So, this year, I have been facing some of the issues I had buried in the last few years since ending my abusive relationship. Maybe it is because I am in a happy, secure one now that I’m able to do this or maybe it’s because feminism has given me a supportive group of people who understand and I have come to realise that it is not my shame but the perpetrators.
Anyway, I’ve spent today worrying about my children who are seeing this man, their father, for the first time in a a year and a half (supervised I might add). Every time, he fills their heads with all the wonderful things he is doing only for them to later realise it’s bullshit. Oh, and don’t forget the crappy psychological games he plays such as telling them he still loves me etc and giving the youngest the impression we could be one, big, happy family again.
When we separated, I was an emotional wreck. When a barrister said I would probably have to speak to the judge, I fell to pieces feeling completely broken and incapable. There was so much I was having to deal with: fighting to keep us in the house I was paying for, trying to give the children the emotional support they desperately needed as their family was torn apart, dealing with the debts, fending off neighbours and friends who he’d borrowed from, his horrific mood swings and addictions, going to court, calling the police, being stalked etc etc etc.
But what I have stumbled upon is some of the details I had to record for the solicitor to try and keep our house and get him removed. The judge actually gave him a good few more weeks to find somewhere and sent us packing to my parents where there wasn’t always enough beds, despite the fact he had already had weeks and weeks to find a place and had refused to call up places we had found for him. Anyway, I’m ranting because it’s making me angry again. The point is, imagine the following and me not having family near by to support us; we would have been in a refuge whilst I continued to pay ALL the bills for a house he was dossing in whilst sleeping with a woman down the road whose children went to the same school as mine. In fact, one of her children approached mine at school one day to tell my daughter aged 5 and a half that her daddy was her daddy now. Sorry, ranting again.
I’ve decided to copy below the details I recorded as part of a therapeutic process for me, and in part to try and attempt to give others a tiny insight into why it can be so hard to leave an abusive relationship. But before reading, remember the following: I had waited until I was in a much stronger position (which had taken years in itself) to be able to do this; it nearly broke me; I had a supportive, large family living locally; there was much more than this going on; all emotion is removed as this was for a solicitor; things actually got far worse after this and court orders had to be sought…
Brief Outline of Incidents during Marriage
- At the first house we bought together, probably 1998, ***** punched a hole in the wall.
- At another house, a few years later, I locked the door on ***** because he was drunk. ***** started shouting that he’d smash the glass in, so I went to open the door but ***** smashed the glass just as I was getting there.
- There have been countless occasions where ***** has punched a wall when he has been drunk.
- Early in the relationship, I refused to go out clubbing with ***** because he wanted to get in a fight with someone, normally a male I had spoken to.
- ***** a few years ago threw something up at the bathroom window, knowing I was on the other side.
- More recently, when we have been arguing, he has smirked and licked up my face a number of times.
- When drunk he regularly verbally abuses making comments that I stink, or am shit or criticising me as a mother as he knows this will hurt me the most.
- He has pushed me out of the bed a number of times over the last couple of years.
- There have been a number of incidents where he has tried to take things off me. For example whilst stopping at my parents he wanted the keys which included the car key and key to my parents. I didn’t want him to drive so held onto them. He physically twisted my hand and fingers to get the keys and then threw them as far as he could.
- In the last couple of years it has got worse and he has begun lashing out at me. I had a nasty black bruise on my leg where he kicked me, he has had me pinned up against the wall in the bedroom strangling me so I couldn’t breathe, only stopping when my daughter woke up and cried.
- I had to call the police a few weeks ago because he attacked me and wanted to break my arm.
The debts that built up over the years have been phenomenal. We sold our house and moved to a cheaper house in Wales to pay them off. Although ***** was unable to work and this was part of the reason that house was repossessed, he was also smoking and drinking heavily which left me with no money to pay the mortgage. We are again in debt with crucial bills such as council tax and water rates. I am never able to set up repayment plans because when I have ***** has taken the money out before bills come out. I am aware that I have not been paying a CCJ, but I can’t when I’m scrapping enough money together to ensure the rent is paid. In the last few months, I’ve had to borrow money for the rent from mine and his parents and have been unable to repay them. I have been left with only a few pounds for food and it became impossible to live with ***** and feed the children.
It has been incredibly hard to deal with *****’ drinking. I have spent night after night worried about what mood he will be in with the drink. He plays a lot of games, whether consciously or not, that have been an emotional roller coaster every time. He will purposely cause an argument and then be calm and friendly and then start all over again. He has stopped me sleeping countless times. I would go to a different part of the house trying to avoid an argument and he will just keep following me around, when I was trying to sleep he would keep coming into the same room. He is very insecure and would call me continually if I was out of the house, the calls would become even more frequent when he was drunk. I have been constantly accused of having an affair, any man I have spoken to he thinks I am flirting and I have had to stop friendships with males. When sober the accusations have supposedly been meant as a joke but have really not been funny. It has taken me a long time to get some of my confidence back as his treatment of me left me feeling completely worthless.
It has become impossible for me to now leave the children with ***** because he has now got drunk whilst looking after them early in the day. This was just over a week ago and I returned home to two children who were very hungry as they hadn’t been given lunch and they told me they had been waiting at the bedroom window for me to return whilst laughing at daddy snoring.
I used to work evenings occasionally. One night I returned home to find a friend at the house because she had spoken to my husband on the phone and could hear my son very upset and realised my husband had been drinking. She went round to our house and remained there until my return. I then had to make sure that on other nights that I was working that someone else was there.
He recently took our daughter out for a bike ride. He bought a bottle of vodka and drank it whilst with her.
When he has been drinking, he can wind the children up, repeatedly doing something that is annoying them, mishearing what they say or just ignoring what they say.
The children have found empty bottles of vodka around the house and in fact I have found them hidden in their bedrooms and toy boxes on several occasions.
4th August 2009
Returned home from solicitor and housing. ***** was drunk already. *** told me that ***** had been asleep and snoring nearly the whole time I was gone and hadn’t given them lunch as I’d asked him to. *** and his sister had been waiting at the window for me to come home. I found a medium bottle of vodka (empty) upstairs. Later on he kept disappearing into the garage, where I found cans of cider that he was drinking. Spent the evening keeping away from him, worrying what he was doing and what mood he may end up in.
5th August 2009
***** had no money so couldn’t drink. He didn’t want to get out of bed because his back hurt. Eventually got up but was trying to be over friendly.
Summary of 6th-11th August 2009
***** took out £20 from the child tax credit that he wasn’t entitled to and spent it on alcohol and cigarettes. He has been helping himself to the food in the house that I got and is contributing nothing, neither is he contributing to any bills. He was over familiar, patting my shoulder etc. on several occasions. He was very drunk from Friday to Monday and the house and him smelt so strongly of alcohol that I had to keep the children out of the house as much as possible. Whilst the children were in the house, he drank cider before 11am. Monday evening at children’s bedtime, I had to take them to get my daughter’s teddy which she’d left at my sisters. He made a fuss about me not leaving them with him. I explained why and his response was he hadn’t drunk much. On our return he was supposed to be reading a story to the youngest but he was in a mood making comments like “I’ll read to her if I can be trusted with the kids”. On Tuesday he was sober but I refused to leave the children with him as I don’t know when he’s going to start drinking. Again I explained to him why because he kept going on about it and saying he wouldn’t do anything. On several nights he has suddenly disappeared without a word and not returned until 5.45am. The smell from him makes it clear he has been drinking. On two occasions he has come into the bedroom in the middle of the night and just stood there for a couple of minutes. I know he has gone through one of my bags and a notebook as they’ve been moved from where I left them. He is continually lying about finding somewhere to live.
Wednesday 12th August 2009
I returned home with the children and before I had even got them out the car he was asking to borrow money from me. I was taken aback then angry and asked him what had happened to the £200 he’d taken out on Friday that was supposed to last 2 weeks. He replied that it had gone. He then said he was going to flog the car and split the money. I got angry and upset because previously he had told me he was going to sign the car over to me and I had spent £100 the day before, having the exhaust fitted. An argument followed and I pointed out to him that I thought he was signing the car over for the sake of the children. He said he would sign it over and was apologetic but then disappeared in the car with the log book. The children were both crying and upset thinking the car was gone. He came back 15 minutes later and signed the log book but didn’t hand it over saying it was a big thing for him because it was the only thing he owned. I pointed out that the reason he didn’t have much was that he’d spent everything. He was very moody and then suddenly being all friendly like nothing had happened. I went upstairs away from him to calm down, he came up a few minutes later and said he was sorry and that I knew he was always going to sign the car over to me, he was just moody because he hadn’t had a cigarette all day. I told him that I didn’t and had thought he’d gone to flog the car. He then handed me the signed log book for which I thanked him. He then went out in the car again. He borrowed money from somewhere and came back with cigarettes and vodka. I was still upset at what had happened but he sat down where I was and started asking me if I’d been in town that day. I told him I had and he said that he thought he had recognised the car. He questioned me about what I’d been doing and I told him that I’d had an appointment. He said “What, with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau?”. I told him I had seen a solicitor and he got really moody again and said what was the point because I knew I’d get custody of the kids. I told him there were lots to sort out and that he needed to get himself a solicitor at some point. He then started asking for details and I told him I really wasn’t in the mood for talking to him at the moment. His moods were swinging quickly. He then went out in the car again and came back very chatty as though nothing had happened and then starting asking details about who we’d had credit cards with. I told him and explained they were paid off years ago and asked why he wanted to know. He then started ranting at me that I had ran up huge debts and he’d had to pay them all off and he needed the details to give to a solicitor to get the money back from me because he had given me the car. I told him that the debts were run up by his spending on alcohol. There was no reasoning with him and he was becoming more erratic. It was clear he was drinking and when he’s in that kind of mood he becomes very unpredictable. I didn’t feel safe so I got the children from the garden and left with nothing. I felt unable to return to the house to get anything as I knew he had alcohol. He tried ringing me a number of times and then let my phone ring once or twice and then put it down.
Thursday 13th August 2009
I decided to return to the house without the children to gauge how things were and collect some things. The house and particularly the bedroom, where he was, stank of alcohol. We exchanged a few words politely then he asked me if I had been on something yesterday. ***** is always trying to place blame for his actions on me and undermine my confidence. I shouted at him that I couldn’t believe he’d asked me that, it was him that was on something. I clearly saw that he was still unpredictable and that we couldn’t return to the house, so I started getting some clothes together. He then switched mood again and laughed and said he didn’t mean that. He then continued by saying what he’d meant was had I taken a bottle of vodka with me yesterday! I told him I hadn’t and pointed out that he wouldn’t have any money for just over a week and was that what he’d chosen to spend the borrowed money on, vodka and cigarettes. He shrugged his shoulders and said yes. He was supposed to have an appointment with housing at midday and it was now 11.30. I asked if he was going and he said it wasn’t until 4pm. I told him it was at 12.00 which he then checked. He rang and changed the time to 12.30 but just before 12.00 he still hadn’t moved. I kept asking him to go and eventually he left the house for the appointment. I rang him later that day to see how it had gone and he said he’d received the solicitor’s letter. I said okay and asked about the appointment at housing again. He shouted that that was for him to worry about not me. I said I just wanted to know if they’d got anywhere for him and if he was moving out and he shouted that it doesn’t just take 10 minutes it takes time. I tried to point out that he’d had nearly 3 weeks but he put the phone down on me.
Friday 14th August 2009
I had a call from ***** apologising for being moody yesterday. He then asked for assistance in gathering paperwork that he needed for housing. I went to the house and sorted out his award letters for his benefits. He kept asking when the children and I were returning to the house. I explained that we couldn’t due to his behaviour. He said that he wasn’t drinking any more and was smirking. I told him that I had heard that many times before. A row followed in which he blamed living with me as the cause of his alcoholism and when I told him that our daughter was upset about his drinking and they way he was behaving, he told me that it would be being with me that would be upsetting her. He then raised the issue of old credit cards and was asking for them telling me he needed them. I again told him they were paid off years ago and cut up. He insisted on details of old debts and his reason was I was painting him as all black and he wasn’t having it, it wasn’t just him, again saying I’d run up the debts. Despite saying that he’d stopped drinking there was an empty large bottle of vodka in the bedroom. He said he was doing everything to get somewhere else to live and that a hostel or B&B was no use because he had no money. He told me that when he has provided evidence next Thursday at housing of his back problem he would be put into gold band and would get extra money for somewhere and for taxis etc. He rang me later in the day to say that he was doing his best to find somewhere else to live.
Saturday 15th August 2009
I spoke to ***** in the afternoon and checked that he was sober before taking the children to see him. The children had been very upset and were pleased to be back in their own house so we decided to stay there. ***** had run out of money and therefore could not drink so everything was okay.
Sunday 16th August 2009
I spotted an unopened bottle of vodka in the house which later disappeared. ***** had been questioning my son about where we had been and with whom earlier that day. *** happened to compliment my sister’s fiancé which seemed to annoy *****. I then overheard him making a remark that to *** that if he was lucky then maybe mummy would find another man within the fiancé’s family. *** began to get upset once he understood what he meant. I told ***** it was inappropriate to be talking about such things. ***** left the house without a word and did not return until after 1am.
Monday 17th August 2009
I told ***** about an advert for a room to let and he went in the car to get the number although he said he had no credit on his phone and no money. When he returned he had another new mobile phone with credit. He was supposed to be reading my daughter a story but I could hear him in the bedroom and she was calling him. When I went up a few minutes later, he was reading her a story but there was an extremely strong smell of vodka. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want any trouble. When I went to take my son up to bed, he called him over and said ‘Hey, ***, how would you fancy having 4 sisters?’. He was implying that he was in a relationship with a woman down the road who has three daughters, one of which is a friend of my daughters. *** didn’t understand what any of this meant and I sent him upstairs whilst I told ***** that it was completely inappropriate and not the right time to be discussing such matters. He said the right time would be when he’d moved out and I said no, it would be when he had been in a relationship for long enough that he knew it would work and not before. Whilst I was studying, ***** kept on disturbing me asking questions etc. Eventually he went out and did not return until 3am. We had agreed that I would sleep on the sofa that night. He made a point of coming in and telling someone loudly on the phone that I was asleep. I just pretended to still be asleep so there would be no trouble.
Tuesday 18th August 2009
I left my jeans unattended for half an hour in the morning and discovered £5 had gone from my pocket, ***** denied taking it. ***** asked me to give him a lift to the housing office which I did. When he got in the car there was a very strong smell of alcohol, probably as a result of the drinking the night before.
When I returned home later, I could tell by the smell that ***** had again been drinking. He kept questioning my about where I’d been and with whom and asking the children what they’d been doing. I told him and then calmly pointed out that I didn’t continually question him about where he was and what he was doing and I’d appreciate it if he wouldn’t keep asking me time and again. I had told him about rooms advertised at ****** **** yesterday and asked him if he’d had any joy and he got funny and refused to talk about it saying aggressively that it was for him to know what he’d done. I pointed out that it also concerned me as I could not claim the money I was entitled to whilst he was under the same roof but he refused to talk about it. It ended in another argument. ***** left the house about 6.30 and did not return until 1am. I could not sleep in the bedroom because the smell in there of alcohol was too strong. I was very upset that evening wondering what state he would be in when he returned and became panicky. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to remain in the house as the stress is becoming too much.
My Thoughts on this Now and for those Suffering Similar…
My life is a thousand times better now. I was determined to make life better. In many ways I’m still fighting hard for that aim. Both my children and I are still effected by what has happened and not only emotionally. I’m in a decent job having battled to get a “proper” education during this abusive relationship and after. But he lost us our life with a house of our own and mortgage. I pay extraordinarily high rent which is almost half of my monthly take home, childcare and all the other bills whilst he pays nothing. Financial security is a long way off and I’ll be blighted by the financial implications for a long time to come. Only yesterday, the effects on one of my children was self evident when she dissolved into tears when a policeman stopped us doing routine checks.
And so, as hard as it was, it was worth it and as much as everyone has to deal with these things in their own way and when they’re ready (it took years of planning for me, needing certain things sorted first), the earlier the better. I knew for years it wasn’t working but stuck it out “for the kids sake”. I didn’t however, fully realise quite how an abusive and controlling relationship it was. Having read information since, I see it clearly now. There is help out there and more is being done to get laws changed. For example my ex was arrested on the night I ended it and the police had to tell me he would be able to return to the house the following morning. Now, this has changed and there is more protection for the victim. There are also some excellent campaigns in place for more changes. I am going to gather details of where you can get help and information and add it to this blog post in the next few days. But I hope for now this gives just one person a little more insight as to why it can be difficult to escape and maybe even reached out to someone questioning the relationship they’re in.
NB I’m sorry the writing is not up to my usual standard and is a bit of a ramble but it is a topic I still find hard to write about!