Laying on my kitchen floor, coming back from a state of unconscious, with my husband standing over me, crying (again), begging me for forgiveness (again) and desperately trying to justify his actions (again) I decided that this would be the last time, his parting gift to me, so familiar yet so shocking (again).
When you're in a relationship of domestic violence, you believe them when they say they won't do it again, when they say that they're so sorry and that they love you so much, when they describe themselves as utter cunts for ever having done that to you. And each time you forgive, and you hope, and you stay another day.
But this time was different.
This time wasn't 'just' a shove or hands around my throat, it wasn't 'just' clenching my wrists until they felt the were on fire or telling me that nobody would have me and my bastard children (I had three from a previous marriage), that nobody loved me and the proof of that is that even my own mother didn't (abusive partners store snippets of your insecurities and use them against you whenever the mood takes them, my biggest one being not having had a mother who showed love).
My kids were never in the house when the violence happened (they lived with their dad half the week), but, this time, when the penultimate punch landed, they were asleep in their beds upstairs.
This was the turning point, my limit. I would have taken all the abuse if it meant not having to put my kids through another divorce. I would have taken anything to save them more pain and this gave him even more confidence and freedom to do whatever he liked, he was safe in the knowledge I was going nowhere.
I spent many a night, being physically thrown around and emotionally battered and still begging him not to make me have to leave and up-heave my kids again. I convinced myself he was the best thing that happened to me, I convinced myself that I was not a victim but that I was giving as good as I got, I likened us to Blake and Amy, I somehow romanticised our relationship as being so intense that it sometimes got a bit messy. I couldn't see any bad in him, in fact, after every fight I made myself love him even more, I had to love him more, what choice did I have?
When I talk about my DV story I still can't believe it happened to me. I am a strong, very independent women. I've taken on bigger twats in my life than this one and yet?! We had a big house, he worked in a great company in the city I worked in the accounts department for a local company. On the outside we had it all, the picture of a happy family, a couple deeply in love, a couple who had a great life. I think I had even convinced myself of that, it didn't happen to women like me, did it?
At the time I hid the abuse. It didn't fit into our perfect family picture. I wore roll necks and joked that we'd been play fighting to explain the bruises on my wrists and that my husband was the love of my life and I was so so lucky to have met him and for him to have 'taken on' me and my kids. My sister (she's an actual detective so must have seen through it) once tried to insinuate that he was abusive, I screamed at her in the street in defence of myself "I'm not a fucking victim;" in turn defending him, always defending him.
Me and my sister fell out that night and I went home to him.
I couldn't bare the thought of anyone thinking I was in any way allowing someone to treat me this way? Why would I? I'm not stupid, I know that you don't take crap from bullies, and yet?
But that night, with a single blow to the head, something clicked and I realised that I could have died, that if I stayed it could potentially have ended with my kids being left motherless. That was the moment I chose to see that I did have a choice to make, and I chose to leave.
He was arrested and pleaded guilty to 'assault by beating'; he got a criminal record and an insulting fine. I'm sure he would have got more had he 'assaulted by beating 'another man on a drunken night out? The punishment, most definitely didn't fit the crime.
I had to re-home myself and three kids, I had to fess up to my family, my ex-husband (who thankfully never mentioned karma, at least not to my face) and my inner circle, that I had in fact been a victim of domestic violence. I had to deal with all the practical and emotional shit whilst ensuring my kids never knew why. I didn't want them to ever know why! The shame, the injustice, the enormity, I didn't want them to feel any of it, I'm their mum, protecting them was always at the forefront of my mind.
He moved back home with his mum and dad, under their wing whilst they continued to spit venom at me.
My life was broken; his carried on, with room service, curtesy of mummy and daddy.
Domestic Violence can happen to anyone, I know that now because it happened to me. We were living a middle classed life that from the outside was enviable. The whole time I was at war with the man I had invited in mine and my kids' lives.
Now I'm out of it and in a good life, it shocks me that I 'allowed' the abuse to continue for all the years that it did? Hindsight is a beautiful but often cruel thing.
My kids are now much older and I have spoken to them individually about how that relationship ended and how now, I feel it's time to share my story with other women, by way of supporting them, empathising with them, empowering them, showing them that DV isn't EVER about them but about their abuser and that they ALWAYS have a choice.