Something that has been on my mind a bit is the memories of domestic abuse .
I remarried in my early twenties to someone after a 2 year relationship. He was volatile, I knew that already. I knew he could be controlling but never in the sense of applying that to me. He was actually quite understanding of my wilder side, but any form of authority sent him into a blind rebellion, even if there was nothing to rebel against he would stubbornly take every tiny detail and squeeze it and turn it and reshape it until it fit his point exactly.
He lived with me , at that time we were in a local authorities housing. The officials who had to deal with him utterly detested him, I know this to be true as I knew someone who worked there… the police hated him, the parking officers hated him and everyone in between. You couldn’t tell what mood he would be in from morning to the afternoon to evening, he used to work usually quite late or overnight and it was impossible to guess his mood. We had our arguments on occasion but I excused his often unacceptable behaviour , the mental pressure and emotional dysfunction knowing that sometimes my behaviour was nothing to be proud of.
Then we married. Almost immediately his attitude towards me and my oldest daughter started to change. Within a few weeks we had our first physical fight – I was so shocked. He attacked me from behind , punching me in the head and yanking me around by my hair while I had my year old daughter in my arms, walking beside a busy road. The physical pain was nothing compared to the shock that he would risk our daughter in that way.
That signalled a pretty drastic change in our relationship. Broken bones, black eyes, split lips and a fair bit of hair pulled out followed, a small piece of one eye socket eventually worked its way out a couple of years later which was really quite weirdly fascinating… but I eventually couldn’t let the kids see this going on, he was getting increasingly nasty to them, especially my oldest and after he hit her on her birthday I had enough, but what made me kick him out was after he bit her then made her tell me what he’d done and show me the huge bruise his teeth had left . She was 9. The emotional abuse was worse than anything, my daughter hadn’t told me how nasty he was when I was out and as an extremely intelligent manipulator things were worse for us all than I realised
I will never forgive myself for trying to allow him to be a father to the kids after we split. I met someone else and although we didn’t enter a relationship for some months he was so supportive of me. This just made the abuse from my ex step up further. He broke into the house usually at least twice a week, sometimes more. My older daughter once woke me in a panic to say he had been in their room since 6 am. He was very drunk. When I ran downstairs to confront him I found him drinking tea and putting breakfast cereal in a bowl. Such a totally mundane action, it was shockingly bizarre. Whenever I called the police several always turned up in stab vests with truncheons ready. That day of the breakfast cereal it took 6 of them to get him on the floor and out into a squad car, this while I was trying to get the kids ready and on the school bus.
He tried to kill me a couple of times, stalked me, phoned me describing how he was self harming for hours on end, sometimes 6 hours on the phone, more than once a day. He kidnapped the kids telling them they would never see me again, driving off with them banging on the back window of the car screaming mummy mummy.
He took me to court every chance he could devise, often not turning up to defend his case
Many other things happened . He was sectioned but broke out of a secure ward, the police advised me to disappear until he was found again. There were many many other incidents . It went on for nearly 2 years before he was finally stopped by getting beaten up.
I will never forgive myself for trying to help him. For believing – at first – he had a right to see his children . That they had a right – at first -to see him and his family. That I broke the promise made in our marriage vows, In sickness and in health.
Was it my fault for sending mixed messages? Are my children’s mental health problems now my fault? What the fuck was I doing? I wasn’t a saint throughout, fighting back when he attacked me became normal.
There are countless stories like mine. I have never told his story publicly before , frankly I’m terrified that even now he will somehow find me out, use this to hurt us, that I have made a massive mistake writing this.
I’ve been over it again and again, for years. I’m trying to get it out of me, make sense of who created the heartbreaking problems, how I could have let this happen. How I could have failed so badly.
I know rationally it’s not ” my fault ”
Since when were feelings – be they of failure, of guilt or anything else – always rational.
Maybe finally taking control of the unease, fronting it, facing the fear and telling it where to go will be a step away from it.