I had mixed feelings when I saw that Wanderlust was speaking out against Domestic Violence. I admired her confidence in speaking out... I tingled with shame at my own story.
You see, I grew up in a family where domestic violence - in all its categories... physical, verbal, mental, emotional, sexual - was the norm, not the exception. And I swore as a young adult that no-one would ever treat me like my mother (and every other woman that the sperm donor brought into my life) myself and my sister had been treated. Ever. I swore it adamantly. Vehemently. Absolutely.
In March 2009 (while this story started a long time ago, you can read about my awakening, everything in between, and finally resolution to make changes) my husband attempted suicide. It was horrible, horrific, devastating.
I sat in the special room at the hospital speaking to the Psyche nurse... no, make that vomiting out my husband's behaviour... all of it. The nasty, horrible, hateful things that he had done, said, behaved towards me and my children. Suddenly I stopped. Because I HEARD myself....
I turned to my friend that was with me - someone who had saved me from myself once before (but that's another story for another time) and said to her "Oh my god. If someone was sitting in front of me telling me the things that I have just spoken I would be looking at them aghast and asking them what the hell are you doing??" That was my moment of realisation. Realisation that I had landed in a relationship that I swore I would never have. One full of violence - verbal, mental and physical. I was devastated. How the fuck had I got here?? What had I done???
I started to cry - not for my husband, but for myself. For my children. In disbelief.
It took me nearly another 12 months and an Apprehended Violence Order, changing my home phone number and mobile number to finally cut him completely out of my life - or as completely as you can cut someone that you share a child with. It took another 12 months and a whole lot of persistence, and me standing my ground, for something that resembled him having a relationship with his son to occur. For ME to no longer be afraid, and know that he no longer has any power over me, to be able to see him for the pathetic sad little man that he is - that took another six months.
Two and a half years in total. To feel like he no longer had a psychological hold over me in some form. To feel like the person I know I am. To reclaim my self esteem. To trust. To love myself. To forgive myself - well that's still a work in progress.
Its easy for outsiders to say a million things about a situation that they haven't walked or lived. To have an opinion. Hell, I even had a million things to say, and an opinion, and I had already lived it as a child... and I still fucking ended up in an all to similar situation as an adult. Why do women stay in abusive relationships? There is a myriad of explanations out there. Its insidious and gradual the slide down that slippery slope. By the time it happens your self belief, esteem, courage, worth are so eroded that you start to believe it is all your fault. That you are the cause of it all.
What should you do if someone you care about is in this situation? Don't judge them. Be there for them. Let them know, when they are ready, you will stand there beside them. They are going to need you.
What if you find yourself in this situation? Firstly - even though it no doubt feels like it, please know that you aren't alone. Reach out. Speak out. You too can shake the shackles of domestic violence. If you can't do it for yourself, and have children - DO IT FOR THEM. Show them how brave, and strong you are. Show your daughters that it is not OK to be treated badly. Show your sons that it is not OK to treat women badly. Show your children that domestic violence is never OK.
Knowledge is power. Find the knowledge. Find the power.
Domestic Violence Resources and Help in Australia
Lifeline Phone: 13 11 14 (cost of local call from landline) Website: http://www.lifeline.org.au
This website is all about the line and the kind of behaviour that crosses it. http://www.theline.gov.au/
What is domestic violence? http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/domestic-violence
Domestic Violence Resource centre http://www.dvrc.org.au/