In three years of abuse not one person called the police when I screamed for help, not one person. Please speak up if you see something that is not right. You might just save a life. – Domestic violence survivor Brie.
Brie is in love, happy and embracing a violence free future ♥️
The devil has many faces and I’ve seen them all…
My name is Brie, I’m 32, a loving wife, mum to four amazing children and I’m A SURVIVOR! This is my story of strength, courage and survival, but most importantly it’s a story of how I still love after coming face to face with the devil. All I can ever remember is wanting to be loved and accepted as a child, and don’t get me wrong, I was loved but not in a really normal way.
I was taught that if someone loves you they can treat you how they want and call you what they wished. I now know that my upbringing was a common domestic violence scenario that was fueled by my mother’s addiction, anger, sadness and pain that was caused by her torturous childhood in the 50s and 60s at the hands of her evil father.
Then with further bullying at school, I grew up feeling very insecure and worthless as a young woman. But, still knowing, that all I wanted to do was help those that were hurting or had been wronged. Being young I thought I could save the world; if I helped others it would help heal me. Fast forward to 17 years old, when I met my eldest child’s father. He was a bit of a larrikin but a promising footballer. Little did I know that he had been an alcoholic since 15 and had grown up with a mentally ill mother.
I was the bane of his miserable existence…
After a short three months I fell pregnant and that was when things became emotionally abusive. Over my pregnancy, things became increasingly worse. I was called so many derogatory things and treated like shit. His favourite name for me was “slut” and after he had had a gut full of grog each night, it would lead me to spending each day with my mum to avoid questioning.
The questioning and emotional abuse was unbearable, I lost most of my friends in this time as he either didn’t trust me or them and the rest he would try to sleep with. The morning after our son was born he didn’t turn up till the afternoon. It turned out he went out to celebrate and tried to take my best friend home. This continued till my son was eight months old.
I finally ended it but agreed to let him stay in the house until he found somewhere suitable. Once again it was only with the best intentions that I tried to help him. After a couple of weeks he went out one night and came home highly intoxicated, abusive and looking for a fight. That was the first and last time he was physically abusive. He destroyed the house, smashed windows and tore doors off.
I had the police remove him after he hurled an unopened beer can at the back of my head as I fled down the back stairs. I remember never wanting to feel so embarrassed, scared or broken again. He made out that it was my fault. Little did I know my shit storm had only just begun.
All I ever wanted was love and safety…
I remember the next few months fondly, having just turned 19 with a beautiful baby. I went about rebuilding our life and regaining our independence. Friends and support were a huge priority as was being able to love, be loved and to feel safe once again. About four months later at 19 I was introduced to my daughter’s father. He was someone that seemed to be smart, caring and charismatic.
He was a person that made himself out to be a knight in shining armour – sadly this was not to be the case. Over the next few months he convinced me that he loved my son and I, and he was willing to go to the ends of the earth to support and protect us. I was completely blinded to the manipulative obsessive behaviour he was showing – I believed his lies and he knew it. It didn’t take long for him to show his real side.
The night he started tearing my life apart…
The night that my world started to collapse started normally – we were going out for drinks with friends. I was asked to go and grab him some cigarettes. I returned to find him trying to leave the rear of the establishment with a well known girl from town. I immediately broke down; my heart was broken, the embarrassment was burning my cheeks, but I knew I wasn’t going to put up with it again and was ending it that night.
I began to go home to pack but he followed me apologising the whole way, telling me he loved me and he would never do it again. He blamed the other girl for the whole thing. After being cheated on too many times before, I had had enough and wasn’t going to let it happen again. When we got home I began packing. He had broken my things before in arguments. I didn’t want to leave our things.
If only I had left without them and came back with help to get them it may have turned out differently – maybe not though. Me packing infuriated him. He had lost control of me as I had seen his real side and he wasn’t going to have that. Once he realised I wasn’t going to stay he snapped and picked up a video tape and threw it at my head. The tape contained a car race I had spent 12 hours recording.
It was a true sign of him trying to hurt me with something I had shown love for. He threw it point blank at my face. I had never been so petrified in my life as I grabbed at my face and felt for the first time my lip split open. It was the first time I tasted that sweet sickly taste of my own blood. He screamed that I had made him do it; why didn’t I just accept his apology? And then he went into recovery mode. He rang his mother and then he and his stepdad took me to the hospital.
The hospital staff asked questions but I couldn’t tell them what had happened as I was petrified. I remembered trying to give hints, but almost feeling paralysed to do so. Then the lies flowed protecting him and stopping him from hurting me again. I felt so embarrassed and scared that this was why I was put on earth – to be someone’s punching bag. I was one of ‘those girls’.
I had also lost my control of a situation that he had made me believe I was in charge of. I remember being so sad and confused, not wanting to go home with him. I refused treatment as long as I could, but then they started saying they wouldn’t treat me so I gave in and got five stitches in my bottom lip. Over the next few weeks, I lied to my parents but my friends knew what must have happened, but thought if I stayed with him they couldn’t help. His behaviour also back-peddled – him being so apologetic and loving.
He was the puppet master and I was his marionette…
At Christmas, about five months after we met, came the second time he physically assaulted me. This time it happened at his parent’s house in front of his immediate and extended family. He was belittling me in front of everyone, so I decided to go and have a rest in the tent in the backyard. He came around and kept going at me in the tent. He then became violent, calling me names and dragging me out of the tent by the hair and proceeded to kick and punch me in front of everyone.
They tried to help, but suffered their own backlash from him. When a taxi was called so I could leave him, he kicked the side of the taxi in and I was made to get out of the taxi. I couldn’t believe that this was happening again – I must be worthless. He said it wouldn’t happen again. The next day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I was stuck or that’s what it felt like.
Not to mention me once again getting blamed for his behaviour – he said if I had not got upset he would not have hit me. He convinced me that it was the small town we lived in and so we made plans to move to Brisbane. Once again his behaviour did a 180 degree turn. He felt even more in control of my son and I, as we would have no-one to support us once we moved.
We moved to Brisbane in the March when I was four months pregnant with my daughter. A few weeks after we settled in, I received news that my test had shown that my baby girl might have spina bifida and further tests needed to be done. That was when my abuser turned nasty again, blaming me if anything was wrong with our child and if there was, he and his mother would take my children.
Day in, day out, there was no relief from his relentless attacks…
The beatings became a regular part of my life. They happened with any sort of argument. I was so scared that I would lose my baby or he would damage her so I did as I was told and kept quiet. He turned me against my family and left me in a unit in a city where I knew no-one. I went into survival mode – with each hit I became more and more fearful that I would lose her.
Once I started showing a bit more, he would keep his punches to places where the marks would be hidden. The number one spots were the head and the back. I suffered so many concussions that I was always in a state of confusion and this allowed him to make most decisions. Over my pregnancy I was beaten, kicked, choked, spat on, forced to have sex, belittled in public and made very aware that it was my place to keep my mouth shut and cover any marks.
He raped me because he thought it would bring our daughter into the world faster…
I remember being forced to have sex in the showers with him while I was in labour as he said it would make the birth happen faster. After I had my daughter I came home and suffered extensive hemorrhaging. I was only allowed to go to my seven-day check-up. On examination an ambulance was ordered and the hospital put on standby for an emergency blood transfusion.
He convinced the doctor it would be quicker if he drove me rather than waiting for an ambulance. The doctor agreed and released me into his care with strict instructions to go straight to Emergency. Once in the car he said I was fine and all I needed was a burger. For six weeks, I was in hell each day.
It was torturous trying to look after my son and my newborn daughter. Each day I would have to walk to buy food as I knew a beating was coming if I still didn’t cook and clean. I’m still amazed that I didn’t die due to that event but I believe he did it as he wanted me dead. Over the next few months, he would visit brothels after work and then I was having to buy food with whatever money was left. He injured his thumb at work and tried to claim compo but was denied as the injury was a trivial slice to the thumb but he believed he deserved to be paid.
I did everything I could protect my babies…
He lost his job and refused to find another. I was left to fend for our family over this time. He forced me to start work in a gentleman’s club that led me to use drugs, all the while feeling more and more as though what he said was true – I was a worthless piece of shit that nobody could ever love. I’m not proud of what I did, but I did what I had to, to survive and protect my babies. One afternoon as I was getting ready for work, he left a pot boiling on the stove as he raped me in the shower.
The kitchen caught on fire. He sustained burns to his hand that needed a graft. This only added to his cause for not being able to work. We had to move for the fire repairs to take place. In the 12 months we lived in Brisbane, we had had no problem getting a house until the fire. Now we had to live in a motel. The beatings became daily events. During one beating, he split my eyebrow open about 1cm wide and 3cm long. When a family member came to visit the next day, she took me into the chemist and bought Steri-Strips to fix the cut. She then told me she was taking the kids for a holiday.
What I needed was to be seen by a doctor and for him to be removed – not left with a Band Aid and my children taken. Over that week I went to work and tried to keep out of his way but by this time he was doing drugs and drinking a bottle of alcohol a day. He would strangle me and king hit my head at the same time. I’d never passed out during a beating as I feared if I was unconscious he would hurt the kids, but this night he held me by the throat, off the ground against the wall and proceeded to “ice hockey fight “ – one for one to the head and face. I was choking and couldn’t fight back – the room went black and I woke under the table with him crying and doing CPR. I had started bleeding and then stopped breathing.
He tried to destroy my will to live but I kept hanging on…
I should’ve died that day, but it was not to be. Instead I started finding a place and secretly building a support system at work. They all knew what was happening but couldn’t help until I was ready. I remember one day a lady, who was very much a mother figure to me, looked at me and said that’s all you’re ‘worth’, that’s why he does it. It hurt so bad to hear those words that I screamed back in her face I was worth more than that and so were my kids. She laughed, hugged me and said, “That fire right there is what you need keep it and feed it – let it burn bright.”
The beatings happened every day. Once I had found us a house and I went to work one night, leaving the only money I had for the dinner and came home to find he had bought a porno mag instead. As I was leaning, crying over the bench, he king hit me and broke my ribs at the back. But I knew that my fire was lit. I believed we deserved better. That night he proceeded to drink another bottle of alcohol and it was clear he was looking to kill me. The feeling of terror as he looked me in the eyes and said, “You’re gonna die tonight cunt!” I knew that I had to make my move. I put the kids to bed and turned the fight back to me, as I did most days.
With a guardian angel by my side, I made my great escape…
I couldn’t leave my babies but I couldn’t stay. What happened next I struggle to explain – he took me to our room and began choking me like a wild man, punching my face and body. I remember breaking free and him grabbing my face, clawing at my eyes. I lost vision as he nearly gauged my left eye out. I began fighting to try and survive this fucking animal. This was not going to be the last face I saw. He barricaded me in the room, spitting and kicking at me.
There was no way out of this but then I got this almighty urge to jump over him. I shouldn’t have made it, but as I went to jump I felt something pick me up and lift me over. I made it over him and my feet hit the ground at the end of the hallway six to eight feet away. I still thank my angels for that night. I ran out of the house and ran to the unit across the road. It was 5am and the torture had gone on for the whole night. He was following me.
I raced around to the only spot I could see to hide. I looked to my left and there was an open door with a locked screen. I could hear him coming but I could see in the soft lighting, a man in his 70s come to the door. He thought I was robbing him but I begged him to let me in. He was coming. I could hear my body begin convulsing with the fear of my impending death. The gentleman looked into my eyes as I begged, I didn’t want to die, “Please not here, not now.”
He called for his wife to get the screen door keys – they were going to let me in, but I could hear him coming. He was checking each doorway he passed as I began to crumple to the ground in defeat. I heard the door unlock as he came around the corner. The old man pulled me in and slammed the door.
The day I closed the book on a life of physical, emotional and sexual abuse…
I was safe, but now I had to get my kids. I had left them in the house. I panicked, fearing he would hurt them. The beautiful old couple called the police. They arrived 45 minutes later. It turns out he went home and went to bed. It meant nothing to him; the pig. I was taken to the police station to place charges and he was put on a domestic violence order. After a long eight hours making statements and attending the hospital, I was finally at home. I was informed that he had been released to a family member and it turns out the police had dropped him at the train station just near our home.
I remember being at home thinking it is finally over until I turned around and there he was standing in the kitchen. I grabbed the kids, my phone and ran outside where I rang the police. The police came and removed him and locked him up until his court date the following Monday. His family arrived and they went into damage control. When the court appearance came around they convinced me to not attend as they would handle it. He was released with no conviction but the courts sent me $50 compensation.
He went back to our old town and he was said to be bettering himself – all of which was a cover-up until he couldn’t cover up his crimes any more. He blew up at his family’s house and smashed windows. I remember getting the call and having a family member saying “You have no idea how crazy he was, Brie.” Are you fucking kidding me – I’ve been to hell and back and I get, “you have no idea.” I was furious. Then a week later, on my daughter’s first birthday, they drove him to Brisbane when they knew there was a DVO in place. I was furious and I denied them access. I ceased contact with them. I finally left knowing I was worth more than what he said I was.
It was tough starting over but I thrived…
It was tough starting life again but I did it with the support of my amazing family. About six months later I met a young man that I tried very hard to push away. I felt broken, unlovable and worthless but it turns out that same angel that pulled me up that hallway that night had another little gift. That angel gifted me my own real-life angel who has helped me conquer demons. I never thought this was possible – he loves me like love should be.
I can have friends. I can go out without him. I can get angry. I can get sad. He never gets angry. He has taught me that I can only love if I love myself and that I’m worth that love. We have gone on to have two amazing boisterous boys together. He took on my other children as his own. We have just celebrated 10 years together. I often feel the double-edge curse – that if I had not known that monster I might not have met my angel.
Please! Don’t ever be a bystander…
In three years of abuse not one person called the police when I screamed for help, not one person. I understand that people were just as scared of him as I was, but for a long time I held hatred towards them. Now I know they felt my sadness with me. Please speak up if you see something that is not right. You might just save a life.
The devil will only win if you let it so hold onto your worth and you will survive…
Every time he hit me, kicked me, spat in my face, choked me, threatened my and my children’s lives, dictated me, raped me, cheated on me, gave me concussion, broke a bone, degraded me in public, kept me away from family and friends, hit my children, molested my daughter, assaulted other members of the public, made me too petrified to leave, destroyed me and my possessions and put me down as a mother.
He succeeded in breaking me, destroying me. He succeeded in showing me that the devil exists and walks amongst us every day. But the devil will only win if we let him win. Today I have won because 10 years later, I believe I’m worth love, I’m worth being loved and, most importantly, I am a warrior.
If you are in domestic violence crisis help is available from the Australia-wide telephone hotline 1800RESPECT. If you want to take part in the “Why I Stayed” project click here ♥️♥️♥️
Photograph by Sherele Moody © 2016.