“We were together for thee-and-a-half months, most of which was mental torture.” – Domestic violence survivor Suzie.
Suzie tells her story to shine a light on abuse in polyamorous relationships ♥️
Behind my happy life is a dark shadow…
My name is Suzie and I am a happy (now) 42-year-old. I am happily married and I identify as bisexual and polyamorous – which means I have more than one person I am romantically involved with and my partners know and consent to me having more than one.
I have a beautiful husband I have been with for 20 years, a gorgeous girlfriend who I have been with for the last 15 years, two wonderful children, my own house which I share with both my partners, a bachelor degree in Health Sciences and a job. Yet, in 2014 I met someone who I wasn’t with for very long, but the impact of this relationship is still being felt today, albeit in much smaller doses. Let me explain.
She sang her way into my heart…
I first saw her in March, 2014, at a performance recital as an audience member and she was singing a song about a blue bird who was free and happy but then someone trapped the bird and it died because it was no longer free. I was captivated by her voice, intrigued by her presence and I began to cry as I felt so sorry for the bird and she sang the song with such strength and conviction.
If someone had told me then and there that I would feel like that bird towards the end of 2014 and cry with sadness and pain due to the singer, I would have laughed in their face. I had already decided to join the performance art school that had put on the recital before I went as it was something I was interested in and my friends urged me to join as I was leaving another school.
The singer never crossed my mind until I saw her standing there before my first class began, leaning up against a pole. My heart skipped a beat, very unusual for me. I felt something click inside of me, like a key into a lock and I knew then that there was something interesting about this girl and we would be involved somehow.
A magical first kiss and a friend’s unheeded warning…
Months went by and we performed together, laughed and flirted with each other, she would look at me and wink or come and put her arms around me and I began to crush on her majorly. She touched my hand at a gig one night and I felt electricity run up my arm. I found out we had the same heritage and even went for the same football team. I knew she had another girlfriend who I was also friends with, a boyfriend and a husband.
I also knew she was physically unwell but with the help of a lot of medication and rest, she could still perform. I thought her incredibly brave and wonderful, to perform and function as much as she could; and not let her various medical conditions dictate to her on how to live her life. I told a mutual friend that I was crushing on this girl. They looked at me completely drained of colour and just said “Please don’t. Please just don’t”. I asked them why but they wouldn’t elaborate further.
I finally told her in November, 2014 that I liked her; I honestly thought I would burst if I didn’t. I wish I didn’t tell her, I really do. I wish I listened to my friend. She told me she was interested in me too and I was overjoyed. We both got consent to date from our other partners and we began. Our first kiss felt like I had been kissing her forever, it felt magical. She asked me if I would like to be her girlfriend and I said yes.
I researched her medical conditions and asked her how best I could help her if there was a medical complication with her conditions. She had broken up with her husband the week before, telling me (and everyone else) that she had left him (hello, rebound girl!). I met up with our friend who had warned me and told them that we were dating. They were upset with me and told me why they warned me – “she’s too high maintenance and a liar”. I asked them what she had lied about and they replied “her husband left her and no one leaves her and gets off unscathed”. I brushed it off and thanked them for their concern and told them I would be careful. More fool me.
Her words were a weapon…
It was heaven at the start, we were so good together, I felt happy, she was happy and everything was wonderful. She was attentive; as we got to know each other, we would chat for hours on messenger and saw her once a week in class as we lived an hour away from each other. I was able to spend the night with her, driving her home after class, intimacy (which was used to make her ex-husband jealous I found out later), waking up in her arms and going back to my family the next day.
At times I felt that she wasn’t being as attentive to me as she should have been and I was told “please persevere with me, I will soon get that hang of that I am allowed to be affectionate with you”. I brushed those feelings off and believed her. In December I got my first major warning signs. We were on a date and were talking about us when she looked at me and said “you are only in my life until I say otherwise”. I was taken aback and replied “what if I leave you”? She looked at me as if to say – go ahead and try it. My friend’s warning rang in my ears.
I asked for reassurance from her that we were good and she replied that we were. And of course brushed off any feelings of inadequacy as I believed in her and us. The “you are only in my life until I say otherwise” was repeated by her several times during our relationship and even written on my Valentines Day ‘card’ – it was on the back of a business card and it felt like a knife to my heart every time she said it.
I wanted forever, she wanted until she was sick of me. Two weeks later I was all set to go to her place when she sent me a message saying that she wanted me to pick up her boyfriend from inner Brisbane then drive to outer western suburbs where her other girlfriend was to pick her up and go back to her place on the south side of Brisbane. I live in the outer northern suburbs so this was going to be a long trip on a very hot day. I was upset as I wanted to spend time with her alone as previously agreed.
I told her no, I would prefer if she could travel back to her home as previously agreed on; I just wanted to be with her for a few hours. She went ballistic at me for upsetting her plans, so to keep the peace, I relented and drove to pick up her boyfriend (who told me on the way that our mutual girlfriend had told him that I would pick him up hours before she had asked me!), went to her girlfriend’s and spent some time there and then drove back to her place. It was just the beginning of her many lies and much heartache.
Back at our girlfriend’s place we all made another mistake; all three of us got very close. I knew her boyfriend liked me too, after she had told me and instigated our ‘sexy fun times’ and so I thought, what could go wrong. Huge mistake. And there was no discussion about boundaries, something which should have been discussed as there was a lot of problems later, all of which I was blamed 100% for.
We did talk about boundaries after a massive fight where she accused me of “monopolising him”, but she didn’t tell me she was upset with me, she told everyone else saying I would “cause a scene” if she had told me that she was upset. There wasn’t any foundation for this, I simply would have said sorry and let it go. She told my girlfriend that I was after her boyfriend, which was not true and never has been. I told her I was sorry, so sorry for hurting her and that I believed our relationship was the important one.
My body caved under the stress of her abuse…
Time went on and if I did or said something she didn’t like, instead of telling me like we discussed at length, she wouldn’t speak to me, but she would tell her other partners what a horrible person I was. Sometimes I would sense that she was upset, so I would ask her and she would tell me she was OK, but I knew she was lying and so again I would ask others and they would tell me that I upset her.
So because she was ghosting me at times, I would confront her. And of course it was my fault that I had spoken to them. She got upset at me for talking to her other partners as I would find out always what she had been saying about me and none of it was good. It was no secret in our group that she had weapons in her house and could use them and she was a fighter and did judo from a young age – she also told me that her father had trained her in explosives and sniper weapons and these were in her house also.
I was scared to go to sleep at times, developed insomnia, an eating disorder and began having nightmares. I look back on all this now and think how stupid I was to even think that any of this was normal – it was so far removed from my life with my family and I got to thinking that my time with her was an alternate reality, but none of it seemed real. I felt like I was between two worlds – my family, uni, my job, my home and her life of doing very little and couch dates as a lot of the time she was too unwell to go out. I didn’t mind, I just wanted to be with her and so I put her first. My own family were upset at me and I felt pulled; she needed me more and I began to neglect my own family.
Walking on eggshells became a fact of life…
Then I fell in love with her, something I swore I would never do. It was very sudden and I can’t explain it any other way. I didn’t tell her as her other girlfriend told me that she was in love with her too, told her and our girlfriend turned away, hurting her other girlfriend immensely.
That was the first instinct I got that my friend was being mistreated by her too, something which was backed up in messenger private messages which I have kept including one where she said that our girlfriend hadn’t been intimate with her since she and I had begun and many messages at the early hours of the morning when she was upset at the treatment dished out to her by our girlfriend. I was even told the story where the girlfriend of my friend marched into our girlfriend and called her out for being horrible.
It was awful knowing that we were both being mentally and emotionally abused our girlfriend but it also kept in my mind that this was not my fault – it was hers. All three of her partners were walking on eggshells and I began to feel sick around her, sometimes too scared to enter the room or even her house as I never knew what mood I would find her in.
But if I did something she wanted, she was as kind and lovely as the first time we got together and she would give me little presents usually chocolate, but as soon as I did something “wrong” or she perceived I was getting out of her control again, the walls would go up, the ghosting would begin and I was living the roller coaster of emotions again.
I was always honest with her, I never lied and she found that “refreshing” after being around her boyfriend who she said she could never tell if he was OK or not – she was happy at the start that I was emotional, she never had to guess with me. But I got too much for her, I was too emotional, too this or too that and could never do anything right. Of course her other girlfriend was perfect and I was compared to her even after our breakup.
I was too sensitive, too emotional, it was all my fault – she was the real victim…
I begged her for a mutual breakup and told her that we weren’t working. She said no and got very upset that I had even had the thought of a breakup and called me all sorts of horrible names, that she didn’t say the horrible things she said to and about me, that she was sorry that she got my girlfriend involved instead of talking to me, that I was too sensitive, too emotional, I took everything the wrong way, that it was all my fault – that she was the real victim, I had unaddressed mental health problems, that I had unresolved childhood trauma which is why I was so needy and asked for reassurance and attention constantly – the list of my apparent failures went on and on.
I was too scared to walk away as I knew what she would do – my friend had warned me months before said that they knew people who broke up with her and they were scarred from the experience of the act – one even had PTSD symptoms at the mere mention of her name.
Other people began to whisper that they knew from personal experience that she is “mentally unhinged and a loose cannon when challenged”. I overheard her ex-husband say that when she gets angry, she gets passionate. She had weapons and I had small children that needed their Mum. I felt powerless and afraid. The nightmares got worse, I refused to eat, I couldn’t sleep. My other partners begged me to leave and I said “how will she cope without me? I can handle it, it’s not that bad”.
I cried alone, I cried myself to sleep at night even at her house, my heart felt like it was encased in ice. My weight plummeted and I became sicker. But I stayed quiet about the full extent of the abuse as I didn’t want to worry anyone or worse, admit it to myself. I kept trying with her, I thought that if I did everything she said and not make her upset that she would care about me again.
I questioned even if the abuse was happening, thinking that if she cared about me enough to be in a relationship with me, she wouldn’t be hurting me. So I thought it really was all in my head as she kept telling me. I questioned myself and disbelieved in what I was seeing, hearing and feeling – after all, why would anyone intentionally want to hurt me again? Didn’t I show I cared enough? I kept trying for us.
The moment I realised she was abusing me…
I went back to Uni for a summer school subject named ‘Interpersonal Skills of the Helper’. As part of it we needed to know violence in all its forms. I had survived physical DV in previous relationships and my childhood wasn’t free of any kinds of violence but there was a section that had a checklist of emotional and mental abuse points. Out of the 17, I could tick off 13 that related to this woman alone.
She had also begun sending me offensive pictures; one of a knuckleduster and when I objected and said I liked my face how it is, she replied that she was thinking about my kidneys knowing full well that in my family, our kidney’s are a weak spot. I knew for sure then that I was in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship which had now stepped over into threats of physical violence and I needed to get out, screw what she thought.
Funny thing was that she sent it to me out of the blue when we were going well. I was afraid of her, the beautiful girl who sung that song, the woman I had wanted to spend the rest of my life with – my abuser. The girl who I had tried to tell her that I was unhappy and asked what can we do about it? The girl who told me she didn’t care what happened to me, she wasn’t responsible for my happiness in any way. I felt abandoned and scared.
The fact that I had a life outside of us wasn’t acceptable a…
I told her all the time the good things that were happening in my life about my family, Uni where I was getting excellent marks and about my future. She didn’t care; the fact that I had a life outside of us wasn’t acceptable and she treated my life with pessimism and disdain. I believe it was because I wanted to do something awesome with my life and she couldn’t and was jealous sadly.
I know she was jealous about her boyfriend and I even though it was instigated by her in the first place but I was never interested in him the way I was interested in her. I unfortunately began to be as pessimistic as her as it was easier to agree with her points of view as if I had a differing view, I would get howled down and ridiculed. But woke up to myself one day and said that this wasn’t me and I hated feeling so ‘whatever’ about things.
By February, all intimacy had stopped between us suddenly and she still wanted me around to keep her company but I hated it. I wanted to leave her so much but how? I knew that this wasn’t the sort of relationship I needed in my life. What would her retribution be?
She had already given me a taste of her abuse and I knew she could dish out much more. We had our last fight in the middle of February when I kissed her boyfriend goodnight as he lay between us. Suddenly she became upset; kissing him hello a few hours before was apparently OK but not now. Granted she was unwell that night but again to keep the peace I asked her if she wanted me to leave. She said she did and I left. Her boyfriend followed me out and told me to text him when I got home as she screamed at the door for him to come back to her. It was 2am.
People asked me what I did to deserve her abuse…
As I drove away I was crying. But it was tears of relief. It was my ticket away from her; I knew she would never forgive this apparent indiscretion and that would be it. She abused me relentlessly for four days, said some really horrible things, called me horrible names, I said I was sorry for upsetting her, she said she didn’t trust me, I told her I didn’t trust her and broke up with her over messenger as I was too afraid to see her and break it off.
We were together for 3 and a half months, most of which was mental torture. I broke it off with her boyfriend soon after it got too weird and from more public abuse from her where she swore at me, hissed like a cat at me and generally acted the fool. People were just shaking their heads at her and at the both of us. But now everyone had seen her act and some people asked what I did to “deserve” such abuse – I must have done something, so the classic ‘victim blaming’ begun from some people. She also stipulated that her boyfriend should tell her everything that we did together and I didn’t agree, so that was it. Their combined retaliation was to come.
The abuse continued after we separated…
I thought that would be it and put it down to a relationship gone horribly wrong. I was most incorrect as my friend’s warning was fulfilled. I decided I wasn’t going to give up class and performing and thought it best to ignore her if she started. I thought she would be adult and respect my wishes for no contact and letting us go.
Nope, she verbally abused me in class, said she was happy that her now only girlfriend didn’t try to “jump her boyfriend” to anyone who would listen, pulled me aside and abused me, vilified me to anyone who would listen on social media, would put her thoughts about me (but carefully not mentioning my name) in Facebook posts to our school and suddenly accused me of attempting to rape her boyfriend on our last night, one night telling the entire class that they have just become intimate again after the ‘attempt’.
This was five months after our breakup and the first I had heard of it. I was in shock that I could be so falsely accused. The other people in the class were disgusted and one had the guts to tell her to lay off. She told that person that she is doing it so I would leave her alone and that she wasn’t interested in me anymore.
I didn’t retaliate at all as I thought that she would get bored and stop and the thought that I could do that was absolutely disgusting and ludicrous. I am a survivor of rape and I would never do that and couldn’t understand why someone would do such a thing. And I didn’t want to turn our school into a battle ground. People had already started to take sides (something I never wanted) and I lost people who I had gotten close to in the aftermath.
I hated myself for missing and loving her…
For seven months she harassed, vilified, lied about and stalked me. She said because I told her that I loved her within three months of being in a relationship that I was ‘a bunny boiler’ and other horrible things. I was so scared that my children would be hurt. That she would arrange for someone to attack me. That I would die.
I was a prisoner in my own head, missed her like crazy, hated myself for missing and loving her still, cried oceans of tears over us and lost potential, thought suicidal thoughts just to get rid of the pain I was feeling to the extent of when, where and how I would do it and subsequently was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Thankfully I found myself a wonderful psychologist to help me unravel the mess that was my mind. This she found out from her boyfriend as before him and I broke off contact, I told him I was getting help. Of course she vilified me for that too and found it quite funny that I needed professional help. For me it was either get help or die.
She sucked all of the good out of me…
I was failing at work and almost got fired. I was straight up with them and told them everything, that I am being stalked by my ex-girlfriend who I had a DV relationship with, that I have mental health problems that I am getting help for, that I feel like a total mess up.
They were very unsupportive and told me basically to suck it up and I was making life hell for those around me. I was failing as a wife, a girlfriend and as a mother. My partners supported me the best they could, but what can you do with a sobbing mess of a person who doesn’t want to live?
My ex-girlfriend had taken all the good out of me and left me a shell of a person. But I must take some blame here. I should have stopped her when I had the chance; told her that her behaviour towards me wasn’t appropriate, even if it meant losing her. I should have done this, I should have done that, I should have – so many should haves.
She destroyed and discarded me but I survived…
She has been quiet since February this year where she began to abuse me again but a good friend came to my aid and my ex lost a lot of friends and support due to her being exposed for the person she is because she got caught. I can’t thank my friend enough for doing this. My ex decided to post an ‘anniversary’ message and some disgusting memes to ‘celebrate’ a year since we broke up which just spewed hatred and repeated the attempted rape allegation.
I know she may get bored and abuse me again some other time, but I don’t want to live my life in fear of her and her rubbish. I stayed because I felt I could protect her, nurture her and as I was the only one out of her partners that didn’t have a mental health problem, in excellent physical health (but that was changed quickly sadly) or reliant on medication. I was the only one who could properly look after her and I was happy to do this. I loved her as deeply and as wide as the oceans.
I loved her with the passion of a thousand suns. Simple as that. She often said that she doesn’t know why people love her. She told me that she needs people to look after her but at the same time would tell me how independent she is and emotionally didn’t need anyone.
So she was a woman of many contradictions – no wonder we were all confused by her. She was the boss and I stupidly gave her full control, like I didn’t matter. I am a nurturing person, soft and gentle. She saw me coming a mile off and took as much advantage as she could before I was emotionally and mentally discarded but I was the one who found my strength to leave her physically.
Now, she is just somebody I used to know…
And I am glad for it. I would be dead by now, either by her hand or my own if I stayed in her madness. Though leaving her was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It meant walking away and I usually don’t walk away. I am non-confrontational and prefer to let things slide. It meant opening me and mine to probable retribution. It meant saying goodbye to the woman I loved.
When I left her I still loved her and I hated myself for it. I thought I was weird and kept it all inside. I kept a lot of things inside due to shielding my family, shame and embarrassment in the months after the breakup. I know now that its normal when you break up with a narcissist, all sorts of stuff comes up. I know now to feel the emotion and let it go. And it’s OK. It’s all OK…. I am the one who broke the strings from the very controlling puppet master, something which I am very proud of.
Her girlfriend told me many times that she wanted to break up with her due to abuse, but I am glad I am the one that did. I hear now that her girlfriend has morphed into a version of my ex-girlfriend, but not my circus anymore and definitely not my monkeys. Next month its two years since that night in November. I still get triggered by small things, get scared by large groups of people and sometimes dream of her and we are happy.
Through sifting through memories I have of her, I now know that one of our sexual encounters led to her raping me. I still can’t listen to certain songs (Hosier’s ‘Take Me to Church’ which came out a month before we broke up optimises our relationship to an extent that I can never listen to it again) or watch certain movies that we both enjoyed but I no longer cry to and from work or in the shower where no one can hear me cry, I am not thinking about killing myself, I can smile and laugh again.
She is just a memory now. I am free and it feels good, really good. But it’s taken me a hell of a lot to get here and I have looked at my soul and I know that I am a good person who some really bad stuff happened to. I love my life and I am so glad that I am still in it. My family are my rock and understand me. And I no longer love her, she is (like the song) somebody that I used to know.
I’m happier, stronger and ready to help others…
I am happier and stronger now than I have ever been. I have recently returned from the South Island of New Zealand where I travelled around for three weeks by myself in a camper. It was so much fun and I really got to get in contact with myself again. I missed me and I now know that me before my ex-girlfriend no longer exists, in her place is a strong proud warrior woman who had to fight tooth and claw to get herself back.
It was in the view of the mountains of the Franz Josef glacier that I decided to write my story for this project. I have finished Uni and have been awarded my Bachelor degree with my graduation in May next year. My life is full and beautiful. I feel different, more confident and ready to live again. My head doesn’t have many bad words to say to me anymore and my heart is full of love for my family and my friends.
GLBTI abuse doesn’t get reported in the media or usually by the people who suffer it. I had to think long and hard about even posting my story here in case of judgement by people who have incorrect assumptions about GLBTI and/or polyamorous people. But no one deserves to be abused in any relationship. If you have any questions to ask of me, please do so and I will do my best to answer them.
I know that I will probably have a few more things come up that I have forgotten about our relationship over the next few weeks, but I am strong enough now to let them go. Our relationship no longer matters to me, what she does is not my concern or care. If you are experiencing any violence whatsoever, or you aren’t sure if you are or not please seek any help you can. If it feels wrong to you, it usually is wrong. You are special and you deserve to be happy. You are not defined by your relationships; the relationship you have with yourself is the most important – take care of you, please. ♥️
# 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.