I was twenty years old and still hated every single thing about myself. Not only was I ashamed of my body, but I was also ashamed of the person I was, uninteresting, boring and to be quite honest I just wasn’t that fun. So I spent the majority of my time on the internet after finding a few websites that would allow me to keep my identity a secret, where people would like me because of my carefully constructed replies that had been checked over three times before hitting the send button. I lived off a diet consisting of rolling tobacco and the contents of the biscuit tin, my appearance bore the brunt of this new lifestyle. My eyes began to lose their abilities, my weight fluctuated and I had gained a yellow finger that to me resembled a very sad life indeed.
Then Facebook came into my life, real people who I actually knew were contacting me after years of anonymity. There was a slight fear of this world at first, I didn’t want people to realise that I was the same girl that would roll (literally) into class quietly and take the weight themed insults while smiling instead of attempting to bat them away or defend myself. It was a life that I had learned to live with, people didn’t want to hang around a girl who had no money, no style and no ability to use make-up. High School set the platform for my long-term relationship with hating myself, thanks for that by the way.
So, when I was sat in my seat of comfort where no one could hurt me I decided to start looking up names of people that I used to fancy. I knew none of them would be interested in me, but who hasn’t checked up on old crushes on Facebook? I still think that the website is merely a legal stalking device rather than a way to connect old friends. I found someone who I hadn’t seen since I was twelve years old, someone who was older than me and I had followed around the supermarket where he worked. The reason I knew this guy was that he worked with my mum, he was working his way through university and took the job for some extra cash. There was a group of them that would hang out after long shifts and I had met them a few times, then decided that he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Not only was he beautiful, but he was nice to me. He had never called me fat, never judged me for how I looked and he was interested in how I was. It was amazing.
Therefore, as soon as I had the chance I typed in his name to Facebook and found a page with no picture. However, the description and location rang a bell. Writing a quick message describing who I was I pressed send and then forgot all about it. I mean come on, Facebook could keep you occupied for hours finding all of the people you hated to see if they had failed in the growing up game. Cruel, yes. Honest, yes.
Then my heart stopped, a message had popped into my inbox and it was him. With shaking hands, I opened the message and was dumbfounded by the delightful message of excitement that I had contacted him. This turned into two days on none stop chatting until he did the one thing that I had feared since the initial email, he wanted to meet up. I was shaking uncontrollably as I decided whether it was a good idea or not. If I saw him in person he would realise that I am not witty or fun and I most definitely wasn’t beautiful. After an emergency call to my best friend, I agreed to the meet and began to feel bile rising in my throat. Shit.
On arrival I was pleased to see that he was actually quite pleased to see me, there was no looks of disgust as I meandered into the pub just a smile and a kiss on the cheek. The night was perfect, he treated me like a lady and took me off to the beach for a midnight bottle of wine after closing. This couldn’t have been happening to me, no one liked me or cared about my happiness. Yet when we were walking back from the beach he asked if he could put his arm around me and kissed me. There I was, twenty years old being romanced by a guy six years older than me who was sophisticated, successful and good looking. How was this happening?
The next day I received a message thanking me for a great night and explaining that he understood if I didn’t want to see him again as he knew he wasn’t the best catch, was he kidding? He was amazing. This should have been my warning sign along with him telling me about his mental health problems, but I couldn’t see past the fact that someone actually liked me. The following week included flowers being delivered to my house, endless texts and meets every night to make people uncomfortable with our PDA’s. I had never been so happy and he seemed to really like me too. He even had me meet his mother after four days, a set of keys to his new flat were thrown to me after seven days, and I love you came after ten days. This was the most incredible week of my life, everything that I had known about myself had disappeared. I was now attractive enough to have a gentleman romance me, I was fun enough to be around every night and good enough to be introduced to his family immediately.
The reason I have given you such a detailed opening is because I think it is imperative to the next part of my story. I was a vulnerable, young girl who merely wanted someone to love me and was open to be preyed upon, and that’s exactly what he did.
After just a month things started to become tense. My twenty-first birthday took place in a restaurant while my boyfriend stayed outside on the phone to a friend, great huh? So a friend of mine went to suss out the issue, turns out he didn’t think he deserved me and after some persuading she managed to get him back in and we all had a great night. I was on cloud nine, how did this guy think that he wasn’t good enough for me? He was the amazing one, not me. Yet when the drink had been flowing the night turned nasty. He was horrifically rude to a bartender and I apologised. That’s all that happened and it turned into a screaming match on his side, pushing me and threatening to tell everyone my secrets. Luckily my friends were there for support and told me to run for my life, I agreed at the time, but I knew deep down that I couldn’t give this guy up, who else would ever have me?
Things went back to normal quickly, I came home to wine, chocolates and bubble baths, perfection. Yet just two months later I would be pinned to the bed by my neck while he threatens to throw all of my belongings of our three storey high flat, with me following behind them. I was terrified, he had snapped my phone in half after I hadn’t agreed with him and when I attempted to defend myself I was met with violence. However, after the incident while I cradled my aching throat in tears he broke down, he didn’t want to lose me and had no idea why he had hurt me. Then the age old response of any man capable of hurting a woman – it won’t happen again. I believed him.
Over the next six months I was thrown, hit and insulted. I was dangled out of the three storey high window, I was slapped and I was humiliated. Yet I stayed because I was also being manipulated twenty-four hours a day. The flat where we began our relationship was whipped from under me as a neighbour threatened to call the police after hearing what he had done to me. On this occasion I tried to fight back in my own way. He sat across from me telling me how useless I was, fat, stupid and how no one will ever want me. So I decided to throw my drink at him and run for the front door, except he caught me and floored me in the hallway. I was then subjected to emotional abuse while he threw sponges at me and forced me to clean my mess. Childish, stupid, idiotic. The words kept falling out of his mouth with such ease that I believed every single one of them.
Due to the quick exit from our flat we were forced to move into his mother’s house for a few months, this was quite possibly the most awkward situation I have ever found myself in. No, not because living with someone else’s parents is odd, we got on great and I was even doing her highlights for her. The awkward part came where he attacked me in their home, when I ran down the stairs in my underwear to escape and got slammed against their front door, and they did nothing. Not one muscle was moved, no one came to my rescue and no one confronted him the next day. That’s when I realised that they were scared of him too, that was my heart-breaking moment.
Unfortunately domestic violence was a well-known issue within their household, I was told the stories when I was in too deep and couldn’t escape. His father had attacked his mother on many occasions once with a knife as well as sending her cat dead in a suitcase via a taxi. All I had known of this man was that he had committed suicide ten years earlier, I had no idea what a monster he had been. When I was listening to these horror stories I couldn’t accept that they had happened within this family. His mother was a respectable woman with a good job, a wonderful partner and my boyfriend was successful too. Yet that was when I realised that I thought domestic violence was something that only happened to some minor communities within society and middle-class wasn’t one of them in my mind. How wrong I was.
We moved away from where I grew up and I was forced into a new life that I wasn’t ready for. My family were nowhere near me, my friends lived miles away and I was alone, he had managed to isolate me without me even noticing. I started a new job and started working my way up the ladder quickly with him pushing me to continue. That was the only feature I ever liked about him upon leaving, that he pushed me to do better.
Things rapidly got worse when we were away from people we knew, I was constantly attacked mentally and physically. I had been knocked to the ground, dragged by my hair and had him sitting on my chest while he forced his thumb in my mouth to choke me. That time was different. I didn’t panic or cry, I didn’t beg him to stop I just lay there motionless staring into his furious eyes. Something that night changed in me and I don’t know why. After three years of being abused something made me hate him, genuinely hate him for the first time.
That might seem like an absurd statement from someone who was being subjected to so much pain and hurt from someone, but that’s how emotional abuse works, it manipulates your thoughts into something that isn’t normal. I was in love with this man, he had saved me from the inevitably lonely and miserable life that I was about to lead onto. He made me feel attractive when he wasn’t calling me fat, he made me feel like I could accomplish anything when he wasn’t telling me that I was stupid and he would make me feel like his best friend because he had no friends. He had no one because he couldn’t keep up the usual standard of normality for any length of time, not weddings where he accused me of flirting with his family, or at the pub where he would accuse me of flirting with the barman. His main focus was me, to make sure that I went nowhere and that I was his and only his. Instead of treating me with respect and making me happy to enable this, he controlled and manipulated me so that I would wholeheartedly believe that no one would ever want me and that I was so lucky that he took a chance on me.
My life changed when he started pursuing the idea of starting a family and getting married. At first I went along with these ideas, much like I went along with most things in our relationship because it was easier than the alternative. I no longer had opinions or ideas, I was like a nodding dog on the dashboard agreeing with everything he said. Yet when he was planning out the next five years of my life I panicked, I don’t know why this suddenly made me snap, but it did. I had known for a very long time that I didn’t want children, especially with him. I had actually been pregnant with him at one point and we both agreed we weren’t ready, however, I wasn’t ready because he was a terrible person and I had no idea what he would do to a child when he got frustrated. He suggested going for an abortion, not the nicest thing to go through, but it meant keeping a child out of this war zone. So I went to the appointments alone and was accessed, and thankfully was accepted for an abortion. Yet I had to travel to Manchester so he would have to help me. He kept his word and took me to Manchester at seven in the morning, after a huge argument of course. After the procedure I was in a lot of pain, but I was relieved that the ordeal was over. Yet on the way home he was extremely quiet and when I asked if he could be careful over the speed bumps I got yelled at. When we arrived home I was ignored and he left me to go out for the afternoon. I was hysterical, in pain and completely alone after he told me I categorically could not tell anyone what had happened. The only person that knew was my mum and he still blamed her for my decision to terminate the pregnancy even though we made that choice together. I was subjected to two weeks of emotional abuse being told that I was a lazy bitch because I was on bed rest and the worst one was being told that I had killed his baby.
So why would I want to plan a life with a man that had destroyed everything that I knew. Yes, I had everything that I had ever wanted materially, but I was empty and alone. I had grown up with little to no money and for the first time I realised that material objects in no way make you happy. So when we were at the pub for our weekly meal and he asked me to agree to his plans that he had made for me I told him that I couldn’t promise him that. I stood up to him and I was shocked when he told me that we couldn’t stay together anymore.
I don’t know why but I just didn’t believe him, so when we got home and I was acting like everything was normal he gathered some things and told me to call my friends while he went to his mothers. What the hell was going on? So when he left I called my friends in hysterics and they came to my rescue.
After that everything fell into place, a new home was found for me and I had a date to leave. Yet something had changed in me and I refused to leave our flat until the end of the month as I had paid to be there. I got a tyrant of abuse and did for the next month as he realised that I wasn’t going to change my mind.
No one knew what I had been through and they thought that this was just a highly emotional break up, I couldn’t face admitting that I was foolish enough to have been in that situation for so long so I kept my mouth shut.
After moving out and starting my new life I couldn’t believe how hard it was to adjust. I should have been over the moon and enjoying my freedom, but I missed him and I would cry constantly. This was a man that had told me for three years that I wasn’t good enough, that I couldn’t survive without him and that no one else on this earth would ever want me. I was distraught.
A few months down the line I began to open up to a few friends about what had happened, one just shrugged her shoulders and thought nothing of it. One believed that her situation had been a lot more traumatic so didn’t seem to fane much of an interest, but one of my friends took me seriously after hearing how he spoke to me on the phone. She couldn’t believe that someone would talk to someone in that manner or that I had been in that situation for so long. She was my rock, she would tell me things straight. If I got upset and told her that no one was going to love me she would be so honest that it would shock me back to reality. To me she will always be the one that pulled me out of the abyss and I will forever owe her for that.
There was a point where anger took over and I wanted to go to the police and prosecute him for what he done. It was all I would talk about, yet there was one thing missing that I knew would make a difference, evidence. I had nothing and he had been so good at manipulating people that everyone we knew loved him, my Dad included and to be honest I could never face telling him what happened and I still haven’t five years on from the break up. My friends told me to just forget about it, there was no point. He was a successful business man and I was merely a working class girl, he would win and I would have been put through more pain. So he is still out there doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
I still fear seeing him sometimes, I feel like I see him a lot and I feel like if I was put face to face with him that I may projectile vomit. Yet when I did see him in a supermarket years later he dropped his basket and left the scene, something inside me popped with euphoria. He was afraid of me.
As much as I am aware that people will be unkind due to the fact that I never went to the police I would like these people to check the percentage of cases won with no firm evidence. It wouldn’t be worth it and I know that there is a possibility that something may happen to someone else, but from what I know he hasn’t bothered anyone since me. I don’t know whether it was because I told him that I had told everyone what he had done or that I threatened to go to the police, but I know that he hasn’t had a girlfriend for longer than a few months since and mainly stays single. Guilt gets to me over this, I am sure you can tell that from my previous explanations, but I am trying to help by telling my story.
To look at this man you would see nothing but a respectable man. He has a highly paid job, he drives a sports car and he lives in expensive accommodation. You would not see the monster that I was subjected to.
I struggle all of the time to deal with what happened to me, my mother tells me that I have a very short temper now and I have struggled with relationships since after being unable to trust anyone. After five years of excruciating mental anguish I went to the doctors and have been prescribed anti-depressants and I am on the waiting list for therapy. I want people to realise that you aren’t a bad person if this happens to you, it really isn’t your fault no matter how many times you come to that conclusion and you can move on.
That man brought nothing to me at all, I used to think that he helped my drive but he didn’t. I helped myself, I wanted out of that situation so I worked hard in my job to escape and I took my opportunity when I could to leave him. He didn’t really think I would go and was infuriated when I actually moved out, but I did it and I am still standing. Yes, I am slightly broken but I am willing to fix myself after spending five years believing that I was ok and not effected by what had happened to me.
You should never feel ashamed about something that was out of your control, my biggest fear in this world was becoming a tramp or being abused and when the latter happened I believed that I deserved it. I was ugly, fat and stupid, I was from a poor background and to me these were the requirements for domestic violence. This kind of violence can happen to anyone and we need to speak up, tell someone if you believe someone is in trouble and try to be understanding of people who have been subjected to domestic violence. I can’t express how many people have asked why I didn’t leave or why I didn’t say something. I couldn’t is the simple answer, I was threatened with my life and my families lives. I was vulnerable and I was targeted for that.
Only a few people know this story and I am putting it out there in the hope that it will enable me to move on and not live a lie. People won’t understand and people will think I could have done something, but some people will find strength in this or help someone else and that’s all I want as cliché as it sounds.
Right now I am on my journey to becoming me again, I have a boyfriend who has been more understanding and patient than I could have ever asked for. I am in the middle of doing a degree course and I am learning to love myself for me because I am great and I am worthy of great things.