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Forms Of Abuseimages from the stories

Jean

I wouldn’t say that I was naïve exactly, just inexperienced.  It was over 30 years ago and he was very nice at first.  Good with words, very persuasive although even in the beginning I thought a little pushy.  It was always him saying ‘we’ll do this’, ‘I’ll take you there’ but I was just too young to understand the type of person he was. 

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When we got married I was only in my early 20’s, he became very controlling.  ‘Where do you think you’re going?  I thought I told you to stay here.  You’ll do as I say’.  I wasn’t even allowed to have a little job anymore or do anything.  I just had to stay at home, be an old fashioned woman.  I started to feel like I’d been trapped but I loved this man.  When my older son came along I felt even more trapped.  If I walked on the street with the pusher it was ‘where do you think you’re going, I thought I told you to be here at this time’.  He was the head of the house now he’d say to me, ‘the boss’ and he had control of everything, the money, shopping, bills, everything.

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I was trying to be a good wife.  I remember one time very early on he became furious because I wasn’t ironing his shirts properly and he ripped the iron out of my hands to show me how it was meant to be done and my hand got burnt.  I didn’t think it intentional at first but I was just so baffled how he could ignore the fact that my hand was burnt and make me stand there stock still, eyes whirling with tears while he gave me a step by step lecture on the correct way to iron a man’s shirt.  I could tell by his tone that I dare not tend to the burn so I just stood there and paid attention and listened to his instructions, ignoring the pain and the thing is I felt bad, I felt so ashamed that he wasn’t happy with me as a wife.

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First it was the grounding then the instructions, orders and pretty soon it became more violent.  I remember the first instance Hamish was maybe three or four months old and I’d just fixed his formula and I suppose I hadn’t checked the temperature correctly and by then though I was pretty sure how to do it right and suddenly my husband jumped up from the table and grabbed the bottle from my hands hurling abuse at me about what a pathetic excuse for a mother I was and next thing he was shoving the bottle into my face, throwing me back against the cupboards, grinding the teat into my mouth, spilling milk on me, yelling.  I was so shocked.  That sort of shoving, those incidents soon gave way to the fists, the bruises.  He threatened me not to tell anyone.  Anyway, I didn’t have anyone to tell so for many, many years I didn’t.

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He was everywhere, controlling everything.  He’d say ‘at 6 o’clock be in bed to watch tele’.  He’d make me shower at 4 o’clock.  If I said I wasn’t ready it was ‘I told you now, get in now or else’.  There’d always be the ‘or else’.  All my energy was focused on making things right for him, making him happy with me, just yearning for some sort of praise or at the least not making him angry with me.

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He started to do things like put a pillow over my face when he wanted to have sex with me.  All the while he’d be saying ‘I hate you, I can’t bear to look at you, I only married you for sex’.  I dreaded the nights.  I feared for my life that he might actually go too far and suffocate me.  I even at one stage started hiding little notes under the side of the bed in case something did happen to me and the police would find it.  On the nights when he didn’t force himself on me he’d sleep with one leg over me so that he knew if I’d tried to get up or sleep in the lounge.  I’d lie there terrified to sleep just in case I’d wake up with him or the pillow on top of me. 

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He’d say ‘you’re a failure; you’re a big failure in our life’.  He brainwashed me.  I really felt that I was nothing.  He actually made me believe that I was lucky that he stayed with me because no-one else would have me.

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I tried once locking myself in the toilet in the hope that he would just go to sleep before me but I should have known he wouldn’t stand for it and he was pounding and pounding and I was whimpering and pleading with him.  There was a little gap between the toilet door and the floor and he brought a knife from the kitchen and he slid it under the door and he said very quietly ‘you might as well use it because I’m going to kill you’.

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It’s hard to imagine how I managed to live with that fear, that hopelessness.  Fear, it weakens you.  I just want women who are in that place to believe, believe that you can move on from it.  You don’t have to live like that.

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It came to a point where I really began to believe that he actually might kill me.  I started planning putting aside $2, maybe $5 a week from the pitiful housekeeping allowance he’d give me, hiding clothes, for when I could get out of there.  The women at the refuge were so patient with me, encouraging me.  I could not have done it without their support.  I’m not young.  It wasn’t easy keeping my resolve to go through with it.  There was barely anything left of the girl that I’d been before I met him.