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This is Lani’s Story ♥️

If my story can help one person get the strength to get out that it is well worth it. If this true story of my nightmare can help others see the signs of someone they love in trouble then it’s worth it. – Domestic violence survivor Lani.

Lani hopes her story will change attitudes towards domestic violence ♥️

The person I once was … and will be again…

lani-the-red-heart-campaignThis is my story of survival, heartache, strength and why I stayed. I was 14 when I met the first love of my life. I was a bit of a risk taker, didn’t like authority and always liked to be centre of attention. I had many friends, male and female,  and I loved life and loved to party.

He was a couple of years older – a sexy bad boy is how I would describe him. He was from the other side of the tracks as they say. I was from a well-off quite strict but loving family.

He was raised by his mum and stepfather who didn’t really have much to do with him. His father was an alcoholic living very far away. He appealed to me as I thought we went well together. He  showed me attention, he was lots of fun and thought I was beautiful. I fell madly in love with him. He would come over all the time and we would hang out at my place.

The first time he got mad he really showed it. We were playing a game of monopoly, the house phone rang, it was a male friend of mine. When I got off the phone he got so mad he threw the game up in the air and was yelling at me. He hit me with a closed fist in the arms, back and stomach. He then  took off. After about 30 minutes he returned, apologising like crazy just saying he was jealous and wanted me all to himself.

I thought it was sweet and all was forgiven. As time went on we spent every minute of every day together, looking back that was probably very unhealthy, but nothing my parents said ever mattered to me by then. I guess he brought out the worst in me, I started showing my parents a lot of disrespect, there was no way they could control me. If I didn’t get my way, I would go over to his house or disappear for days at a time.

We went to a lot of parties, he only really liked hanging out with his friends but he would sometimes let me bring my best friend Tanya, but that was all. His friends were his age or older so we drank and someone sober would drive. It was fun, bonfires, stories, games, drinking, it was any teenagers dream I guess. In my eyes I  had the best looking boyfriend.

He would tell everyone how lucky he was to have someone as gorgeous as me and I took the compliments. After a while we started getting into more and more fights, he would threaten me, grab me, push me, but he was always sorry. And I forgave him, I loved him and that’s what you do when you love someone right? You forgive them no matter what.

I believed it was normal to be abused and beaten…

The more we would fight the worse it got, went from just pushing me to slapping me, pinching me, ripping into my skin. Every one would here me yelling but no one would help me. I felt all alone – maybe this was normal. No one was doing anything so I believed it was normal to fight like that.

His friends started showing me a lot of attention. I was flattered but it was a little uncomfortable. He would say “yep she is the best isn’t she? She is mine”. One night we got into a fight as he was accusing me of cheating. I pleaded with him to believe me. I would never, I loved him and only him. He punched me in the face and I ran down the hallway of his friend’s house. He chased me with a knife and I tripped.

He came crashing down with the knife and got me in the back of my ankle. I got up and kept running. I didn’t know the knife was there, due to adrenaline and probably due to alcohol too. It wasn’t until someone pointed it out that I noticed. I quickly sat down, and he came rushing to my side to assist me. He kept saying “oh babe how did that happen? Geez you’re an accident waiting to happen.” He made out he had no idea. We pulled the knife out and the friend went to get his neighbour who was a nurse. She patched me up. The guys made up a story to explain what happened. It was never spoken about again. I still have the scar.

They passed me around like cotton candy…

We spent much more time with his friends. They were drinking and doing drugs and things got crazy. A few times  I got passed around like I was cotton candy. I felt I had no choice. He threatened me, threatened my family. I was young and scared. Things got out of hand. After everything wore off I think he realised what he had done. He promised me things would be different.

We received threats from his friends and due to who their connections were with we took them seriously. We ended up moving far across Queensland to live with his dad. My parents let me even though I was only 15. I think they knew I wouldn’t take no for an answer and maybe had a weird feeling it was for the best.

For the first few months things were great. we made friends, we settled in, life was good. Then he started drinking with his dad. They went to the pub one night. I went to bed, then there was a banging on the front door. It was him. He was covered in blood and he rushed inside and hugged me tight. Then I felt it – capsicum spray all over my face. Then the cops came crashing in arresting him. He kept saying “I love you, I had to come home to you. Don’t believe anything he says.” His dad’s wife and I looked at each other bewildered then wondered where his dad was. We jumped in the car and went to the pub. it wasn’t far away – it was a small town. When I went in, I was shocked. There was blood everywhere and there was his dad sitting on a stool drinking a beer. I went over to him and I was shocked at what I saw – his face was a mess. He has a broken nose, two black eyes and cuts all over his face. I asked him what happened.

He explained that my “so-called boyfriend” was disrespecting me and he had a go at his son and then he flipped. We took him to hospital. The next day I went to the cop shop to pick him up. His dad was there too – he wanted to see him. They hugged it out and that was that. He told me it was the other way around. That his dad was disrespecting his mum and stepmum and took the first punch. But they had forgiven each other and we moved on from it. It scared me at the damage he did to his own father, I kept thinking that could be me.

My one true friend stood by me when times were tough…

Not long after that he started hitting me again, pushing me to the ground, punching me in the stomach. I remember one night he hit me so hard when I got up I took off to the nearest payphone and called my parents.  I was so upset they could barely understand me. They said they would call my mobile and to go back to the house. I went back to get the phone.

By then he was beside me and watching what I was saying. I just said to them that I wanted to come home. Soon after they organised tickets for us to move back home. We decided it was best. He said things might be better if we were back home. I agreed. I felt so alone there, with his family. We were back home and things were good again, he was still controlling, but things got worse for me. I kept reliving everything that happened to me. I had flashbacks. So I had moments of rage, I was kicked out of home due to it. I don’t blame them. I was uncontrollable and they had no idea why. I fought with everyone.I had no one. No one but him.

One night I had my best friend Tanya with me and we all went to a new year’s eve party. We decided to walk back to his place at about 5am but he and I got into a fight, which ended up in him kicking and punching me. His brother intervened before he hurt me more.

However his brother was on his side, telling me that if I didn’t annoy him he wouldn’t have done it. It seemed everyone was blaming me, so maybe it was my fault. Tanya witnessed it all. I begged her to stay out of it. I didn’t want her getting hurt. I begged her not to tell anyone and she begged me to leave him. But she never once left my side, even though I stayed she never judged me. She stayed my best friend, my biggest supporter, the only one who knew the true face of my relationship with him.

The light in me was dim but it wasn’t completely out…

This went on and on for nearly three years.  During our relationship we had many fights. One occurred late at night outside his friend’s house. He kept pushing me until I smacked my head on a street sign. I took off to the park. he followed me and grabbed me. He put his legs behind mine to make me trip and I landed hard on my hips and back on the wooden poles around the sandpit.

He kicked me, he went to keep kicking me until a friend of his tackled him to stop him, but nothing was said. I was left there in pain, someone else came to help me. I felt all alone. no one was really going to save me. He would make threats all the time that he would burn the house down with me in it, that I could never leave him, he would never let me go.

He would constantly call me and be abusive over the phone and make more threats. One day I woke up all bruised and battered and wondered what about next time, would I even wake up? That scared me more than anything. I had a young niece I wanted to see grow up, and there was more to life than this right? I plucked up the courage and I ended it. It wasn’t easy. He was my first love. It was so hard, probably one of the hardest things I had ever done so far in my young life. I had the support from my best friend.

No one else really knew, I was sick of hiding my bruises and cuts, sick of hiding away until they faded. The light in me was dim but it wasn’t completely out and while there was a chance I had to get out. I was so scared. He had made so many threats, but with the support of my best friend and my sister I went to the police. I got a DVO and then out of retaliation he put one on me. I was scared, I was young, but my legal aid lawyer explained that it was a tactic used by many men in the hopes the woman would drop it. I didn’t. I wasn’t going to let him win.

He fought the DVO but in the end I won – well if you can call it winning. I had my DVO I felt safe. It took me three years to get out of that toxic dangerous relationship. He didn’t really contact me much after that, I guess he knew I was done and there was no going back for me.  About six months or so later I became friends with this guy I then started dating him, after a couple of months it turned out this guy was put up to it by my ex as he wanted to know what I was up too, where I lived etc. It made trusting very difficult, I didn’t trust pretty much anyone after that.

During the course of my relationship with him, I was violated in many ways that I still can’t talk about – he left me with bruised and cracked ribs, black eyes, bruises and cuts all over my body. I was stabbed in the ankle. My hips are permanently out of place due to constantly being tripped over to land on things on my hips and back. I was threatened and verbally and emotionally abused. I will never be the same again.  Certain wounds heal but I am left with the emotional scars that will stay with me forever.

In freedom I found strength … and more destruction…

A few years went past and I began to become  a carefree, loving, fun out there kind of woman again, I was the life of the party, the go-to person for everything, nothing ever bothered me. I thought I was strong, I was so wrong. I met him just before I turned 21. He showed so much interest in me, always calling, always texting. He was funny, caring and good looking.

I thought I was lucky to have a man like that interested in me. He seemed to have a bit of life experience as did I. We also seemed to have a lot in common. I was amazed and smitten. He was Italian – I believed people from that background were loving, caring and quite amazing. I can’t believe looking back how I didn’t see the signs. He always wanted to know what I was doing, who I was with, how long I would be, if I didn’t message him straight back I would get a bundle of messages or calls.

After only a few months of dating he moved in to my parent’s house. His lease had run out and he was having trouble finding a new place, so my parents agreed to let him stay with us until he figured it out. While he was staying with us, things were pretty good. He would sometimes go out for dinner with his parents and not come home but I didn’t think much about it, I guess I was very trusting.

During this time, he found a place but he wanted me to go on the lease with him as it would be easier to get a house if I went on the lease.  I agreed, I had no intention of living with him right away but I wanted to help him get his own place. Not long after that, I was contacted by a girl through MySpace claiming to be his girlfriend. She would send me messages that stated “where do you think he was on this night?“ etc. I became upset and couldn’t believe he could cheat on me.

We had been going out for a few months and I was falling hard so I was devastated.  I went around to our place to confront him (I still lived with my parents as well) he said all the right things, he explained that she was just a friend but she was jealous and a bit of a psycho and to just ignore her. I was naive and wanted to believe him. We left it at that and didn’t speak of it again. I think it was few weeks later. I was at work, he kept calling me and being what I believe was overly nice and sweet.

He kept saying come over to our house tonight but not until after 7pm. I thought that was strange. I started feeling sick so I went home to my parent’s place. Once home a get a call from a blocked number. I answer and it was this girl that was claiming to also be his girlfriend. I asked her how she got my number, why is she stirring trouble all that kind of stuff. She explained that she got my number out of his phone and that if I didn’t believe her that why don’t I come around to his house. I told her that technically it was “our” house. She said well I kind of guessed that as it was full of girly stuff. With a sick feeling in my stomach I drove over there.

She had described my furniture over the phone – I had mostly furnished our house with my stuff. While I was driving over there he called me and asked where I was as he knew I wasn’t at work. I said I was sick and going home. He made sure to tell me to go back to my parents’ place and not our place. I decided not to tell him that I was going there. I arrived and yes there she was, in our house. I couldn’t believe it. I was sick to my stomach. I was angry, I was feeling all kinds of crazy emotions.

I called my best friend and asked her to come over –  this girl had a kid with her so I knew I had to keep calm. The girl and I had a long chat, it worked out that she had been dating him not long after I started dating him. When he wasn’t with me, he was with her and vice versa. The child she had with her wasn’t his but she explained that he was wonderful with kids. I kind of knew that as he had a daughter from a previous relationship that he got every second weekend and I adored her and she adored me.

I was completely floored, as was the other girl. She didn’t want to believe it either. So while I was there, he called. I told him where I was, he was silent. Then he said “don’t listen to her. Come here to my work. We will talk about it”. I kept hanging up on him. I mean really what could he say that would make this better? It was obvious right – she was in our house and she has obviously spent the night.

The girl and I kept talking, swapping stories etc. I ended up driving to his work to see what he had to say. He once again said all the right things. Explained that she was a friend and he was helping her out, however she has an infatuating with him. I didn’t really believe him. I drove back over to the house. I told her what he had said. She called him and told him I wasn’t there, he told her pretty much the same thing he had said to me, that I was the friend blah blah blah , he had been sprung. I yelled out “you son of a bitch, I heard that, we are done.”

He said he loved me so I gave him another chance…

He came home from work. He knew he was in the shit. You could tell by the look on his face. He told her that he choose me and wanted to be with me, that he loved me and that he was going to take her home (she didn’t drive) and that she needed to leave us alone, I said “don’t bother, I’m done”. He put her and the child in his car, before he left he came back inside, he sat me down and said “I love you sexy, I’m so sorry I have done this to you, I want you to move in with me full-time” I told him “I don’t think I can”. He said have a think about it while I take her home, you will never have to see or hear from her again.

I so wanted to believe him, he had just told me for the first time that he loved me, he wanted me to live with him. While he was gone, I had a think. I was still so heart broken but I knew I loved him too so I decided to give it one last chance. Things were great for while, there was a lot of fun, a lot of love and I thought things were going great. I heard from the girl a few times but what she said didn’t make sense, as when she said he was with her he was in fact with me.

She called once to say that her child was sick and that she needed help, he refused to talk to her so I said “call the child’s father or take her to hospital. I’m not sure what I can do for you?”. She sounded desperate and upset and I honestly think she just wanted to talk to him. He had changed his number so she couldn’t contact him. He wanted me to do the same but I refused. He would get so angry if I talked to her. This was the very first instance where he got so angry he was screaming and yelling at me. It was always about her. So I put it down to frustration.
 But I felt safe and loved and I started to trust him again.

Everything was bliss for a little while…

We moved around a few times, I had a wonderful relationship with his daughter, she sometimes called me mum. I looked after her a lot and we bonded so well. I loved her like my own daughter and she got along great with my niece who is roughly the same age. When he would work the weekend he had her, I would look after her and we had such a great time. We had settled in to new place.

We had been there for a couple of months, when  all of a sudden he started not coming home sometimes, it seemed to scream out he is doing it again in my head, but my heart didn’t want to believe it. She contacted me to tell me she was pregnant, my heart sunk. I couldn’t believe it, he and I had gone through a miscarriage and this is the last thing I wanted to hear. (This wouldn’t be my only miscarriage). I dealt with it alone.

When he came home he admitted she was pregnant, very far along. He had kept it from me as he didn’t want to hurt me. He explained that they are “just friends now and will raise the baby together as friends”. I was shell shocked, I told him to leave.  I had some time on my own and came to terms with it. I told him that I could deal with it as long as when he went there I was with him. I still couldn’t trust him, he agreed.

First came the control, then came the violence…

First came the control.  Just before he would leave the house, he would lock me in, take my phone or destroy it. I was all alone, with no contact with anyone. He would drive me to and from work; he would make threats to me about my family. I was so run down I didn’t have any energy left in me too fight. I thought this is what I deserved as I had agreed to stay with him. I had defended him to my family and friends. Than came the violence.  We would get into verbal arguments.

He would scream in my face, make threats and say really nasty and demoralizing things. He would put his hands on the top of my arms and squeeze so tight it left marks. He would scratch me, push me and trip me so I fell.  I felt weak. All I could do was cry and scream at him to stop, to just leave me. Go back to her, leave me be. He would say he would never leave me be, that I was his. I was his to do what he wanted.

That I could never leave him, no one would ever want me. No one would ever believe me. If I went out with my friends, he would either show up or constantly call or message me. In just a few hours I could have over 55 messages from him. It would start off as sweet messages, than more aggressive and then down right threats. It made it impossible for me to go out and have a good time. I guess that’s what he wanted.

I loved him and I feared him…

I endured this for months, but I loved him and feared him, how does that make any sense? But it did then.  I was withdrawn. I only had a few friends left, he made sure of that, he wanted me isolated. That’s where they always want you, so you only have them – it was full control.  It was nearing Christmas, he was only home a few nights a week by this stage. He told me his mum was sick, I had a feeling it wasn’t true, but was it really worth it too fight? More bruises, more broken phones, I couldn’t afford it.  He was meant to come to my parents’ place  on Christmas eve.

I was working that day and so was he, yet when I called his work for something, he wasn’t there. I knew where he was. In my lunch break I made the heart breaking journey to her house. Yep there he was and with his daughter too. I couldn’t believe it. he told me that she was in labour, and he was watching the kids.

I didn’t believe him, why would his daughter be there. she came out and told me she had been there for days and she was confused as she thought I was her daddy’s girlfriend. It broke my heart. This was the last straw, I was done. He also agreed that it was done, I was heart broken but glad, I was out! Finally I was free – or was I? I spent Xmas eve night with my family, had a few drinks.

My cousin and his girlfriend caught a taxi with me back to my place so I wasn’t alone. We had only just opened up and turned the lights on. It was about 12am when the cops showed up. They asked if they could come inside. I was like “um sure, what’s the problem?” They said they had a noise complaint. I explained that we had just gotten home and it must be some mistake. He said they received the call hours ago but only had a chance to investigate now.

I knew it must have been him – he was trying to scare me, but why? He was with his new little family, why couldn’t he just leave me be? Days later he returned, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He got some stuff and left. I was crying.  Why was I crying? Shouldn’t I be happy? My cheating violent ex was gone. But it left me broken, in so many ways I was lost.

He started playing his sadistic games with both of us…

He would start to call me to talk about the house or his furniture and the rest of his stuff, sometimes the calls would be rude or sometimes they were sweet and he would say I love you sexy, I miss you. I soon worked out that when he was rude he was with her and when he was nice he was by himself. She started contacting me again, asking if he was with me etc I few times he had been.

He had wanted to meet up to talk about the house and getting his stuff etc. I told her that and that he was claiming that they were just friends again. I backed that up by sending her messages that he had sent me. He was playing both of us, but at this stage I wasn’t interested. I was still stuck in this control battle with him, but I was starting to get my confidence back. I guess he could sense that. A few weeks later we had both moved out of the house. I was back with my parents. I still heard from him all the time.

He told me how sorry he was about what he had done to me and that he wanted to make it right. He told me how much his daughter missed me and loved me and how she wanted me and her daddy to get back together. I really wanted to believe him. I still loved him so much. And I really missed her like crazy. I needed to get out of my parents’ place after a couple of months. He and I had started trying to work things out, and my family didn’t approve, we needed our own space. I found a lovely house to rent with him. However, it was agreed that he wouldn’t move in straight away.

It was great. He and I were talking, he would come around, and before I knew it we were back together and things were great. He wasn’t talking to her, she confirmed that. He was trying to get custody of his new baby daughter as she had stopped all contact.  Things were looking up for us. He promised he had changed and he said he was going to therapy for anger management. I saw a wonderful change in him. My parents were not thrilled I had taken him back, but as long as they didn’t have to see him they were okay. We decided to get a puppy. I was so excited. We also got another dog so the puppy wasn’t alone.

We were one happy little family and we enjoyed the weekends we got his older daughter. It didn’t last long – soon his old ways reared their ugly head. Upon looking back I should have seen the signs earlier, but I really wanted to believe he had changed – that there was a future for us. First it started with him wanting to see my phone all the time, wanting to know who I was talking to and what about, what I was doing online. When we would argue about anything really, he would get in my face, scream, yell and swear. It didn’t take him long to escalate into physical violence.

One day he smashed my head into a cupboard, the next he proposed…

I remember one of the fights we had. I was out the back with our dogs, gorgeous little puppy Lincoln  and three-year-old Koda. They were gentle loving animals. He was screaming at me and started to advance on me. Lincoln cowered behind me and Koda stood in front of me and growled at him and lunged. I had never seen that side of him before, he was always so gentle, but it scared him enough that he left that night, I praised Koda for protecting me, and he never yelled at me while I was outside with the dogs anymore.

I will always remember the day he first hit me with a closed fist. I was in the kitchen. I was talking to him about things I had found online about what the other girl was saying. He got angry, came up behind me and punched me in the back of the head with such force that my head slammed into the mounted kitchen cupboard and bounced off. The next day he proposed to me – I fell for it, all the promises he made. I just wanted to happy. He left me there crying.

He would come back a few minutes later, always apologising, saying how sorry he was and that if I didn’t make him mad he wouldn’t do it again. He would knock me to the floor then crouch over and slam his elbow into my thigh to prevent me from getting up and it was painful. He came up with lots of ways to hurt me without showing much evidence, he said he was smart.

He would continue on this path of physical violence until I ended up in hospital with bruised ribs and a concussion, always the same “you need to stop making me mad sexy. You know I cant help it. please help me through it?”. Each time I would forgive him and hide my injuries from my family and friends. I became accustomed to this life. I felt like nothing –  I was useless and hopeless. He would always say he would destroy me if I left or told anyone and he would make sure no one believed me.

Leaving was not an option until the night he raped me…

He would still lock me in the house, break my phones, and limit my contact with anyone. I felt so alone. I had nowhere to turn. I didn’t tell everything to my best friend Tanya but she knew enough. She begged me to leave me, but she just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t, I felt trapped in my own nightmare. I felt stuck, I couldn’t move, couldn’t tell anyone, I had protected him for so long I feared no one would believe me, that they would blame me for staying.

It felt I couldn’t win either way. But something had to change or he would kill me. I really believed that. The last straw was one night he wanted to have intimacy. I really didn’t feel like it, I didn’t feel well, I was tired. He just wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I was angry, how could he hurt me in that way, hadn’t he done enough! I screamed at him to leave and to never come back. He would never hurt me again. That I was calling the police.

He just laughed and said “as if the police would believe you – we are in a relationship.  Stuff like that doesn’t happen.”  He grabbed me by the throat and started choking me, I thought I was going to die. It was fight or flight. I decided it was time to fight back. I mustered all my strength and kicked back. It shocked him and he let go. I started swinging, hitting him a few times. He grabbed his keys and started to leave with the parting words “ill kill you and your entire family if you tell anyone.”

He just wouldn’t let me be…

I felt liberated, scared, happy and broken all at once, those feelings consumed me. But I knew I was done once and for all. I had previously had a friend living with me but she and he didn’t get along and of course I had to choose him.  But now I was scared, what was I going to do now? I had hardly any friends – I was too scared to go to the police and to tell my family.

The only person who knew was my best friend Tanya – she came to stay with me. He started harassing me, 77 messages a day, 55 missed calls.He was harassing me at work. I had lost my previous job because of him – I refused to lose anything else. I went to my parents’ place and I took the dogs as I feared he would take them. He constantly harassed me while I was there. He begged me to meet up with him so he could take the car (I was driving it). I said no he couldn’t take it as that would leave me with no car. He ended up down the street from my parents’ place. He begged me to meet him. In the end I agreed. I was sick of the calls and messages.

As soon as I got there Mr Nice Guy ended and Mr Nasty came out. He grabbed me and began searching my pockets for the keys. I yelled at him that I didn’t have them so he shoved me on the kerb and told me to go and get them. “No way,” I said. I started to run off. He began chasing me and pushing me down. I kept getting up and running up the street and yelling, hoping to get someone’s attention.  It must have as someone yelled out the police had been called and my parents came out of the house. He ran off.

I finally explained what had been happening and what had just occurred. I didn’t tell them everything as I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. The police came and took out an emergency DVO on my behalf. I would have to go down to the station later to make a formal complaint. But right then, I finally felt safe. I drove home, quickly ran inside and locked the door.  He turned up the next day, pleading with me to talk to him. I still refused.

He begged for water, after ages I said I would give him water if he waited on the other side of the car. He did. I quickly dropped the water and locked the door and went back to the kitchen. He yelled out for more and we repeated the process, only this time he sprinted to the door and grabbed it, then grabbed me by the throat and pushed me inside. He began to continue to squeeze and then he slammed me against the wall and I fell landing on the door frame. He ran into the kitchen, grabbed the car keys and my phone and smashed my phone against the wall. He bent over me and I grabbed him, trying to get up.

He slammed me onto the door frame and took off. I was left there crying and in pain. Luckily a neighbour had heard the fight and called the police, they spoke to me and then quickly took off after him. They caught him not far from my place. I was relieved. But it would soon prove a piece of paper doesn’t mean much to monster. He would still hound me with messages and phone calls and rock up to my house, once he showed up with his eldest daughter and she was crying begging me to let her in, that she loved me and wanted to see me.

I explained so her that I couldn’t let her in, that it wasn’t safe for me and that me and her daddy weren’t together anymore and that I still loved her and would miss her. I stayed strong and refused to let them in. It broke my heart but I just couldn’t risk it. I couldn’t believe he stooped so low as to use his daughter like that, I was disgusted.  How could he drag his child into this? He was so manipulative.

No one was safe, not even my dogs…

When he knew he couldn’t get to me, he would let the dogs out, he did it twice, once while I was home and I didn’t notice until my mum and little nephew came over to check on me as I was sick. I went out the  back and they were gone. I was in a panic looking for them, we found them a few hours later a suburb away,  they were my weakness, they meant everything to me, they were my children and he knew it, he let them out once more after that, I them padlocked all the gates so he couldn’t, he was a nasty spiteful person.

One afternoon, he waited outside my house for hours. I refused to let him in but he knew that I had to go to work. So he just waited, he tried  threatening me, then tried sweet talking me, begging even crying. I found it so tough, but I had made it this far I couldn’t go back now. At this time I a owned a motorbike. I was all dressed in my riding gear, had my backpack on, my bike was parked just outside my front door. I checked to make sure he was gone. I couldn’t see him anymore. I began to unlock the door, he then burst through the door, trying to grab my throat. He couldn’t get a good grip on me because of my gear so he punched me in the face. I swung at him with my helmet that I had in my hand. It connected with his side and he came out of the door.

I quickly got outside locked the door and jumped on my bike. I realised as I made my way down my street that something was wrong with my bik.  I couldn’t control it properly. I quickly stopped the bike, and I noticed that he had let down the back tyre. I then saw him pull up in his car. I took off again. It was so scary and dangerous riding my bike the way it was but I couldn’t risk stopping. I was scared. He kept following me and trying to run me off the road. He kept yelling at me to pull over.

After a short distance it seemed he had gone. I decided that I needed to stop at the servo and if he was gone I had to risk it. I pulled into the servo, was about to pump up the tyre and bam there he was again. I quickly jumped back on the bike. He grabbed me and begged me to stop and he would help me and he just wanted to talk. I screamed “no way”. Someone else at the servo started to come over and he let go. I rode off. He kept following me. I made it to work and I parked behind a secure big gate and I finally felt safe. By the same I got inside I was shaking and crying and I just couldn’t stop. My work staff were excellent, they called police and RACQ for my bike and they were wonderfully supportive. the RACQ confirmed that the tyre had been let down but police said there was no way to prove it was him.

Domestic violence orders couldn’t keep me safe…

I felt deflated, what use is a DVO if you cant prove they did anything? I had already breached him for his contact, but all he got was warnings and fines. What use are they it doesn’t stop them? I asked the police what it would take for him to actually get a punishment. For him to kill me? By then it would be too late. I felt let down by the justice system. They were not helping me, every time he breached it, I went back to the police station for more statements and charges. It was stressing me out, so half the time I didn’t bother. I felt so alone and unprotected.

He started trying to spread nasty rumours about me, making fake Facebook profiles and adding my friends etc. I was living in a nightmare. One that seemed would never end. I kept asking myself “is it worth it?” If I take him back will all this stop? Could I ever get any peace?”. I wasn’t eating properly, barely sleeping, finding it hard to concentrate on anything, finding it hard to connect with people.

I felt isolated in my own world, where no one understood what I was going through. People kept saying “oh break-ups are hard, you will get over it, you will get there.”  I know they meant well, but they have no idea what they are talking about. This was different, it was not just a break-up.

You can never imagine the ways in which he broke me…

I was broken in so many ways, I didn’t know how I would get through this, how could I love again, how could I trust? All the while I still kind of loved him, none of it made sense to me.  People would ask “you don’t love him still do you?”. I felt I had to lie and say “oh no of course not.” I didn’t want the judging and the ridicule that came with it. I became good at hiding my real true feelings. Something I’m sure other DV survivors will understand.

He not only beat me down emotionally and physically, he repeatedly cheated on me and had a secret family behind my back. I had finally made all the connections, when he needed to leave to be with here he would pick a fight with me, I couldn’t believe he went to that extreme, why not  walk out?

By the time I left, he had two children to the other woman. I was left feeling ashamed and worthless. He had destroyed every part of me.  I had gone to hospital a few times for various injuries, of course he was with me. He made stories about how the injuries occurred. This is a common occurrence for many women, never really able to tell the real story.

With freedom comes the will to thrive and love again…

But finally I was out, I was starting to feel strong again, yes he still harassed me, tried to follow me. But I had some of my friends back, my family was supportive. Eventually for my own safety I moved back in with my parents, I felt safer there, not so alone. I still had court cases over my head due to the many breaches of the DVO but I was getting through. I had friends to keep me busy and distracted. I then met a lovely man Pete through mutual friends.

I had met him before, but I was knee deep in this disastrous relationship I never looked twice. While I was getting to know him my ex was still harassing me. I thought this guy would run a million miles – generally males don’t like women with complicated baggage – but he stayed put. Pete even answered my phone a couple of times and pretty much told him where to go.

He was supportive, he listened, he was my shoulder to cry on. It was amazing, but I really wasn’t looking for another serious relationship. I just wanted to see what would happen. I found it hard to trust, to love, to let my guard down.  My ex rocked up to another place I worked, he refused to leave, he wouldn’t budge, kept begging me to talk to him, asking me to stop seeing other people, to work it out with him. I called the police and I happened to be messaging Pete. He had tried to call me, I messaged back to say I couldn’t talk – my ex was at the shop, the police were on the way. Before I knew it there was Pete. He checked to make sure I was okay and went off looking for him. I couldn’t believe it.

The police finally showed up, took my statement and off they went. My father came down to trade my bike for his car for my safety as I was finishing at 9pm that night. Just before closing I went outside for the sign and noticed a car that I couldn’t quite see. I started getting worried and then he got out of the car – it was Pete. I felt so safe. He was so worried about me that he came to make sure I closed up okay.

He followed me home and then asked me to come back to his place as it would be safer for me there and he would take me to work the next day. I couldn’t believe my luck, a man who wasn’t running, was sweet, kind and caring and wanted to protect me. Unfortunately due to the incident at the shop I lost my job. I was so upset, I couldn’t believe that even though I had left him, I was still losing things. I was devastated all over again. Pete helped me through it. So did my family and friends. Lucky for me the shop had CCTV so it was all caught on camera and he couldn’t deny it.

By now I was dating Pete and I couldn’t be happier – he wasn’t controlling, he was funny as hell and looked after me like I’ve never been looked after before. We went through the court process together, he never left my side. The court dragged out as my ex kept saying he wasn’t ready but finally we had our chance in court. I finally got up to say my side as did he. The judge didn’t believe anything he had to say and read him the riot act.

He received a suspended sentence of two years as he had a job, which I thought was silly, but he had a barrister that was pleading his case. But the judge advised him that if he was breached one more time, no more chances – he would be going jail for the whole sentence. After that I never heard from him, except months later he called me on my birthday, when I knew it was him I just disconnected and left it at that. I could have breached him again, but would it be worth it? I had moved on, I was in a better place.

Looking back, maybe things do happen for a reason…

I lost a lot due to these relationships, my dignity, my sense of self worth and respect. I  had rainbow babies, but looking back – even though it still hurts – maybe things really do happen for a reason. If I had his children, I would be stuck with him in my life forever. Now I could make a clean break as much as it ever can be.

Sometimes I’m still angry, how did people close to the men not see? Or did they just not want to, but I guess it doesn’t really matter, as even the people who did know couldn’t get me out. I had to make that choice myself. I don’t want anyone to blame themselves, my family or my friends, they are there for me now and that’s all the matters. I am loved and cared about and supported and I am extremely lucky to have that. This is no one’s fault but his. He did this.  I use to want closure from them, wanting them to explain why they did this, how could they do this? Would they stop or are they just looking for there next victim.

It’s time for violence against women to stop… 

Over six years later and Pete and I are happily married and have a gorgeous little boy. Who knew that it would take another man to save me? That I could love and trust again, maybe it was fate, the right man at the wrong time. I’m glad I didn’t give up. Nowhere on your birth certificate did it say life would be fair. So true. Some people have it harder then others, but we all need to stick together, support one another, and be there no matter what. Violence against women needs to stop. Enough is enough.

How many people have to be killed by their spouses before the law gets tougher on them. Why does the woman have to have severe injuries before it’s taken seriously? That’s one step away from death for some women. I don’t know when I will be that person I used to be again, I just know I am still on the right track to find her. I went through it twice – wouldn’t you think I would learn? I guess it doesn’t work like that, love doesn’t discriminate.

Don’t judge her, don’t ignore her and don’t stop caring…

If my story can help one person get the strength to get out that it is well worth it, if this true story of my nightmare can help others see the signs of someone they love in trouble then it’s worth it. Just please don’t judge her, don’t blackmail her to leave, don’t give her ultimatums – just be supportive and caring that’s all she needs. Many people have said “wow you always went back”. Yes I did, I know it sounds stupid. I kept going back for more as they say, but love makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. Control has more affect on you than you realise. I was emotionally, verbally and physically abused – the trifecta. It breaks you down in so many ways.

Why I stayed …. why I left…

I stayed because I was ashamed, I stayed because I was embarrassed. I stayed because I had no self worth or self respect. I stayed because I thought no one would believe me. I stayed because I was scared. I stayed because I thought I was all alone and felt no one else would love or want me. I left because feeling all of that was better than being killed. And none of that was true – the people I told police,court,some friends and family all believed me, supported me, helped me. I was not worthless or hopeless, I am a strong independent women who doesn’t need man to define who I am.

He knew no one would see him for the monster he was…

A few people I told said “ wow I would never have guessed he was like that”. that’s exactly what he was banking on, that no one would believe it, that’s exactly why most women stay quiet. Unfortunately many men are capable of such things – just most of them won’t cross that line.

I’ve also heard people say “if my man hit me I would be out straight away.” Well I wish it was that easy – you don’t know how you would react until it happens and I really hope they never have to find out. I use to think that “I can hold my own, I won’t take any shit of anyone, I am strong” but here I am –  after two domestic violent relationships. I am who I am and its made me who I am today.

After reading this some people might understand why I am the way I am and why I do certain things. Only a little understanding is needed. I was lucky I had my best friend Tanya for support. She was my pillar of strength, never judging, always there for me. As well as my family and my now husband Pete, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them all, I’ve had a steady job for over 5 years and I love it –  it’s where I belong.

I hope my story shines a light on the darkness behind closed doors…

These memories are still there. I still have flashbacks every now and then. They never completely leave but it does get easier. I still find it hard to trust people I don’t know and I still find it hard to make new friends. I guess in a way I’m still damaged, but that’s okay. I’ve come to terms with that.

I will never be the same again, but I really wouldn’t want to be. I want to be stronger. I want to be funnier. I want to be more tolerant of things I don’t understand. I want to be wiser.  So this is my story of why I stayed. I’m hoping this brings more tolerance for people that think it’s just easy to leave. You have no idea and you wouldn’t want too. Please stop the snotty comments and the judging – it’s not helping, it’s hard enough to deal with without that. I thought I was strong, just not in the way I originally thought.  I am strong, I survived, I got out, 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.

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