Well, That’s pretty much my DV story. As I’ve written chapters, I realised just how much I’ve left out, like when he ruined my 21st birthday, or a family trip to Sydney, or about the letter that I wrote to my local Member of Parliament because the police weren’t doing anything, but honestly, if every detail was in here, it would be a novel. I feel like I’ve finally gotten my side of the story out. I’ve had a few people contact me to advise that he’s been running around telling people that we broke up because I cheated on him. Well now the truth is out, perhaps this will teach him to take responsibility for his actions instead of blaming someone else.
I want to talk a little bit about how this has all affected me after I left, and what I’ve learned.
The Warning Signs:
Things that may seem cute in the beginning can be grooming tactics. I thought it was sweet that he always wanted me to text him when I got places to make sure I was safe. Really, this was about control, and training me to answer to him and constantly check in with him.
Broken promises in the beginning will be broken promises for the entire relationship.
If someone talks a big game, so big it sounds crazy, it is. They’re probably full of shit.
Treating you poorly and then acting like the victim is another grooming tactic. It teaches you that they never do wrong, that it was your fault that they acted that way.
When I left, I felt like I’d left that part of my life behind. I didn’t hate men, I wasn’t fragile (apart from the first few days), I was me. But every once in a while, something would happen, that would, dare I say the word…. Trigger me. Once, I was in the car with Tony, and the song came on that was playing during the recording when Mike assaulted me. I froze, my heart started racing. I asked Tony to change the channel, but it felt like I could hardly make any noise. He couldn’t hear me, it was still playing, I was shaking. Eventually I managed to get his attention and he changed it. That’s when I realised that maybe I’d been more affected than I’d thought.
I get pretty bad, passive aggressive, road rage. That means I’ll yell and call someone names, with my windows up, but I won’t tailgate or give them the finger or anything. I’m angry, but I don’t want them to think I’m a jerk. My point is, I’m no stranger to anger behind the wheel. One day, while Tony was driving, another car cut him off. He raised his voice a little, just like I would have, but I was used to Mike flying off the handle in this situation. I wasn’t sure how Tony was going to respond, and got pretty anxious. Mike used to tailgate people and fly around them while flipping them off. He’d try to get them to pull over so he could fight them, and when I told him to stop or calm down, he’d lose it at me. So my first reaction when Tony was agitated behind the wheel was to clam up. But then nothing happened. The tension melted away, and everything was normal. My body was involuntarily preparing for Tony to react badly, but he reacted the same way I would have. It was refreshing.
On a happier note, I think I appreciate Tony a lot more than a person normally appreciates their boyfriend. After coming from such a hate filled relationship, with no intimacy or sense of caring, even the smallest gesture means so much now. Like when we’re falling asleep cuddling, and he kisses me on the head, I still can’t help but smile. I’ve coming from a relationship where there wasn’t cuddling, let alone a kiss on the head, and now I’m with this guy, and I notice and cherish every little thing he does. I feel so incredibly lucky to have found someone so amazing, someone who makes me so happy and feel so loved and wanted. When we’re walking and he grabs my hand, or gives me a kiss, all of it, it makes me feel so good. Alright, I’m getting gushy now, so I’ll stop. What I’m trying to say is that I think coming from a relationship with a person like Mike, and into such an amazing one with Tony, I can’t help but be so appreciative of him for being so amazing.
I’d like to give you guys a snapshot of some stats on Domestic Violence. A lot of people in DV situations don’t think it’s that bad, or think that others have it worse, so they shouldn’t complain. It doesn’t get talked about enough, so people don’t realise how common it is, how big of a problem it is.
- 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence by someone known to them. That’s huge. Think about a group of friends you have, or your team at work, count how many there are. 10? 3 of them have experienced this.
- On average, 1 woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner. Let’s do some basic math. There’s 24 million people in Australia. We’ll say half of those are women, so 12 million. Let’s say a third are children, that leaves 8 million adult women. If one woman is killed per week, that’s 52 women per year, which is a 0.00065% chance a particular woman would die in one year, 6 or 7 dead in every 1,000,000 women . Let’s say everyone lives to 80, in that adult lifetime, 3224 women will have been killed, which is a 0.04% chance, 4 in 10,000. If you’re from the small town of Dundas, Ontario Canada (pop. 20,000) that I grew up in, that’s 8 women killed from there in your lifetime. If you’re from Brisbane Australia (pop. 2.2 million), that’s 880 women killed there in your lifetime. That is too many women dying because some abusive asshole can’t control his temper. In America, over 3 women are killed per day.
- 1 in 4 children are exposed to Domestic Violence. How many kids were in your grade in school? I think I had 2 classes of 30, so about 60 kids. That means 15 of them were watching DV at home. Exposure to DV is recognised as a form of child abuse, and increases a child’s risk of developing mental health, behavioural, and learning difficulties.
- 3 woman are hospitalised each week in Australia with a traumatic brain injury from DV.
- On average, a woman will leave an abusive relationship 7 times before she leaves for good. We all know that I left twice before, thank god I didn’t wait till 7.
- 75% of women killed by their abusers are killed when or after they leave the relationship. This is because the abuser has nothing left to lose. Leaving is the most dangerous part, so you have to stay safe and get the help and support that you need.
- On average, 35 physical assaults will occur before the victim reports it to police.
It is so important to talk about this. It is so important that people who are in these situations feel that they have the support to reach out for help. It is so important to hold the abusers accountable. If you’re reading this, I challenge you to help start the conversation. Share a post, discuss it at dinner, write a Facebook status that says if anyone is struggling they can come to you, ask someone that you’re worried might be dealing with this if they’re okay, if they need help. The more we talk about it, the more victims will know that it’s not their fault, that they shouldn’t be ashamed, and that help is available.
If you’ve got a story about Domestic Violence, either something you experienced or witnessed, and would like to see it featured on my blog, contact me and we can make it happen. You can be as open or anonymous as you wish.
If you’re dealing with abuse please reach out. Your local Domestic Violence Hotline can help guide you, and you’re more than welcome to get into contact with me to talk.