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This is Michelle’s Story ♥️

“… the threats with weapons became another alternative for him to overpower me. If that didn’t work then the physical side would appear – running me off the road by car, strangulation, punching me in the head, dragging me around the house by my clothes and hair and throwing me on the floor or into walls”. – Domestic violence survivor Michelle.

Michelle is a young mum who hopes her story of survival will inspire change ♥️

The year he stole my spirit…

michelle-the-red-heart-campaign2015 is the year that changed my life forever.  I considered myself a bit of a crazy free spirit; did what I pleased, hung out with who I wanted to and lived a pretty social life. It wasn’t long before all of that was taken away from me.

By no means did I hang around with the best group of people, or live a very positive lifestyle and  it is through this lifestyle that I met the person who took my inner child away from me and withdrew me from the world.

It started off by being a relationship based on friendship. We got along really well. Both of us enjoyed the same things. He was funny, kind and a tad ruthless at times, but I got a kick out of that I guess.

He always opened a door for me which I loved! and it wasn’t long before I moved into his house and a deeper relationship started to develop but that is when things changed. I was no longer his friend, I became his possession. Wherever I went he would want to come too, questions were always asked about my movements, my whereabouts and who was there.

Then the snooping started – my phone, emails, social media accounts – the list still goes on.  It wasn’t long before my free spirited crazy self disappeared. The arguments then became more intense the yelling got louder and I would always walk out of the house to get away. He would follow me down the road yelling “Shell come back and talk to me” “Stop Shell’ and I always did stop and give in to him.

To scared to escape the terror…

Soon I had shut my friends out and had completely cut ties with family. I knew this relationship was heading down a dead end road but we still pursued it. I was constantly embarrassed by his behavior and his outrageous ways but his  kind words and promises brought me back every time.

The gifts started becoming more frequent – he knew what would make my heart melt and because I had become so isolated, I was made to feel like he was the best person for me and he would always be there to protect  me. His foul ways started to really surface and once again I left and came back but this time it was different. The physical abuse started. Although it was mainly him throwing objects at me, like turntable decks, phones, chairs, bags, computers, sunglasses, I still stuck around and then the threats with weapons became another alternative for him to overpower me.

If that didn’t work then the physical side would appear – running me off the road by car, strangulation, punching me in the head, dragging me around the house by my clothes and hair and throwing me on the floor or into walls. By this stage I was scared for my life and I was scared to leave. In the back of my mind I would wonder what would happen if I did but he would say that I will never be able to leave, he would come after my family and he would always find me.

We had some good days but there were countless bad days that overruled those clear fun days. Pretty soon his lifestyle started to take a turn for the worse, putting a lot of stress both on him and myself. This was the final straw for me.

Beaten and broken, all I wanted was love…

We made promises to each other to change our ways and better ourselves because we loved each other and not long after these promises were made we went on a small trip to NSW to visit his family and see if this new environment was something that would help us achieve the new life we both dreamed of. Little did I know that this would bring nothing but fear anxiety, sadness, anger, isolation and a lot of self-hatred.

The violence became more intense and he would do it in front of his family, he had no shame. Fights would start over who I was speaking to back in Brisbane. He didn’t want me talking to anyone he wanted me to forget the whole life I had built there.

I went through countless mobile phones in a matter of weeks from him smashing them. By this stage I was a puppet on string. This bubbly person had become a dark little girl craving for a hug from her family and had no idea if that was ever going to happen. Our separate bank accounts had now become one and my freedom was completely gone.

Dreaming of normality…

I dreamed every day of seeing my family or just talking to them, so I built the courage up and finally rang my mum who I hadn’t spoken to in God knows how long. I told her I was doing well, that I missed her and I was ok. I did not tell her the truth because I was scared of her thinking I had failed them again by making stupid decisions. Mum said she wanted to come see me and this was my breakthrough! instantly I had this spark inside of me, I knew I was going to be OK and she would take me away.

I planned to get her to come to me and I would tell her in person the day before she left everything that had happened and that I had a plan to leave with her to go back to Brisbane. I knew telling her in person would be the safest way for me and I knew he couldn’t stop me then. But that plan fell through.  My mum later sent me a message, out of the blue and asked me if everything was OK.

She had a feeling something wasn’t right. Mother’s instinct kicked in and she managed to contact the one person that had stuck by my side and who had witnessed a lot of wrong doing and they had finally told her what this person was like. I wasn’t OK at this stage. Another fight had just erupted and I had nothing left in me, I was worn out and about to give up on myself and life.

He haunts me in my sleep but I am free…

Finally mum had got the truth.  She knew he was bad, she knew I wasn’t OK and she knew, she needed to get me out of there quickly. It wasn’t long before I was on a plane back to Brisbane. I arrived  at Brisbane airport on August 2, 2015. My nightmare was over – or so I thought. He followed, keeping  his distance but was still able to control me and the mental abuse and threats started again.

Fortunately I took the appropriate action and went to the courts and told my story. I didn’t hear from this person anymore, although he haunted me in sleep, when I left my house, when I entered shopping centres and when I was alone. Now he’s a figment of my imagination. Never again will he hurt me.

I left that relationship on August 2, 2015, I thought I was all alone coming back to Brisbane to God knows what with no support network or job and  thinking I was going to be broken for ever. I remember thinking my story was unique, but it wasn’t!

Soon  I realised I had never been alone. I rarely go back to those unwanted thoughts and feelings. I have come along way I couldn’t have done it without my family. If I hadn’t reached out and asked for help, today may still have been one the darkest days of my life. ♥️

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.