Writing this blog post I felt embarrassed. So ashamed. I also felt scared.
I feel embarrassed because I am a strong confident woman and why would someone like that be with such a loser for 2 years of her life.
I feel ashamed as in some way, it feels like it was my fault, that I deserved it. I worry you will lose respect for me or see me as a victim.
I feel scared because even after 10+ years of being away from him I still suffer from PTSD and worry he will try and hurt me in any way he can.
I have never written about this time in my life because I was scared he would read my words and try to destroy me as punishment for speaking out.
Today I am taking my power back and saying no to feeling embarrassed and ashamed.
No to being scared of him.
No to not talking about something that many women will experience in their lifetime.
When I was 17 I met a 30-year-old alcoholic and for the next 2 years I was abused by him.
No one knew what I was going through. I was young, alone and chose to stay with him.
Even if someone did know about what was going on I probably wouldn’t have listened to them.
I am writing this post for anyone who knows someone in an abusive relationship but doesn’t understand why they don’t just leave.
This post is also for anyone who is being abused to let you know that things can get better.
It was better than the alternative
I was close to being homeless when he approached me in a club and instead of buying me a drink he bought me a lollipop from the bar. My hair was in pigtails and I wore my favourite band t-shirt, just like any other teenaged girl.
I was wowed that a guy, any guy, would give me attention and was flattered.
This should have been the first red flag to tell me he had pedophilic tendencies. He liked his girlfriends young and naïve, virgins, he especially preyed on girls who were vulnerable and those descriptors fit me to a T.
He was so charming then.
He was everything I could have dreamed of for my first boyfriend.
When I ended up in a young person’s homeless shelter he offered for me to come and live with him which I jumped at the chance to do (even though in the pit of my stomach I knew there was something icky about a 30 year old being interested in a 17 year old).
My choice was this: stick with this guy or be homeless. Simply put, he was better than the alternative.
I didn’t think I was worth more
When he began making cruel comments about my body it was distressing, but what did I expect, I was fat after all.
I wasn’t worthy.
I was lucky he was even with me, even if he did pick me apart piece by piece.
He would tell me that my clothes were an embarrassment, that I smelt, that I was unsexy, that my body was fundamentally flawed and that I should be ashamed of it.
He told me I was greedy, selfish, dumb, that I wasn’t loved.
To begin with, I would softly defend myself but before long I truly believed every despicable word he uttered in my direction.
If I left him then no one else would want me, and I would be alone with my pitiful body and undesirable mind.
He convinced me of that, and I had no idea that it simply wasn’t true.
I believed he would change
I was so sure that all of his outbursts, drunken nights and rages were not the “real” him and that charming person I first met would come back.
The thing is, he never did, only in momentary glimpses.
That’s because abusers are very skilled at putting on the charisma when they need to, and then reverting back to their true tendencies when they know they have someone hooked.
He would explode, then apologize, I would feel sorry for him, forgive him. Then the process would repeat.
His base level of behaviour gradually got worse and his outbursts would get more and more extreme.
He starved me, raped me, hit me, deprived me of sleep, I was emotionally tortured and didn’t have the will to stand up for myself any more.
He made me feel like little more than an animal, hardly worthy of the basic necessities of life.
It was dangerous to leave
Something changed in me and I started seeing that maybe there was an alternative life out there for me.
Just that concept was terrifying to think about because the consequences of me leaving were, at times, too overwhelming to handle.
He could see that I was slowly slipping away from him and prepared me for what would happen if I had the audacity to leave him.
He told me that he planned to ruin not only my life, but my family’s too.
He told me he would punch my boss, throw a brick through my sister’s window, that he would stalk me, he would make sure I could never live in my home city anymore.
Even though at the time I didn’t know that women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship I still knew that it was dangerous for me to leave.
The most terrifying times in my life came when I decided that I needed to get safe.
Telling him it was over to his face was not an option. He once told me his biggest regret in life was not punching each girlfriend in the face when they dumped him.
I slowly began to take important possessions to my sister’s house, starting reaching out to a couple of people I trusted, started becoming more confident.
Eventually he noticed a change in me and tried to keep me locked in the house. One of the last times I saw him I was about to go to a friends’ house and he refused to let me go.
I tried to climb out of the kitchen window to escape but he always triple locked everything so I couldn’t. He came at me with a knife but luckily (because he was blind drunk) I was able to bolt for the front door and into the streets screaming.
Not one single person came to my aid that day which still makes me sad. Eventually I hid behind a bush like a scared animal while he roamed the streets trying to catch me.
I got my friend to pick me up from where I was hiding and when she rolled up in her car I pretended like nothing was wrong. I never told anyone the terror I was going through.
I was right to be scared of him as he followed through on all the things he promised to do if I left.
I was stronger though and went to the police.
He got a restraining order placed upon him.
He would break it however and the police wouldn’t take action when he did. They told me that they couldn’t prove that he came into my workplace knowing I was there, that he could just be stopping by for a random reason.
Eventually he got a new girlfriend and forgot about me.
I think of who he could be with, who he could be torturing now, even a over a decade later, and it makes my heart ache.
I know they are just like me and I hope they are able to leave before he damages them too much.
I left that relationship with nothing, he took money from me, I lost almost all of my possessions. I was a broken woman terrified of making men angry with deep scars that took years to heal.
Eventually 10 years after he raped me I got the courage to report it to the police, hoping it may help other women he had access to, if nothing at least there would be something on his record in case he did something even worse to a partner.
The charges were dropped, there wasn’t enough evidence.
So if you know someone who is in an abusive relationship then please understand it is incredibly complicated.
That person isn’t weak for not leaving, in fact they are stronger than you may ever know.
They are doing their best to survive and your job, if you chose to, is to be for them when they need help in a non judgmental way.
If you are in an abusive relationship, then know that you are worthy of love.
You are incredible and it’s not your fault you’re in this situation.
You can get out, ask for help, there are resources for you. At the time I confided in a colleague who I barely knew and he was instrumental in getting me out.
Even if you think you’re alone know there are women out there who have your back, and I’m one of them.