I wrote this a couple of days ago in my daily writing session and thought I would do my bit to raise awareness – it is written from the heart and completely unedited.
I saw a link on facebook the other day about October being Domestic Violence awareness month. It seems every week or month is an awareness something or other! I changed the title to domestic abuse because when we hear violence we think about physical abuse yet the emotional and verbal abuse can be far more scarring.
I am a lot more open than I used to be about my feelings and what is going on in my life so when I saw this link it made me realise that I don’t talk much the abuse I suffered in my marriage. Not that I am bitter or want to dwell on it, it’s in the past now (apart from the odd incident as I still have to have contact with him) but it still goes on and a lot of people – for obvious reasons – cannot talk about it.
I was married for 15 years, we didn’t live together first as my parents did not approve so we thought we might as well get married anyway as we were already engaged. When I first moved in with him it was a complete shock as I realised I did not really know this man. Looking back I can see that he was (and still is) very insecure which made him very controlling. I also suspect that he is on the autistic spectrum because he hated anything to change and everything had to be done his way.
Because of my upbringing and the conventions of the time (which were slowly changing) I believed that I had an obligation to make my marriage work. I knew deep down I didn’t love him but I could not put my finger on why because I did when we first met and I couldn’t find any rational reason so put it down to pre-wedding nerves. This was probably my first lesson that you should always trust your instincts!
I knew after about 12 years (I had thought about leaving him before this but ended up pregnant) I had to get out for me and for my children. The language he used used to upset me and he did not temper it in front of the kids. After he had gone off on one of his rages he would always be apologetic but I wanted him to promise not to do it again but he wouldn’t and so the cycle went on.
I was too afraid to talk to anyone about it and probably stayed with him for so long because I was afraid what he would do if I left. He used to put me down all the time and I always felt that he wanted to me to be someone I wasn’t. I was guilty of that too because I wanted a loving, affectionate husband but because of his autism issues I realise that that would never have happened. I realised I was happier when he wasn’t there – he used to work abroad a lot so then I prayed and prayed to have the strength to end it.
I love the way the universe conspires to make things happen if they are for our higher good. The day I made the decision (I still remember the date – 21st June 2001) I got a mosquito bite on my wedding finger so couldn’t wear my ring and lost the stone in my engagement ring. I’m not sure if it was a sign but to me it was very portentous.
I cannot say how much the prayers worked, whether you believe in God or not they certainly gave me inner strength. From all the put-downs and belittling I had put up with (often in front of other people) I had lost a lot of my confidence. If someone continually tells you that you are useless you start to believe it! It was also difficult because he was the breadwinner and terrible with money so that caused a lot of friction too. He was away a lot and the kids were little so it was difficult for me to get work that would make it worth my while after child care costs. How different things are now with the rise of the internet for business!
It took him nearly a year to move out – and then that was only because he met someone else. It is very sad for anyone to be so insecure that they are afraid to be on their own. I now know that if you don’t love and respect yourself you won’t be able to respect others in the same way.
As I said I don’t feel bitter, I have learnt a lot from the experience and am a lot stronger as a result. I know I took a lot of my resentment out on my eldest son and I would do anything to take that back but I can’t. We are a lot closer now and I can love him for who he is. I suppose I was also lucky that there wasn’t a real physical threat although he did use his size (he is a lot taller than me) to his advantage.
I used to cry going into university and work and often at night in bed nearly every day. The crunch came when he had been away for a few months and I noticed that I hadn’t been crying any more. I used to hate it the way the kids used to go and hide upstairs when he was having one of his rages and if I ever cuddled them he would accuse me of hiding behind them! Shocking I realise as I write this but having brought the kids up practically on my own we are very close.
No one should have to live in fear so I hope that the issues are brought more into people’s awareness this month and more people have the courage to move on.