I was the much awaited daughter of my parents and on Friday 18th April 1980 everyone on that ward knew my Momma Bear had me.  The house we lived in together was filled with so much love and happiness; I was so rich in love!   Random conversations, giggles of laughter and huge on tap, pretty much summed up my childhood.

One thing I have learned since becoming a survivor of domestic abuse is it is so much easier for society to victim blame rather than understanding that domestic abuse happens because perpetrators choose to abuse.

My parents married and started their family young, something the didn’t want for me.  I was too career minded for that!  They were the strongest couple I know and I’m not saying there weren’t any cracks in their marriage but they held them together so well, I didn’t see any of them.

Even now, I get offended when I am asked about my childhood, as though it’s acceptable that I was a victim of domestic abuse if I witnessed it at home.  This question make it sound as though the abusive relationship I was once in was my parents fault.  No, it wasn’t.  When I am asked why didn’t you just leave, it’s someone blaming me for staying and not blaming my abuser for their behaviour.

Blaming behaviour helps no one other than allowing the abuser to carry on abusing.  Such behaviour is as equally as damaging as the abuse itself. In the fact that seeds of doubt are planted into the minds of victims, blaming themselves prevents them from speaking out and stops them from leaving the abusive relationship, therefore, endangering them further.

Words are so very powerful and as equally dangerous too – especially to anyone living with an abuser, this is why society as a whole needs to be educated about the complex cycle.

There is never an excuse to abuse – ever, however, an abuser will always blame their behaviour onto someone or something else rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.

Living inside a tangled web of lies and abuse is never an easy situation to be in yet everyone else feels if they blame everyone that surrounds domestic abuse it justified such behaviour somehow.  It doesn’t.  Declaring that a victim is responsible for another person’s actions and to hold them accountable for such action is deadly because it gives the abuser the green light to carry on.


Waking up full of fear

Living with my abuser always meant that no two days were ever the same.  Challenging, you could say the relationship was very challenging, goal posts continually moved and so many bombs dropped and eruptions here, there and everywhere, happening for reasons completely unknown to me.

We were living in the same flat, as a couple but the lives we were living were so far apart it was unreal.  It felt as though i was living in the middle of someone else’s nightmare, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape.

This toxic relationship would leave me going to bed at night wondering if I would actually wake up in the morning and when I did wake up I wasn’t sure if it was more despair than anything; waking up to a day of not knowing what would happen to me.

In this relationship it was as though I was walking around blind folded being lead around by this personal controlling me, him telling me which was to go but me knowing whichever way we went together, I would never, ever be safe.

Sometimes I just couldn’t wait for him to leave the flat and to leave me alone, but then I would worry when hearing the key in the door, wondering what would happen next.  As soon as he was inside, I had to watch out for those eggshells and hope I didn’t crack any.

Beer and food seemed to put him in his happy place but then again it could always set off fireworks too – there really wasn’t much in between, but on most days the fear of God was put into me.

Looking back now, I would often ask him the most bizarre questions but in that particular situation, I was keeping myself safe, well trying.  “Will you have sex with me tonight”, I would ask him because I thought it was what he wanted but little di I know that question gave him the curiosity to think I was having an affair.

I quickly learned that if I was doing things “that women should be doing” such as cooking and cleaning, he was okay with me.  As long as everything was his way, things seemed fine.  He was so dominating and a real believe of women belong in the kitchen and men should be in the pub but as soon as they come home, food should be on the table for them.

I guess, in time, I just did what I was expected to do, anything for a quiet life.  I would be on auto pilot as I cleaned the flat, even though it was already spotless.  I just wanted to be busy and not abused, sometimes it would be okay and other times it wouldn’t be.

I would often go to bed, lying there, thinking how I could escape but waking up in the morning, I would give him just one more chance.  One more chance always lead onto me staying longer that I really wanted too and then me feeling so frustrated with myself for staying.  It was a mix of so many emotions, a real mixed bag of highs and low, more lows than high.

Some days it would feel as though I was fighting a constant battle with my own thoughts and feelings as well as dealing with everything he was throwing at me.

Each morning I would open my eyes and sigh to myself – I was still here with him and I was still alive.  Then the fear of my existence would rip through my body.

To him, it was as though I didn’t exist, just there for him to abuse.

The kiss of death

Our eyes met across the crowded room and from that moment on I was absolutely smitten with this guy.  With every look I got, I got lost in his eyes and whenever our lips locked I crumbled and melted, full of love for him.

He always knew the right words to say and how to make me feel loved; his arms were so strong as they wrapped themselves around me, making me feel safe.

Naively I thought he loved me too but little did I know he was abusing me, taking me away from my support network through isolation, piece by piece changing me with his control, stripping me of my identity.   Ridiculing me of my dreams, crushing my career and humiliating me as an individual, were just a few of his abusive techniques during our relationship but his cleverness disguised his control as care.

I often wondered what was going through his mind whenever he was quiet, just his silence would fill me with dread and fear.  At least when he was shouting I knew!

Kissing me was supposed to fill me with love but it never did, it made me doubt and question myself so many times.  Why was he even with me, did he really love me or was he kissing me to kiss all the hurt and pain he was causing me, was his kiss a way of telling me he was cheating on me?  How could a kiss turn into something so complex!  Maybe it was his seal of approval, telling me I was the one he had the right to abuse because I was his now.  Was he kissing my life away or planning his next barrage of abuse toward me.

We could sit next to each other on the settee, snuggled up together and still an overwhelming feeling of fear would rip through my body.  I loved this man, yet I feared him.

I always tried so hard to not rock the boat or tip him over the edge but no matter how hard I tried, something would always sway that boat over.  It was as though he couldn’t live with things going well in his life and if we were happy for a couple of days he would have to change that.  It felt as though he didn’t want to be happy or felt that he couldn’t be and covering everything in abuse was the way he could cope with life.

Whatever game he was playing put me in danger, yet I was blinded by his life, if that was love he was showing me.  Everything was so confusing but it felt like a huge whirlwind that I was living in and I just couldn’t see a way out.  The force of his abuse was so strong and holding me back.

Kissing him, I felt nothing but love for him; I slept, ate and drank him in every single day.  Whenever we were apart my mind swam with thoughts of him, what’s he doing, who is he with.  Looking back how, that wasn’t me loving him that was my mind telling me something wasn’t right with the relationship I was in.  My mind was saying, you know he is with someone else right now but you had better get home, get his food ready for when he gets home and tell him you stayed home all day or you’ll pay for it even though he is the one cheating on you.  He knows you love him too much to leave, he’ll tell you he’s sorry and you’ll forgive him.

I was wore down, beaten and drained by this man who treated me so cruelly yet he was so powerful he could make me stay, when mind was trying to tell me this the whole time but I wasn’t strong enough to listen.

My once bubbly personality no longer existed and was shattered, I was now a former shadow of who I used to be, so quite, withdrawn and naive.  The one person who would always stand up for her friend in their hour of need but when it came to myself, I just couldn’t do it.

During those three years, anyone of those days could have quite easily have been my very last.