A true story- My experience with domestic violence/emotional abuse
Before you read on: If you have experiences with this and you are easily triggered by flashbacks then perhaps don’t read on. This may be a subject matter that many people will feel uncomfortable with, but I want to share my experience. It’s important to talk about this stuff.
The picture above is me in 2010. I was 18 years old and I was in a really bad place. If you’ve been reading for a long time then you may have read my true story about my experience with Rape. That happened in 2009. So I was still pretty messed up at this point. I had no confidence, I still struggled with feelings of self blame for what had happened to me, I had no self worth and instead of being scared of relationships I found myself seeking affection more. I was trying to recover from an eating disorder at the time too so I had a lot going on.
Also at this point in my life I got involved with an older man, he was 26 so there was an 8 year age gap between myself and him. We were friends before we got romantically involved, I wouldn’t say that I was initially attracted to him and now I wonder if I ever was. I think because he was older than me I felt very flattered. As I said I was seeking comfort and affection so I think when he came on to me I was surprised that a man would find me desirable especially an older man at that.
Things moved very quickly with myself and him, I had moved into his flat in just 2 weeks. I had problems at home with my mum so after an argument with her I decided to move out of the family home and into my boyfriends flat. The relationship was kind of like any other relationship at first, he was very sweet to me, he would shower me with affection and compliments, he just had this way of making me feel special. Which is why when it changed, it changed so quick that I didn’t see it coming.
We’d been together about 3 weeks I’d say and that’s when his controlling side started to emerge. I had recently made up with my mum and was due to go over to her house to stay. He insisted on taking me there even though it was only a 20 minute walk. On the way there he was begging and pleading with me to not go, he said he’d leave me if I did. I told him not to be silly and that I was only going to be gone for a night. After a 20 minute argument I managed to convince him to let me go and stay with my mum. When I saw my mum she said she didn’t like my boyfriend and wanted me to dump him. I didn’t listen to her, I wish I did.
Over the weeks, he became more and more controlling. He wouldn’t let me see my friends. He would say he was ill or depressed, he’d say anything he could to make me stay home. He wouldn’t let me stay at my mum’s or other family members houses, or even go and visit I wasn’t allowed anywhere. I had to make excuse after excuse till eventually people stopped calling and I became isolated. He was then my entire world.
Most arguments I had with my boyfriend revolved around me wanting to go out. When I wanted to go out I would then have to endure hours of arguing until I relented and gave him what he wanted which was for me to stay in with him. We had this one argument about me wanting to go to the shop across the road from our flat, I asked him if I could go and he straight up said no. I tried to laugh it off and told him he could watch from the window and I would literally be 5 minutes. He then invented a reason to stop me from going. He told me that he had seen the boys that raped me outside the flat and he had overheard them talking about how they were going to “get” me again if they saw me. Looking back I can see how far-fetched this story is, but at the time I actually believed him. Sure enough I stayed in.
He controlled other areas of my life such as money. Any money we had he would drink so I literally sometimes had no money for food, which wasn’t great given that I was trying to recover from an eating disorder.
As the months went by I found myself becoming nervous around him, I found that he would often start an argument with me for no reason. He would then have this way of turning it on its head to make me feel guilty and like I was to blame. His control over me began to expand. He started controlling what I ate (when we could afford it) which was hard as he would make me meals that were massive, so big that it was impossible for me to complete a meal. When I failed to finish everything on my plate he would shout at me. He also banned me from wearing pyjamas in bed. I was forced to sleep naked and I didn’t like it one bit.
We had this one argument at about 3 in the morning. He’d been drinking all day and by this point I wanted to go to bed. I went into the bedroom and got into bed. He then began blasting Eminem at nearly top volume. I got out of bed and asked him to turn it down, he then turned it up to max volume. The whole flat was basically vibrating from the music. I walked over and turned it off completely. As I went to walk out the room he started shouting at me so I turned around to tell him to be quiet. He then threw the television remote full pelt in my direction he missed luckily, as it smashed into the wall next to me. It did scare me as he’d never been so aggressive before. I ran into the bedroom he chased after me, I was crying and sat against the bedroom door trying to shut him out. He then started to kick the door so eventually I let him in. He then apologised and asked me to be intimate with him I wasn’t in the mood and for the next hour I had him begging and pleading for intercourse. He was trying to turn my no into a yes and wouldn’t let me sleep until I agreed to do what he wanted. I gave in and said yes just so I could go to sleep. I hated every minute of it.
He would pressure me every night to have intercourse with him. I would say no and I felt uncomfortable with him making me feel guilty for not wanting to. Once he even threatened to jump out of the window and kill himself because I’d turned him down. That then made me give in and say yes. It was all mind games.
When we’d been together about 6 months, his landlord evicted us from the property. My boyfriend told me it was because the landlord wanted the property back as he was moving overseas. I now believe it was because he was in rent arrears. We found ourselves homeless, until I bumped into a friend who said we could stay at hers until we found somewhere else. I was thankful that she was kind enough to let us stay. At this point I had found a job as a receptionist at a children’s centre. On my first day at work my boyfriend came into the children’s centre and sat in there for 3 hours watching my every move. He was told to leave eventually, I was embarrassed and felt so suffocated.
My boyfriend found us a flat eventually but it was really far away, it was in an area I wasn’t familiar with and it would mean that I wasn’t near my mum. Although I didn’t see much of her I still spoke to her everyday on the phone and if my boyfriend gave me permission I could occasionally visit her for a few hours those occasions were rare but I cherished them. Something about moving away from the area didn’t sit right with me. I told my boyfriend I didn’t want to move away and that I wanted to move back to my mum’s as I wasn’t happy with him. He begged and pleaded for me to stay with him and to move into the new flat with him, I gave in like I always did and told him it was on a trial basis only and if he didn’t change his ways after 2 weeks, I would be leaving.
So I moved into the new flat with him and within days I knew I had made a mistake. I had never felt more lonely in my entire life. I had to travel 2 hours for work, I loved working as it meant I could get away from him and speak to other people, my heart would sink when I had to go home. He once asked me to call in sick because he didn’t want me to go to work, I said no and that I wanted to go to work. When I went to get ready for work he hid my Oyster card (if you’re unfamiliar with an oyster card it’s what we use in London to travel on public transport) so I couldn’t go to work and had to call in sick.
Things in my relationship with him went from bad to worse. When I came back from work one day we had a big argument. I went to the toilet when I got in, and
after I had finished I went to sit in the living room. He accused me of cheating on him, saying that I went to the toilet to wash myself and I was probably having an affair when I was at work. I told him how stupid he was being but he wouldn’t stop he shouted at me for an hour straight. He started calling me fat and ugly and started to insult my mum and other family members he said some very hurtful things about my family and I just lost it. I slapped him. No one had ever made me lose my temper like that so I was stunned that I had lashed out. He slapped me back of course, I told him we should end things but he threatened to take his own life if I left so once again I felt trapped and went along with what he wanted.
Arguments began happening every day. The arguments mainly revolved around intercourse. I didn’t want to be intimate with him at all. I would be hounded for hours on end and would have to give in if I wanted any sleep. One night I decided to try and stick to my guns and stick to my answer which was no. He hit the roof, he said he was leaving and walked out the flat, I wasn’t bothered as all I wanted to do was sleep so I decided to try and go to bed before he got back. He rang my phone until I woke up and told me to look out the window he was literally sat in the courtyard of our building shivering saying he would be leaving me I told him that was fine with me and hung up the phone. He eventually came back in and we had a huge argument. It went from him threatening to self harm to then threatening to burn the house down with me in it. I had no choice in the matter so I gave him what he wanted. I felt my skin literally crawl the whole way through. I feel sick at the memory of it.
The next day we had a massive argument he tried to be affectionate towards me in the morning. I told him not to touch me and that I didn’t want him anywhere near me after what had happened the night before. I told him I was leaving him, I got out of bed and started to pack all my clothes. He was screaming and shouting at me. He grabbed one of the bags that I was putting my clothes in, and started taking them out. He also started gathering up my clothes that were in another part of the room and started throwing them around. He started throwing my clothes outside our front door. I then had to grab them and bring them back in. He then started chucking my clothes around the room so all my stuff was mixed up. I went into the living room to get away from him. He threatened to set fire to possessions that were precious to me. I had to practically wrestle with him to get them off him. When I managed to get them back I hid them in the cupboard under the sink. He was screaming in my face, he said he was going to cut my face with a razor blade he slapped me and pulled me around by my hair then threw me on the floor.
I was frightened of him. He said he would jump off a bridge if I left him. He also said that he would burn the house down with me and him in it if I thought of leaving him. Later that day my mum phoned me to catch up and he made me sit in the front room in front of him to speak, to make sure I woudn’t tell her anything that had gone on. It was so hard to talk to her and pretend I was okay when really I was hurting so much.
The next day was Monday I had work and it was also pay day. Before I left to go to work I asked his permission to go shopping for new clothes after work with my mum. He reluctantly agreed, I told him I would see him later that evening. After work I met my mum and we went round the shops. I then told her everything that had been happening. She listened and supported me, together we made a plan she told me to make sure I had credit on my phone and if I wanted to leave text her and she would get my uncle to drive over and pick me up . I was happy to finally have a way out.
After I left her and got home I felt like I really didn’t want to be there. My boyfriend had bought me a balloon saying “I love you” and a box of chocolates, even though he was being nice to me I just felt it was false. I knew that he would never change, I would remain in this relationship where this one person had to be my world and I just couldn’t do it any more. I wanted my freedom back. So I texted my mum and simply just said “now”. She rang to check if I was sure, I told her I was and then she told me to gather up some bits and that she’ll get my uncle to come and get me. I did what she said but then my uncle rang me and said he was on his way. My boyfriend got wind of what was happening and before I knew it, quick as a flash he’d slammed out of the flat.
I concentrated on gathering up as much as I could before my uncle arrived. It had been about 20 minutes since my boyfriend slammed out of the flat, there was a knock at the door. I opened it and it was the police. The police had asked me if I was Danae Brandon, I told them I was and they explained that they had a call from my boyfriend saying I was leaving him. I told them that, that was correct. They went on to say that my boyfriend was apparently standing on a bridge and was going to kill himself because I was leaving. Part of me felt awful and I half changed my mind about going as I would hate to be responsible for someone dying. But then I came to my senses and realised that my boyfriend was lying. He woudlnt really jump he’d threatened it that many times and hadn’t done it. He was just trying to prevent me from leaving. So I told the police that he was probably giving them the run around and that he was wasting their valuable time.
The police very kindly assisted me with packing up my stuff in case my boyfriend came back. My uncle arrived and helped me with packing as much as I could. The police left as I now had my uncle there. Once I had packed most of my stuff I left with my uncle. He drove me to my nans house and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever felt so relieved in my life. I felt like a weight had been lifted off me and I didn’t shed one single tear. I didnt care that my relationship had ended. My boyfriend tried to ring and convince me to come home of course. I told him firmly that I wasn’t coming back. Plus my mum had told me that after everything I could never take him back. Especially as my uncle helped me leave and all that.
The next day I wanted to go shopping and just as I was getting ready to leave the house I checked my purse to find my bank card was missing. I had just been paid my monthly wages so my nan told me to go to the bank as soon as possible to cancel and block my card. I went as quick as I could and when it came to me trying to withdraw whatever I had left in my bank account the cashier informed me that my account had been cleared out. I knew it was my boyfriend. He controlled all the money and knew my pin number so I knew he was the one who took all my wages. I realised that when he had stormed out of the flat the night before, he must have gone into my purse which was in my coat. He must have took my bank card whilst I was on the phone to my uncle. I was so upset as that meant I wouldn’t see a penny till the next month. I rang him and he just laughed. I was livid. He stole my hard earned money when all he did was sit on his backside and lived off of me. Even though I lost my money, I didn’t regret my decision. I ended up happier and leaving him was the best thing I’ve ever done.
After I ended my relationship with my boyfriend I worked hard on building my confidence back up. I found myself moving on and meeting someone new within a couple of months, which was probably too quick. It was more because I wanted to be loved and to be treated right, after years of being mistreated by men. I found this relationship was nice, the person I was with was very kind and respectful. Unfortunately after 9 months it didn’t work out. But after that I met my current boyfriend who I’ve been with for 7 years and am very happy with him till this day. We also have a beautiful one year old daughter together.
I find that even though it was years ago I still have some after effects from the relationship I was in. Making decisions small or big I find that hard sometimes as I once had someone thinking for me so I often doubt myself when really I shouldn’t. I find intimacy hard. If I’m not in the mood I feel anxious before I say no. That’s purely based on how my ex would react if I said no. I find that I’m a people pleaser. I work hard to make everyone happy and go out my way for others, I fear if I don’t then I risk making a mess and being abandoned. It’s a way of me avoiding confrontation as I was in a relationship where I had to walk on egg shells everyday.
What I want people to take away from this is, to recognise the signs of abuse because emotional abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse. I find some people turn a blind eye to emotional abuse. Just because the victim hasn’t got any visible marks does not mean that they aren’t harmed in any way, as mentally they are wounded. My advice for anyone in the situation I was in is get out. Get out as fast as you can. I’m thankful that I found the strength after 8 months. I know some people who suffer for years so if you find yourself in this position then leave. It was the best thing I ever did.