I'm a woman from a middle class background living in a small town in Ireland. I work full time just as I have for most of my life. Abuse of any sort was to me something that happened to others. I guess I lived a protected life going from my daddy's house in to my first marriage. The end of the marriage started my road of abuse. Which I now tell in a conversation to my abuser :
“Ha ha you got me at a vulnerable time in life. Do you remember the party we met at, the one in the country hall? I pretended that my colleague was my husband to try and get rid of you. But you were so persistent that eventually you wore me down with your sweet funny chat and smile. I was captured by the spell of a promise, a promise of a different life.
So we moved in together. Everything was fine for a while but now looking back I see how you monitored me. I used to wonder at request texts for money always came when I was at the pass machine across from the taxi rank. Later much later I discovered your spy, the taxi driver.
I avoided that place and walked further in all weathers. You began to text if I was later coming home from work, never asking if I was ok but demanding to know where I was, demanding to know what was keeping me. Now I know you timed my walk home from work, and questioned me if I left for work early. But I covered my tracks at times because I left my work rota lying around with the hours adjusted to give myself some me time.
Boy, little did I know that the texts and time monitoring were to be mild forms of abuse compared to what you were going to put me through. Do you remember the night you wanted burger and chips but we had no money and you threatened to cut me up and put me in the boot or the night you beat me with the steel lamp because I used to light it to sleep as I was afraid of the dark. I was so lucky you didn't kill me. Flying plates of dinner became the norm because the food was either to hot/cold or not what you wanted.
No matter how hard I worked outside the home to keep a roof over our heads you got worse. Trying to intimidated me and my manager by coming to the shop where I worked, insisting that we celebrate your birthday by going to mass. You even abused me with the readings from the bible. I got to the stage that I tore random pages from your bible. It was my secret pleasure when you searched for passages to quote from and couldn't find them.
The public abuse happened very little but it was embarrassing. But it also was my saving because at your nephews holy communion your lovely display gave me the courage to tell your family that I had a safety order against you.
Do you know that even with all of your following of me I still managed to keep most of my appointments with the lovely lady from Women's Aid. She gave me the courage to go to the Gardai and complain about you.
But I learned from them that you'd complained about me being a bad wife. What a massive mistake it was to marry you but that was before your abuse got physical and I didn't see anything abusive in your behaviour.
I made enough notes about what you did to me for court. Boy was I naïve going in to that court room. Looking back now I should have taken the barring order when the judge was giving it to me. BUT no, I was going to change the world and us, everything was going to work out fine and we would all live happy ever after. Fairy tales ha ha. I settled for a safety order which the Gardai explained to you when they came to our house later that day. Nothing really worked because you though you could still follow me around on your bike.
I could write a book on the ways you abused me, locking me out of the bathroom when I needed to use the toilet but then I rented a house with 3 bathrooms. Things grew so bad that when I got the courage to throw you out that didn't even work. Wisdom hit you and you'd get the Gardai around to tell me that because your name was on the lease I'd have to let you in. The night you raped me was one of those times and it was the last time ever you touched me.
I thought I'd jammed my bedroom door tight enough to keep you out but when I was sleeping you got in. You pinned me to the bed and told me you loved me as you forced yourself inside of me. The pain and fear still live with me. The DPP decide the evidence was not enough for a court case so I moved to an apartment behind coded gates for my safety. Yes you were gone but the impact of what you did to me changed my life for years. Walking and singing as I walked kept me sane at times. I threw myself in to my job and even got a new job in the city.
But the city meant more loud noises to make me jump a mile off the ground. If anyone shouted not even at me I shook and had to try not to cry. I witnessed a row one day and it brought everything back. The emotional and physiological damage done by you left me a shell of my former self. Yes in work I used to be a power lady but not anymore. YOU changed me.
BUT you know what, with the help of the rape crisis centre, Women's Aid and my social worker I have found myself again. I have a great job, a great life and wonderful supportive friends who are here for me.
YOU did not destroy me. I am a victor over your abuse because I walked away and stayed away. Today I live in a happy home where the food is eaten and not thrown around. I am not beaten but loved and respected. I work full time at my day job, while I blog and have gotten my confidence back so that I am now a public speaker.
To anyone reading this and suffering abuse I say to you "Please contact Women’s Aid. You deserve to be loved and respected"
If you, like Brenda, experience domestic abuse, please contact the Women's Aid National Freephone on 1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week. We will listen, believe and support you.