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Read this if you've ever wanted to ask: "Why didn't you leave him sooner?"

Domestic violence. No one should have to experience it. And it is NEVER your fault. Note: This is not the author.

 

TRIGGER WARNING: This article deals with an account of domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.

A few weeks ago, after a night out at a fundraising event with some girlfriends I was attacked in my own home. Here’s the kicker: I knew my attacker. In fact I had once thought I was in love with him.

I arrived home admittedly a few glasses of wine worse for wear. He had been watching our baby and had even sent me texts during the evening letting me know that our 20 month old son was fast asleep and saying that he hoped I was having a great night. I felt at ease to finally let my hair down and have some fun.

I was wrong, this was the first part of his game: to lull me into a false sense of security.

As soon as I walked in the front door I went to the bedroom to take my shoes off as my feet were sore. Seconds later I was thrown back onto the bed, his hand around my throat. His face inches from mine and his eyes vacant as he screamed at me for being drunk, calling me a slut.

I begged to go to the toilet, and tried to grab my phone as I headed to the ensuite, but he wouldn’t let me take it. He stood there and watched me as I went to the toilet. I was buying time, trying to think of what to do next. As I tried to leave the bathroom I again asked if I could have my phone back, but he wouldn’t let me have it. He wanted to know who I was talking to, wouldn’t believe me that there was no-one, I had only spent the night chatting with my girlfriends. He wouldn’t let me past, and as he got more and more worked up, yelling at screaming at me he punched a hole in the wall of the ensuite, cutting his hand. Finally he walked from the room and I was able to come out.

The yelling and abuse went on for two hours. At some point he put my phone down and I tried calling 000 as he ranted, with a half empty bottle of tequila in one hand and an empty bottle of scotch in the other. He was trying to smash them on the floor of the bedroom and I was scared he was going to cut me with them. I hadn’t picked up the phone when I dialed as I didn’t want to attract too much attention. The next day I noticed that the phone call to 000 had lasted 27 seconds before he had noticed what I’d done and hung up, taking my phone away again. But nobody came.  Luckily the bottles didn’t smash, instead he began hitting himself in the head with them and then punching himself in the head before he turned on me again.

“I realised his attack had been pre-meditated. He had drunk a bottle of scotch, a bottle of wine, half a bottle of tequila and several beers.”

This time he had his whole body weight on top of me, his hand once again around my throat, threatening to rape and kill me. I will admit that I fought back. I wasn’t going to let my baby be without his mother. My older children weren’t at home that night, so I knew they were safe. At this point I heard my little boy cry, and I think this is the only thing that stopped him. I really don’t know how far he would have gone if that hadn’t happened. He wouldn’t let me go to my baby, and after a while there was silence. I remember praying that my son was OK, and I just wanted this monster out of my house.

I grabbed my phone (and in my panic for some reason I didn’t actually call 000 or the police again, I really don’t know why… it seems ridiculous now) I pretended to be recording him.

I very calmly asked him over and over to leave and for some reason the thought of being recorded made him play the role of being cool, calm, and collected. It still took 30-45 minutes to convince him to go, as he paced the house, with me pretending to record him. Eventually I was so exhausted I began to cry hysterically, I think he figured he had won and finally he went. It was like the switch had been flicked again and he was all of a sudden able to see what he had done, and what he was about to do, but I was fully aware that it wouldn’t take much for the switch to flick again.

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I locked the door behind him and checked on my baby who was thankfully sleeping peacefully. I double checked the other doors. Then, bruised and exhausted I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realised his attack had been pre-meditated. He had drunk a bottle of scotch, a bottle of wine, half a bottle of tequila and several beers… all whilst he was meant to be watching over our baby. He had texted to make me feel at ease, whilst drinking to deliberately rile himself up in order to attack me when I got home.

The sad thing is that this wasn’t the first time. Months earlier I had taken out an AVO on him when he had spat on me, tried to grab our son from his car seat and then punched my car. A few years before that he had knocked me out in the car park at his sister’s wedding. Each and every time he claimed to be getting psychological help, to be taking anti-depressants, to have chosen to never ever drink again. So I would slowly relax the rules of the AVO, letting him have contact with the kids because they all wanted it. Letting him help with the gardening because I couldn’t afford to pay someone… until it snowballed and the lines were once again completely blurred. Until he once again had complete control. And everything would seem to be OK… for a while.

I can hear people saying “What is wrong with this girl? Why did she keep going back?” My family and friends have said the same thing. I have even said the same thing when I have read or heard of other victims of domestic abuse in the past. All I can say is that until you are in the situation you really can’t understand the why… and looking back now any excuses I made for why I went back make no sense at all. In my case I was really sick for a few months with one thing after another, my parents don’t live in the same town as me and so I had very little support or help.

As is the nature of domestic violence, the perpetrators have an uncanny knack of reading their victim, then pouncing when they are vulnerable and weak. They know how to manipulate you. They use your kindness as your weakness. They isolate you. They make you feel worthless and unlovable. They use guilt. They use your children. They lie to you and to anybody who will listen to them.

They charm everybody else into thinking they’re a great guy, so there must be something wrong with you to think that he’s not. They do anything to win the game, because for them it’s most certainly not about love. It’s about control and it’s about winning.

There are different levels of domestic violence, what begins with a little bit of jealousy and control can and will escalate. I thought he could change, I thought if I loved him enough he could be the great man that he pretended to be 50% of the time. I was wrong.

I’m sharing my story because I think it’s really important that the victims of domestic violence no longer sit in shame and silence.  Victims come from all sorts of different backgrounds and levels of education. I made some stupid decisions, and letting the rules of the AVO slide was one of the worst decisions I’ve made, not to mention in by doing so I was also breaking the law. Despite this, the fact that he attacked me is NOT MY FAULT. I will no longer take responsibility for his actions.  I hope that by sharing my experience somebody else finds the courage and strength to change their life.  My journey is just beginning, there is a tough road ahead, but there is also a great future ahead for me and my kids. I’m now ready to welcome it with open arms.

This writer is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous.

If this post brings up any issues for you, please contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or go to their website. They are the national sexual assault and domestic family violence counselling service.

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