A Blind Leap
GUEST POST – A Police Officers personal experience of Domestic Abuse
I am honoured to have been asked to host this honest and harrowing blog which outlines a friend and colleague’s personal experience of domestic abuse. Not all domestic abuse is violent but the effects are hugely damaging and frightening. I would like to praise the author for her courage in speaking out and for inviting me to host the blog. NC
The following has emotional and raw content including domestic abuse and suicide discussed. This may affect some people; if so please remember you can contact Samaritans from any phone on 116 123. Or the National Domestic abuse helpline 08082000247
This is not a case of horrific physical abuse, although there have been elements of physical abuse. My account is more about the complexities of domestic abuse, coercive control and why it can be so difficult to leave.
I am remaining anonymous, not because I am ashamed of my story but because my overriding concern is protecting my son. I guess also maybe still out of a strange sense of loyalty to my ex.
That’s the thing! domestic abuse is complex, it is an insidious thing that happens over time. My DA counsellor explained it to me like this, when you first meet someone, you go out on your first date to a restaurant. If they leaned over the table and they punched you in the face, you wouldn’t see them again. You fall in love with someone because of course there are good things, it is not all bad. Which is what makes it all so terribly confusing and difficult to unpick.
So how does a strong woman, who has spent majority of her service dealing with Domestic Abuse and Child Protection get in this situation. I know these answers now but only through having quite intense Domestic Abuse Counselling, I could not see it at the time.
So, let’s start at the very beginning, my childhood, I saw and heard things no child should witness. As a result, I grew up with very low self-esteem, to the outside world I was funny, friendly and confident. Inside though, I felt worthless, I felt like I was a fraud and if people knew the real me they really would not like me.
So, I joined the Police and later met my husband to be, he also had a difficult childhood. When we met, he was homeless he had nothing, not even a driving licence or a bank account. I paid for him to get a driving licence and set a bank account for him and he moved into my house almost immediately.
I know now that when a new relationship moves too fast, to soon it can be a warning sign a red flag. Actually now having reread everything I have written, there are a lot of warning signs throughout; I didn’t know! I could not see them at the time.
When we first met, I was asked to attend a police station where I met with a Detective who tried to warn me about him and told me he would destroy my life. They could not give me specific details due to disclosure, in those days there was no Clare’s law, no domestic abuse disclosure.
So, I walked out thinking, they do not know him like I do, he has had a terrible childhood, he just needs someone to believe in him and tell him he is a good person. I would be that person.
I wanted to help him, I wanted to show him what he could achieve if he had one strong positive influence in his life that believed in him, that person would be me. I now understand through counselling that this is a typical toxic/abusive relationship. My counsellor gave me this to read,
The Drama/Victim triangle
I found it very helpful.
I am still mortified and embarrassed though that me as a professional person, who has dealt with domestic abuse and child protection for so many years, could not see what was under her own nose. I did and still do feel so very stupid. At the time, all I wanted to do was help him, which is all I ever want to do is to help people, sadly though often at the expense of my own wellbeing.
This meeting at the police station did make my doubt and question things though but without proper disclosure I had no concrete facts to go on, so I trusted the person I had fallen in love with.
I fell pregnant within a year of meeting him, I paid for everything during the pregnancy. Whilst I was pregnant his children from a previous relationship came to live with us, I totally supported his children financially. I was pregnant, isolated from my family who lived in another part of the country, working full time in a busy CID office and had no support from him.
The stress from events during the pregnancy meant when my son was born I had undiagnosed PND. This was the first period in my life where my mental health started to decline, I started suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, I felt trapped, my life felt out of control.
I went back to work full time after three months’ maternity leave as I could not afford any other time off, he was unable to support me. This was when things started to get really bad, he would not help around the house, I was paying all the bills, looking after my son and working. He kept getting into debt, I kept paying his debts off.
I started noticing he was only impressed with violence and ‘hard men’ with a violent past; he was obsessed with weapons and knives. He had terrible mood swings.
He despised my job as a police officer and everything I stood for, he always called me “Snow White” and “little Miss perfect”. He was jealous, possessive and unmotivated, I felt he was not contributing anything.
I ended the relationship as a result, it was around this time he pushed me over and threatened to throw acid in my face.
Months later he started crying and pleading that he had changed, I wrongly thought for our Sons sake that I should try again. He did make an effort for several months and was helping round the house and was more motivated.
We decided to have a fresh start and I transferred back to my home town.
Unfortunately, as I was about to transfer he was arrested and convicted of a serious assault. So, I transferred with him coming down and starting community service, I was mortified.
His life style and bad money management has meant I have spent all my savings on him, re-mortgaged my house on several occasions to pay off his debts, got loans out for him in my name. He kept saying he would change but he never did. We were together for twenty years but only married for past four years, although he wanted to marry me shortly after we met. I always said no.
Deep down I had this worry that he never really loved me and was just using me for what I could provide but I kept pushing this nagging feeling aside.
He said that if I married him, he would sign a pre-nuptial agreement. He told me, I should trust him and he wanted to make me feel secure, that I had given him so much that without me he would either be in prison or dead. So, I agreed.
I can only explain my decision as me thinking we have been together for so long and been through so much, so why not. Unfortunately, as the wedding got nearer, he went back on his word and he said he found it disgusting that I could not trust me without a pre-nuptial agreement. So, as we were already committed financially to the Wedding, I put my concerns and reservations behind me and married him regardless.
However, I regretted the marriage on our honeymoon even when he started calling me his property.
There are so many incident’s that I am not prepared to talk about for various reasons but what I will say is this-
Over the years, he has isolated me from family and friends, he would purposely make people uncomfortable so they didn’t want to visit me. He would shout and swear and have terrible mood swings. He would embarrass me in public, have road rage incidents, swear at people in shops, push past people, barge past them. He would tell me he hates most people, every night he would swear and be negative and aggressive about people on TV.
He has bullied and controlled me for years, I was constantly paying off his debts, over the years I have given him thousands of pounds. Every time he promised it was the last time, each time it never was.
I always worked, I paid all the bills, the mortgage everything, I did all the housework, I paid for all home improvement’s and I fully supported our son. Whilst he took no responsibility and no working in partnership with me. I would give and he would take. I always felt more like his carer, than his wife, or like he was a child I would support.
For years, I felt like I was walking on egg shells, I felt like I was living on my nerves, I was never sure one second to the next when his mood was going to change. I was very jumpy, constantly on edge, I didn’t feel safe, I would have panic attacks and still now suffer from anxiety and depression.
He always said he wanted nothing from me money wise as I have helped him so much over the years. By his own admission, he has repeatedly told me he has never added anything to my life and constantly taken everything away.
The final incident that happened was when he held me up by the neck against the kitchen cupboard and drew back his fist to punch me in the face. That was the moment! that moment of pure clarity, where I could suddenly see everything so clearly. I ended the relationship and he moved out. As had happened several times in our relationship before when we had split up, he started crying and begging me to take him back. This time something had changed inside me and I stood strong.
I still had moments though when I missed him and moments when I was unsure whether I was doing the right thing. This time though things were very different, as I had spoken out, I had told people the truth about what was going on. I had sought help from the IDVA service and was able to obtain domestic abuse counselling.
Another defining moment was when someone said to me, “If you stay with him he will spend all your money until you have nothing left, I actually feel you are at such a risk, you could end up dead. I do not want to read about you in the next domestic homicide review”. Those words will stay with me forever.
We are now divorced, I divorced him for unreasonable behaviour. I did not want anything from him financially, I just want him to leave me alone. Unfortunately, he now wants half my pension and for me to sell my house, our sons home. His family are financing Court proceedings for him, I on the other hand have no money left because of what he has taken from me, I cannot get legal aid and therefore I am having to represent myself at Court.
I have been told the starting point is that he is entitled to 50% of everything I have, even though he never contributed and was abusive. Over the years, he contributed no more than what a lodger would. Except with a lodger I would not now be in a situation where he was about to take my house and pension.
His conduct will most likely not be taken into account because it is not bad enough, conduct is apparently only a factor if someone has been seriously physically abused.
I am likely to lose everything I have worked for in the last thirty years, everything that was meant to be for my son. I wanted him to have the life I never did. At the moment, I am unwell with depression I am currently off work and have been having suicidal thoughts.
Let’s have a little chat about these suicidal thoughts.
I am not suicidal. I am just on occasion having thoughts. At the moment in my head, I feel trapped, I am not in control of a situation and I do not know what the outcome will be. So, when I am trying to find solutions, my brain at fleeting moments goes something like this “What if you were no longer here, then your son would be left everything in your will” My rational brain then goes “Actually I am pretty sure he would much prefer his Mum alive instead” I have spoken to professionals about these thoughts and they are not worried, neither am I, so please do not be either.
I do however feel in shock, devastated and the old feelings of feeling completely worthless have resurfaced. I think I thought if I spent my life being a good person and trying to help others, that I would get the same in return. No-one can help me though; the Matrimonial law is what it is. I do feel so alone! I have good friends and family but they can’t make this go away and they can’t change the inevitable outcome.
I feel like he has stolen everything from me, my money and most importantly my health.
I work hard I have dedicated my life, protecting people, dealing with vulnerable victims. Yet because I want to help and save people, I was unable to see myself how I was being abused. I feel such a complete fool, plus my position as a police officer meant his values, morals and aggression constantly made me feel compromised professionally. He would sneer at me and get angry if I challenged him about his behaviour. He would tell me I was too straight and a goody two shoes.
He had no respect for my occupation at all. He hated the police and everything I stood for. So now he will most likely get to walk away with everything I have worked for in the past 30 years, to fritter away and laugh in my face. This is our son’s future, he is stealing.
I thought making the decision to break away from him would be the start of the rest of my life. However, at this time I feel like it was the start of my life effectively being over. I was stupid, I made bad choices, thinking I could rescue someone, thinking they just needed someone to believe in them. Now I feel I am being punished for that; it is just reinforcing those lifelong feelings of being worthless and that I do not matter.
Anyway, this is where the whole sorry tale is at the moment, I will just have to accept my fate and try and find some way of rebuilding my life after the Courts decision.
So anyway, this is domestic abuse and scars are not always on show. It does not mean it is anyway less painful.