Not all Love Stories have the happy ending that we hope for, but sometimes, they have the ending that we didn’t know we needed.
Sometimes, the happy ending is finding yourself – the real you – again. Sometimes, the happy ending is having the strength to walk away, even when it breaks your heart. Sometimes, the happy ending is starting all over again, with absolutely nothing.
Sometimes, the happy ending is just getting out alive.
My Son used to beat me up. He turned nine years old this year. By the time he was 2.5 years old, he’d given me my first busted lip. By the time he was three years old, his Father would need to intervene. By the time he was four years old, I’d been in the ER due to his violence. Three years ago, he nearly killed one of his Carers and himself. If left alone for even a moment, he would break things, put holes in walls, scream and try to harm himself and/or those around him.
Did he do any of this with intent? Did he do this because he was malicious in nature, a bully or abusive? Did he understand what he was doing to himself and the people around him? Could he stop (even with all the help in the world)? Was he ever sorry for what he did?
No. To all of the above, No.
My Son and his number of disabilities including Severe/Classic Autism (He is the 1 in 10,000…not 1 in 100) was the valid explanation and reason for his violence. It excused it. It justified it. It made it easier to cope with. My little boy, genuinely, did not know what he was doing and even with all the support, therapy and medication in the world – the violence continued.
Two years ago, after the last of the Carers quit and I realised I could not keep him safe (or others safe from him) anymore due to the fact he was now very tall and growing stronger everyday, I relinquished care of my Son to his Father. When myself, my 6’4 Brother and my Sons Carer very nearly failed to keep Owen from ending up on a main road – I, and every other sane/logical/responsible person in my life agreed that I could no longer look after my beautiful boy. For his sake, and mine.
When I broke my own heart by ‘giving him up’…I thought the violence in my life was over. I thought it was a thing of the past. By that point, I’d been single and separated from my Ex-Husband for 18 months. I had no interest in men, other than the occasional flirt down the pub or online. I had healed from the breakdown of my marriage, I loved being alone/independent and I felt strong, confident, content and true pride in myself. Entering into a new relationship or falling in love was not on my radar, and it certainly wasn’t something I felt like I needed to “complete me” – no way. I completed myself!
I loved myself, I enjoyed myself…and in no way, shape or form did I ever need a man. Why am I trying to stress these points so much? The answer is because there is a common misconception in Society that ONLY desperate, hurt and insecure women fall for abusive/violent men and become victims or statistics of Domestic Violence. According to society, these women follow some type of ‘pattern’ when it comes to the men in their lives (past and present).
I’m here to tell you that while that may be true for some, it is not true for me. Nor is it true for a lot of other women who’ve been abused. To be frank, it’s utter bullshit for many of us. Many of us do not, and will never, fit Societies idea of what a typical DV Victim looks like. I find it offensive that there is even a ‘mold’ that we are somehow supposed to fit into. The fact is that Domestic Violence does not discriminate, and the other fact is that most abusive men (including Narcissists) do not display their true colours until they have ensured that their victim is worn down and in at least some way, dependent on him. The victim is not aware of this at that stage – however she often feels confused, and/or crazy – she is probably even doubting herself by this point too. She’s a Lawyer, a Doctor, a Teacher, A Single Mum, A Cancer Patient, A Sales Assistant, A Student, A McDonalds Employee, A Centrelink Recipient…..she is ANYONE.
I was anyone.
While it is true that I was missing my Son and feeling his absence in my life, I grieved him long before the day I relinquished care of him (I had to for my sanity). I was also trying to care for my troubled and unwell Brother living next door. I was still a Freelance Writer by that stage, mainly in the Vegan food scene. Yes, I was sad a lot, but I was also happy, I was also free. I guess in a way, I was vulnerable – so I guess some people might think I was an easy target. I can see how they would. I can see how some people out there believe that in some way, I potentially fit the profile of your “typical” DV victim. Of course, it’s still complete horseshit, but I am aware of how it looks.
It was around this time that I met a man I fell head over heels in love with, very quickly. He made me feel like nobody else ever had. He was more attractive to me than any other man I had ever laid eyes on. His smile, charm and charisma lit up any room he would walk into – he turned heads. He was more romantic than any man I’d met in my life and I simply couldn’t get enough of him…and to my delight, he couldn’t get enough of me either. It was a whirlwind love story, we became inseparable from the moment we met.
I truly thought he was ‘The One’. My Soul Mate. My perfect match.
For a couple of months, life was bliss. The Honeymoon phase was on steroids – things were great.
But then one day…
One night in September 2017, he had a fight over the phone with his ex-housemates regarding unpaid bills and a misunderstanding about overdue rent. The fight escalated and his Parents needed to get involved. This scenario didn’t have anything to do with me…but it resulted in the first hole punched in a wall. It resulted in the first time my Brother came over to intervene out of concern, as well as the first warning he gave my Partner (along the lines of “Don’t you dare fucking hurt my Sister”).
Not long after that, after an argument, my Partner took off to see his friends who lived two hours away.
He stole my ATM card and didn’t return my calls for 12 hours.
After he returned, we had a heated argument, and he put his hands around my throat.
He said it was the first time he had done anything like that – he told me he had never harmed a woman before and that it would NEVER happen again. He seemed genuinely shocked and mortified by his behaviour, especially given how much he was crying and trembling, so I believed him.
By this stage, my Brother had to move back home and ceased living next door to me. I still believe this is the reason why the abuse ramped up – it was a lot easier for my Partner to hurt me, especially more seriously, when my Brother wasn’t around to beat the living shit of him and/or to get him to stop his abuse.
It wasn’t long after my Brother left that the abuse escalated – albeit not physically. Apart from the hands around my throat (very serious, but not to the point of anywhere near blacking out, it was more of a “threat” thing if that makes sense), there wasn’t another instance when my Partner put his hands on me during this time. He did, however, smash my valuables, break things that were important to me, punched holes in walls and verbally abused me more than I could ever imagine. He wasn’t hitting me yet, but I was still scared of him.
When he was abusive like that, he was a monster. Vile, malicious, cruel, terrifying and completely inhuman. To this day, I do not think I will hate anyone as much as I hate the monster he turns into. Alcohol unlocks this Beast, but in no way is blaming alcohol fair or even rational. The only person to blame for his behavior is HIM. As even he himself has stated, he chooses to drink, knowing the serious risks it involves. When he becomes this ugly, intolerable, disgusting Beast – he is making the choice to do so.
Things went on like that for a while. One minute, we were more in love than ever, the next, it was a horror story rather than a fairy-tale. By this point, I was wondering why the hell I was putting up with it, I was internally beating myself up for giving him chance after chance, and for believing that he would change. Most disturbingly though, I hated myself for not being able to figure out why I couldn’t let him go – I didn’t understand the power of my love for him. How could I love this man more than I love myself?? Where did the happy, independent strong woman I knew go? What the hell happened to me?! I was disgusted in myself – I had become pathetic, desperate and seemed to only live for him…what was wrong with me?! Those thoughts would quickly change into an internal, self assuring, almost scripted monologue of “Well, at least he’s never actually hit me…and when he doesn’t drink, he’s fantastic….so everything will be okay”.
My self esteem by that stage was well and truly in the toilet. Maybe this is what I deserved? Maybe this was Karma? I mean what kind of Mother gives up her kid, right? What kind of Wife gives up on the FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE vow and leaves her Husband after nearly a decade of marriage? What kind of Sister neglects her struggling, sick Brother? Yeah. Maybe the Masochist in me agreed that I deserved some sort of punishment – maybe she even enabled her own abuse. This isn’t me blaming myself as none of this is my fault. It is, however, me being a realist about what I was probably repressing at the time.
Later that year, due to drunken stupidity on both our parts, I wound up pregnant. As soon as I saw those two pink lines, I decided, then and there, that I would not continue the pregnancy. This enraged my Partner. He wanted to keep the child more than anything, especially as he’s been through the hell of losing a baby in the past. I understood his feelings, and I truly felt for him and did everything I could to support him through it – but I was adamant that I needed to abort. Which I did, very soon after the pregnancy was confirmed. There was no fucking way I was going to risk having another special needs child, put my body through another torturous 9 months of pregnancy (my body doesn’t cope with pregnancy well) and there was no way I would ever bring a baby into a situation as violent, volatile, dangerous and unpredictable as the one I was in with my Partner.
I may have been stupid at the time, but I wasn’t that stupid.
He didn’t understand any of that – so he made the process an even bigger nightmare than it already was. I was called a Killer, a Murderer, a Baby Hater etc (I am rolling my eyes so hard right now at those memories). He smashed up my house again and again. The Police visited a number of times. He would abandon me for days on end to go and get stoned or drunk with his mates. Why I put up with the abuse during that time is beyond me. As I write this, I am re-living it, and honestly…my pregnancy should not have been the only thing I aborted at that time. Hindsight is a bitch, isn’t it?!
Once the dust settled after the abortion, we decided it was time to move away and start our lives together again. We agreed that he would stay with me some nights and stay with his family the rest of the time. The second night at my new home resulted in multiple police cars, an ambulance and every single neighbor huddling around me, making sure that I was alright. The reason for the abuse this time was due to the fact I could not find the address of an Australia Day Party (2018) that we were supposed to be attending. Again, my eye rolling game is hard right now.
Forensic Police photographed the damage he did to my house and my things. The Police put out a 5 year DVO on him – which he breached as soon as he got out of lock up. He went to court soon after and was given 12 months probation.
In April 2018, he became violent only days after my Brother died. Quite seriously. He did so again just nights before my Brothers funeral, in the home my Brother and I grew up in, while my grieving parents slept. What I allowed him to put me through during the worst time I have ever lived through still blows my mind.
In August 2018, he breached the DVO again…
But this time, none of my things were destroyed. No walls were punched. No windows were broken.
This time, it was me who was destroyed. I got punched (actually, to be honest, I got knocked the fuck out and had a form of Amnesia for three weeks). I was broken.
I didn’t report it. It wasn’t like every other time – every other time that I did report him. This time though? Hell no. I couldn’t stand the idea of him going to prison…especially since my Brother had passed away only a short time beforehand. Even after a black eye and a temporary head injury, I still felt like I couldn’t live without him…
and besides, (cue laughter and the shaking of heads), I believed him when he said this was the first time he’d hit a woman, and that he’d never do it again.
He sought therapy, counseling and started taking antidepressants etc after this incident. He even stopped drinking for a while.
By January of this year, I kicked him out. I couldn’t handle being abused and scared anymore, and the level of violence was beginning to genuinely terrify me. He left and went to live with a friend and his partner plus her family. He couldn’t stay here anymore.
By April, his Probation was finished. At this point, things were okay and I agreed he could spend a couple of nights here most weeks. In hindsight, that wasn’t a good idea. He breached the DVO twice in 10 days during that month. He didn’t hit me, but he did rip the front screen door off its hinges to force his way back inside to scream in my face some more. He did the same thing the next time. God knows what I’d apparently done to set him and his drunken self off. Neighbors reported both incidents to 000 and fortunately, he was arrested, both times.
Last month, due to a misunderstanding (not even an argument), he became enraged and violent again. Mainly verbally. After hours of asking him to leave, he amped up the verbal abuse. I was exhausted in every way, and generally, by this point, BORED of being his victim – especially on this night, as it was late and I just wanted him to shut up and leave so I could go to sleep. He smugly told me that the only way I would be rid of him was if he killed himself…so in my deflated, tired and absolutely over it state of mind, I told him that if that was the only way he would stop and leave me alone, then so be it. I told him “Okay then, if that’s the only way, then kill yourself”.
He didn’t kill himself. Nor did he stop.
Instead, he beat the absolute living shit out of me.
I screamed, I tried to hold my hands up in front of my face/head to defend myself. I screamed some more. I begged him to stop.
Which he did, eventually.
Once he got off of me, he stood up and retrieved a brand new, very sharp hunting knife from his pocket.
He told me that he was going to kill me. He meant it.
Bleeding, bruised and truly believing that I was about to be murdered, I asked him to do me a favor. I asked him to at least tell me that he loved me before ending my life, because I wanted those words to be the last thing I ever heard.
By some miracle, that was enough. He dropped the knife, collapsed on to the floor, and he wept. I held him for a long time, and then he fell asleep. The next day, he left, and he went to work as normal. That morning, I reported all of this to the Police. A few days later, he took himself and all of his things away from here.
He will appear in Court regarding all of the above very soon. My bet is that he’ll get a fine (like last time) or perhaps another stint on Probation.
The first few weeks after the night I thought my life was over, I was traumatized to the point where I didn’t leave the house. I ordered all my shopping online, I slept on the couch to be close to the front door if I needed to escape, I was jumping at shadows…I was a mess. I felt hopeless, I cried all the time. I felt like life wasn’t worth living anymore – I felt like I had lost my identity and had no purpose. All I saw was black, never any light. I felt more lonely and alone than I’d ever felt. I barely showered, I stopped functioning, I just slept…and slept…and slept.
But guess what happened then?
I woke up.
Sure, I was traumatized. Not just due to that night, but due to all the other times this man tried to destroy me. Who wouldn’t be a mess after that?? Sure, I was confused about the future and scared of being alone…but again…who wouldn’t be??
I started to realise that I was feeling EVERYTHING that I was meant to feel. I started to realise that I slept for so long because I NEEDED TO REST. Living your life in a constant state of adrenaline is exhausting to say the least.
I started to give in and allow myself, with nobodies permission but my own, to feel.
Anger, grief, disbelief, fear, heartbreak.
– and –
Liberation, hope, strength, accomplishment, safe.
And you know what?
Today, I feel strong enough to write this.
Yesterday, I re-opened my little Fudge business after a 4 year hiatus.
Last week, my best friend came to stay and I’m now blessed with some of the happiest memories of my life.
Tomorrow, who knows what will happen?
The point is, I’ll be here for it, and I’m looking forward to it.
I am not a Victim of Domestic Violence. I am a Survivor of Domestic Violence. I am the proud Mother of a beautiful little boy who I miss dearly – but who I did the right thing by. I’m also the proud Mother of a grown up Daughter who inspires me more than anybody. I am the proud Big Sister of the best Little Brother who ever lived. I am the blessed Daughter of my Parents – two people I’m lucky enough to call my friends as well as my Mum and Dad. I am the very fortunate friend of a select few wonderful humans who make this world a much nicer place to live in, and who make the healing process a lot easier to bare, and to navigate.
I am a woman who not only has her identity intact, but who is proud of loving that very identity.
When it comes to the man who hurt me, all I’ll say is this – and I’ll say it in true Samantha Jones style;
“I love you, but I love me more”.
…and that, my beauties, is the very essence of this post. The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself, so make sure that you love ALL of you the way you deserve to be loved, even when you doubt yourself, and especially when you feel like you’re NOT yourself.
Trust me, you’re still in there somewhere. Just like I was.