I was in my late twenties when I met my ex at the church I attended. We married a year later.
He slapped me across the face one time when we were engaged as he didn’t like the meal that I cooked. I was dumbfounded but accepted his apologies and excuse of having had a hard day at work. The abuse started a week after we were married and escalated very quickly. Six months into the marriage I asked him for a divorce. He said that if I divorced him he would kill me and kill my parents.
I confided in the minister of the church as to what was going on. The minister tried counselling us, but my husband was telling the priest one thing and doing another.
I earned more than him and had to cover all the household expenses. He would also make demands for money from me. If I said no to sex he would force himself on me.
He would give me 15 minutes to get home from work. If I were later he would accuse me of being unfaithful. One time I was late, and an argument broke out. I ran to the bathroom and locked the door. He put his fist through the door. I jumped into the shower recess and he completely smashed it in order to get to me.
He cut me off from my family and friends and eventually from my church. I became a prisoner in my own home. He destroyed my self-esteem by telling me how worthless I was and continued with the mind games. It got to a stage where I didn’t know what the truth was and what was a lie. He stripped me of my dignity and self respect. ‘Fat horse’ and ‘nun’ were the only words he used to address me by. My thoughts were scattered and not logical.
I thought: I cannot be free, he will hunt me down; this was his only promise to me. I wondered: Is there nowhere to take refuge and shelter? Must I leave my home that I have purchased and paid for with my own sweat and labour? Should he continue to enjoy the benefits his life with me affords him? My thoughts would turn to my baby boys: what would be their fate?
I lived in fear for my life.
I was watching the midday movie one day, and it was a real story of an abused woman who shot her husband to escape the abuse. I started entertaining the idea of killing him, but I realized that I wouldn’t be successful.
How things changed
The change came for me when I made the decision that if I could no longer live like I had been living and if I had to die to be free, then I was willing to pay that price.
I decided to succumb to a final beating and present myself to the police and have him charged. On that day he pushed me and I pushed him back, expecting a belting. He then spat in my face and I spat back at him, expecting a belting. But instead he called the police and cried battered husband – he said I was the one abusing him.
Luckily the police didn’t believe him and helped me leave.
The police asked me to pack a bag and they tried for about an hour to get us into a women’s refuge, but they couldn’t get through as the lines were engaged. I then said to my ex that if we have to leave our home, I would disconnect the gas and electricity and get a restraint order and get him out. He then agreed to leave my home. I gave him two weeks to get out. The boys and I went to my mum’s home. When he left the house, my parents and I went back and packed up and moved my furniture and possessions to their home. We stayed with them for three years. I rented out my home during that time.
He still had contact with my sons and access occurred at the police station. But incidents were still occurring. There was a time when one of my sons had a graze to his forehead. My ex told the police that I was mishandling the boys. The police officer believed him and I had to get a doctor’s letter stating that it was only a graze to his forehead and that he believed that the boys weren’t being mistreated. At the time there was a sergeant at the police station who knew me, and she told the officers not to take him seriously or to convey to me their opinions based on the information my ex was giving them.
I had a restraint order. He broke it by coming to my home and sliding his hand across his neck. After this, the police took him to court and he was fined $200.
My advice to others
When I was going through this abuse I remained silent about what was going on in my home and I believe that it was my silence that enabled him to continue with the abuse. By remaining silent and not telling others what is happening in our homes we enable the abusers to continue with the abuse. We have to break the silence and expose those who seek to keep us bound in fear and dread.
At the end of the day, every woman who is killed, injured or harmed through domestic violence is someone’s daughter.