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Forms Of Abuseimages from the stories

Jenny

It wasn’t always like that though, you know. When I think back it was kind of romantic. I know that sounds funny but he would be drunk and he would send me funny messages and I liked that, you know, it felt good, but pretty quickly things changed and it was like when he was drunk he would just become somebody else entirely. I wouldn’t have to do anything and it would just trigger him off and there it was, the violence and the anger. He would smash up my uni stuff, my books, my computer... Nathan’s things. I would think about leaving, I would, but really I felt like I had nowhere else to go.

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I became pretty depressed during our first year together. I started avoiding study and I felt lazy. I’d be at home and I would get paranoid that the house wasn’t clean instead of doing my work. See, we had made an arrangement that as long as I kept the house tidy I didn’t have to pay rent but he would still come home and say that it was unclean, that I was useless; I was worthless. My marks were steadily going down and that had never happened before, they were always really good. I’d set my sights on applying to one of the top accounting firms but I just became so demoralized, so self-doubting, so quickly. It was like, by the time he started hitting me I had just become so numb and I actually started to justify it. I started thinking, ‘maybe he’s right, maybe I am useless and selfish and hopeless...I’m just a waste of space’. I can actually remember thinking, ‘oh, I’m only getting beaten up once or twice a week...it’ll come good again’.

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I’d worry myself sick that he’d kill himself drink –driving, so I’d risk my own safety to look after him. I remember this one time he’d gone out with his drinking buddies and I’d stayed at home all night fretting again. And so of course I’d jump in the car the minute he calls and I’m driving and he keeps calling me and he’s getting more and more abusive. I knew how much trouble I’d be in if I didn’t find him. I was nauseous with fear because I knew I couldn’t win either way and I must have been so white in the face when he gets in the car and I’m holding the steering wheel so tight, trying not to tremble that the car keeps shuddering and it just sets him off. The next thing I know he’s pulling my hair out and hitting me around the side of the head and he’s screaming and blinding; deafening me.

When I pulled up to the driveway, I was trying to say anything to diffuse him and he just started on me again and I remember thinking to myself, ‘shit, he’s gonna kill me this time.’ But he goes upstairs and I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to call the police this time,’ but I was so paralyzed with fear and the fear of losing him. I know that sounds stupid but the fear of losing anything that we might still have been able to have. It’s not that I wasn’t afraid of the way he was when he got like that but when I think about it now, when I look back, I was more afraid of not being able to manage on my own.

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See, Tom would always want to have sex even if he was drunk and even if we had been fighting and I could tell by the way he was speaking this time that it wasn’t going to be nice. So I said to him, you know, ’I’m going to have a shower first,’ hoping that with time he might fall asleep or forget completely about being angry at me. So I locked the door and I started running the shower and he starts pounding on the door. I unlock it and I let him in and out of nowhere just punches me in the face and I go flying back into the shower. He didn’t say anything, just walked out. I don’t know what’s going to cause it. That’s what was scariest for me, that it was just so random.

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I was sitting at that little table with Nathan while he was having a look at one of his picture books and all these things are racing through my head. like how that table was the only thing I had left from my childhood, how I used to sit there and read stories with my pop and I thought, ‘no matter how bad my childhood was, at least I’d never had violence in it, not like Nathan had for the first two years of his life’. So I’m sitting there and Nathan’s in my lap and we’re just chattering away and I say to myself, ‘that’s it, if he hits me again I’m leaving, I’m going to take Nathan and I’ve got to do it for his sake’. Tom comes home and he bursts through the door, this crate of stuff I’d forgotten to put away and he smashes it down on the table and he’s screaming at me and little Nathan is bawling under the table and he just leaves. It takes a bit of time but finally I get Nathan to sleep and tidying up I lift this crate off this table and there’s this huge nasty crack from one side to the other and it’s wrecked. I wake up at 5:00am the next morning and I got everything I could into that car and I got us out of there.

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I guess I really felt, having a Degree and everything, that I should have known better and I’d be sitting in my office presenting this ‘on top of it’ face to the world; smart, married with a kid and a career and really I was just a crumbling mess underneath it all. I’ve had a co-worker since tell me that she suspected that something was wrong but she didn’t want to embarrass me. I think that taking that step into asking for help, I found that very hard to do. I felt ashamed somehow. Even now, mostly things are better. I still have to remind myself that it’s not okay to go back there. It doesn’t make me stupid that I sometimes wistfully have thoughts about how it could have been. That’s understandable really. I think nostalgia kicks in and you start thinking about what could have been, instead of what was really happening around me.

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I’ve got to admit I dreaded being a single mum, divorced, but really it’s okay. I’m handling it and we’re handling it. It’s funny because it’s the stupid little things that get you through it. My counsellor has me doing this thing where I write out a list of all the rules I’ve ever had in my life and I just break them...Just little things, like sleeping in without being told I’m lazy, leaving the dishes until the following morning. I’d be driving in the car now listening to the radio and think, ‘this is fabulous’. I make my own decisions now.