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Forms Of Abuseimages from the stories

Vicki

I was studying to be a physio when I moved in with him. It’s a small town but there is a hospital. I didn’t have any other income other than my Aus Study. He was really nice and attentive and he lowered the rent so that I could afford it. I guess I was pretty dependent on him and Mum was 80ks out of town, so from the beginning he sort of had the upper hand. He strung me along at the start, making me wonder if he just wanted us to be friends; making me feel as if maybe I wasn’t good enough to be going out with him. So, I suppose, when he led on to the other people in town that we were actually a couple, even though we’d been sleeping together before then, I was grateful. It makes me really sad to remember how needy I was back then. I was happy to excuse anything about him that made me feel uncomfortable and only look at his good points. I don’t know , maybe that’s why I turned a blind eye to some of the violent innuendo stuff that was around, like the guns and the hunting knives. That stuff’s not that uncommon for guys up here but he was pretty into them. He had them all lined up in the bedroom and I’d come home to smashed up stubbies all over the verandah. Or one time he cracked the shits with me in the morning and when I got home from the clinic, there was a massive knife stuck into my desk.

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I felt like I was walking on eggshells all the time, making sure tea was ready, keeping the noise down and making sure not too many people came over. I got really down. I had no energy and it didn’t help being called useless and stuff, so I just tried to focus on my Course. I used study as an escape because it was just so nice and logical compared to everything else that was going on with him;  the work criteria is set and you meet it. You get good results. It’s funny , I was getting really good marks despite how awful I felt inside.

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I never felt like I could talk to anyone about it. I tried calling Mum but being so far out of town, it’s not like she could just pop over. And she made me feel like pushing and shoving isn’t really domestic abuse. I mean when Dad was alive, him and his mates used to smash up things when they were drinking and all the women just accepted it. Out here, there’s this whole mentality of masculinity like a badge of honour or something for a woman to put up with it, like your old man’s a tough bastard. You must be a tough old bird to put up with him! But I didn’t feel tough. I felt weak. I’d have these 30-minute showers where I’d be crying and hiding it from him, upset with myself for just going along with it but still not knowing if I deserved any better. Like maybe I was just supposed to accept that that’s the way it was, that I was to blame for it somehow.

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And when he started pushing me harder, he threw me against a wall and I called the Police. But in a town this size, you know them personally and they were like, ‘if you like love, we’ll call him and tell him to settle down’. I thought I might need stitches on the side of my head here but I didn’t go to hospital. I was doing my training there and it just would have been too humiliating.

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He wouldn’t hit me but when he drank, he’d get agro and punch holes in the wall and smash up things and sometimes he threw me against stuff. In the first few months, I got nervous about my dog too. I could see that she’d avoid him so I took her round to a friend’s place. I really missed her. I felt more alone after that.

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I didn’t even know if it was actually domestic violence. I mean, I couldn’t talk to anyone and in a town this size, it’s just not something you can talk about easily. I often wish that none of it had ever happened like there should be some other way for me to learn what I’m prepared to put up with in a relationship and what’s just not on. My main regret is that I didn’t stop it all sooner but I couldn’t really see what was going on. I guess when you’re in it, you can’t see it and I didn’t have anyone on the outside of it all to tell me that it was bad.