Joanne's Domestic Violence Story
Joanne thought she was leaving an unhappy marriage in which her husband cheated on her for bliss with her soulmate. Instead the horrific domestic violence story, including physical violence and the stillbirth of her baby, unfolded before her eyes. Finally Hope reappeared in the form of her daughter who helped her leave the abusive relationship. This is her story:
In July 1999 I started using the internet just looking up weird and wonderful things at first which my first husband Richard and I love to do on the evenings that he wasn't working. But then once his hours increased and he started to work nights I used to use the chat rooms for company. We had just moved to a new house and I didn't have any family or friends close by so this seemed the ideal way to spend my free time and to make new friends. that's when it all started to go wrong as well. my husband got jealous of the time I was spending chatting to people he didn't know, so rows started to get out of control. I was already aware that Ricky was playing away from home but I didn't care as long as he came home to me and the kids - I knew life was difficult for Ricky with me being in a wheel chair and me not being interested in the intimate side of our marriage. I didn't blame him for seeking comfort elsewhere, but once I was able to leave my wheel chair, Ricky didn't like my new found freedom and things became even more tense and he tried to dictate to me where and when I could go out and who I could see.
I started talking to Robert in the July of 1999 and we became good
friends and would tell each other anything and everything. he had
just gone through a tough divorce (which I found out more about later)
and I just needed a friend to talk too. I told Ricky all about Robert
and he agreed that I could meet up with my internet friends and so
I made arrangements to meet Robert. we didn't meet until the 10th
September 1999. Ricky drove me to the station and dropped me off.
When I first met Robert I thought he look a bit rough he was draped
in leather from top to toe, a typical biker, but he was pleasant and
polite and very attentive, making sure I was ok the whole day. I agreed
to see where Robert lived and made arrangements to meet up again this
time in Milton Keynes
I met up with Robert at the beginning of October 1999 and stayed overnight in the spare room. When I returned home Ricky asked if I would stop going on the internet as he was worried that I would have an affair (great coming from a man who already was).
I told him no and that started even more rows to which we agreed to separate and finally divorce. things were getting really strained at home and also violent, Ricky gave me the ultimatum to either leave the house and kids behind or go back to the way we were which I didn't think would be good for the kids so on the 10th January 2000 I left the home and children and the only place I had to go was to stay with Robert (big Mistake).
The first 6 months with Robert were great, he looked after me well and I didn't want for anything. in fact I was totally spoilt.
The kids came to stay with us for a week (little did I know that, that would be the last time I would see them for 5 years).
After the kids had gone home, Robert started to show his true colours.
I have always been a woman who was very confident always dressed nicely with name brand clothes and no one ever saw me without my makeup, always kept my hair nice although I would keep changing its colour.
Robert started to say that people were commenting on what I was wearing and that I looked a bit of a slapper which was one of his favourite words, and that I should try and tone it down a bit. he was so convincing that I believed him and it made me look at people in a different way and I became so self conscience that within a few weeks I stopped popping to the city centre or local shops just for a trip out and became a recluse and only going out when Robert took me. He had somehow brain washed me into thinking that I was only safe when he was around, if I went out alone I would walk with my head down and try and avoid eye contact with anyone, if we went out to the club I would try to avoid being spoken too by other men as he would always say that they fancied me and to stop leading them on, not that I was. He got me a job at the club working behind the bar part time. he was ok with me working there as it meant he had a reason to drink, if I was bought any drinks from the customers I would have to save them up and this meant he got free drinks, but even then he would stand at the bar and make sure I wasn't being chatted up. on one occasion one of the club's football team asked me my name, Robert replied you don't need to know her fucking name she's there to serve you drinks not make small talk. That night when we got home I got the very first beating of my life, just for answering the bloke's question.
He took me out to buy some new clothes a few days later
Gone were my short skirts now it was trousers or skirts to my ankles, gone were my clinging tee shirts out came that jumpers and sweatshirts always one size to big and no named brands either
And then the final blow I could only wear makeup if we were going out together as he couldn't afford to keep buying it,
I don't know how he managed it but I can see now that he had brain washed me and made me into this timid, worthless person that he wanted, he had to feel he was in charge of me, he always use to say that we didn't need anyone else all the time we had each other
In January 2001 Robert asked me to marry him like a fool I said yes so on the 10th February 2001 we got married at the registry office,
None of my family was allowed to come
On the day that we were getting married I was miscarrying our first baby.
But that didn't stop the day, nothing would. Robert had it all planned.
We got married on the Saturday and on the Monday I had a scan and was told that I had lost the baby.
On our wedding night Robert had become so drunk that he was falling all over the place.
I just asked him to go to bed and try and sleep it off, he told me to shut my fucking mouth and get my clothes off he wanted to consummate our marriage, when I wouldn't he raped me although you would probably call it just a drunken fumble as he was unable to fulfil the deed, this was the first day of the rest of my life as the second Mrs Dawson.
I slowly learnt just to agree with everything Robert said it was easier to live that way, and well whatever Robert said must have been right as it was his way or no way.
In the June I became pregnant again, Robert didn't want anything to do with it from day one although he would play the dutiful husband and father to be when in company.
He didn't attend any scans or antenatal appointments I was still expected to do the entire usual household and woman's jobs, as Robert would call them, even though I was having a hard time with the pregnancy.
He would regularly getting into fits of rage and start punching me and pulling my hair.
He always seemed to punch me on the tops of my legs or in the head I was later to be told in one of his drunken stupors that he only hit me there because no one would see the bruises that way
I went into labour on the 16th March 2002, at 8 am Robert didn't believe me and made me walk with him to Wolverton and back to make sure that labour had started as he wasn't going to waste a day up the hospital, I later went to the hospital where they told me after scanning me that the baby had died, on the 17th March 2002 I gave birth to my daughter Kezia at 1.12am she weighed 7lb 4oz had a mop of black hair and beautiful olive skin, she was perfect, Robert wouldn't even look at her all he said was “I've been there and done that “ meaning he had already lost a child to his first wife so it didn't mean a thing to him, even arranging her funeral was left to me he didn't want any involvement at all the only thing he wanted was just me and him there.
But his mother and sister insisted that they came.
He wouldn't even allow me to attend the scattering of her ashes, as this would have cost us £40.00 so to this day I do not know where my little girl has been laid.
After that his drinking became worse and the violence increased I was regularly punched kicked and spat at for the most stupid of things
I burnt the chips or I forgot the gravy or I hadn't put enough salt or vinegar on his dinner.
When I wasn't being beaten I was ignored for days on end, I was sent to Coventry that much that I even thought of moving there.
People in the street use to ask me if I was ok they all knew what was obviously going on but I just use to say yes fine, with a fake smile on my face.
I found out I was pregnant again in the June 2002 but I was too frightened to let Robert know I didn't tell him until I was 12 weeks pregnant, at first he seemed happy but as the days went on he started to question whether he was the father and even accused me of having an affair with one the guys at the social club, this was the time that he punched me repeatedly on my arm, leaving a massive bruise which took weeks to clear, the next day once he had seen the actual result of his punching he was full of remorse and kept telling me he was sorry and that it wouldn't happen again, which I had heard so many times before and as usual that night I was warned that if I ever made him that angry again he would make my life hell.
By leaving permanent scars, but he had already done that mentally.
As a woman I felt worthless and that my only point to life was to be his punch bag.
I had lost my children not a day went past that I would pray for someone to come and get me and I use to phone my friend but as soon as she spoke to me I would make up a story of wedded bliss I couldn't face telling anyone the truth I felt a failure.
When I went for my first scan with the third pregnancy, I thought that I was carrying a little boy, when I told Robert this he said I hope not I want another girl I don't like boys they are wimps.
This pregnancy turned out to be more difficult than Kezia's due to her dying inside me I was left with a blood disorder anti big E which can lead to further babies being born very anaemic or even having to be transfused in the womb or the worst being miscarried or still born.
When I told Robert this he just shrugged his shoulders and said get on with it you want the little bastard I don't.
So once again I took myself to antenatal clinics and my friend May and her husband Bob would take me to the hospital once a month for scans and blood test to check my anti E levels
At 30 weeks Robert came home from work drunk, so he had driven this way too, I told him he was risking losing his licence, should have kept my mouth shut, I got the beatings of all beatings, he punched and kicked me so hard that I landed in the kitchen on the floor against the fridge from the living room door he kept punching me in the head and face and finally kicked me in the stomach, I managed to find the strength to push him over and ran for my life, I went to my friend May's house she rang the ambulance and took me to hospital, they scanned the baby and everything was ok with her, I had bruising and they said mild concussion from the blows to the head.
May rang Robert from the hospital to tell him that I was ok he made out that he didn't know what she was talking about, she told him to come to the hospital, he arrived an hour later still drunk and driving, he walked into the cubical where I was being monitored pushed his face right into mine and spitting into my face he said you fucking bitch. I told him to go home and leave me alone. Which he did?
When I arrived home he was asleep on the sofa bed so I just climbed into bed and waited for the next beating luckily this time it didn't happen.
The next day once again he was full of apology's and said that he couldn't remember doing it, same old story.
I had a week's break from the abuse he actually took me shopping for baby stuff but it was to be short lived .
At 32 weeks pregnant I went into full labour .
Milton Keynes didn't have a special care baby unit bed so I had to be admitted to a different Hospital, which is a fair way from Milton Keynes.
In the ambulance Robert asked the paramedic where we were going. When he told him all I got was you fucking bitch you know I need to go to work tomorrow how am I meant to get back home from there? Once we got to the hospital and I had been admitted, the midwife put me on a drip to stop the labour Robert asked if I was having the fucking baby tonight, the midwife said she would hope not but couldn't be sure, Robert got up went out the door and that was the last I was to see of him for two days.
I rang my friend May to tell her that he had just left me there, she told me she already knew because he had got a taxi to the club borrowed the money for the fare and was getting drunk at the bar. He turned up at the hospital two days later.
I had a scan in the morning and when he arrived he asked if I was ok and that he had missed me, and that once again he was sorry but he thought I was going to lose another baby and he couldn't cope with that, I showed him the scan picture and said meet your daughter, so I had been wrong about the babies sex, he was overjoyed.
Things got better for a while it was more mental abuse than physical he would continually tell me I was fat and useless and that he was going to find himself a real women I sometimes wished he would, he would ignore me for weeks not just days.
Which in the end I didn't mind it made my life easier I didn't have to watch what I said as I just didn't say anything.
I finally had Rosie-May on the 31st March 2003 by C section spent 5 days in hospital I wished it could have been longer I didn't want to go home, during my pregnancy with Rosie I had found Robert divorce papers from his first wife. Which maybe it was wrong but I just had to read them, when I got to the end of them I thought all you have to do is take her name out put my name in and you have got the same life, the only difference from her life of hell and mine was the accusations of sex abuse against his two daughters from that marriage, I really wanted to pack up and leave then but I had nowhere to go this is when I became very protective over Rosie, I would never leave her with him not that he would have had her anyway, and I made sure that I always changed her when he wasn't in the room, and although he has made inappropriate comments in front of her I know he hasn't touched her, and if I ever found out he had I would make sure he was locked away for a very long time.
Once I had got over my C section things went back to normal i.e. the beatings started again the drinking got worse.
He would hit me in front of Rosie, which I didn't like, but he would say she thinks it's funny look she's laughing at you and as she got older he would let her watch and say it's funny to see mummy cry isn't it? Now Rosie hits me and says that's funny mummy.
One night he came up to the bedroom drunk I was breast feeding Rosie on the bed and he started to poke me in the head when I asked him to stop he just done it harder until he eventually missed me and hit Rosie when he realised what he had done he left the room saying sorry and left me to consul my baby, and I say my baby because she is, he never wanted her .
When Rosie was just 3 months old she was really ill I made an appointment at the doctors I asked Robert if he wanted to come he said yes, when we got to the surgery I asked him if he was going to come into the doctors room with me, he said no as he already knew what was going to be said, I didn't know what he meant by this.
When I came out of the doctor's room, the doctor asked to speak to Robert.
Robert stood there eyes to the heavens and pretended to listen as the doctor told him that Rosie had bronchitis and asthma and would ask Robert not to smoke around her.
Robert didn't speak to me all the way home, I settled Rosie down in her pram and went to prepare dinner for Robert and myself, I put the burgers in the frying pan, to cook slowly and started to get Rosie ready for bed, once I had done that I went back into the kitchen to see how dinner was doing, when I looked in the front room Robert had Rosie in his arms and was smoking I asked him not to smoke with her in his arms, he got up put Rosie back in her pram and came to the kitchen, I was just turning the burgers when he picked up the frying pan and threw the contents of burgers and hot oil at me.
It scolded my chin and chest and his right arm, when he realised what he had done he threw me into the shower and started to shower me down with cold water, I got out the shower and sat down in the front room he kept begging me not to leave him he would go and get help but I was so traumatised I could not speak, when I didn't answer him he started to hit me around the head saying answer me bitch are you going to leave me, I just said no and he then left me alone.
Things didn't get any better and they didn't get any worse there were still regular beatings and verbal abuse and mental abuse I just got use to it and carried on looking after my daughter, I would occasionally talk to his mum who would tell me to leave him and to think of Rosie as he father had been the same to her.
I became friendly with Jane who lives across the road from me Robert didn't like that.
It was then that I started to stand up for myself a bit, I would let him drink himself into a stupor and then fall asleep downstairs and I would go to bed and sleep if only for a while, he would come up screaming and shouting and banging doors and waking Rosie up which was a blessing as I would then go into her room comfort her back to sleep and stay there for the rest of the night, some nights I would even pray for her to wake up just so I could leave the bed and be on my own, I really didn't want to be with this man anymore.
On the 20th April 2005 my eldest daughter from my previous marriage rang to speak to me, Robert had answered the phone, Emma said is my mum there he replied who? Emma said you know, my mum, its Emma, he said no one of that name lives here.
I heard this and asked who it was. He said someone called Emma I then shouted at him that Emma was my daughter and that he knew that. I spoke to Emma she asked if everything was alright I told her it was but she said I know it wasn't she asked me questions which I could give yes and no answers too and then said she would ring me again the next day when he was at work.
Emma rang the next day, and I was able to tell some of the things that was going on but I didn't tell her all of it, she asked if she could come and see me, I was really happy as I hadn't seen her for 5 years she turned up the following weekend we all went out to the pub me and Emma walked in front she said that she knew something was wrong as I had stopped putting Robert's name in their birthday cards.
I didn't realise that I had done that.
On the 9th May 2005 Emma moved in with myself and Robert, things seemed ok at first he didn't seem to mind her coming to live with us he even bought her a whole new bedroom suite and decorated her room and bought new carpet I thought it may well be the changing of him how wrong I was the drinking got worse he was so jealous of having to share me, he became possessive over Emma he didn't want her to go out or have friends from London here, if she went anywhere he would insist she rang when she got there and when she was on her way home. He would sit up and wait for her to come home, it got ridiculous, then on the 25th May 2005 he lost the plot completely he got very very drunk and became violent towards me in front of Emma.
Emma and I were playing cards on the living room floor Robert was getting drunk in the chair watching telly, we asked if we could watch big brother he moaned and groaned but put it on, he continually whinged all the way through the programme when it had finished we continued to play cards Robert got up went to the bathroom and then went to bed, he was up there about half an hour when he came back down to get another drink, he stood in front of us and said I'm fed up with you two slagging me off we hadn't said a word to him, he took hold of the remote to the telly and threw it across the room, and left the room again, he called down about 10mins later saying I can't get this fucking telly to work, I went up to sort it out, when I got up there he grabbed my hair and told me to get the fucking thing working or else, when I came down stairs Emma asked if I was ok I said yes and that we would talk about it tomorrow when he was at work.
Another 10 mins passed and Robert came back down stairs got another drink, this time he sat in his chair, Emma left the room to go to the bathroom, when she had gone, he grabbed the remote control and hit me around the head with it. He was just about to hit me again when Emma walked back in, I shouted at him and said go on then show Emma what a real man you are, he just kept hitting the chair with the remote I could see Emma was scared so once Robert had left the room again to get another drink I told her not to worry and that we would leave the next day. Robert returned upstairs once again he called me I told Emma that I would scream if he hit me and that she should phone 999 and get the police. I went up stairs where he punched the door and grabbed me by the hair and pulling my head right back he said by the time I get up in the morning you and your two fucking daughters will be dead, and then threw me out of the room. I went down stairs and got ready to leave that night, I told Emma to get her shoes on have mine ready, I would go up and get Rosie and we would leave straight away, I gave Robert 20 mins to fall asleep, I went up got Rosie out of bed Emma had blankets and my shoes ready at the door, and we fled.
When we got to the car I rang Robert's mum and told her what had happened she told me to make my way to her, I didn't know the way so she rang her other son David and got him to meet us. We spent the night at David's and it was then I was told that the family suspected Robert of this type of behaviour and that they thought he had abused his other girls as they had seen him blowing raspberries on one of his daughters in a place that fathers don't do that sort of thing.
The next day we went to Milton Keynes council and was placed in a Refuge, we made our way there but because Robert kept calling my phone I missed the call from the refuge and had to stay in a hotel over night until we could get help the next day, we were put in a women's' aid refuge, all the time we were there he kept ringing, and asking us to go back he would change, I kept saying no.
In the end on the 4th June 2005 he told me he was going to go and stay with his mum we could have the house, so I agreed to go back to the house but not to him. When we arrived he was still at the house, he walked up to the car or should I say staggered up to the car obviously drunk he put his arms around me and kept trying to kiss me. When I pushed him away he looked shocked and asked why I was being this way, I told him I came back for the house only, not him, I needed the house for Rosie as refuge life is not nice for children. He didn't like this and became very moody and started drinking heavily again we were in the house an hour - we hadn't even unpacked the car we fled again heading straight back to the Refuge. I rang the refuge they wouldn't help me again saying that their policy didn't allow for me to go back there once I had left. We spent that night at my brothers, the next morning I went to the police station and they gave me a list of numbers to ring around for help but I couldn't get any. Robert rang that night at about 5.30 to say good night to Rosie to which I replied she has no bed to sleep in thanks to you, he promised me he would leave for his mothers straight away and that I could have the house. I told him to get his mum to ring me when he got there which she did so I headed back to the house once more.
We had only been there a couple of days when Emma came down with mumps.
She was admitted to hospital and was there for three days. When she returned home we got a call from Robert saying that his mums tenancy agreement did not allow for her to have lodgers and that he would be returning home but he would sleep down stairs and leave me alone, we had nowhere else to go and Emma wasn't well enough to leave again.
On the 13th June 2005 Robert moved back to the house, it was a tense time I felt frightened and afraid for my daughters and my own lives, he kept trying to make things up with me but it had already gone too far for that.
On the 17th June Emma and me and Rosie went to the city centre so that Emma could look for a job, whilst we were there Robert text me to say that he had been to see a solicitor and that I had no rights to the house and that I would have to leave, when we returned home he was really drunk and started arguing with Emma over her not putting her breakfast bowl in the sink and then he started on me saying that I had twenty minutes to leave his house or I would regret it. So I rang the council and spoke to the homeless team and told them what was happening and that he was chucking me out of the house. They could hear Robert shouting at Emma in the background so they found me a hostel and told me to leave straight away and that someone would meet us there, we were in this hostel for a week.
We had no bathroom, the living room was fall of mice droppings and damp, then kitchen was full of rubbish, including soiled disposable nappies, so I had to scrub the kitchen before we could use it. The beds were damp and in the wardrobe was a used sanitary towel that my 2 year old daughter Rosie had found a lovely place to end up in. Then on the 23rd of June 2005 Emma's birthday we were transferred to a women's refuge for safety.
It took 3 hours and six trips to get all our stuff from the hostel to the refuge we were given one room with three beds in it, a sink and two chest of drawers and a wardrobe.
Although it felt nice to be somewhere safe and that he didn't know where we were it was far from ideal, the staff at the refuge were brilliant - they made you feel at home and tried to make life in the refuge a pleasant time, but it was hell. We had to share toilets and bathrooms and the kitchen and dining area, if you weren't always waiting for a bathroom or loo you were waiting to cook your meals or to eat. We spent most of our money on take-a-ways and petrol just to be out of the place.
Whilst we were in the refuge we had an intruder, and we were constantly pestered by neighbours who knew what the place was by them ringing the bell at all hours and asking silly questions (I will have three battered wives and 2 children please was one of the comments).
We were infested with mice, some of the women there weren't exactly clean so the place was in a mess most of the time as we all had chores to do but they would not do theirs so left it to the rest of us to do. Emma had a car crash whilst we were there which made the last two weeks of our time there hard as we were basically house bound as we were miles from anywhere really.
Rosie suffered terribly in the refuge: she wouldn't eat, was constantly crying and refused to go to bed and would only fall asleep in the front room of the house which was against house rules as children had set bedtimes there, but the staff allowed me to cuddle Rosie in the lounge until she fell asleep, then I could take her to our room, but I would never leave her there on her own, so I was a prisoner in my own room too.
She is still suffering today, she has a bowel problem which they think is bought on by the poor diet we had, and the stress she was under, she has nightmares and hates men with vengeance, she has seen so much violence committed to me in her short little life that it has traumatised her, she still hits me and laughs because her so called father has taught her that this is ok, but I'm sure she will grow out of it.
The staff was really helpful with getting us legal advice and attending court with us.
And sorting out our benefits and stuff and when we won the case to move back to this house they helped us with getting all our stuff here. Now we are here for a year, and I really wished we had stayed in the refuge, although we should be moving soon.
With a bit of luck it will be sooner rather than later.
(names and places have been changed to protect the identities.)
Return from Joanne's Domestic Violence Story to Domestic Violence Stories
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Domestic Violence Stories
Lundy Bancroft has written what is probably the most comprehensive and readable book on domestic violence, the beliefs of the abuser and the dynamics of abuse. This truly is a MUST READ for anyone seriously trying to understand domestic abuse and how to cope with an abusive relationship:
To order in the US: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
To order in the UK: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
Real Rape, Real Pain explores though the eyes and feelings the actual impact of marital and imtiate sexual abuse and marital rape. A must read for anyone who has experienced this intrusive and long-lasting form of intimate violence. The book does not just describe and explain, but also helps set us on the road to healing:
To order in the US: Real Rape, Real Pain: Help for women sexually assaulted by male partners
To order in the UK: Real Rape, Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners
Hear the voices of other women who have lived through and escaped from domestic abuse. This collection of personal survival stories help us understand the struggles, the pain and ultimately, the courage of victims who are determined to be survivors.
To order in the US: Surviving Domestic Violence: Voices of Women Who Broke Free
To order in the UK: Surviving Domestic Violence: Voices of Women Who Broke Free
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