“I was trapped underneath his body, his hands around my neck, thumbs slowly making it hard for me to breathe. I tried yelling, but he had control of my voice. His body was too heavy for me to kick the wall in the hope that someone would hear me. He knew he had my life in his hands. Eventually I did see my life flash before my eyes. One vision after another of my children. I just held on. He let go and I ran and ran. – Domestic violence survivor Anita.
Anita is a single mum and a talented artist ♥️
When you believe you deserve abuse, you simply cannot leave…
People stay in abusive relationships for various reasons, be it that they have no money, are scared for their lives, have no idea of the first step to take or just simply are not aware that they are in a toxic relationship or situation therefore remain in their private hell. As much as id like to say that I couldn’t get out for one of those reason id have to be honest and say that I actually chose to stay.
I didn’t stay because I enjoyed it or didn’t care what I was allowing to be in my children and I lives. I chose to stay because I felt I deserved it I am 37 now and just learning to believe what it means to know my worth. Three toxic and abusive relationships and six children later I am finally understanding that I do not have to choose that lifestyle any longer!
Walking away from the happy moments is the hardest thing to do…
It isn’t easy though to move onto something completely different that I had believed for so long was right for me – to basically start from scratch and build myself again without the lies that eventually led to me almost losing my life. I suppose walking away from the happy moments in these relationships was the hardest part of letting go.
The plans for the future, the laughter and those times of understanding each other – the would always wipe out the bad moments. However, there came a point when I wondered why I ever thought those horrible times were ever acceptable to me.
Masking the moments with booze and drugs, I soldiered on…
I became so good at switching off during the abuse that I simply didn’t realise what had just happened. But it led to a build up of anger and hatred deep inside me so much that it would surface in terrible ways like anxiety, depression and self harm. Medication was of course freely on hand from the doctor, so between masking the emotions with prescription drugs and alcohol, I soldiered on.
It wasn’t until I really had to look at why I was so angry that it hit me – I was being controlled and abused, I was downplaying the abuse and allowing it to happen and worst of all, I was starting to behave like the abusers, which took me completely down the path of guilt and self blame. The sheer frustration of knowing deep down that this was not right, really had me confused and doubting whether I was over exaggerating on what was happening.
He was a monster … and the sweetest human in the world…
I always blamed myself and sure enough I started walking on eggshells constantly, I was steeped in co-dependancy. I can take responsibility for my part in all of my failed relationships, but I know know now that I never deserved to be pushed into a corner and trapped there until he had yelled at me all the reasons why I deserved this.
Not once did I deserve being pinned against the wall by the strength of his arm, forced to stare him in the eyes. I stared into the deepest abyss of hell in which I saw him as a monster and even my own dead body. And yet in those eyes most of the time I saw one of the most sweetest humans I had ever met.
The head-butts, being spat on, the pulled hair and being too scared to say no to sex while he was in an aggressive state.The reckless drunk driving, belittling me in front of his friends and flirting with other women while we were out together. But woe betide me if I ever accused him of these things. So much was downplayed and eventually downgraded each time after an incident. The sweeter he was to me, the sooner I would forget the reality.
I was scared to lose these men to someone else, so I constantly followed them around into all types of dangerous situations, like a puppy dog waiting for the verification that I was good to them for doing so. The thought of being abandoned by them for someone else better than myself had me so worried. I worried that I would never find anyone to love me better than they did. I learned to accept that alcohol and the ‘bros’ came first and if I didn’t keep up I would be left behind.
He choked me until my life – and my children – flashed before my eyes…
Probably the scariest night of my life was being pinned down to a bed. I was trapped underneath his body, his hands around my neck, thumbs slowly making it hard for me to breathe. I tried yelling, but he had control of my voice. His body was too heavy for me to kick the wall in the hope that someone would hear me.
He knew he had my life in his hands. Eventually I did see my life flash before my eyes. One vision after another of my children. I just held on. He let go and I ran and ran and run looking for the nearest police station and hid there until morning. I was put into a women’s refuge where 10 days later found out I was pregnant.
He respected his other victims because they handled his abuse better than me…
He promised to change and there were times that he appeared to do this. We got together again in the hope that it was for good, only for me to be let down several times. Two of those times discovering I was pregnant again. The truth is that he cheated on me with alcohol.
I was his second option when I should have been the first choice. I heard stories from my husband about how he treated his ex partners. He would tell me how good I had it because they got it worse than me. He respected them more because they put up with worse therefor what he did to me was downplayed. He respected those that handled his abuse well and he wanted me to do the same.
There were witnesses but they never helped me…
People knew, they heard the yelling, screaming, the furniture being thrown.No one helped though. I suppose they didn’t know how to help. There was a time when I was heavily pregnant with my fifth child. He had been out drinking and returned home on the third day. I was furious because I was about to go into labour at any time and he left me alone in the one of many caravan parks we called home.
I had expected that he would be there for me. When he returned I let him know exactly what had been on my mind the whole time he was gone. I was convinced that in his time away – drinking and getting stoned – that he had cheated on me. So I accused him. He didn’t like it.He flipped at me and yelled and threatened to hurt us all. He also said he didn’t care if I called the police because it would be worth it.
He pushed me into the wall while I was holding my 18-month- old who then fell on top of. I screamed for help as I could hear people outside, he took off and I bolted to safety carrying our child. People just looked. No-one helped.
It was never our fault and that’s a truth I now embrace…
I look back now and wonder how I even thought all of his apologies could make this OK. What was so wrong with me that he treated me this way? The truth is that nothing was wrong with myself or my children. i just had a warped idea of love from childhood. Now I must take the steps to go over my life and re-write the misconceptions I had of myself and my worth, to erase the lies and replace them with the truth.
The truth being that we are all worthy of good things. It is just that not everyone learns their value and accepts it as truth. I know that I sure as heaven am too precious to be dragged kicking and screaming by the hair over railway tracks where I am raped for one last time because I ended a relationship. I am too precious to believe that I have to accept being mistreated and abused in order to receive love and respect. My children and I are worth more than to be seen as an option rather than top priority.
So much needs to change for the sake of future victims…
As I go through life now as a solo parent, I am forced to struggle with the effects of post traumatic stress disorder. It worries me that these people can move on with their lives to continue abusing innocent others. Domestic violence orders or not, unless there is a register publicly sharing the names of these dangerous people then they will go on abusing. These abusive people that have clearly made a history from treating others this way and are a danger to our society and in need of serious help.
It is so important to speak up in order for this to change in any way. Families and communities that are aware of the dangers of people like this need to stop sweeping the truth under the carpet. We all have a responsibility. As for the abuser themselves, unless they really want to change then our actions may just be in vain but IT IS NOT OK to physically, emotionally, verbally, financially or spiritually abuse ANYONE.
To find freedom I had to leave my old self behind…
As I grew up without a father and estranged from my mother I have always desired my own family.i dream of the loving hardworking husband, family gatherings and the security of trust. If I had ever known the value of my self-worth, I would never have settled for drug- induced relationships, alcoholic dreams or living among gang members, feeling safe there among ice dealers and loud parties and hearing my children’s cries as they awoke to yelling and smashed up furniture.
It brings me so much sadness to think I didn’t see my children and I deserving any better. There were times of heart to heart talks with each of my ex-partners about changing our lives and making future plans. I believed it could happen but no amount of counselling and marriage therapy, domestic violence groups etc could break the cycle of men who just did not want to change.
I feel like I had exhausted all avenues and finally realised that it was time to leave for good. Not to just leave them, but to leave the old me behind also and begin my journey of finding who I really am instead of chasing relationships trying to reach the ultimate high like a drug addict. It is now time to break the cycle, slowly but surely and not be stuck where I am for too long. After hearing the call of God in my life I have started to pull out the toxic weeds that kept me bound to addiction and desperate need for relationships – this is a work in progress.
Your story matters so make every chapter your own…
Surround yourselves with people who see your worth. You have the power to choose who you allow into your life so never choose anyone that does not fit the role of participating in your life. Have a passion for beautiful things that can help with the healing process. My first passion is God – the whole reason I am still here – and my second is creating art that tells stories of people’s journeys.
Know that you were put here on Earth for a reason, you have a purpose. Breakthrough comes when you are at the point of feeling you cannot go on any longer. Never be ashamed to ask for help. No matter what, you DO NOT deserve to be abused or threatened in any way. Your story matters. But finally – change is scary, so is living in fear. Choose your scary.
Anita’s beautiful indigenous artworks can be viewed on her Facebook page Art Elysian. Click here ♥️♥️♥️
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.