Domestic abuse has a substantial effect on family members, especially children, with each unique child responding differently to the abuse.
When living with an abuser you genuinely love them and will do all you come to love them, stay with them and change them. The same way they gain and maintain their power and control over you is as powerful as you loving them.
Coercive control and physical abuse drains and changes you, it takes away your logic and common sense. He could tell me the grass was blue and the sky green and I would believe him, so when he showered me with comments of what a good mum I would be, I took this as him wanting to be parents, in the hope that it would child him. I was oblivious that us having a child together was extra ammunition for him to abuse me further.
I’m not sure if it was intentional for him to plant this seed in my mind, but he did and I wanted nothing more than to have a baby with him. I guess, deep down, I thought it would make him love me more, make our relationship much stronger and make us complete.
I remember the disappointment that I felt when I did my first pregnancy test. Walking out of the toilet and into the living room, telling him it was negative, I burst into tears, thinking I had completely let him down. Of course, he reassured me I hadn’t but it was too late, I felt as though I had already let him down.
Being pregnant was such an amazing experience and I absolutely loved it. The feeling was sensational and I was still under the illusion, it would make everything better.
During the course of my pregnancy, sometimes his caring side would show, when I say that I just mean he said a few words that I wanted to hear, but his actions never matched what he said to me. Maybe it was my motherly instincts as I felt this little human being grow inside my tummy, I knew he or she couldn’t stay in this environment and the life I had lived over the last couple of years just wasn’t safe enough for someone so precious as my child.
I was quite prepared with baby items as we stood at the counter in the store and the cashier had scanned all the items I had brought, he suddenly said “Oh I’ve forgotten something” he turned around and picked up two bibs with a “Dad” slogan on each. Standing with a huge smile on his face with his huge contribution, I was horrified – that was all he ever brought.
He would still come home in the early hours of the morning, playing his music loud and expecting food to be cooked as soon as he demanded it.
Being pregnant didn’t change a thing. Trying to rest was no option for me, even swollen hands and feet didn’t make him go any easier on me. Having blood in my urine didn’t make me stop and think, especially when he told me his mum said it’s nothing to worry about because his sister had it when she was pregnant and she was fine.
He would moan if I left the pub early, even when his mum would remind him, well she is pregnant – and my punishment from him would be him staying out all night with the girl he had blatantly been flirting with all night.
I loved nothing more than sitting on the settee or lying in the bath, hands on my belly, singing to my unborn baby.
One day we were both sitting watching TV, my two hands were placed neatly on my bump and baby was happily kicking away, I quickly grabbed his hand and put it on my rounded belly when suddenly the baby stopped kicking. His hand stayed where it was for a while but there was no more kicking. When he moved his hands, the kicking started all over again.
He was never a hands on dad and seemed to find everything a chore, always saying I made him bathe her, feed her, clothe her but the only thing he really liked doing was getting her out of her cot in the morning, holding her for a while before spending the day in the pub.
The one time he bathed her, his choice I didn’t tell him too, he said I was wrong in making him do it because it was wrong for a father to bath their daughter. He put her little clothes on her the wrong way round the one time he dressed her. He never fed her, soothed her or really did anything physical with her.
Our relationship lasted just eleven months after her birth and during that time, I had become to fear him so much more than love him. I thought having a daughter would somehow make him realise his behaviour toward the mother of his child was wrong but he never changed.
After he had split my lip open, I knew I could no longer live with my child in such a hostile environment. He wasn’t going to change so I had to make that change.
It wasn’t an easy choice for me to make, especially with him constantly telling me I wouldn’t cope without him. Fear of him taking my daughter way from me ran through my veins but I knew it was time for me to leave this toxic relationship.
In my arms at the time when he hit me was the most previous thing in my life and this small beautiful bundle of joy had given me so much strength and courage, she was all I needed to do what I should have done three years earlier.
I was full of mixed emotions though because I still wanted her to have her father in her life but I didn’t want to be in a relationship with him, I didn’t want to live with him but I didn’t trust him enough to have contact with her. I was petrified of the man the professionals were telling me to leave her with, I just couldn’t do it. I could never have forgiven myself if anything happened to her. I just wanted to protect her.
His mum had tried to intimidate me a few times with her phone calls of, well contact can take place at my house, but I wasn’t having any of it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect their next move to be, I have to say their because he was the puppet and his mother was constantly pulling his strings, but when I received a letter from his solicitor, I thought he was going to prove me wrong and be an amazing father but something he had previously said to me stuck in my mind – I’m going to instruct a solicitor to tell you what to do. Not really the right words to come from someone who wanted to see his daughter. His words were just telling me how he was going to use our daughter as a weapon to control me.
Of course, the solicitors he had instructed – 3 in total – and Judges didn’t see this as control and I was simply told, Judges like dad’s to see their children – yes, something I completely agree with, unless the father is a violent alcoholic who could put that child in danger. I just couldn’t see how a 10 month old having contact with him would benefit her. She was too young to speak for herself so as her mother, the one to protect her, I said no to contact.
Even in Court his behaviour hadn’t changed like I had hoped it would; being late, if turning up at all, smiling and intimidating when in attendance. I hated every single second I was in Court, it felt as though I were the one in the wrong, even though I had done nothing wrong, it felt very much as if I had, especially when I had to undertake an alcoholic and substance test as well as a psychological test too – obviously he thrived on instructing his solicitor on that one. I was prepared to do whatever it took for him to stay away from her, yet it was just a shame he wasn’t prepared to do all he could to see her.