‘When I was married he liked to control everything, he thought it was what husbands were allowed to do…I felt I was a prisoner in my own home. I felt like a dog on a chain and I couldn’t get off it’
I was married and I was unhappy. He was violent and didn’t treat me right and he didn’t treat my family right either. He got nasty and nastier. Every day things just got worse.
When things got pretty bad I managed and coped day by day by trying to ignore him. I would do my own thing at home trying to ignore him. If he started nagging at me or whatever I would get in the car and go for a drive or go visit Mum’s place or friends – just to get away from him. When I got back home he would be sweet for a while then he would be back to the old nasty person.
When we were together he was very strict about who I went out with. I couldn’t easily go out with other people, girls or guys – I had no life. I felt I was a prisoner in my own home. If I did go out it was only with my family or him. I felt like a dog on a chain and I couldn’t get off it. When he went out to play his sport I would sit up and wait for him as wives and husbands do for each other. Half the time he would come home and say ‘Why are you up?’ and I would think to myself ‘I’m just doing what couples do for each other’.
He hid money from me. I often thought where has half our money gone and it was hidden in his shed. I thought that’s not on. He spent money on what he wanted but I wasn’t allowed. He would hide money then spend money on crap that he didn’t need, he would later say ‘I don’t know why I bought that’. We were always broke. I told my family how it was in the marriage but I didn’t tell his family. They would have just been on his side.
How things changed
I work at a business service for people with disabilities and they sent me to a relationship centre for counselling. I went to the service and they gave me a pamphlet about the local domestic violence outreach service. It was helpful to have information.
I spoke to my family about how I was feeling. I have a good relationship with my Mum, Dad and sisters. I discussed with my family the information I found in the pamphlet, then with their support I decided to ring the number for the domestic violence outreach service that was on it.
Speaking to the staff at the outreach service was most helpful. They gave me good advice and I wouldn’t have been able to go through all of this without them. They supported me and my parents.
I decided I would I tell my husband to get out the door. I had my Mum, Dad and one of my sisters with me when I told him to go. Mum and Dad told him he should go home to his parents’ house for a while.
After I kicked him out he kept coming around all the time and his attitude just kept getting worse and worse. I told him he had a lot of growing up to do. He said the same to me. He would call me a lot of horrible names, which I will not repeat, it wasn’t very nice. In the end I ended up calling him a few awful names myself I got so angry. We work in the same place, which made it very difficult. It felt as if he would never leave me alone. It felt as if he was stalking me still, which he was. He was watching me, watching who I was with, people that I know at work, who I talked to.
Going to court
I had trouble getting an Intervention Order. I got one in the end, which is still current, but it didn’t make much difference anyway, he still did what he wanted. He just would not listen, he did what he wanted. He broke the Intervention Order a number of times, he still came down my street. I would report it and we would go back to court but it felt as if we were just wasting our time and nothing was happening. He’s a liar; he lied and lied all the way through. Even the coppers knew he lied; he just lied and lied. He just lies all the time; I think how can you lie to the coppers? But he did. He harassed my Mum and Dad, he would ring them all hours of the day and night. One night he rang them seven times, it was unreal. I changed my telephone number to a private number so he can’t reach me.
One day he stalked me in his car. I was driving along in my car and he drove up behind me and kept driving his car really close. It was dangerous and scary. That incident had to go back to court. They went right through him but he kept denying it, just lying the whole time. One of my neighbours went down to the police station with me to report the driving incident. A couple of times he crept into my yard and shined a torch into my bedroom window. It scared the shit out of me – I was home alone. The neighbours saw him in my yard.
Court was stressful for me and my family and the last time he didn’t even turn up. I think why and how did he get away with this? We had to turn up every time to court and in the end he never did. I thought how can he get away with it?
We wasted our time; Mum had to have time off work, Dad did, I did. The court tried to get my ex-husband to pay for Mum and Dad’s day’s wage but he didn’t. They can’t make him, there is nothing you can do about it. You would think if he doesn’t turn up on that day of court, the court would send him out a bill and bill him but they don’t do that. It stinks. He knew nothing would be done, he was allowed to get away with it. How does that happen? We did all the right things all along, going up there to the court, wasting our time in the end. It’s not right but apparently that’s the rules, the rules are awful. It’s just wrong. The magistrate knew how afraid I was of him.
My lawyer was fantastic – she went to court with me three times. The lawyer didn’t even bill me for the last lot of work. My ex-husband started to say I was going around to his place. None of this was true; which was wrong. He knew that if he went to court and lost the case he would have to pay for my solicitor that’s why he stayed away. He can be a smart bastard sometimes. He can play you for a fool and in the end he did. I decided to let it go, it wasn’t worth it in the end, we tried and we tried and we tried and in the end we just had enough. I thought about going up to the court and telling them how my ex has treated me and my family.
Staying in the house
After I kicked him out I was very determined to stay in the house. Mum and Dad asked me to come home to live with them for a while but I felt why should I have to leave? I have stayed in my house through the whole mess, I didn’t move. My counsellor, from the relationship centre, asked me when I first broke up ‘Do you want to stay with your Mum and Dad?’ I said ‘What for – it’s my house? Why should I move?’ I said ‘Just because I kicked him out doesn’t mean I have to move. If I move he will think he won’. I decided I’m going to stick to my guns and I did.
I was determined. My Mum asked me to come home just for a week or something just to get away but I said ‘No way’. I thought I have my pet bird and my dog to look after. My dog has been with me through all of this, why should we leave? It’s our house and his yard and I think well no, my dog is protecting me and he’s protecting the yard. My dog has been with me through it all and protected me; he let me know if he heard my ex-husband around the house. When my ex-husband first left my dog stayed inside the house with me most of the time he helped me feel safer. If the dog heard anything he would let me know straight away.
The coppers were really good when I needed them. They were there in a flash and I did need them sometimes in the middle of the night. That made me feel safer. It made it possible for me to stay in my own home because I knew the police would come if I called them. He thought he would get the house but my parents had helped us a lot in the first place to buy that house, his parents didn’t help at all. It was my home and I wanted to keep it.
Talking to family, friends and services
The most helpful thing about the domestic violence outreach service was having someone to talk to. Somewhere I could come to talk it out. If I felt like I wanted to cry I could cry, and when I did cry I could just let it all out and it felt really good after because I had none of that pressure or anger inside of me. When I did that it felt so good after and I would think at least I have let it all out. Even when I went home I just let it all out again when I was speaking with my Mum or sister. I would listen to the advice of my solicitor and the women at the domestic violence outreach then I would go home and my mind would go over and over everything. In the end I just got sick of thinking about this. My mind felt as if it was working overtime. I think I got the help that I needed.
Before I started coming to the domestic violence outreach service I did talk to my husband. I said ‘Why don’t you get some help? If you can’t talk to your family go get help’ and he wouldn’t. So I said ‘That’s not my problem; that’s yours if you can’t get help for yourself.’ I said ‘At least I’m getting help.’ Now look where that help has got me, today I live without any pressure or anything. When I did feel pressure I had my family, friends, the domestic violence outreach service and my lawyers. He just did nothing for himself, he said ’I know what I’m doing, I don’t need to talk to anyone.’
It was a difficult time for my family and me but we got through it. You just have to stick together as a family. I hope we never have to go through it again. I think things have stopped now, since the divorce, but if he does anything again I will go straight up to the police station. I have changed my surname back to my maiden name.
My bosses, supervisors and all my friends at work have been fantastic and supportive, they have all been there for me. My neighbours have been very supportive. I feel safer now I know they are there to help. The police have also said that if he tries to call or turns up I’m just to ring them straight away. With this support I feel as if I have no worries now. I am just glad he is not my problem any more.
How my life is different now…
I got the house in our divorce settlement. My solicitors helped me organise everything. I had to pay him some money. My sister has moved in with me now. Having the house, I thought to myself ‘I have one up on you now’. The situation has changed for me now – it’s great, it’s fantastic, I feel as if I’ve got freedom, I can go where I want, do what I want. I feel as if I can go here, go there, which I have been doing and I don’t have all that nagging. I can go out and enjoy myself then go home to a peaceful house. It’s just fantastic and I feel as if I’ve got my freedom and I can do what I want, get home when I want. I can see the people I want to see. I get a little lonely sometimes and I still get little down in the dumps sometimes about things, but then I get over it. My family say to keep positive – if you get a bit lonely just remember what it was like when he lived there. I’m speaking to my neighbours now he’s left. When I was married he liked to control everything, he thought it was what husbands were allowed to do.
He is in another relationship now but he still contacts me and says things like ‘I have no life’. I thought to myself: ‘I have a better life than he’s got. I have more friends and family than what you have got and your parents have even kicked you out’.
My friends thought I should never have got married to him. They said he was always a bastard and they knew I should have never married him. I wish I had never married him now either but I thought he would change for the better once we were married. You think ‘he is the love of my life’; you get engaged and then married and stuff like that, but I would never get married again. I said to Mum ‘I never want to go through that again.’ If I meet someone I would rather just live with them and do it that way. Be happy – why go through all that again. Half of my friends have been through what I have and they think why go through all that?
My advice to others
My advice to other women is turn to family and friends – I did. If you don’t have family you can rely on, then find someone you trust to talk to. Go to a women’s service – they understand and are there to help you. My work sent me to a relationship centre for counselling, and they told me about the local domestic violence service. Women with disabilities need to know where to go to get help.