I was driving today and Susan Vega's "My name is Luka" came on the radio. I haven't heard it for years but as I listened to the words a tear rolled down my cheek. It put me in a very reflective mood.
I should have known at the style of my husbands proposal to run a mile! Not, will you marry me but " how do you feel about a joint bank account?" It was the first sign of the control he would continue to exert over the next 25 years. I was 18yrs old.
A joint bank account ensured that while I was at home raising our family ( he didn't want me to work ) he could control me financially. I would have to ask him for money or to sign a cheque to pay for something. He also chose where we went on holiday, what we bought, how we decorated the house etc I didn't even know how to switch the heating on. My sister and my Dad set up a secret bank account in which they deposited money every month so I had a little grace from going cap in hand to him.
When I went back to college (paid for by my Dad) and started working part time he was not happy at all and it was the beginnings of me breaking free. In the last 5 years we were living pretty much separate lives as I carved one out for myself and the anger and emotional abuse became worse as he felt all control slipping away as I became stronger in myself. It was utterly miserable.
I assume family and friends had an inkling of how unhappy things were but it was not something we really talked about much.
I remember once walking down the high street from the station to Mum and Dads for some gathering and we were arguing and he pushed me to the floor in the middle of the street in broad daylight. No one stopped, everyone looks away when these things happen. I arrived at Mum and Dads with a big smile on my face and bruises elsewhere and no one would have had a clue.
Shame is the keeper of secrets.
Domestic Abuse affects the whole family though. My children were victims ( I hate that word ) too.
Countless times he had Luke by the throat up against the wall screaming and spitting in his face.
Then there was the time in a rage he smashed Beth's ceiling light in plunging us into darkness, glass all over her bed and the floor before he went and got his air pistol out and threatened us with it. That was the 2nd time I fled to my parents house. I should have stayed.
Then in 2010 I got cancer and it was my saviour. Over the next few years I re evaluated my life completely. I discovered I couldn't do it any more. I couldn't put up with the neglect and intimidation, the cruel things he would say to us. I couldn't bear the thought of any more years of humiliation and sadness and the thought of what it was doing to my kids.
By the end he had no respect at all and would disappear for days without any contact, he was having an affair, there were drugs involved for years too.
I found my strength and my sister gave me the financial support I needed to be able to leave, divorce him and move on.
I don't always feel very strong, years of being told and shown you are worthless take their toll and eat away at your self confidence but I am getting there.
I love my life and I have an army of the most loyal, trustworthy and generous friends and family around me who give me unwavering guidance, support, love and patience.
My children are as much my anchor as I am theirs and I am immensely proud of the adults they have become.
I am not airing my dirty laundry in public to gain sympathy - I do not want your pity. I don't need it and it serves no purpose but the truth is 1 in 3
1 in 3 of your friends, of your circle. 1 in 3 who will hide it just as well as I did and who die a little bit more every day inside, 1 in 3 who won't talk about it.
So I will talk about it.
My blog was only ever really for me, to indulge in my love of writing and to make sense of my thoughts and feelings and my world from the inside out.
But if I can make you think for a moment - well that's good too if it has a positive impact.
Is there someone you could reach out to?
Definition of Domestic Abuse.
Physical/ Sexual/ Emotional/ financial/ psychological
Control : To make a person subordinate and dependent by isolating them from sources of support, depriving them of independence and regulating their every day behaviour.
Coercive Behaviour : To control by threats, assault, humiliation, intimidation or any abuse used to punish or frighten their victim.
Reasons people stay : Fear, financial reliance, children, guilt, shame.