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This is Janette’s Story ♥️

“I became a beautiful doormat. One that was downtrodden over and over. But things would improve. I just had to try harder. Work harder. Be better. Clean better. Cook better. Offer sex more. Turn a blind eye to his drinking and lying and scheming. Hide the bruises. Make up lies for the doctors”. Domestic violence survivor Janette.

Janette’s gentle but broken heart heals a little with every beat ♥️

The raw anguish of abuse tore my soul apart…

janette-the-red-heart-campaignI got lost. I lost my identity. I lost my faith. I lost trust. I lost my heart and my brain. I lost Janette many times over. I fought back and I fought hard but the lost inside never really went away.

The raw anguish I felt every second of everyday was like a disease eating me from the inside out. The pain. The confusion. The chaos of everyday survival.

Then came the hiding. The stopping of all real friendships. The pretending that all was wonderful. The shame. The humiliation. The darkness. The dirtiness of the secrets. The silent screaming inside of my head. Screaming in pain. Screaming in fear. Screaming in anguish. Screaming in hate – of myself. Funny how it was always self hate. Never hate directed outward to those it belonged to.

Screaming because to the outside world, these people looked wonderful. They looked normal and kind. Yet every movement, every word, every situation brought more pain. Shudders and more fear. Every moment of this brought delighted sneers and hateful remarks. Every shudder brought laughter and glee from them.  I wished for the ability to tell someone. Anyone. But who would believe me? The shame of it all kept help outside of my reach. And so we suffered – in silence. Alone. Please know though – this is not a blame game. This is very real chapters of my old life.

I traded my violent childhood for a saviour with a car, a house and an uncontrollable rage…

Violence was introduced to me at an early age. When I was an innocent little girl. Again when I was 13 and raped by my friend’s brother. It is not something I like to dwell on so I will fast forward to my first real relationship. My first love. He was the love of my life. I was 16 years old. I had run away from home at the age of 15 so he was like a saviour for me. He had a car, his own flat and a job. We moved in together quite quickly as I was living on the streets. At first it was amazing. I was so happy. And then the verbal put downs began. Then the physical violence.

I have scars from my first love both on my body and in my heart. He slapped me so hard when I was in the bath one day I got a concussion all because I refused to discuss the sexual habits of his ex girlfriend. He used to get into black rages and it was usually triggered by something I had said or done weeks prior so I never knew when he would flare. He used to lock me out of our flat in the middle of winter and I remember one time I walked miles to his brother’s house with no shoes. It was bitterly cold and when I got there I couldn’t feel my feet, my hands or my face. All were blue. I went back.

I loved him, I believed him, but he destroyed me…

I loved him. He absolutely controlled everything in our relationship right down to counting every single cent I ever made. He wanted to look after me he said. I trusted this man with everything. I fell pregnant unexpectedly when I was 18. I was told at the age of 15 (due to serious surgeries) that I could not have children. He was furious to say the least and demanded I get rid of the “thing”. I refused and so the put downs and abuse got worse. So much so that when I had our daughter, he would go to work and get the power disconnected so that I had no hot water or power for my daughter’s baths or her bottles. I used to shower in ice cold water.

One time, he came home from work and I had made him a delicious roast meal with apple pie for dessert. All to the response of it being thrown up against the wall because I dare to cook something he did not ask for. He slept around and openly mocked me when he did. He told me how disgusting I performed in the bedroom and that I was a worthless piece of shit. I believed him. Why wouldn’t I? It was what I had heard most of my life.

I even caught him having sex with another friend in our car. I caught him red handed and I took the blame. After all – like he said – I should have been there for him more. He was lonely. I was not enough and I needed to do more for him. Of course I tried to do more. He was my love. He knew best – didn’t he? Even on our wedding day he left my “best friend’s” bed to come and place a ring on my finger only to walk out a few months later. He walked out on both myself and his baby daughter and never looked back.

For a while I was free, then I met my second husband…

It took me until my daughter was 11 to move into another long-term relationship. That was when I met my second husband. I actually knew of his family from my old hometown when I was a young child. Oh he was everything I longed for. He told me all of the right things, He treated my daughter kindly initially. We had fun together. We laughed and I felt so loved. I was hooked. I was totally in love. I had never had such attention showered on me in my lifetime. Again, I fell pregnant and I was so severely ill the whole pregnancy, I was in hospital a lot on drips to re-hydrate me and help the baby. He did not care at all.

He beat me so badly that I lost my precious unborn baby…

And then the drinking began to show. And the violence that followed was terrifying and horrendous. I got slapped, beaten, choked, threatened, punched and ridiculed so badly I did cry out for help. The response I received from family was that I had made my bed – now was the time to lie in it. I again fell pregnant twice more.

I lost my first baby to an ectopic pregnancy – alone. And then my second and final pregnancy – I lost to being beaten and kicked. So severely I lost my precious child. I was so messed up I couldn’t even think straight and yet I continued on like nothing had happened. I had to move forward for my girls. After all – every single thing that had happened to me was my fault. It was always my fault.

I was a beautiful doormat…

We relocated to another state. I was so convinced that I could fix him. I could fix our love and our relationship so I stayed. I stayed and I was the best wife ever. I became a beautiful doormat. One that was downtrodden over and over. But things would improve. I just had to try harder. Work harder. Be better. Clean better. Cook better. Offer sex more. Turn a blind eye to his drinking and lying and scheming. Hide the bruises. Make up lies for the doctors. I got very good at that.

My shin which was smashed by him became a shin that was hit on a tow ball whilst running in a car park. My black eyes were from back yard cricket. My other bruises were from my clumsiness. I never saw the same doctor twice. It was safer that way. I even reached out for help via the media. There was a statement made in the paper by an important person who my husband worked under which I reacted to. Contact was made by this person and yet he did nothing to assist. Knowing exactly what was happening.

I existed, I survived, but I was not living – so I escaped…

So I continued on. Day by day. Minute by minute. Second by second. I was so very confused as snippets of truth would pop into my head. Snippets of a deep knowing that I was worthy of more than this. My girls were worthy of more than this. I fought with myself daily – balancing between the deep knowing of worthiness and the feelings of worthlessness.  Until the day this monster hurt my daughters again. Something inside of me snapped. I then had the courage to escape. I started to realise that I was not worthless.

That I was worthy of love and kindness and truth. Only then did I begin to see the damage that had been done to my girls and I. I will never let that beat me though. I grow from strength to strength and I now love myself. I love myself enough to know that what happened to me was not normal. I used to think it was normal – until I stepped away from the abnormal Until then I did not  really know that it is wrong.

Violence became conditioned in me. It became who I was – or so I thought. I now know better. I now know I was a very innocent victim who lovingly gave her heart and soul only to have it shattered into millions of pieces. I now know that I am a very smart, well educated woman who deserves a hell of lot more than I have allowed for in my life. I am strength. I am passion and I am never going to allow anyone to invade my beautiful gentle heart  or life with violence ever again. ♥️

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.