Nola's Domestic Violence Story
Nola's domestic violence story shows just why abuse victims stay in abusive relationships, or why, having managed to leave once, they can find themselves back together with their abuser again ... hoping this time it will be okay even though the warning signs are still there:
How it all started ...
He was that nice guy at work, a single dad, and something really drew me to him. We started quickly. It wasn't long before I was pregnant with our first child. He left soon after finding out, saying that he wasn't ready for another family and he wanted to work on his other family. To him, I wasn't even classed as family ... . We remained separated for my whole pregnancy. I offered for him to go to every ultrasound or doctor's appointment, but he refused. It broke my heart, but I kept going. He always said that he was going to be there for the birth. Well, I started labour and his excuse was that he couldn't come because he was busy. It was the next day before he came and saw our child. His heart melted as soon as he saw her and he sat on my bed saying that he wanted to be a family, my family. My heart melted. This is all I wanted: my family together. I agreed to go slowly.
Things fell apart not even a few weeks later: he wanted me to do
all the driving and coming to see him, and made no effort to see his
daughter or me. I went on holiday, and it was while on holiday that
I had found out that he was sleeping with someone else. My heart broke.
I can't remember how, but we ended up talking and getting back together.
He moved in with me and this is when the abuse started:
Things went okay for a few years. I did what he wanted and just thought that this is the way things are meant to be. I kept quiet and knew his cues enough not to set him off. I thought I was happy, thought that this is what it is like to be in a relationship with children. Then we had our second child and things went sour. I was dealing with a new baby, plus older children, and the household, but whatever I did wasn't enough. I was always not keeping the house clean enough. He would have to come home and clean over what I already did. I was always on the computer too much, even though I was studying my Bachelors. There was no contact between us, it was two people living in a house together, not a partnership. But he still had control over the money and where I went. Going to Uni was even an issue. However, I managed to pass the course, despite going as rarely as possible. The start of most of our problems was when I found out that he was cheating on me. Of course, it was my fault. I wasn't paying him enough attention. He apologised and said he never would do it again. I believed him. But things were still bad. I had spoken to a friend and she'd alerted me to the fact that this isn't okay.
I got the opportunity to move into a family member's house, and thought that my sister's house would be a perfect opportunity to get away. So I moved (with the kids), and he stayed in our rented house. Suddenly, he was this sweet, attentive guy that was the one I fell in love with again. I relented, so he moved in with me and the kids. Things went okay for a while, but then the arguments started: I was on the computer to much, I wanted to go out with friends. I remember one night I had a good friend's birthday to go to - he was fine with me going until that night - he started to get really angry that I was going out and not staying home to be with the family. I decided to still go, he made the night horrible. I couldn't enjoy myself and he was sending nasty text messages. I honestly felt like I had done something wrong.
Things came to a blow and I was done, and so was he. We both decided that this wasn't healthy and that all the fighting was starting to affect the kids. We decided that he would have to move out - I called my mum to let her know (she had never known any of the above). I just told her that we had grown apart and thought it was best to split. I remember her telling me that I was making a mistake and should try to make it work. I was ruining my family. I felt alone and scared, all those people that said they would be there for me weren't.
I was alone. What came next was two years of hell. He got worse. There was the stalking, the 70 messages a day, he made me feel like it was my fault and like I should go to counselling - that was where I learnt that this was Domestic Violence. I was and had been in a Domestic Violent relationship for years. I still felt that it was my fault somehow.
We decided to try again. After what my mother had said, I felt that it was my job to try and get my family back together. Over the next two years, he stayed in his apartment and I stayed in the house and it was up and down. Nobody knew that we were trying out the relationship again. I was so ashamed that I kept it a secret and told people that we were trying to be friends for the kids. When things were good, they were good; when things were bad, they were really bad. I started legal proceedings for the children during the bad phase. The lawyer pleaded with me to get a DVO (and so did the counsellor), but I couldn't do it. He had stated that if I did, he would kill himself. I couldn't be responsible for that.
I remember that one night we were arguing. He was at my house and we decided to go to bed, where the argument continued - he got really upset and slammed his fist down into my leg. I felt like it was my fault and like I'd pushed him to far. I have only told a few people that. It left a bruise the size of a golf ball, and of course he apologised and swore that he would never do it again. And he hasn't. During the two years, I fell pregnant again. We were arguing a lot after we found out. It was very stressful and sadly I lost the baby. I felt - and still do - that it was my fault. I miscarried my baby because of the stress.
Things were really bad afterwards. I blamed him, he blamed me, and the abuse got worse. He started stalking and sending me over 70 messages a day. I really started to struggle with my mental health. It got to the point where I ended up breaking down. Again, only a few friends knew. I kept it from my family. I ended up under the acute mental health team and started seeing a psychologist regularly. I was diagnosed with major depression. Then, during the time that we were together over the two years, I found that he was cheating on me a few times. Of course, he would put the blame on me and say that I was at fault. Here is where I felt that maybe it was my fault all along, maybe it is up to me to try harder to get my family back together. It was always a lot nicer to be on the good side of him. It didn't affect me much, and although the kids really enjoyed him being over, they didn't like going to his house. It was better for me to be on his side than against it.
I don't really remember how it restarted, but now we are back together. I remember in September I was sick and he came over to watch the kids. He pleaded with me for him to stay over, and I relented because if I didn't, it would start a fight. I was too sick to argue. Things were good. He was attentive and caring, and I fell back in love with him. His Mr Nice Guy was always the one I loved. He made sure that both I and the kids were looked after. Our lines of communication were open, he let me know he was going to counselling, and I told him about my breakdown, and he apologised and said that he would never let that happen again. We cried and we hugged. I felt safe in his arms.
I got sick again a few months later (he had been staying over the whole time) and we started to talk about him moving in. This scared me as I hadn't told anyone that we were even together. I felt like I had disappointed my friends. They had supported me and been there when things were bad, and I was about to tell them that I was back together with him. I didn't know how they would react. So I put on a bit of a front, I told them that everything was so perfect, and I told them that he had changed and everything was going to work out. He was going to move in and we were going to be a family. I told that we had both grown so much in the two years and everything was perfect...
He moved in. Everything has happened so fast. From us getting back together, to him staying over and now him moving in. I feel like I am spinning around and can't stop. Things are good, but the signs of the past (him lying, him drinking, etc.) are popping up. I feel like I can't do anything now; I've made my bed and I have to lie in it. Everyone now knows, but I can't uproot the kids again.
So that is where I am. Back where I was two years ago. I don't know if it's going to work. I hope so. I do love him. I feel now that I can't open up to anyone if things do go pear-shaped after all they have supported me through.
But I hope that if things don't work, I have the strength to leave again.
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In This Section:
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
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According to therapist Engel "even the most loving person" is capable of emotional abuse-that is, "any non-physical behavior designed to control, intimidate, subjugate, demean, punish, or isolate." In a reasoned, sensible tone, she encourages readers to become responsible for their behavior and for changing it. Identified are ten "patterns of abuse" (verbal assault, character assassination, etc.), different kinds of abusive relationships, action steps for cessation, and suggestions for recovery. Engel clearly shows how this type of abuse, either intentional or unconscious leads to low self-esteem and misery for one or both partners. Engel also looks at the difficult relationships where one partner suffers from Personality Disorder. A difficult and draining yet important read for those who suspect that their relationship has entered abusive territory, this book is highly recommended.
To order in the US: The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing (Paperback or Kindle version avaialble - and well worth buying the kindle to be able to start reading immediately!)
Living with the Dominator by Pat Craven is the book to accompany the Freedom Programme in the UK. This book should be compulsory in schools - the information is so clear and so obvious and such an eye-opener! After studying domestic violence issues for years, this is the one book which finally enabled me to click it all into place and answer all my whys. Just read it:
To order in the US: Living With the Dominator (Kindle version only - and well worth buying a Kindle just to get this book!)
To order in the UK: Living with the Dominator: A Book About the Freedom Programme: 1
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