered our house in that 4 years; My Dad, our landlord and our plumber. We did a lot of work on ourselves and spent well needed time together. Our house was full of love – don’t get me wrong, there were days when we had no money, no food and felt all was hopeless but we were together and safe and that peace of mind could not have been brought.
If you have been subjected to behaviours like those described here, and you would like some support, please contact IDAS. You can visit our website for more information www.idas.org.uk use Live Chat online 3 pm – 6 pm Monday to Friday, or call our helplines:
Tel: 03000 110 110 Barnsley and North Yorkshire
Tel: 0808 808 2241 Sheffield
Tel: 0808 2000 247 25 Hour helpline run by Refuge