My mum was my best friend and would never, ever see any harm come to me. When I lived with my ex perpetrator, she tried so damn hard to get me out of the relationship I was in but I was completely under his skin, and no matter what she said or did, I thought I loved him.
During the three years of the relationship I was once in, there was a period of time, regrettably, that I didn’t see my mum as often as I really wanted too. Calls were monitored, phone was checked and steps watched so it was difficult, but that didn’t necessarily stop me though. I would have my mobile phone on silent and made sure I deleted my call history, but even so, for me, it was just easier not to contact her. It hurt. A lot. But so did the consequences of my actions, if he ever got wind of it.
I am the long awaited daughter and the youngest too, so my mum and I had a fantastic relationship and an amazing friendship, she was the wind beneath my wings, the best mum and Nan ever. I remember her telling me, to enjoy every moment with my new born as she would grow up far too quickly. Of course, I didn’t know she meant this fast!
Looking at my relationship with my own parents makes me feel guilty in some way that I didn’t find a good enough father for my daughter. That’s something I have to live with. I don’t dwell on it all the time, but every now and then I think, why did I have to fall in love with him and the reality is, we can’t help who we fall in love with.
People often say, why did you choose to have a baby with him, and now, 10 years down the line when I explain myself, it does sound crazy but in that situation and with coercive control surrounding you, you don’t even know your own mind. Now to someone who is lucky enough to never have experienced domestic abuse, that sounds strange, but it’s true.
I was in captivated by his every move and word, whatever he said, I hung onto it and absorbed it all, everything about him. I felt myself tracing the whole of his face with the my eyes all the time, as though I had to see every single line and scar; I drank every inch of him in, hoping it would make him love me the way I loved him but it didn’t.
Taking the pregnancy test that day, I was like a child at Christmas time because I wanted this so bad, but looking back I wanted it for him more so than me because I thought that’s what he wanted, I thought he wanted us to be a family, I thought it would make things better. It never did.
After having my Tegan, I went to stay at my parents’ home for about 4 months, leaving in the April to live together as a “family” until November. However, at this point, I was thinking about staying together “for the sake of the family”, my family. I didn’t want my daughter growing up without a Father, I really wanted her to have what I had but it wasn’t to be. Again, I prayed every day that he would change, that he would stay at home with us, instead of going to the pub, that he would spend his money on his daughter not beer, that he would want to wake up to the night feed instead of being out all night. We just didn’t want the same thing at all. His behaviour and controlling ways didn’t stop or change either. But the one thing that did change was me and who I was. I was a mum now with something so tiny and precious to protect. He noticed this and, of course, turned everything around on me. It was my fault because I’d changed. What he really meant was, he didn’t like it now that I was a little bit stronger to actually stand up to him and say something back.
My Tegan is the reason I left. She saved my life. It’s as simple as that.
However, it’s not always just that simple for everyone. Although domestic abuse is the issue that is similar, the actual circumstances are not.
Many parents will stay for the sake of the children others might leave with nothing other than the clothes they are wearing, yet the similarity will be, the perpetrator will use their own children to their advantage to continue to have power and control over their partner.
A perpetrator doesn’t love their child how a normal parent does, we love and protect our children no matter what, often putting their every want and need before our own – this is why many perpetrators detest their own children, because the person they have manipulated and controlled for so long is now that we have someone else to focus all our energy on and this can be something, they don’t like.
I can’t remember seeing my ex perpetrator, bond with his only daughter, sit her on his knee; tell her that he loved her or anything like that at all. He thought I was being cruel when I asked him to bath and change her because “dads don’t do that to their daughters because it’s morally wrong” – he always had a way of twisting the most innocent thing in the whole wide world, into something so sinister.
Parenthood is one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs in the world, not always easy but the best feeling ever, yet, I fail to see how perpetrators – male or female – can be so cruel to their own child. Abusing their partner in front of their child is cruel because the child won’t see it as manipulation but as something that is acceptable, they won’t understand that they are being used.
Time and time again we see and hear how so many opportunities by agencies and professionals were missed, now this has got to stop because so many innocent children are being killed by this epidemic that society just doesn’t want to understand.
The most important ingredient to any abusive relationship is coercive behaviour and the coercive control that goes unnoticed and what can be easily confused with care and love. Isolation happens subtly at the beginning of the relationship and then the pattern and frequency of abuse spirals out of control with many not even knowing they are being abused because they aren’t being physically hurt. This is why awareness, mandatory awareness, is absolutely paramount for society as a whole.
Professionals told me how “Judges like Fathers to see their children” and I was like, well I agree with that but only if the Father is going to be a benefit to them. Pressure was put on me as a Mother, it didn’t seem as though the abuse I had endured for three years mattered, just as long as I did what the Judge and my perpetrator wanted me to do. Well, sorry, no, my daughter and her safety come first before anyone and anything. I stood my ground and refused any contact whatsoever because she was far too young to be left in a room on her own at 10 months old with a “man” who I was completely and utterly petrified off. What sort of a mother would I have been if I had allowed that to happen?
The sad reality is, there is too much emphasis of children having two parents that we are forgetting the reasons why marriages don’t work, why couples split up and why children are behaving in a certain way. We blame something else, like computer games or “it’s only what they see at home”, no one is addressing the issue or tacking it and this is where innocent children are completely being let down and this has got to change, sooner rather than later.
When a perpetrator goes through the Family Court, it’s not because they are a doting mother or father, it’s because they want to carry on the manipulation and humiliation, they want to be in control, controlling when they see their child, not listening to the wants or needs of the child, as long as they get what they want. This isn’t what a doting parent does, this is what a perpetrator will do, they do and get away with it too!
A perpetrator will still move those goalposts when they don’t pay maintenance, when they change the day to see their child and when they don’t send birthday presents. This is all part of the complex cycle, this behaviour is so they can blame their partner, using their own child to relay messages back and forth, without the child knowing any different. Coercive control is the most dangerous type of abuse any perpetrator chooses to uses. It kills.