David’s story

What happened:

I was a single dad with children and remarried. What an idiot I was. I should have spotted the warning signs. Whenever anything went wrong, she’d blame me. Anyway, it turned into a living nighmare within a year of being married. She took every opportunity to belittle me. When in a temper, she often hit me but never on the face. I thought I deserved it because I was withdrawn and a bad husband – that’s what she kept saying. She forced me to have sex to become a good husband for her. I couldn’t leave because that would have meant leaving my children. I tried to tell my mother but what little I told she said, “What are you doing to make her behave that way?” I felt abandoned by everyone except the kids. After several years my wife said she was leaving. Everyone said the breakup was my fault. I never told anyone what really happened. Years later I finally had the courage to tell a counsellor that I went to because of depression after I lost my job. I had no close friends by then.

How I coped:

I knew that my children needed me even though I felt pretty useless. That’s the only thing that got me through and eventually made me realise that it was not all my fault. I had always been involved with their day to day care and that gave me a purpose. Their love gave me strength. But the doubt about my husband qualities still lingers and will probably never go away. I haven’t dated since then.

How the situation changed:

She gave up on me and left. I think she had been sleeping with other men and decided I wasn’t worth the trouble any more. She took almost everything from the house but I didn’t care at the time. I was just glad it was over. It was the worst time of my life.

What helped me to get stronger:

If I didn’t have to think of the kids more than myself, I don’t know what I would have done. I might not even be here now. The counsellor was good because she helped me see that it was abuse. She used the word ‘rape’ and I now know that’s what it was like in the bedroom. It’s amazing but I didn’t think of it that way before. I was living in a naive cloud and had no words to describe my confusion and terror.

What I would say to someone who is being abused:

Apart from ‘I understand’ I don’t know. There are so many confused thoughts especially the nagging feeling that somehow you are the one to blame, the mad person. It’s no good saying to someone you have to leave because there are so many other things to consider – like children, money, lawyers, etc. The only positive thing is the love I have for my kids and they for me.

© Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

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