As chaos ensued and enveloped my whole being. The day had finally made an appearance; I can’t remember whether it was summer, winter day or night. My epiphany, the one and only rational thought I could muster, amongst the combat of daily battles in a war that I was losing. This vivid thought is, and always will be embedded in my memory:
What will happen to my children if he kills me or I kill him? Get out – I’ve got to get out.
I was living with a husband I’d had two children with, who had turned into a hateful person but could still portray himself as a loveable man.
The battering became more violent over time. It was the norm, everyone around me knew, friends were in the same style relationships, it was a big circle and we were all in it together, but no one spoke about it.
His threats were a strategy, along with heavier bouts of violence. Having a hot iron held to my face with a promise of ill burn you if you don’t agree with me had the desired effect of surrender. A wooden storage box thrown on top of me whilst he laid on top it whispering this is what your coffin will feel like, had the surrender factor too. My survival instincts were put to the test on many occasions.
He stole from me physically and mentally. I became invisible, the nothing, I despised myself, much more than he did. The shame and embarrassment that lives alongside thus enabled me to become withdrawn, so he got away with more than I ever told. I sold my jewellery, pawned my wedding ring to buy food and pay bills. All this I did to get myself on a level footing, but I began to realise he would steal from me so I would be pre- occupied trying to feed the children. The control was all consuming.
I survived in an environment of criminality and pretence. All things in my life were tainted, any happy occasions where ruined by violence. I was on a merry go round and I couldn’t get off. Calls to the Police were frowned upon, and I would have been isolated much more. Asking for help was a sign of weakness; I was in a vicious circle inside the home and outside.
Finally the day came when a battle weary 22 year old left chaos behind and never looked back.
This happened to me, forgetting is not an option. It’s not the whole of me, only a small part. I will not allow it to be a big piece of my life. In the aftermath I learned to overcome obstacles put before me by others pre conceptions and prejudices. Nothing has ever fazed me since the day I left. My experiences have made me the woman I am, and cannot imagine life any other way.
I was a victim but now I am a survivor of domestic violence and abuse. The sentence alone is self-explanatory. It shows the past, the present and carries positive connotations for the future.
About the author – Debby Smith is a survivor of domestic violence