When you are a victim of domestic abuse you very quickly learn how to keep yourself safe.
I would very often go into a child like state, bringing my knees up to my chest, as I sat in the arm chair, I would hug my knees and simply stare straight into him. Tears would sting my eyes like sharp razor blades as his abusive words would reign down on me. Through my ordeals I would never, ever utter a word because I didn’t want to anger him further – although most of the time, I didn’t know what made him angry in the first place – inside my mind I would just keep saying to myself, just do what you have to, just hurry up. Once it was over I was numb for a while and then I would fee the adrenaline flow through my body and the sense of relief that I was alive, that he hadn’t killed me, this time.
With whatever it was that he had done to me, I was always extremely nervous and would often shake like a leaf whilst I was cooking him a meal, again another safety net. I would never relax afterward. In fact, you could probably say I never relaxed at all during our 3 year relationship, yet he had this amazing ability to act as though nothing had happened.
Most of the time he would be so apologetic and because I was so scared to dismiss that, I would find myself accepting his behaviour and reassuring him that I was fine and that it wasn’t his fault – another safety mechanism.
Whenever I felt brave – which really was far and few between – I would drink so much to simply try and block everything out, physically and mentally.
I can remember two incidents where I did just that.
One night we were at the pub, where he was constantly flirting with the bar maid and I remember ordering a shot of everything from off the top shelf. I ended up going to the Police Station that night but because I was intoxicated, they couldn’t interview me. I remember walking back home , talking to myself the whole way back until I looked up at the block of flats we lived in together an saw his figure standing at the window, the fear kicked in and I was absolutely petrified of what was waiting for me behind closed doors.
The second incident that I remember is when we had both been drinking, we were walking together when a car stopped – with people we knew inside I presume – gave us a lift up the road. He was flirting with the woman who was inside the car and the next thing I knew I was lying on the pavement and he was standing over me, kicking me, telling me how much of an embarrassment I had been, showing him up like that.
For me, alcohol and drinking was about staying safe and taking the edge of what I was going through, at the time for him, it was an excuse to abuse.
Alcohol played a huge role in our relationship and I think, looking back, it was a coping mechanism for him. I became frightened of alcohol but it also became my friend, not only did I rely on it to keep me safe but also I became reliant on him having it too. With a drink, sometimes, things could be a little bit easier for me.
However, I did learn that different drinks had different effects on him and his behaviour.
This particular night, I had encourage him to go and have a drink over at his friends’ flat – to be honest I wanted an hour or two to myself – his friend lived over the road from us and as my ex partner waved to me before going inside, I remember sighing a huge sigh of relieve, for now, I was okay. I just sat and watched TV whilst he was out, but I could never fully relax, always listening for him to come back.
The fear would start as soon as I heard the lift, then I would hear footsteps and then his key in the lock of the door.
I would always stand up as soon as he walked into the living room, asking him how his night had bean/ The reason I had encouraged him to see his friend was because it was Christmas and I thought it would be nice for them to have a drink together
His usual tipple was cider but tonight he had been drinking whiskey and he was more violent than usual.
He was mumbling at me as usual about me having an affair, he came stumbling toward me after knocking down the Christmas tree and before I knew it, his fist slammed into the side of my head and as I was thrown back into the settee, I lost consciousness for a few minutes.
Everything was in complete darkness and for a few moments the only soothing voice I could hear was that of my Father, softly saying my name. As I came round I looked around the living room with excitement that my Father was there, but he wasn’t. Instead, I was simply greeted with my abuser saying, you’re a fucking good actor.
Whenever he abused me, be it physical or psychological, as soon as he finished it was as though it had never started
Sometimes I would get an apology, along with tears and other times I would just get the abuse.
That was always so confusing because it was then when I would question and doubt myself.
One of his mantras was, you know you shouldn’t believe me when I say things when I’m drunk, that’s the alcohol talking, not me. You know I love you.
Obviously I didn’t because if he loved me, he would hurt me, but he know I loved him and to him, that was his consent to continually carry on abusing me.
Being brainwashed, manipulated and controlled drains you physically and mentally, however, you find various coping mechanisms to try and stay safe, even though the outside world doesn’t understand why.