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This is Kerri’s Story ♥️

“Domestic violence should not be endured alone. You are not alone. Support is there. Do it for yourself because you are worthy of love and happiness. Reach out. It may just save your life”. – Domestic violence survivor Kerri. 

Kerri hopes to help women in crisis when she completes her masters in social work ♥️

He was broken and I was ready to fix him…

kerriI have never been one to be without a man in my life. I loved loving someone. I was in love with a lovely boy from the age of 15 to 21 and he was a beautiful person but we just didn’t quite fit the happy ever after.

I went on my way loving life and being very carefree. I loved sitting by the beach, watching storms, star gazing, having a glass of wine and being immersed by music. My family and friends were everything.

My parents were the epitome of what love and marriage were all about (and still are after 44 years of marriage). During one of my many outings to the local café I met an intriguing man. Different to anyone I had ever encountered. He would charm me then pull away. This was a little bit of a challenge to me. He told me everything I needed to hear. Despite having an outwardly confident persona I was actually fragile on the inside just looking for love and acceptance.

There was never any reason for this. I may have been bullied a little at school for being tall, having short hair, wide hips, freckles and the like but I was loved. He removed some of my insecurities but fed many others. He never wanted to commit and admitted to feeling broken so me being me, I wanted to fix him.

The abuse creeps up and then…

Everyone deserves to be happy right? I knew he liked things in a certain way and to keep him happy I did things the way that he wanted, cooked food the way he wanted, folded his clothes in a particular way. I never saw the abusive side. It crept in slowly but surely. Even the first time he hit me I thought it was an accident. I had told him to leave and was going to call his father to come and get him so he grabbed the phone out of my hand and hit me across the mouth.

I saw how he interacted aggressively with people and got into fights with people he worked with. It was never directed at me. It is so true what they say about how people treat the wait staff. There were incidents here and there and I left a couple of times and always went back. We decided that marriage would make things better and appease his insecurities.

The night before we married, my gut was telling me to run and that it was a bad idea but I had made a promise to be with him and love him no matter what. Everyone had traveled from interstate and food had been bought, money spent. No-one asked me if I was sure or if I had any doubts. No-one said anything about how they felt because they didn’t want to upset me or they thought I wouldn’t listen. I couldn’t back out because it was too late. When you make promises you keep them don’t you? Wrong… Dr Phil says that abuse is a deal breaker and it is.

He controlled my heart, mind, body and sexuality…

Slowly over time the physical abuse started. The controlling over whom I went out with and degrading my friends and family members started. The way in which we had sex was controlled by his demands and desires that left me so very uncomfortable and unhappy. How I spent my money was managed. If I bought something that did not meet his expectations or standards I was yelled at.

The emotional abuse included calling me names and belittling anything and everything, even the way I breast-fed our son or folded his shirt. I was a terrible mother who needed breast-feeding lessons because my son had reflux and cried all the time and he wasn’t able to get his sleep because he worked and I didn’t. Abuse doesn’t have to be this massive physical attack.

He may not have violently physically abused me but it was the small and constant things that he did. Everything was my fault and that I pressed his buttons and made him hit me. He stated he never actually punched me so he wasn’t abusing me. He didn’t drink or take drugs when he abused me.

I stayed for him! I left for our children…

The abuse escalated after our first child was born. He hit me when I was holding my son and I left him. He was sorry and made promises to get help. I went back. The typical cycled ensued. When I was pregnant with our daughter, he pushed me over on a small flight of stairs causing me to fall onto stomach. I left him again. Doctors asked me. Midwives asked me. I never said a word. I was too embarrassed. I felt shame. I made a promise to love him.

It wasn’t until I heard about the statistics on the impact of domestic violence on children that I made the final decision that my two babies were not going to be statistics. I began to plan. Leaving him happened in stages. We moved to my parent’s and lived in a second house on their property.

I was not able to tell anyone what was going on but if they could see it then I wouldn’t have to say anything. I always maintained that I could handle this and the moment the kids were involved I would leave, even though they had already seen and heard enough to cause damage.

I walked out the door with my kids and nothing else…

He had torn my confidence as a woman to shreds. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I left him again, for good. I went to the gym four days a week to regain my self-confidence and for my mental health because who would want an overweight broken single mother of two? It was a matter of months before I told him that I wanted a separation and that is when I was on the receiving end of the most physical attack I had endured.

My parents were away so I was alone with him – not a very clever idea to try leave when I didn’t have any support with me. The screaming woke our babies and they were crying and frightened. He left me winded on the floor and then left the main house and went down the back to where our living space was. I called the police and told them to come take him away because he was not allowed to do this to me anymore.

I couldn’t tell my parents or my friends.

No one knew what was going on because I was so good at hiding it. I made excuses and people had ideas but never asked me directly. I felt remorse for involving the police and him having a DVO in place. I comforted him for goodness sake! I knew it was over long before I left but he wouldn’t let me go. He stayed on my parent’s property and I moved out. I took nothing. I had my clothes and all of my children’s things.

My family and friends gave me everything we needed including the bond for a unit. He kept trying to persuade me to come back. He begged for sex and would get angry if I didn’t provide. Sometimes I did it out of fear and to keep the calm until one day I just couldn’t anymore. It was degrading. I was not going to let a man or anyone treat me like this.

My children paid a steep price for his abuse…

The worst part of all of this for me is the impact on my children. My son was 2 and my daughter 10 months old. I didn’t leave early enough to stop the damage it did to my son. He is still an anxious emotional child with executive functioning problems. He struggles a lot in school mentally and emotionally and whilst he does not outwardly show his emotions he hides them.

I know I did all I could at the time but if I had known what would happened to my kids in the long term I would have done things much differently. I would have spoken up when I was asked but isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? It wasn’t until I had left him that I realized what I was experiencing with him was not love. I never loved him. I just wanted to fix him and I couldn’t.

My future is so much more than my past…

I have now found the most amazing loving supportive man any woman could hope for. I put him through the ringer when we started dating because I was never going to endure another relationship like that. It was the first and only relationship that I had suffered abuse and it was going to be the last!

My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years and we have two children together and he has taken on the role of loving my older two children as a father. While my ex-husband was terrible with me he loves his kids and he has minimal contact with them as he now lives interstate.

I have not stopped them from having a loving relationship with their father for the past 13.5  years. He is their dad.  I feel truly lucky because I never thought I would find love again after the abuse I endured or that I would allow myself to open up to someone. I have found my knight in shining armour who makes me feel loved and strong and capable of doing anything!  I am a strong and fiercely independent woman and have a wonderful man by my side to pick up the pieces when memories of the past trickle in.

Domestic violence should not be endured alone…

I am studying a Master of Social Work and look forward to empowering women and supporting them  in the future with a possibility of conducting research in this area.  All it takes is for you to talk to just one person. If someone asks, please tell him or her what is happening. They will not judge. If you know someone who you suspect is in trouble speak up. Domestic violence should not be endured alone. You are not alone. Support is there. Do it for yourself because you are worthy of love and happiness. Reach out. It may just save your 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.

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