My friend said something to me today that made me take a step back. She called me a “survivor”. I apparently “survived” domestic abuse. Did I? Am I a survivor?
I’m probably going to repeat things that I’ve already mentioned in this blog but I had to talk about this. Yes, I agree that I was in a violent relationship. It was violent, abusive and very soul-destroying, or so I thought. Was my relationship as bad as those women say on the Jeremy Kyle Show, or those horrifying stories that you read in crappy women’s mags? Was my relationship really that bad?
I told my friend that I didn’t think I was a survivor. Not in the way that she made it sound. She looked at me like I was insane. She told me to remember all the things that he’d done to me and then tell myself I wasn’t a survivor. The “Him” I am referring to, of course, is the Hubby.
Let’s take a good hard look at what he did to me and then make the decision of whether I am a survivor. Maybe it’ll do some good and show someone else that they don’t deserve to be in the abusive relationship that they are in. If I can help just one woman believe that she deserves better I’ve done a good job.
I remember one night he pulled me around a parking lot by my hair because I asked him to buy me a burger in the kebab shop. It had been a particularly heavy night out. He scraped the skin from the top of both feet and they were bleeding pretty bad, and I still have scars 7 years later. And he broke my shoes. The cock. You just don’t fuck with a girl’s shoes.
He also had this ‘thing’ where he used to put his hands around my throat. I have one photo that I have (fucking bravely) decided to share with you.
This was his “thing” – It was his way of shutting me up when he’d had enough of me and what I had to say. He squeezed my throat so tight that on many occasions, I vomited on myself. I passed out once too. He left amazing hand prints on my neck and there were times when I needed to call in sick-days at work because I couldn’t risk people seeing me like that.
He punched me in the face once. It was the only time he’d ever actually HIT me. He left his knuckle in my top lip and seriously messed up my face. I had to eat and drink through a straw for a week and I needed 5 stitches in my top lip because the gaping hole was so big, you could see my teeth through it. The punch made me bite through my own bottom lip and my teeth almost went through the entire thickness of it. The left side of my face was purple, blue and brown. He really did a number on me that night. I’d never seen so much blood before in my life. It was like something out of a horror scene, blood pouring out of my face, bloody handprints on the wall down the hallway and stairs, and pools of blood where I cried to my downstairs neighbour, begging them to give me refuge and not let him in.
He stabbed me with a screwdriver once because I tried to get in the spare bedroom to feed my pet snake. He was in there sorting out his work gear and I was in the way. That same occasion, he pushed me backwards out of the room, embedding the door handle in my back. That left a pretty deep gash. I see that scar every time I check myself out in my full-length mirror in my underwear (in that way that girls do). It can feel it too, a little gouge in the soft skin of my back. He slammed the door back so hard that day it smashed the glass tank that my snake was in; the same snake that he’d bought me for Valentine’s Day the previous year.
One night I remember thinking he might actually kill me. I’d been out with the girls and had high stiletto boots on, boots I later think may have saved my life. I was drunk and giggly, he was in a furious drunken mood. I can’t remember what happened or how I got there, I just remember being pinned to the bed with his hands around my throat. I remember panicking, things starting to go fuzzy around the edges. I couldn’t focus on him and I couldn’t work out if it was because I was drunk, or if it because he was actually going to kill me. I tried to use my hands and arms to loosen his grip but it got tighter, cramping around my windpipe with his powerful hands in that way he liked to do… Trying to shut me up. I kicked out my leg and somehow managed to catch the heel in the flesh of his thigh, tearing it open. He tried to have me arrested for assault that night. The cops laughed in his face. I refused to press charges and they warned me that night. If it happened again, they would press charges on my behalf. We didn’t have a big fight like that again. He went to the War Zone and then I went to the War Zone and then I never saw him again.
I remember a time when we were first dating and my flat somehow managed to get completely trashed; the flat I shared with Bestie all those years ago. He’d been out drinking and I’d been out drinking and I looked through his phone… I found text messages from his aunt, talking about the girl he’d cheated on me with just a few weeks previously. I cried, shouted and screamed and threw his phone across the room, breaking it. He pushed me into my closet, hands around my throat again, trying to shut the doors… There was a key on the other side, it was one of those old fashioned wardrobes. I’m claustrophobic… I punched him that night and broke my own knuckle. I had to do whatever I could to try and get out of that closet. He didn’t have a mark on him yet that night landed me with a broken knuckle, hand marks around my neck, fingerprints on my arms from where he’d restrained me and dragged me around, and a smashed front door after he punched his way through it. I also ended up with some whopping scars from the self-harm that came after he’d left and I was left to my own devices, all the nasty things he’d said to me rolling around my head, the mess and disaster around me just helping add to the gloomy mood.
That was the night I think he first found out about my history of self harm and abuse. He found my razor blades, my little kit I used to use. He handed it to me. He told me shut myself in the bathroom with my ‘best friends’ and sort myself out because that’s the only thing I was good for. He lashed out with my razor and cut my arm.
He loved to leave me with no money. Because of the situation we were in and who he worked for, he was very much in control of the financial situation back then. He went away abroad with work for four months and before he went, he snapped the bank card right in front of me, leaving me with no way to access funds without him. I appealed to his work to try and help me and they refused. I appealed to his better nature but he never got in touch. For four months I had no access to money and eventually, I had to admit defeat to my mother and allow her to come and help me. Still, I didn’t leave him.
When he came back from that trip, I found out he slept with a number of prostitutes. The number ranged from four to ten. He caught an STD and then blamed it on me.
He once stamped on my foot so bad while we were out because someone else tried to buy me a drink, he left an imprint that was a perfect replica of his shoe. You could even make out the brand of the shoe. He smashed the drink-buying guy so hard in the face that he knocked three front teeth out. We left the bar fairly swiftly that night and ended up having a blazing row. A lot of pushing and shoving followed and he smashed my head off the wall in our hallway before kicking me in the stomach while I was crying on the floor. He spat in my face. He used to do that a lot.
He said some truly awful shit to me too. He told me my figure repulsed him and that my stretch marks reminded him of a map of the London Underground. He said my breasts were saggy. He said I had a horrible shaped ass. My double chin disgusted him. I’d just like to point out that the double chin runs in my family. My Mama and my Lil Sis are the skinniest bitches I’ve ever met and they both have the same double chin.
He said a lot of things to me that made me feel shit about myself. He told me I was bad in bad and that I bored him. He wanted a skinnier, prettier wife and that’s why he cheated on me so much. He hurt me because he could. He used to shut me in my broom closet until I had a panic attack, at which point, he would throw a plastic bag at me and tell me to ‘sort myself out’. I started having panic attacks on a regular basis and before long, became very depressed. The doctors put me on Prozac. I was on them for a while but they made me a monster. That’s what he told me anyway. He encouraged me to stop taking them so I did. I just stopped. It was hell for a few weeks but once they were out of my system, things went back to normal. We started fighting again and the pushing and shoving started.
As I write these things down, it’s almost as though they didn’t happen to me. It feels like I am writing a story about another girl in another lifetime. Technically, it’s true – that was a totally different girl in a completely different lifetime. It’s like a smack in the face (excuse the pun) when I see all the things he did to me written down in black and white. Did I think that he would kill me? Yes. Yes I did. There were times where I thought he might go too far, like the time he had me by the throat on the bed and also when he was pushing and shoving during fights so that I hit my head or almost fell down the stairs, but I don’t think he was purposely trying to kill me. I just think he couldn’t handle his own temper or anger. I think we were a recipe for disaster.
I was one of the lucky ones and I managed to scurry away as fast as my little legs would take me. It took a six month stint in a War Zone to make me realise I could manage life by myself, but that, in my eyes, was one of the best decisions I ever made. I met Big Love, left the Hubby and … Well you kinda know the story from there I guess.
Seeing all this and reading it back to myself, I realise that technically, I was a survivor of domestic abuse. And it wasn’t all physical either – it was mental too. Complete mental torture. If I hadn’t left when I did, I’d still be there and we would still be going around in that big circle of disaster. I think if we’d stayed together, one of us would have seriously hurt the other. If he hadn’t gone too far and landed me in hospital, I would have lost it at him and probably stabbed him with one of the kitchen knives we argued about buying.
The people I feel for the most however, are not him or I; it’s the people that had to listen to this hell. Towards the end, these abusive, hitting, punching, pushing, shoving fights were on an almost daily basis. What started as violence and abuse when he was drinking turned into an almost every day event. People had to listen to these fights. My neighbour once described to me how she heard every word that he’d shouted at me and every thump as I hit the doorframe in the living room, was pushed onto the floor in the hallway, and dragged by my hair into the bedroom. She heard all of that. So did her young children. That’s not something that anyone should have to listen to, let alone deal with.
I feel sorry for my family. My downstairs neighbour started calling my Mama to tell her what was going on as she was sure he was going to kill me. She went through hell and I never realised. She had sleepless nights, long and tearful conversations with my papa and aunt to figure out how to get me to leave, and in the end, she gave up and refused to listen to anymore in a bid to shock me into leaving him myself. What makes me laugh is that she’s in a similar predicament now. He doesn’t beat her on a regular basis but he has laid his hands on her and more than once. And the funniest thing is the fact that they’re talking about getting married. What a fucking joke.
In conclusion, I think everyone involved in this horrid situation was a survivor. And yes, after this long and complicated debate with myself, I realise that I am too a survivor. I survived a guy that may have loved me but sure didn’t show it. And every day I hope and pray that he never does to another girl what he did to me. I’m also thankful to him – I would never stand for that shit now. I may still have nightmares and the panic attacks still creep up when I least expect them but I am a much stronger person now.
It’s because I’m a fucking survivor!