Trigger warning - if reading this story causes you distress, please seek support.
(A list of support services is available via the 'Her voice, story, and words' blog post.)
The first 'red flag'
When I was 22 I fell into a toxic and abusive relationship but at the time I didn’t see it that way. I noticed small things but it wasn’t until I left I realised how toxic and abusive it was, physically and mentally. The first “red flag” I would call it now but then I didn’t see, was that he made me delete all my social media accounts which at the time was my only real way of communicating and keeping in touch with friends and family, then my phone number changed too. It all went downhill pretty fast. I brought myself a new car, he took my keys and I was never allowed to drive alone if at all; I think I drove the car maybe twice, at the time I thought he was just being protective. Then I was never allowed to go anywhere without him, that turned into I wasn’t allowed to leave the house (his family’s home) at times not allowed to leave our room, he would take off for days and leave me there but I still couldn’t leave because his family “watched me” for him.
The pushing and shoving started slapping and a few punches. One time leaving some cuts and a black eye, no one batted an eyelid other than to tell me I shouldn’t have pissed him off. I fell pregnant and I knew this wasn’t the right relationship to bring a baby into, his family also made threats about what would happen if I kept the baby. I booked in to abort the pregnancy but on the day I couldn’t do it. I was willing to do it alone, I wanted too. Then his eldest sister attacked and assaulted me, whilst I was pregnant. By now I was afraid and I stayed, I did what I was told and accepted it as my life. The abuse didn’t stop, there were days I had to beg to eat, even though I was carrying his child. His lifestyle was his only concern. I was kidnapped for his mistakes and held for hours against my will and smashed in the legs with a metal baseball bat to teach HIM a lesson. I couldn’t leave, what would happen if I left or tried to leave? I was staying.
A family full of love and respect
Just before my daughter was born we got a house, things were OK. I was heavily pregnant and the abusive behavior had started to stop. I didn’t love him, I wasn’t happy but I wanted my daughter to have a family. Old behavior started again and I knew I wanted a better life and example for my daughter so when she was 6 months old I placed a family violence order on him and told him not to come back (he was never home). I felt guilty for months maybe years, I felt sorry for him I don’t know why or how. He flew off the rails and has been in and out of jail since I left him.
Whilst I was living it I didn’t see it as clearly as I do now, I never told anyone and I never reported to the police at the time. But I l left for my daughter and for me and gave us both a better life and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. My daughter has 2 siblings now, a brother and a sister and a wonderful stepdad; a family full of love and respect. I didn’t need to stay to give her a family, I needed to leave.
Bianca, thank you for sharing your story.