This is Part 2 of 4 on my blog about my own personal experience with domestic violence. If you haven't already, please read 'I Was Just A Kid - Part1'
He finally walked away, he walked out of the room and slammed the door behind him. I took a huge gasp of breath and stared at the wall where he had me pinned just moments ago. Tears started to trickle down onto the sofa. I tried so hard to stop crying as I wasn't sure what he would do if he heard me. I just couldn't comprehend what had happened. This man had saved me from a violent life, one which I endured from the moment I was born. How could he do this to me? What did I do wrong?
I managed to sit myself up on the sofa. I held my breath as I tried to listen to what he was doing. The flat was silent. Any noise I made was magnified by the deafening silence. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and stood up. I was exhausted, I was in pain and I was scared. I walked to the bedroom and opened the door, it was dark. I tried to cushion every step I made as I walked over to the bed where he lay, trying not to disturb him. I lifted the corner of the duvet and slowly slid under it. My breathing became shallow as I put my head on my pillow. I made sure I was on the very edge of the bed, I thought if I touched him by accident, he might hurt me again. I silenced my breathing so I could listen to his, trying to figure out if he was awake or asleep. After a few minutes tears started to stain my pillow, I could tell from his breathing he was in a deep sleep. Part of me was relieved, I felt a little safer knowing he wasn't awake. I was haunted by flashbacks of what had happened, these thoughts tortured me as I tried to fall asleep. As I desperately tried to drift off, I wondered how he managed it so easily. How could he do what he just did and go to sleep, like it was nothing? I began to doubt myself.
'Maybe it's because I was at fault? I shouldn't have questioned him. What if I've ruined the relationship now?'
Through the physical and mental exhaustion, I finally managed to get some sleep. I remember waking up in the morning, aching. Not just my neck but my whole body. I could sense he wasn't in the bed but I rolled over just to be sure. I lay staring at the wall once again. The nightmares I had were playing over in my head, the trauma from the night before was intruding into my thoughts too. The self doubt I had, only worsened. I got out of bed to find him having a coffee in the living room. As I walked in my eyes were drawn to the wall where he had me pinned. Flashbacks were so vivid that I tightly closed my eyed and shook my head a little, as to shake them off. I sat down next to him. He got up straight away but to my surprise it wasn't to walk away from me, but to get me a coffee. When he handed it to me I didn't dare to look at him, I kept my head down and in the quietest of voices I said thank you. I was so confused by his kindness. I was wary of it, worried about a false sense of security.
I was right to feel that. Looking back, I'd say I wasn't wary enough. Nothing could prepare me for the violence, control and torture which I would endure. Nothing.
'We are going to forget about what happened last night and move on, okay?'
I nodded in agreement, I was still too scared to fully respond. But I wasn't going to miss the chance he was giving me to forget about last night and move on. I was relieved that he still wanted to be in a relationship with me. My overwhelming fear of abandonment, due to my childhood, was calmed slightly by his proposal to move forward.
The day went on as usual, we did all we had planned to do and he seemed, normal. With each positive interaction we had, he would put me at ease a little further. Before long, I was back to my usual self. But this time a little more compliant. I couldn't see it at the time but he was moulding me into the person he wanted me to be. A person who acted and spoke as he expected, who never questioned his authority and who would blindly follow him. And I did that. At the time he made it seem willing, but I had no choice in the matter. He took that away, all that was left was the illusion of choice.
It wasn't long until he was violent again. Around a week. This time was a little different to the first. He had sent me a text, as he usually did, to say he had finished work and told me what time he would be back. Because he was going to be home later than usual, I reassured him that dinner would be ready for when he got in. I had music playing as I prepared the food in the kitchen, eagerly waiting for him to return, as I did everyday.
Like a loyal dog, waiting for their owner to return home.
I heard the keys in the door and I was overwhelmed with excitement. I ran to the front door to greet him.
'Babe, I'm just going to have a shower and then we can eat.'
I went back to the kitchen and carried on as I was. He came out of the shower and stood at the open kitchen door. I looked towards him and smiled but I didn't get the same reaction back. He looked annoyed. Was he annoyed at me? He was fine when he came in from work. I started to get a little nervous, worried I'd done something wrong.
'What's up, are you okay?'
My heart started to best faster and I began to feel sick. My body was fully aware of what was about to happen, even if I didn't consciously know it.
'Why isn't dinner ready? You said it would be. You even had extra time because I went in the shower.'
Dread began to pour over me, the realisation of how quickly this situation could escalate if I even looked at him in the wrong way terrified me. I reminded myself to chose my words carefully. With a forced smile I explained to him that it would only be a few minutes, I was just about to plate it up. I apologised profusely, hoping it would calm the situation. It didn't. He walked off into the living room, back to the place the violence began. I quickly followed him, apologising with each step.
'Leave me alone.'
I began to cry, I tried so hard to please him and apologise for what seemed like my own mistake. As I begged for his forgiveness, he turned around and punched me. I screamed and put my hands over my face to protect myself from another blow. He grabbed my wrists and pulled my hands away from my face and down to my side, I tried to pull free but I wasn't strong enough. With tears and blood pouring from my eyes I begged him to stop. He came in close, I turned my head to the side in fear. By this time my whole body was shaking, my heart was pounding out of my chest and my breathing became erratic. Through gritted teeth into my ear he repeated what he had said.
'Leave. Me. Alone.'
He grabbed my wrists tighter, so tight I dropped to my knees. He let go and walked off to the bedroom. Slamming the door behind him. I stayed as I was, on my knees, crying on the floor. A flood of emotions began to wash over me, I became overwhelmed and confused. I tried to compose myself the best I could. I walked to the bathroom and locked the door behind me. Even behind a locked door I didn't feel safe. I stumbled over to the sink, my legs were giving way from the shock of the situation and the adrenaline pumping through my veins. I hesitated for a moment as I grabbed onto the sink to stabilise myself. As I looked down into the plughole, drops of blood spattered the basin. I lifted to head to look at my bloody reflection in the mirror. I couldn't see properly, the tears were distorting my vision. I tried to compose myself once again, I wiped my eyes with my hands and moved towards the mirror for a closer look. I stared for a moment as I took in what I saw.
A deep cut on my eyebrow, the surrounding area turning black by the second. I mistook it for a mascara smear. I grabbed some tissue to wipe it off but when it didn't disappear my eyes filled up with tears once again. I took a deep breath and inspected my face further. My whole right eyebrow was red and swollen, bruising was spreading down to my cheekbone. I winced as I gently touched it. As I screwed my eyes in pain I grabbed onto the sink. Closing my eyes hurt. I let out a sigh. I felt defeated, I felt broken and alone. After sitting on the side of the bath for half an hour or so, waiting for the bleeding to stop, I forced myself to shower. I think it was the longest shower I'd ever had. I looked down at the bath as the water ran red. Every droplet of water that hit my face would sting. A harsh reminded of what had just happened.
In my mind there was no doubt that this was all my fault. If only I had dinner ready when he came out of the shower, none of this would have happened. Of course that wasn't the case, I could have done everything he asked and he would have still found a reason to be violent and then blame me for the cuts and bruises he caused.
'You're making me do this. You make me like this.'
I was told this every time he attacked me. And every time I would apologise and promise to do better. Each time I would be worn down a little more. I'd scold myself in the mirror, scream in frustration, questioning why I was such a bad person and why I made him do this. I'd wake up the next day, more bruised than the last and tell myself that I would do better. He conditioned me, through violence, to believe I wasn't good enough. That I deserved the violence he inflicted and if I just did exactly as he said, it wouldn't happen again. I believed him every time. There was never any doubt, in my mind, that he was wrong for doing what he did. This was progress in his mind, he was moulding me to be compliant.
As this year progressed, the violence got worse and so did the control. I could only wear what he told me to, he would pass it off as being protective.
'You know what men are like, I'm just protecting you from them.'
I would eat what he said, when he said. If he didn't like a certain food, then neither did I.
'Just eat what I eat, otherwise we are buying twice the amount of food and wasting money.'
He would check my social media and my messages. I never had anything to hide so I willingly gave him my phone. He would intrusively inspect it, every single day.
'I'm not being controlling. You could have anyone you want, you're beautiful. I'm scared you'll leave me or cheat on me.'
I wasn't allowed to spend my own money unless he said it was okay. I couldn't buy myself some new make up or clothes that I needed.
'You don't need to buy new things, why do you want to? Is it just to get the attention of other men?'
As each day passed, my injuries grew worse. The severity of the violence was on a steady incline. Each attack worse than the one before. He was breaking me, just as you do with a horse. He was breaking my spirit. Being in that kind of environment, although you normalise it, it is extremely stressful. So I wasn't surprised when I missed my period. It's common with extreme stress and being underweight, which I was. But as the weeks passed I started throwing up, going off certain foods, feeling unwell and tired, so I decided to do a pregnancy test. I wasn't worried as I was on a contraceptive, I just put it down to stress.
So to say I was shocked when the test came back positive was an understatement. I'd never been pregnant before, at first I was repulsed by the thought of this thing growing inside of me. It took a few days to come to terms with the situation. I kept it to myself while I got used to the idea of being pregnant, I couldn't tell him yet. I didn't know how he would react. I didn't just have to protect myself now, but this baby. My priorities had changed, I suddenly felt extremely protective of this alien I'd never even met. I knew I would have to tell him, I just didn't know how. It never seemed like the right time.
It was another normal day, we did as he said, what he had planned out. I blindly followed, making sure to really concentrate on everything he asked of me. I didn't want to put the baby in any more danger. But like any other day, he never needed an excuse to lose his temper and be violent towards. He punched me in the face but I didn't scream I just stayed silent. Hoping not to anger him further. As I looked away from him he growled at me and bit my ear, like a wild animal. I tried to push him off without causing more damage. I began to cry, I couldn't stop myself. The emotion and physical pain was too much. He stood back for a moment. He glared at me, with pure hatred in his eyes.
I didn't know what he was about to do, but I knew it was going to be bad. As he lifted his fist to hit my again, I put of my arms around my stomach to protect my unborn baby.
'M, I'm pregnant!'
He stopped where he stood. I looked into his cold eyes with fear in mine. Hoping that the part of his humanity that was left would stop him from doing what he was about to do. Hope was all I had.
Hope wasn't enough. It didn't stop him.