A PERSONAL STORY FROM A DAISY CLIENT
I met my former husband in 2009 through a Facebook site we both had a mutual interest in. We started chatting online and got on very well, so in January 2010 we decided to meet. We went out and got to know each other and he seemed like a nice person, he would make the effort to drive down and see me from his Mum’s house which was around an hour drive away.
After 6 months he moved in with me at my parent’s house. Things were going well although shortly after I found out that he was smoking cannabis which I was not keen on. He would spend a lot of time in our room playing on his Xbox and very rarely socialised with my family.
After a few months we got a flat together, things appeared to be going well he wasn’t smoking as much cannabis and had got a job in a local pizza place local to my parent’s house getting paid cash in hand. It was around this time that he first showed any signs of aggression, admitting to me he had lost his temper at work and pinned his boss up against the wall. He told me his boss had pushed him to it and it was never spoken of again.
Things were going well although as a family it was felt that he needed a more stable job with a regular income, so a family member got him a job as a night cleaner in the factory where he worked. He left the factory after a few months but I never really found out why. He went back to the pizza shop temporarily until he got a job working in a local shop in 2011.
We had a discussion and decided we would get married in 2012. He didn’t help with any of the planning saying “well it’s all about the bride anyway” I thought nothing of it at the time. It was around this time that we had a stray cat turn up. I took her in and cared for her. When she would cry at the door to be let out he would fire a Nerf gun at her to shut her up, he would justify this by saying “I didn’t fire it at her, just near her to make her stop”. He made me believe that his behaviour was ok.
The wedding was planned for 2013, I had a disagreement with his Mum and his youngest sister about my bridesmaid dresses, they had said that they looked slutty and that my niece was not wearing one if I wanted her to be a bridesmaid she would be wearing a plain white dress. My ex was on the phone to his sister trying to defuse the situation, which escalated to a falling out between him and his sister. He started to shout and swear at her down the phone and then threw his phone at the wall, this was the first time I had witnessed such behaviour. Later that day he told both his Mum and his sister that they were no longer welcome at the wedding and that my niece could not be bridesmaid. I saw this as him being supportive towards me.
It was peaceful for a while until he started to initiate sex in what I would call inappropriate places. I went along with this as I feared I would come across as boring and unadventurous.
We got married on 06/04/2018. It was a lovely day although my emotions were all over the place I had never been married before and found it all quite daunting being the centre of attention. I was checking in with guests whilst he outside smoking the whole evening with friends from his work and not being very hospitable, again I thought nothing of this as he was never really a people person and had never socialised with my family saying they bored him. His Mum and sister did not attend.
I became pregnant in 2013. I was shocked but happy when I found out as it was unplanned. My ex was shocked and didn’t say much. He would come along to antenatal classes and scans although I could tell he didn’t really want to be there, spending most of the time on his phone, not really a loving father to be. He had always said that he never wanted children.
He continued to pester for sex during the pregnancy, I complied for an easy life as if I ever said no he would sulk and make me feel uncomfortable. The sex was never loving he would never look at me. It was more functional to meet his needs.
After around 5 months I found out that he had become over friendly with a co-worker, he had received a message early one morning and he had turned over to answer the message before saying good morning to me. I had never seen him move so quickly, so when he went to the bathroom I checked his phone and found that they had been sending each other inappropriate messages and photos that left little to the imagination. I confronted his about the messages, he apologised saying he didn’t realise what was happening despite responding in a sexual way. I told him that if it didn’t stop then I would have it out with her. I no longer trusted him as he still worked with her although he assured me he had sorted it and spoken to her. I am still unaware of whether he took her up on her offer of intimacy.
I went into hospital to be induced as I was now 14 days overdue, again my ex didn’t want to be there spending the majority of the time on his phone. He came to visit every day although showed little affection towards me as I awaited the birth. After being in hospital 3 days our son was finally born by emergency caesarean. My ex appeared to be happy and showed some affection towards him. He gave him a cuddle and changed his first nappy.
When we came home he didn’t do much to support me I did most if not all of the caring for our son. He wouldn’t bathe him I put this down to him being nervous as newborns can be quite scary. I was unable to leave our son with his Dad as he would tell me he would prefer to stay in bed than look after him. Too lazy to get up and do anything but on one occasion I was running late and had no choice but to leave him with his Dad. I woke him up before I left telling him that I was running late and that our son needed to be changed and fed. He said that it was ok and he would sort him. However when I returned 4 hours later our son was still in the same position in his cot crying, he had not been given any milk and was soaked through. His Dad was still in bed snoring his head off at 1pm. I got very cross took my son out of his cot to sort him out. His Dad took him off me and said he wanted to give him a cuddle. He made out that he felt bad for what had happened. I never trusted leaving him with him again.
Shortly after giving birth my ex started to pester to have sex even though I had not fully recovered from the caesarean and he encouraged me to have a coil fitted despite the doctor saying it was too soon for this to be done. I went ahead and had it done anyway.
He started to sulk if I refused sex. He wanted it several times a week. It was still unloving and was always on his terms and even though he had told me he had a high sex drive he would turn down any advances I made.
We never had visitors as if anyone was to come to the house he would make them feel unwelcome and uncomfortable, either by staying in bed so we had to be quiet, walking out of the room or by playing on his Xbox with the volume turned up. Occasionally when my Mum came to visit usually after he had gone to work, she would mention about the state the house was getting in and that the washing up hadn’t been done, she would try and help by washing up but when my ex came home and saw it done he would say that she had been interfering. He liked to control the kitchen it was his kitchen not ours.
If I went to clean he would tell me to sit down and he would do it later but would only ever do half a job so the house became very messy and unkempt. The house smelt musty and was always dark as he wouldn’t have the windows or curtains open for light or fresh air to get in. My family support worker helped me to clean the house while he was at work one day. He came home and within minutes he made it a mess again.
I had started to attend slimming world he wasn’t supportive and even though I bought pre-packed frozen veg to microwave it was too much of a chore for him to do. He would also buy me large bags of chocolate and crisps knowing that I could not resist them. This got worse the more weight I lost and I ended up putting it all back on and more.
Then on our Son’s first birthday my aunt jokingly said to him “so when’s the next one”, he replied “there won’t be a next one ‘coz that was a mistake” gesturing towards our son. I only found this out after we split.
The next big incident was on a family holiday in Scotland, I was in the bath and our son who was just over a year had been sick in bed. His Dad grabbed him out of the cot and threw him onto the bed, he started shouting at him saying “you always do this, you do it on purpose”. He was still vomiting and gagging at this point. My mum had to intervene, sorted our son out and then had words with his father. He kept out of the way for the rest of the holiday, keeping himself to himself.
He was always on the Xbox never spending time with our son and when he was started to toddle he would pull himself up on the TV unit my ex would drag him out of the way shouting at him to “get out of the way”.
I found out he was smoking cannabis again, he left it in his jacket within reach of our son. I told him I did not want it around our son and now he had him to think about. His response was “well my Dad did it and it never did me any harm”.
In 2016 my ex started to carry on having sex with me regardless of whether I wanted it or not, restraining me with his weight. I said no and got upset a few times, but it never worked. I just shut down. This went on for a few months until I pulled him up on it, he told me “it wasn’t my fault I was asleep” so I gave him the benefit of doubt but when it kept happening I pulled him up on it again, this time he told me “it’s not my fault I find you attractive”.
If I ever did say no and he actually stopped he would sulk. I suggested that if it was an issue and he was asleep I could wear pyjamas in bed, he refused saying it would make him too hot if I wore them. I finally had enough I would try to stay awake longer and longer so he would go to bed first, but it never worked he would huff and puff pacing the floor waiting for me to go to bed. If I said to him “you can go to bed if you’re tired” He would refuse and tell me he was fine. He would force himself on me near enough every night. So I told him that I was going to sleep downstairs on the sofa.
We had a couple of friends at the time. I told one of them what was happening and she told me she would talk to him and try and help. We always called our friends by their nicknames but he started to call her by her real name which I thought was odd. He brushed this off saying it was because we were no longer in the bike club where the names were appropriate. He started going on long walks with no explanation of where he was going or when he would be back.
On the 28th October 2016 I told him we needed to chat and that he needed to sort himself out. He got my friend over to be a “supporting role”. I told him I could not do it anymore and he needed to change his behaviour, he went to walk out but I said as I was already going out to the children’s centre and left him top talk to our friend in my absence. When I returned he told me he had decided to stay at our friends’ house for a few days to give us some space although he said “I don’t know what good it will do”. Kissed me on the head and then left.
On the 30th October 2016 he game barging back through the door at 2am breaking the security chain, I said “what are you doing here, I thought you were staying with A+B”, he then told me that him and A had developed feelings for each other and that B had found out, there had been an argument which resulted in him and B fighting. The police were called and they took my ex to the police station where he received a caution.
In the morning he left to go for a walk with no explanation of where he was going. Whilst he was out I received a message from B stating that my ex and his fiancée A were having an affair. I messaged A asking her if it was true and the affair was admitted, so I phoned my mum and asked if they could come and pick up our son and explained the situation, they arrived shortly after. My Dad took our son back to theirs and my Mum stayed with me for support.
When my ex-husband returned home I told him that I knew all about the affair and that I wanted him out of the house. He packed a few essentials and left. Upon leaving he emptied the bank account leaving me and our child no money to survive on.
At this time we lived in a private rented property. I notified them that he had left the family home and asked the agents if he could be removed from the tenancy agreement. Their reply to me was that as I was now a lone parent with no fixed income, living off of benefits they could no longer insure me to live in the property. So were going to have to terminate the tenancy. I received the eviction notice shortly after. This left me and my child potentially homeless. The house was packed in boxes and my furniture went into storage. This was in the November and going into December, I somehow still had to try and make it a good Christmas for my child. I lived out of boxes for several months feeling like a squatter in my own home until a council property became available in March 2017.
In January 2017 I became aware of the Daisy Programme via the Watton Children’s Centre and joined their freedom programme. I was nervous and anxious but was made to feel welcome and not judged by either of the Daisy team or the other attendees on the course. I learnt a lot about abusive relationships and had several light bulb moments. I made some good friends and was offered counselling through the Daisy Programme in May 2017. I found this helpful as took the blame off me and helped me come to terms with what had happened. I was taught coping mechanisms and ways to let things go.
I then completed a second Freedom Programme as I missed some of the first sessions and again met another great group of ladies and we are still really good friends now.
I attended the confidence course which finished in December 2017. I gained confidence in myself and my self esteem has improved massively. I learnt to say no and put boundaries in place. I found this course very valuable.
I am so grateful for the Daisy Programme and all they have done for me. They really have given me my life back, so much so that I have now become a volunteer and jointly facilitate the freedom programme with another volunteer. So I can go on to show that there is life after domestic abuse.