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This is Lauren’s Story ♥️

“I know he will come undone eventually. I just have to wait it out until he does and hope and pray that my baby and myself don’t end up as a statistic in the meantime”. Domestic violence survivor Lauren.

Young mum Lauren says she will never be totally free ♥️

He seemed to mirror me in almost every way…

lauren-the-red-heart-campaignI met him while I was working in a cafe. He was the friend of a regular customer. He used to come in late at night after AA or NA meetings with other members, for coffee and he would flirt shamelessly with me. He wasn’t my type, I wasn’t interested. He pursued me and pursued me and then some more.

He seemed all right, but I still wasn’t interested because he didn’t really fit my idea of what I was used to in a guy. One night, I was out having a few drinks and as I was leaving, there he was, offering to drive me home.

I accepted a ride and we talked intensely all the way home. At my house, I invited him in to continue the conversation. We sat up well into the early hours of the morning, sharing life stories. He seemed to mirror me in almost every way. I was a little drunk and one thing led to another and he spent the night.

I thought that would be the end of it but he continued to pursue me, even more relentlessly after that. We began to see each other, first just late at night, then after a few months we began dating as a couple. He would tell me stories of how hard it was because his ex wife was such a bitch and was destroying his relationship with his kids.

He came across as the perfect, loving devoted father who had had his world shattered by this heartless, gold digger who was trying to take his kids away. He was a completely clean and sober recovered heroin addict. I was so enamored with the strength it must have taken to get clean and stay clean for the sake of the kids.

First alienation, a little jealousy, then a whole lot of control…

It started slowly. He didn’t like the regulars I’d made friends with at work, he was jealous that i was still friendly with a guy I’d dated previously, he didn’t like my best friend, he didn’t like ANY of my friends. One night, we went to a party at his friends place. I got a bit tipsy and when he was openly hitting on another woman in front of me, I got angry at him.

The next day, he told me I was crazy and that I was clearly an alcoholic. He told me if I didn’t get treatment for my drinking problem, he’d have to leave me. So began nearly four years of complete sobriety and forced Alcoholics Anonymous participation. If we fought, he would tell me it was because I was an untreated alcoholic and I wasn’t attending enough meetings.

It was never his fault, always mine. After about six months, I left him after a particularly nasty fight. He had cheated on me while he was on an overseas holiday, blatantly in front of a bunch of people we both knew. He denied it, of course, but I knew that it was true. He refused to let me retrieve my belongings from his house, I had to get a police escort.

A break up, a new beginning and many, many broken promises…

He jumped straight into another relationship within a week. After a month or so, I began dating someone else, someone he knew.  When he found out about it, he went out of his way to “win” me. He followed me to the beach one day and professed his undying love. He asked me to move in and told me he wanted to have a baby with me.

I broke up with the other guy two months later, we reconciled and I moved in within a matter of weeks. Shortly after, he asked me to quit my job to help look after his kids. He promised to support me financially, telling me we were a family now. I jumped at the chance as I was studying and thought it would give me an opportunity to focus on my study.

The financial support never came and within four months, I’d spent almost all my savings and he was beginning to find ways to drain my bank accounts. I paid for everything, food, bills, holidays away, clothes for his kids, things for the house, vet bills for his dog, everything. If I questioned any of this, he would scream at me that if it wasn’t for him, I’d still be living in a rented “shithole” and making coffee.

He proposed and wouldn’t take no for an answer…

Then he proposed, despite the fact I had told him I didn’t believe in marriage. He proposed, I said yes because I didn’t want to make him angry. He insisted we get married quickly. He proposed in April, we were married in November (I paid for the wedding) and he wanted to get pregnant straight away. I found out I was pregnant two days after Christmas, less than a month after we were married. In hindsight, I suspect the rush was about the fact I had finished my study and had been employed in my new career, he was about to lose financial control.

I was his slave, his money tree and his punching bag…

My pregnancy was terrible. I vomited up to 10 times a day, every day, for the first four months. I was also working 40 to 60 hours a week. I was sick and exhausted and a bit of a mess because my pregnancy was high risk and I kept bleeding. He put immense pressure on me to continue to maintain the house, look after the other kids, walk the dogs every day, attend AA meetings, and cater to his every sexual whim.

If I failed to perform in any of these areas, I would cop a tirade of abuse about how fat and ugly and lazy and  useless I was. He would lose it and smash things, punch and kick Windows and doors and walls, throw things across the room and stand over me to remind me who was in charge. I was forced to hand over all my money, everything.

At 20 weeks pregnant, he announced that he’d borrowed $200,000 against the house, without my knowledge, and was buying himself a Harley Davidson motorcycle and paying out a whole heap of debt he’d accrued (again without my knowledge). We had HUGE fights about this, as he was refusing to buy anything for the baby, insisting I get clothes for her from the op shop.

It was at this time he began to say things that made me really fear for my life. He liked to tell me he had a gun hidden somewhere in the house and wasn’t afraid to use it. One night, when I physically couldn’t have sex with him due to pregnancy conditions, he dragged me out of bed by the hair and kicked me in the side screaming at me that I was a useless whore.

He would beat my dog, threaten to let him go out the gate, one time he beat his own dog so badly I had to take him to get teeth removed. I told him I was leaving so many times. He would laugh and just say “how?” And smile and walk away. I began hatching an escape plan at this point. I thought if I could just stick it out until the baby was born, I could put her into daycare, work and hide some money to escape.

He was looking for his next high as I was fighting for life in the delivery room…

When my baby was born, I had huge complications. As I was bleeding out and dying in the delivery room, I called for him to take the baby from me as I was losing consciousness and was worried I was going to drop her. His response was “don’t fucking speak to me like that” that was the last thing I remembered. I was in intensive care for days and in hospital for a week. I had a huge blood transfusion and had to be resuscitated three times.

He didn’t go to be with our child for over 12 hours, instead trawling the hospital looking for drugs to steal to get high. When I was moved to the maternity ward, he would stay the night. One night, I switched on the light to feed the baby and it woke him up. He screamed abuse at me, calling me a “fucking bitch” for waking him up. The day I was released, he took my phone and smashed it.

Once home, he refused to drive me to the chemist to hire the breast pump I needed so I had to drive myself, after doctors ordered me not to drive for at least four weeks. I was told to rest and do nothing but feed my baby for at least four weeks, however, it was made very clear to me by him that I had a house to run and his children were to be my priority.

He slept in another room with ear plugs in because he couldn’t stand to hear the baby cry. He spent his days doing yoga and sleeping with at least four other women (that I knew about) intermittently coming home to berate me for not having done enough housework or for how fat and disgusting I was. He barely touched the baby.

I tried to escape so he stole my baby away…

By the time she was four weeks old, I had well and truly had enough. The abuse was out of control, he was constantly high on prescription meds and he was sleeping around. I told him I was leaving to go home to Melbourne. He told me that if I tried to leave him, he would take my baby and hide her where I would never find her. And then he did.

He walked in one afternoon with his AA sponsor, a man also known to police for abusing and assaulting women, and together, they stole my 4 week old baby, taking her unrestrained in a car to the house of another junkie. They held her there for 10 long days until I could get a court order to have her returned to my care. It took less than a week after my baby was returned to my care for him to assault me.

At a contact visit, he threw a heavy box at me, narrowly missing my head and injuring my arm. At this point I obtained a DVO. He ran it to trial, dragging a parade of false witnesses before the magistrate. Luckily the court saw through it and I was granted an order.

Winning in court only increased his need to ruin my life…

This  win for me just escalated his pathological need to destroy my world. He continues to stalk and harass and intimidate at every opportunity. I have had his fist in my face, threatening me whilst holding my baby. He has tried to run me off the road with my baby in the car. He has spent countless hours out the front of my work, staring and eyeballing me, purely to try and intimidate me. It doesn’t stop. Now he has a new girlfriend and he has her writing false police reports and court documents for him.

He has a new girlfriend – I was her once…

I know what’s happening to her behind closed doors.  I was her once too. I am free and not free, all at the same time. I know he will come undone eventually. I just have to wait it out until he does and hope and pray that my baby and myself don’t end up as a statistic in the meantime. ♥️

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.