Tomorrow is that last day of #16DaysOfActivism were we speak out against the abuse and violence of women. I have typed and retyped todays blog. Going from experiences and stories of violence and abuse of women. Telling my mums story, talking about what I have seen and heard in my job. But really, I am just avoiding the elephant in the room. The elephant in my head.
So here we are. One of my experiences of violence and abuse of women. I am not talking about gangs or the abuse and violence I could tell you about within them. Or my mum. Or the girls I work with. And I am not even going to go into detail about this story. I am just going to make people aware of the deferent types of abuse and violence that women suffer and usually in silence.
DV and me.
If you had asked me years ago if I would be the victim of a Domestic abuse relationship I would have laughed. Me? Are you mad! I would never let a man cheat on me and treat me bad. I would never let a man shout me down and cuss me! Never.
But life has a funny way of showing you that you should never say never.
When I met Him, I was very vulnerable. The most vulnerable I had ever been in my life. I was weak, and I was broken. That’s how they like you, perpetrators…. weak and broken. He came in and was my prince in shining armour. He swept me up and made me feel safe and promised me the world. He wrapped me in love and affection, made me feel like this was it. This is that love that people tell you about. He made me feel like I would never be alone again. I was broken and weak and he made me feel secure…. for a while.
When people say “How can you be with someone like that” when talking about women in DV relationships, it makes me sad. Do you think the relationship starts with name calling and threats? Of course not. It happens in a way that you are not sure what happened and before you can truly address it, they are back making you feel like it was all a mistake. And then later down the line they will make you feel like its your fault…then that you are crazy …and then that you wont cope without them. Its very clever. Very clever and very cruel.
So, let me make this clear, He never hit me. Not like one banged me in the face. He knew that if he directly hit me, I would of most likely have snapped out of my victim state just like that and ended it there and then. He would stand over me with his hand raised. He would hold a clenched fist so hard against my face that it left a mark. He would smash things. He would break things and leave it for everyone to see. And you know what, in many ways I wish he would have hit me, at least then I would have had proof about what he was doing. Physical proof. For myself and for others. He was more like a cat with a mouse, just toying with it. Just keeping it with enough fight in it that it made the chase interesting.
The first time he called me names was about 8 weeks in. I did something, and he went off on one. I had not seen that side of him and he called me some nasty names. I still had some strength at this time and I left him. Like that. Laters. I was never ever going to go back to him. But I did. Because life kept throwing these curve balls and I truly didn’t know if I was coming and going. He has openly said himself since that he knows 100% that if I had been normal Kendra, not broken Kendra that I would not have been with him. He knew that. Yet still he continued.
So, the first step of any abusive relationship is the relationship building. It’s very similar to the grooming process, domestic abuse relationships. And that’s why I get angry still. Because I should have seen it coming. Gifts, attention, kind words. He was very good at that. He gained my trust. Then he filled a need. Made me feel like I needed him. And I honestly felt like I did.
Now the next stage of any abusive relationship is to isolate. And boy did I become isolated. I lost the world I knew. And if you are reading this and thinking how I could let that happen. I don’t know. I can’t tell you. It just happed suddenly. He started saying that he didn’t like my friends. That my friends fancied him. That my male friends were trying to mug him off. That I should not speak to certain people because of this and that. He would always finish with “But its up to you”. And when I didn’t listen and would continue to be friends with people, He would make it very hard to do so. If I had people round, he would be rude to them or belittle me. I stopped having people round. And he would say it was better just us. How did I allow that…? I don’t know.
Then he sold me a dream. Said we should move away and start a fresh. I had stopped speaking to my people anyway. Life was ruined. Why not. Because after all, like he said, no one else cared about me anyway….
And just like that, life changed. Everything changed. Suddenly I was in a place I didn’t know. I did not know any single person in the area except his family and his friends. Can you imagine what that would feel like? To know no one. Not a single person. Not knowing where the shops were. Not knowing where anything is. I was weak, and I was broken. I was scared.
And what was I gonna do? Call home to my people. The same people who were telling me to leave him and I had shut them down. The people who I had just locked off. Half of them did not know I had even moved away. And what would they think. Big bad Kendra…. being controlled by an idiot man. Nope, I would have to sort this out on my own.
He called me every name under the sun. He would scream into my face for hours. I mean hours. He made up names and words to call me. He would tell me to go home knowing full well I could not. He would tell me that I was lucky to have him. Look what he had done for me. Look what he had done for the kids. I would be nothing if it was not for him. That he had a good life before me and that he had given it all up for me. He remined me almost daily that I had no one. That I had no family.
The cycle of abuse in DV goes something like this:
- Tension building: You can feel it brewing. Like a storm. In my case this was the worst bit. The waiting for him to do it. I would wake up on a Saturday morning and would hear him banging and slamming things. Like putting away the washing up very loudly. But he was doing it to wake people up. Slamming doors. I would lay there, every Saturday morning. Not wanting to go down. Not knowing what it would be over this time. The tension building, for me, was the worst bit 100%.
- The Incident: This would start either with him telling me how lazy/ rubbish/ awful I was or accusing the kids of not doing something. If it was about me, I would try to ignore it. If it was about the kids, then I would not have it. Either way, when he wanted to start…it would happen. No matter what you did or did not say. He would then get into a rage and start screaming at me. I mean screaming in my face. His forehead to mine, spit going everywhere. Telling me about my past, what I was now and what I would not be in the future. He would make threats that he knew would scare me. This could go on for hours and sometimes could happen a few times a day.
- Reconciliation: I would eventually either break down sobbing or snap and say he head to leave. Either way it would end in him crying and apologising. He would tell me all the reason it had happened (Usually my fault) and beg me not to make him lose his family. He would say that it would ever happen again, that I made him do it or that it was not as bad as I was making out. He even said he would end his own life twice.
- Calm: After all that there would be calm. No shouting. Sometime for weeks no arguing.
He presented himself as a good person. Still does. He was the captain of my son’s football team. All the kids looked up to him and the other parents probably thought “What a nice bloke”. Yet he told my son daily that he was worth nothing.
Here is the worst bit of it all. My kids saw most of it. I mean I “Sent them to their room”. Their sound proof rooms where of course they could not hear a thing……
He threated to beat me up so many times. He has said he would kill me. Burn the house down. Take my kids. Tell the kids I was crazy. He would hold me by my shoulders and say he was going to beat me up. I would say …go on then. Then he would go to the bottom of the stairs, so that the kids could hear, and shout what a slag I was. What a bad mum I am. He would do this because he knew I would panic about the kids and became submissive to what ever he was accusing me off or wanted to tell me about myself.
I would cringe at his touch. I physically gagged once. Yet…he still stayed. Still tried to touch me.
I tried to tell his mother what was happening. She saw it happen many time. She did nothing of course because any women who raises son like that can’t say anything. I told family members. Nothing. I called the police. Nothing.
Nothing. No one would help me. I had to help myself.
And you know when the worst times were. Christmas. I had to keep him pacified because he would feel no way in doing all the above on Christmas day. And did, twice. And every birthday and every new year.
There are many women out there right now living like I was. Who feel like they have no one to tell. Maybe they really don’t. And leading up to charismas they will be feeling that panic in their chest that he might ruin charismas. That he may ruin the kid’s day. And unless she has a black eye to prove it then…. what? Who will listen?
The abuse continued long after I left him. One year he sent me a gift every hour on the hour on Valentine’s day. The last one I excepted at the door had a note saying, “I will be coming home at 5”. We had been separated a year. He was banned from stepping foot in my house. And he said, “I will be coming home at 5”. Knowing that would scare me.
The abuse and violence against women must stop. It has to end. We need to give people a voice so that they can let us know what is going on.
Just because he does not hit you does not mean that it’s not abuses. So many women lose their lives to DV. So many women never fully recover from DV. So many women suffer at the hands of their partners and nothing is done.
Its time to speak out.