The strength came from my 10-month-old daughter when I left my abusive relationship. I left for her safety, if I hadn’t have had her, I would have stayed.
Leaving really wasn’t an easy thing to do.
He loved nothing more than constantly telling me I was worthless, how I would never cope without him, how no-one would believe me and how he would contact social services to get our daughter taken away from me. His words were like a dripping tap, his words dripping into my brain, filling up like a sink with the plug in and the water just rising and I wasn’t strong enough to pull the plug and let it all drain away. His manipulation moulded me into a person he could easily abuse and control.
I felt very lonely, lost and alone without him because isolation had made me completely independent upon him.
After the relationship ended I spent a lot of time at my parents, but the traumatic experience hadn’t left me. I jumped at every noise, I couldn’t stop clock watching, I couldn’t stop saying sorry, I couldn’t make eye contact with people and I couldn’t hold a conversation – even with my parents. Sometimes I wouldn’t even speak, it still felt as though I was walking on those eggshells.
I remember one day I was in the car with my dad when I saw my ex partner and I just froze. I whispered “I can’t get out” to my dad. My whole body just froze whilst I was sitting next to my Father.
That feeling of fear stayed with me for quite a while, constantly looking over my shoulder and the one thing was really on my mind was, how I would react when I bump into him.
It was inevitable that we would at some point and I do remember the first time I did bump into him. My heart felt as though it was going to burst out of my chest and all those old feelings of dry lips, shaking and fear came flooding back and then I felt angry with myself for letting him make me feel that way again.
As the days went by I focused completely on my daughter – after all she was the one who had saved my life, but the fear didn’t go away.
One of the first things I did was move and changed my mobile number.
The house I moved into was in the same street and he never found us – a bold move really.
I changed my mobile number too because I couldn’t cope with the bombardment of late night texts he sent mainly directed at my daughter.
One thing that survivors of domestic abuse really struggle with is trust. Our trust barriers come down in order to protect ourselfs from getting hurt again.
When I gave out my new mobile number it was only to friends and family, people I could trust – or so I thought.
One afternoon as I sat in the living room of our new home my mobile phone rang and as I looked at the screen, a number flashed up that I didn’t recognise and for some reason I answered the call.
It was him. Again my body froze.
I quickly dropped the phone onto the chair and ran upstairs and found a new chip – a new chip, new number. From that moment on I was selective with who I gave my new number too and I never answer calls to telephone numbers I don’t recognise – more safety nets!
Domestic abuse strips you of everything including your self esteem and confidence, you have to learn to rebuild this.
After bumping into him the first time, I sort of planned in my mind what I would say to him should I bump into him again. Obvious it was in m head but I wasn’t even sure if I was actually strong enough to say it to him.
That day quickly arrived.
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were toe-to-toe. I remember him sneering a me as he said something to me, he started crying and I just laughed at him and as soon as he started, he stopped. 3 years of crocodile tears was enough I think!
He looked at me shocked, whilst I stood their laughing he said, “you’ve changed you have”
I quickly replied, “well if I’ve changed it’s because you’ve made me this way”.
Never in the 3 years we were together did I ever speak to him that way, I shocked myself yet felt so proud! I had finally stood up to him.
A few months later I received a letter I really had mixed views on. He had instructed a solicitor for contact and parental responsibility. My initial thought was, he’s going to prove me wrong and actually be a father.
Then, again, my good old friend fear reared it’s ugly head ever.
Everything he said to me came flooding back and I was absolutely petrified he would take my daughter away from me as punishment for leaving him. Yes, I was frightened but there was something inside me that was now stronger than my fear.
The whole Family Court scenario was extremely intimidating and his way of still controlling me but to the outside world he was the caring partner wanting to see his daughter, yet the reality was, he was controlling me.
He instructed his solicitor to tell mine he wanted me to do an alcohol test, substance test and a psychological test that if I didn’t do, I would have a subsequent fee to pay.
It was as though I was being treated like a criminal simply for protecting my daughter from a man who petrified me.
When you find the strength and courage to leave an abusive relationship, the abuse doesn’t simply stop – because an abuser still wants to be in control of your life. They thrive on power and control. Even getting third parties to contact you, telling you how wonderful they are and how you should give them a second chance.
Life doesn’t go back to how it once was, when you’ve survived domestic abuse it becomes a part of you and you learn how to live with it.