As the lockdown become imminent, the talk of isolation, not being able to see friends and family, only going out for shopping and not going to work, suddenly took me back to a deep dark place that I once existed. As a nation we are being told what we can and can’t do to keep us safe, yet the one place I should have been safe, I wasn’t.
The flat had a sense of calmness and when I was alone I did feel safe, even though I was constantly clock watch and listening out for him to come back, whenever I heard his key in the lock, I would find something constructive to do so when he walked into the living room I would, hopefully, get his approval for doing something right.
When he wasn’t in the flat, that was my little bit of breathing space, where I didn’t have to be careful with what I said, I didn’t have to mind the egg shells that lay beneath my feet or where I was asked why are you breathing so loud.
I know that most of the time when he was out he was with other women and although that did make me feel sick to the stomach, I was safe for a while. I would always text or phone my momma whenever he wasn’t around and it felt so good to her voice, the conversation would often end with me in tears, signing off with I love you. I would run in out of the rooms, watch m y favourite television programme or listen to my music, it was just my little bit of freedom whenever he wasn’t there.
If I were in that relationship now and living with my ex abuser during this lockdown, life would be dangerous – and quite possibly deadly for me.
He was an alcoholic and sent 90% of our relationship in the pub and 99% drinking, with the pubs closing because of COVID-19, somehow it would have been my fault and I would have been made to get him a drink. It wouldn’t matter that precautions by the Government were put in place because if I loved him I would get that drink for him, if I didn’t there would be consequences.
The lockdown with him would have been painful. My moves completely monitored, if I went to the bathroom I would be followed, if I went to the toilet I was time, if I went in the bat I had to leave the door open.
Cooking would have to be cooked to his standard, other wise food was thrown against the wall and I was made to cook it again – with limited provisions because of the lockdown rules, this could have been deadly for me.
My sleep pattern would have been completely destroyed, He often stayed up seeing the clock round and if I loved him I wouldn’t go to bed, if I did, there would be consequences. On one occasion he killed the bird that I brought him for his birthday, because I went to bed without him. Walking on those eggs shells would feel like razor blades beneath my feet, cutting me to pieces with every step I take.
It would be utterly draining physically and mentally during COVID-19 for me, the constant pressure or anxiety added because of him being with me all day. Me continually doubting myself, questioning myself, asking him if everything is ok, through fear that it isn’t and being mentally prepared for the consequences. COVID-19 to my abuser would just be another excuse to abuse me. It’s because I can’t go out, it’s because I can’t see my mum, it’s because I can’t have a drink,, it’s because I can’t go to the pub, you don’t know what it’s life for me having to stay in with you, you’re driving me mad, it’s your fault.
It would be excuse after excuse, his words drip feeding into my brain but with no escapism from him whatsoever, his words would just be left to rattle around with even no escaping from my own mind.