Leanna’s Domestic Violence Story
I was 18 when I met my later to be husband. Charming, funny and 8 years older than me, we had a laughter filled summer and after a few months he moved into my flat with me. We were married within a year and our wedding day was the first time I saw a darker side of him.
Looking back, he had me where he wanted me and the charm slipped when it got to about one o’clock in the morning and I was tired and wanted leave the reception. Some of his friends had gatecrashed the reception that he had not seen for a long time, and when I mentioned again I was tired (I was four months pregnant, as we had to delay the wedding due to his fathers illness, and had immediately after the ceremony travelled miles to visit his dad in hospital by public transport) he called me a miserable cunt and pushed me against a door. We later left and as he was drunk he fell asleep, and when I woke up in the morning I told him I was going to see a solicitor and asked him to take me to my parents.
I think what happened next became a part of the cycle. My mum said I was being silly and that we had just got married and he was contrite and blamed it on the excitement of his long lost friends arriving and the stress of the big day. I was young and I loved him and I wanted my baby to have a happy life and I gave him another chance. Things progressed happily until I was a week overdue and we had been at a family get together. He was drunk and I mentioned I didn’t agree with him about something trivial and he called me names in front of my family, upset and heavily pregnant I left quietly and he came after me and found me in a phone box about to call my mum and ask if I could stay for the night, he became enraged and smashed the glass to the phone box all over me and insisted I came home. Scared I did so. Not long after I had out first child.
A year or so passed without incident. But he was critical, and often spiteful and withdrawn, I was so in awe of our son, I didn’t notice things I should have and a while later I found myself pregnant again. I spoke to my mum, who convinced me to keep the baby as I had told her I was not happy and this was not right and was it not fair to bring up another child with the problems we were having and she again convinced me it would get better and he was just hot-headed, so I stayed.
Once I was past the stage of termination of the pregnancy, he became horribly abusive, he told me if I was not pregnant he would hit me and I should hang myself, he wouldnt help with our son although I had constant terrible morning sickness. It was hell and towards the end of the pregancy I was so unwell I was admitted. My mum had our son and he barely came to the hospital. When our daughter was born, he was the proud, model father, I found it harder to bond with her for the first week or so and he used this to prove how loving and competent he was.
For a while things were ok, and then the moods started, he was jealous and spiteful and I became more and more worn down. I didn’t have a great relationship with my parents and felt I had nowhere to go with young children. The hits became more frequent, he threw knives at me, stayed out when it suited him and it got to a point where I would go out as soon as he came in from work as he disgusted me so much I couldn’t be around him. This caused more erosion and I was accused of being a bad person, selfish, he started to humiliate me when we were out, he caused rows with my family but at the same time he put me down to them. He never did anything with the children. If he made a meal or picked up the hoover I was lazy, if I spoke to a male I was a slag. I was constantly strug out and deeply unhappy.
We had one holiday in our married life and on the first night he kicked the door in and beat me up beacuse some guy had brushed my arm, by the time we paid for the damage and were kicked out of the hotel we had just enough money to rent a tiny room until our flight home, and I was trapped with him for a week of him making jokes and apologising. By this time we had three kids but we had split up so many times and I began to see a pattern of me leaving him and getting on with my life and feeling better and him causing so much upset as he could see me moving forward and smiling again that it was easier to let him come back, him threatening to kill my family and friends was awful.
Ten years into our marriage the violence was off the scale, he threw knives at me, held a hot iron to my face, broke my arm, was sexually and financially and verbally and emotionally abusive, he smashed my things and damaged our home. He constantly kept us in debt, told my daughter he would stab me if I left him, and my life became hell. He cheated and I remember saying to him one day when he had a knife in my face to just do it, I wanted it to be over and at that point I didn’t care if I died. I went through the motions with the kids, I did everything they needed and was a loving, protective mum but I was never really there…always aware of his next move, my life had become a mad routine of staying alive and protecting them, although he was never abusive to them, I think he knew I would have killed him.
The one time I did react was to say, “If you hurt my children I will wait until your asleep and I will stab you.” It was a rare occasion when he seemed fearful and it registered to me that it was okay for me to feel terrified but he was cross I had said it. The hits got worse, there were no up times anymore, we went out on a rare night out and I tried to talk about the violence and how bad it was a and he turned the table up on me and left me sitting in the restaurant with no money and with food all over me until a kind woman came and helped me to the loo and cleaned me up and paid the bill. She said she had never seen anything so disgusting. I saw this shit everyday. I knew from one glimpse of him coming in from work what sort of night it would be. He had done so much by now, assaulted friends, smashed up places I worked, the threats to hunt me down and kill me if I left were so usual I hardly slept, and then he upped and left one day saying he was working nights, this turned to nine months, he didnt pay bills, got himself a new care and pretty much abandoned me and the children. He hardly came to see them, leaving them to sit by the window waiting many times on a promise. I had daily abusive phone calles slagging me off calling me fat, when I was loosing weight but the shed load, and he left me with his debts, I had none, I wasn’t allowed.
Life got nicer, I didn’t have any money but I did things with the kids, we went to a book shop on a Saturday and they chose a cake and it became a little ritual, then I found out he had been having another affair and I was happy, I thought, yes, this is my chance to be free, not so lucky. He decided he wanted to come back and my life became a living hell, he beat me badly, and the police were called again, this time he was remanded and I was so scared I had to move away.
When he got out he was charming, getting my family onside and saying he needed help and he loved me and he realised all the hurt he had caused, as I was miles away I let him see the kids, I would stay with friends and let him stay at mine so they could see their dad as they loved him deeply. He thought this would lead to us getting back together and when it didn’t and I was no longer the timid terrified girl he once knew, it got worse. He told me he was going to stick and axe in my head. Then when I had a new partner he told us both he was going to shoot us. He then tried to take my children away through the courts under the pretence I was a bad mother, when this did not work he persuaded my eldest son to leave school and live with him and took him to work as a scaffolder with no insurance illegally and with no protective clothing which drove me insane with worry. He terrorised me until I was on an at risk of homicide register and had permanent panic alarms in my house that recorded so if he did kill me he would be charged with murder and not manslaughter.
Eventually I let my youngest son live with him as I knew as soon as he was old enough he would do what he had done with my oldest son and it broke my heart, was the worst day of my life but I couldnt have his life ruined the way he had done with our son. My daughter stayed with me and we are very close, and he ignored her for years but now she is nearly 18 if we have a tiff over her not staying out, or not trying at college, usual mum teen conflict, he bad mouths me and gives her money, easy to be a dad now all the hard work is done.
He convinced my mum and dad I was going mad, even though they had seen the violence, seen him throw knives, seen him hit me, and they in a way supported his violence by doing nothing and brushing it under the carpet. I have very little contact with my family now and have not lived with my ex for nearly ten years but he was still convicted of threatening to cut my face open about six months ago. I had PTSD and it took me a long time to care that I was alive. I now have a lovely flat I rent as he left me so financially destroyed by running up debts in my name and I’ve had some good jobs and am due to start the best one so far since leaving him in the next two weeks. I am studying and plan to take a degree early next year. I have little contact with my eldest son although its good contact, but he does deny (his way of dealing with it) much of it happened or his dad could do those things even though he saw a lot of it. I have a brilliant relationship with my youngest and see him a lot (I still have custody) and my daughter lives with me and we are close.
I can’t say I am over it, there is a long way to go, but he didn’t break me, and he never will. He says I made it up but that’s all part of the madness that is domestic violence, the police, medical, court, refuge (we were put in more that one by social services) and my for the rest of my life serving memory know its all true and that what I have said here is an overview and in no way a full account of the beatings or violence, But in three months when I wake up on my 40th birthday, I will still be happy, free, safe, taking care of my mental and physical well being and I will most of all, still be me. There is life after D.V and I intend to enjoy as much of mine as possible. Someone told me once that we all have choices even when we are told we don’t, and its so scary to leave, but the alternative is it gets worse, and women die, and if they don’t they end up a shell, with problems that go far beyond most people’s understanding. In my case it took years to sleep all night and not wake up convinced he was at the bottom of my bed with an axe as he had promised. Its scary to leave. But it’s essential. And when you do, the only way is up. Because rock bottom was the second time we allow them to hit, degrade, and abuse us. It doesn’t matter how you get out please just make the choice to do so at some point. Or the alternative is having a story like mine…please don’t be another lifer, like I was.