Domestic abuse is not defined in Irish legislation. It is however considered to be the physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological abuse of one person against another within a family environment or by an intimate partner currently or previously, regardless of gender or sexuality.
My description is different for me it’s so personal. Personal because it’s the life I have lived and been subjected to for the last 11 years. For me these definitions were very real, very subtle and regularly occurring. I couldn’t stop it. In truth I didn’t even know it was domestic abuse until about two months ago, when professionals pointed it out what I was describing as my life .. How stupid am I.. I could it believe it.It made so much sense, my anxiety when I saw him or his name on my phone.How negatively he affected me and my mental health..
The emotional and psychological abuse started the first time we ever were intimate.I will never forget his cruel, ugly words that night and they continued to become more cruel over the years but as I was insecure about myself at the time . I let it slide .. That was the beginning.. He slowly but surely started to control my days from lists of what cleaning I should do that day to what we would do at weekends.. He always seemed to have great excuses , I want to help you be more organised, it’s family time for us, except the catch was the family time was strained, controlled and manipulated at every opportunity by him and if it involved him having alcohol somewhere anything that he didn’t get to say that week sober he did drunk. I remember lying in bed hearing him come home from one of many such times and ripping the covers off me and ordering me from the home.I had to leave and thankfully my children weren’t home that night. I was outside in my pyjamas and a phone. No money, no keys and devastated. That is only one incident out of so many . He constantly told me how I didn’t do things right from wiping dust to my parenting and everything in between.. How I should look after myself better, how I was pretty but I didn’t let the world see , how I should wear make up and let him help pick clothes I bought.
It was so unpredictable, I would know his mood by his face coming up the drive and knew to keep out of his way, which is very hard in a two up two down.He had’ the look’ that I still see these days it’s hard to explain the psychological impact it has on a person..He would not speak to me for days on end regularly if I had done something ‘wrong’. By wrong I mean that it wasn’t what he wanted to expected of me.. After all the years that silence still haunts me. It makes me feel physically ill to think of , never mind to think I actually live it with my children. I would plead and beg to for communication to try bring normality back into the home but really ,it never matter until he wanted to speak it’s was pointless. The rejection and lack of empathy towards my feelings were soul destroying.
Everything was my fault. I was to be grateful he let me into his life, that he opened his doors to me.. He never meant any of it , I wasn’t to be silly or so sensitive.. He made sure I wanted for nothing as long as it was his idea tha I needed it. But I really loved him, I couldn’t leave. I depended on his for everything. I was torn between my love for him and by then my self esteem, confidence and self worth was in the drain. I truly believed all he was saying as they say if enough mud is thrown eventually some will start to stick.
Alongside all that was the financial abuse which still to this day he uses as a pawn. He controlled all of the finances.. He was better with money..He did our grocery shop buying the cheapest of every single item on the list. We had an allowance every week which was to be used as saving to spend at end of month but there was a catch I had to keep the house going on mine and he could save his and berate me at end of each month for not having anything left.
The financial abuse actually got worse when I left because I was solely dependant on governmental financial help for a while.So he would start keeping kids clothes or shoes if worn to his home until they were too small and give them back then. I struggled and it seemed he enjoyed to see me struggle. He would stop any financial support for my child if I didn’t behave like he wanted or assist in any school fees or extra curricular activities. He would claim he was struggling and not able to help and I understood that was ok.Then he would immediately lavish gifts, unnecessary items on kids just to prove how poor and much better he was.
If I tried to stop his controlling, manipulating ways towards me nicely and politely so many times over the years but I have just been met with a brick wall and total refusal to comply and stay compliant . He recently started to reject and refused to communicate with my child for a period because he said I didn’t treat him good enough ( probably too good, if the truth be told!) and he actually gave us the greatest gift. He cut himself from our lives and it gave us freedom and peace like no other.
So today is the day I break the silence and speak with my solicitor and let them help and guide me and my family’s safety for the future. I am standing up and saying No more. We deserve better.
Freedom is being yourself without permission.