It is almost a year since my marriage ended, and whilst over the last twelve months I have only spoken to police, my GP, my mum and my closest friend about the truth of what was happening, I now feel like I need to open up and share my experiences. There are so many women out there that are being abused, and many are like I was, unaware or in denial.
I met my husband twenty years ago. He was tall, dark, a bit shy and very handsome. When we started to date he showered me with romantic gestures and unlimited attention. I felt like a princess, like the luckiest girl in the world. I felt like I needed to pinch myself to make sure he was real, that this was real. After three months he told me he was falling in love with me, it was like I had died and gone to heaven, this gorgeous, loving man loved me.
We moved in together after just six months. We were a ready-made family as both of us had a child from a previous relationship. I was no longer a single mum, I was a family. We would always be doing something at the weekends as a family, going to the park with picnics, theme parks days, cinema, it was a great time. By Christmas, we were engaged, this man that I loved more deeply than I had ever imagined possible had asked me to marry him, we had only been together nine months. Everything was perfect, or so I thought.
I had a great life. I was back at work and building new friendships. When my new boss took us all out for an afternoon (and evening) of drinking wine, a friend I worked with warned me to be careful, she said he was controlling me, she had heard him talking to me on the phone, telling me I should have been home by now, I had kids and he had cooked my dinner that was going to waste. I laughed it off, after all she didn’t know the kind, adoring man I knew.
Suddenly, out of the blue one Sunday morning a few months later, my gorgeous fiancé woke up in a very odd mood. He refused to speak to me, he was cold and distant. I had never seen him this way before. I lay in bed worrying about what had upset him, whilst he went off and had a bath. The next think I knew he come back into the bedroom armed with bin bags and began emptying my clothes and belongings into the bags. I was crying and begging him to explain what had happened, what I had done wrong. He refused to speak still, then went off to do the same to my then two-year-old sons possessions.
After he had loaded all of my things and my son into his car, he drove to my parents’ house where he threw all of my possessions out onto the lawn and drove away. I was devastated.
After a few months we started to speak again. I had got my own place, but I missed him. I loved him. I loved our little family. Eventually, we started to see each other again and six months after breaking up we were back together and found a house to move into and start again.
He was back to the man I had met, romantic, loving, funny, and before long we were engaged again, planning our wedding which we booked for June. This was put on hold after we discovered I was pregnant and the baby was due around the same time as our wedding date.
I was terrified at the thought of having another child, I felt so much guilt that my first child didn’t have a conventional family and I didn’t want to do the same to another child, but my fiancé was thrilled. But he would never talk about what had happened that Sunday morning.
For the next seven months he treated me like I was the crown jewels. Nothing was enough. I only had to mention that I liked something and there it was, he took great care of me. Plus I was banned from housework, I had to be very careful I didn’t do anything to risk the baby. I was unbelievably happy, and even more in love, what’s more I felt loved too.
Our little ready-made family welcomed a beautiful little addition that bonded us all together, it was bliss. We got married a few months after in a private ceremony, just us, our three children and two witnesses (my husbands friends).
We both worked hard and were enjoying a good life, but I started to see the signs of temper in my husband. It began with road rage, and my mild mannered, shy, placid husband would suddenly turn into a frightening beast. He put it down to being tired, I just tried to calm him down and stop him getting out of the car to confront people.
He had told me that he had been accused of stabbing his first child’s mother, but that it had all been an accident. And after all, she was a bit of a whore who did drugs. All my husband had tired to do was protect his child. Looking back I see how blinded I was by his charm and good looks.
Three years into our marriage, my husband had an accident that left him in constant pain and made his temper more frequent. I had a job I loved, and we needed the money, so our children took up some of the strain of housework and looking after their father.
But one day, when I returned from work, my husband told me that he had to show me something. He called my older child down and ordered him to show me their bottom. My husband had beaten my child until their backside and the backs of their legs were a blend of deep purples and black. He told me he would leave, he wasn’t safe with our children.
Looking back I should have made him leave there and then and never let him near my children again. But I loved our family, I didn’t want our children to lose everything they had. And I loved him, I believed him when he said he was sorry. So I gave up work to look after him (and make sure he never touched my children again). He went for CBT and began taking anti depressants.
Several years passed. People looked at us as the perfect couple. We laughed together, we were always chatting away. The public face of our relationship was great. Behind closed doors, he was starting to change again. He became obsessed with sex, and for a period of more than five years I was subjected to repeated assault whenever he felt the ‘urge’. But the sex he wanted often didn’t include me as his wife or lover, I was reduced to an object for his own satisfaction.
Any time I said no, he would tell me ‘no means yes’. He would call me frigid. Accuse me of having sex with other people. He would pull my hair, buckle my fingers and wrists back, force me to my knees. He would pinch my nose to force me to open my mouth. He threatened to put morphine in my drink so I couldn’t stop him.
He hurt me, not just physically, but emotionally, the bruises on the outside were hidden under my clothes, but they were nothing compared to the scars inside.
We argued, I was never allowed an opinion, and the more I tried to be heard the more he belittled me, the more he would tell me I was delusional, that I needed help, that I was mental. When I tried to tell him he was forcing me to do things I didn’t like he was furious with me, I had to apologise to him for even suggesting it. He told me he was autistic, that he didn’t know what was right and what was wrong. He made me feel sorry for him, that he was the real victim. He convinced me believe I had to protect him.
Then last year, he told me my family would be better off if I was dead, before he ran off, taking my youngest child with him. He went to the school, to our mutual friends, to anyone that would listen, and told them all I was unstable, that he had been forced to flee for his own safety.
The man who raped me countless times was the one that was not safe.
The man who controlled me, never let me have a choice in anything, didn’t let me have money, he was the one that wasn’t safe.
The man that beat my child in a fit of anger, the man with a long history of violence, he was the one that wasn’t safe.
On the day my youngest child was enjoying their 17th birthday party with friends, I was in hospital after taking some of the morphine tablets he had threatened to drug me with. I look back now, and if I am honest, I regret not taking enough to actually do the job.
Over the past year, I have struggled to come to terms with what happened to me. I had tried to pretend it was love not rape.
The police initially decided there was not enough evidence to proceed. I am hoping the review they are currently doing comes to a different decision, but I am not holding my breath. Rapists seem to get away with it. I often wonder why rape is a crime, it seems pointless when there are so many victims yet so few prosecutions, and even fewer convictions.
I know that I am completely broken.
I know that I will never really heal.
I know that I do not trust anyone.
But I also know that I want a future, I want a life, I want to be free.
I am fearful that my ex will seek revenge in the future. He will wait, ten years, fifteen years, but I know it will come.
I also fear for the safety of those in his life, his next victims, they still see the charming, handsome, slightly shy man I once saw, they have not seen the monster lurking inside.