Please note that this story contains descriptions of domestic violence.
"I was 17 in 1977 when I met Pat; he was 25. The one everyone fancied. He was a musician and he was really good. It all moved quite fast, but he was really sweet, protective and thoughtful. We never argued or anything like that and we had a lot of mutual friends so we were always hanging out. I was 18 when he proposed, my dad wasn’t convinced about him but my mum loved him. I didn’t care what either of them thought though. I was totally in love and couldn’t wait to be his wife. Our wedding day was exhausting. By the end of it I was totally knackered. Not in the mood for sex, but that didn’t matter to him. He raped me. I couldn’t believe what he had done, I laid there for hours thinking about it. He’d never done anything like that before. He had always been so loving and gentle. I couldn’t even bring it up until about 3 the next afternoon.
He made light of it like it was no big deal. And after a while he made me realise that it was just a bit of fun and there was no harm in it. And “it was our wedding day,” so we were meant to have sex. I felt a bit silly afterwards. He was much more mature and experienced than I was. We lived with my parents for 6 months whilst the house was finished. Everything was going so well until we moved in together.
The first day we moved in I was making dinner. He wanted sausages and mash. But we didn’t have any sausages in. I hadn’t had the chance to go to the shops because we’d been busy moving in. He shouted at me and told me I was a stupid bitch, I couldn’t believe it. We’d barely ever argued, so him calling me such a horrible thing was a complete shock. I slept on the couch that night. I could barely look at him. He was so sorry the next morning, he even woke up early and made me breakfast. I felt stupid, like I had made a big deal out of nothing. As soon as I moved in with him I was pretty much cut off from my family and friends. I never saw them and if they ever came round to me, he would make it clear that he didn’t want them there. He turned into a completely different person. He had always been so outgoing and sociable.
The insults were getting more hurtful and more frequent. The apologies were getting less frequent. I’ve always been kind of clumsy, and one evening I accidentally spilled a bit of tea onto the sofa. It wasn’t much, I’d just filled my cup up a bit too far. I was cleaning it up as he walked into the room. I stood up to go and rinse the cloth in the kitchen and he slapped me so hard he broke my reading glasses.
There were no words, no explanations, no apologies. Just a slap. The slaps quickly started turning to punches, which turned into punches and kicks. He stopped apologising. It was always my fault; I made him do it. I wanted to leave, but I had nobody. He made sure of that. There was only him. Until after a few mornings of throwing up, I realised there was someone else. I prayed that the baby arriving would change him. Calm him down. But all it did was make him worse. If I couldn’t “keep the baby quiet.” I knew what happened. Things got so much worse, but I knew I had to keep his focus off the baby otherwise he would turn his attention to him. I knew I had to do something, but I was so terrified of him. He’d told me several times he would kill me if I tried to leave. And now we had a son, I was torn. I thought if we left he would kill us, but I knew if we stayed he would kill us eventually. I had to run.
I took the chance one day when he was at work. I called my sister. Threw as much stuff as I could into a bag and ran. I had no idea how I was meant to take care of myself. I had no job and a 3-year-old to look after. He knew where to look for me, but my sister wasn’t scared. He didn’t know how to handle a woman who wasn’t afraid of him so he left. But I knew he would be back.
If there had been the help available back, then like there is now, I would have left much sooner. But whatever help was available wasn’t very well known. He made my life as difficult as he could for a while. And if I’m totally honest, I never really stopped being afraid of him until the day he died. But I started to live a normal life. I found another partner and had a beautiful daughter. Confrontation still scares me, but I survived. I survived the beatings, the repeated rapes, and I survived the escape with my amazing son. If anyone is going through what I went through, please try to get help. There are so many wonderful places out there that will help you and protect you. You don’t deserve to be treated like that. Nobody does. No matter what anyone tells you, you’re worthy of love, respect and safety."
If you are experiencing domestic abuse of any kind please seek help. Organisations like Refuge, Women's aid, NSPCC and Mankind all have resources to help. Or check for help centres in your local area. Don't hesitate and if anyone's life is being threatened or is in danger call 999 immediately.