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This is Katie’s Story ♥️

“I was woken and horrifically raped that night”. – Domestic violence survivor Katie.

Katie is a proud mum of two raising her kids to be the best they can be ♥️

He made me feel special…

katie-the-red-heart-campaignI met my abuser online just over five years ago and at the time I was going through a very hard time in my life. He was sweet and kind to me, he listened to my problems and offered support.

I was warned by many of my friends that knew him, they told me not to go there. But at the time he was the only person who made me feel like I was worth something, he made me feel special.

We spoke online every day, for hours on end. This went on for months. After a loss in my family he came to visit for the first time. He was sweet, kind, and showered me with presents – something I had never experienced before. We very quickly became inseparable.

Every so often a lie would come out, or a hint of his anger would show. He would always come up with a reason why, and made me believe I was being irrational for thinking bad of him and made me feel guilty. I spoke to my best friend who warned me, she told me something wasn’t right. I saw so much good in him though and I genuinely wanted to help him.

Before I knew it I was shocked to find out I was pregnant, even after taking every precaution to prevent it. He wasn’t shocked in the least, and not fazed by it. This instantly set off alarm bells and I didn’t know what to do. I felt completely trapped.  So for now I told myself, I’ll stay and hope for the best.

From fairytale to nightmare…

Very soon after, his true colors truly began to show. His anger got worse. He spoke badly of my friends without reason – the only support I had. To prevent arguments, I distanced myself from my friends. He very slowly began to control every aspect of my life and I was completely blind to it. If I questioned anything it always ended in an argument and I ended up feeling guilty. So it was better to keep quiet.

I loved him and when he was happy it was like a fairy-tale. When he was in a “mood” I felt like somehow I created it and felt guilty so tried to make it right.  Still early on in the pregnancy an argument occurred, this was the first time I’d ever been punched. Shocked, upset and in pain I called the police.

They arrested him, but the next morning I received a phone call from him. He was very apologetic, but then it shifted, he played down the situation and I seconded guessed myself, he said how mistreated he was by the police and by the end of the conversation I genuinely felt bad for him. Silly right?

The night he raped me…

I knew the difference between right and wrong, but somehow he made me second guess my own beliefs. I was such an independent person before I knew him, I was strong. My career was centred around helping people and I believed I could help him too.

Two days later he was drinking, he became more and more aggressive and argumentative so to minimize any incidents I went to bed. I was woken and horrifically raped that night.  It was made very clear to me, that if I go to the police I can expect repercussions. I was terrified. The next morning, I went to my best friend and told her.

She pleaded with me to go to the police and to get away from him, but I was terrified for my own safety and my unborn baby if I did so, so I went home. Silly right?  That next day he acted like nothing ever happened. I steered clear of him trying to work out what I was going to do. He cooked me dinner that night, gave me a foot rub and ran me a bath. This small kindness I clung onto. Maybe he felt so bad about it he would prove he was sorry to me in other ways? Silly right.

A new life is born…

I felt so ashamed, this person who I fought so hard to “prove wrong” to my friends was turning out to be worse than I could have ever imagined. I clung onto every small act of kindness and tried to numb out any of the bad. I hoped my compassion would change him, I hoped when the baby was born he would see his wrongs. So I stayed.

Things progressed and the “cycle” was very much controlling the relationship. We had happy moments, but the bad very soon outweighed the good.  Our child was born and although I still got regular beatings he changed nappies, night fed and did everything he could with our child. I didn’t want our child to lose out on a father who loved and gave so much attention.

It was also made very clear to me I would never be allowed to leave with our child with me. So I stayed. Things escalated as they always did and before our child’s first birthday I found the courage and I escaped with our child, only to have him follow – and my escaping was strictly on his terms. He had to know where our child and I was at all times, and he could visit whenever he liked.

I was made to believe this was him being a “good father” and I was actually very thankful to him for allowing me to escape with our child with me – I took that as a great act of kindness that needed to be repaid with forgiveness. Silly right?

When guilt sets in…

There was so much guilt that I was doing the wrong thing by our child by separating from their father, I second guessed my actions, I was ashamed and alone. He would come and go as he pleased, but it would always end the same way – I would be house bound for days hiding the black eye and bruises. When he was gone I felt free! I felt happy and vowed to myself I’d never let him back in my house.

But then he would weasel his way back in, he would show small acts of kindness that I’d cling to, he would be a wonderful father, insist on helping out financially and make me believe he had changed. And every single time I fell for it.. Silly right?  Another year gone by, nothing had changed, and a pregnancy resulted from a rape. I lost all hope in being free from him.

I had tried the police on many occasions but each time it failed and I ended up wearing the consequences.  When our second child was born I vowed to myself I would never let him manipulate his way back into a “relationship” and I stayed true to myself with that. He then turned his attention on controlling me by going through the children, and he succeeded. Every aspect of my life was still controlled by him, and still so much shame and fear involved I stayed quiet. He would visit the children at my home, the cycle would begin again and each time ending worse than the last.

Impossible to escape…

After years of this I began to feel there was no escape, there was only one ending to this and that would be him ending my life. As each escalation before a blow up occurred I wondered if this would be the time. I wrote letters to family and friends hoping they would find them.

He beat me down physically and emotionally to the point where I was just wishing it would hurry up and end. I would finally get my justice after I was gone. I truly felt there was no escape. I so badly wanted to pack up and run away, go into hiding. I feared for my life if I stayed, but I feared for my children’s lives if I ran. So I stayed.

Finding the keys to freedom…

I came across The RED HEART Campaign Facebook page and began reading daily, stories of other women who found their strength to escape. I was jealous, but I had already come to terms with that was not my ending.   How can someone emotionally beat someone down to the point where they accept their own death? I still feel weak and ashamed to think I had somehow allowed someone to do that to me.   I was so blinded to the reality of the situation. So much guilt and shame involved, you second guess everything you do or think.

During an escalation he took our oldest child and refused to return them, he had turned our child into a pawn in his game to hurt me anyway he could.  He was now no longer just hurting me, I was so angry and sad for our child something changed in me. In four days I packed up my house and went into hiding so that somehow I could get our child home and out of harm’s way.

Scared and fearful of the repercussions of me moving I approached my new local police and made them aware of the situation. The response I received shocked me – They actually listened to me and genuinely cared – something I had not experienced before. They sat down and listened to everything I had to say.

Two police officers in particular showed me so much compassion and genuine interest, it gave me courage. It validated what I knew all along, that his actions where not right and could never be justified. Validation and support from these two police officers gave me my life back and I am forever grateful to them for it. Through police involvement I was able to collect our child, we are now altogether and safe, and my abuser can no longer access us.

From victim to survivor…

From the years of abuse, physical and emotional I suffer with C-PTSD which is a daily struggle. But through the help of the police, The RED HEART Campaign, support from domestic violence services, my Mum, the few friends I had, and intensive counselling I have found my voice. I lived in fear, shame and absolute silence for years. I will no longer live in silence.

Why I stayed…

I often hear, “why would you stay?”. To me, staying was my only option. The heavy psychological abuse put on you to stay and the dangers of leaving are so heavily imprinted in your mind, the thought of leaving is much more scarier that the thought of staying and dying.

It sounds silly right? But until you have lived in that situation, it is hard to understand. I will no longer be a victim, I am a survivor. And for any person reading this, living that life, YOU can be a survivor too.

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.