Take a look at those facts and statistics for a moment. Let it sink in. This is the reality of domestic violence. This is the world we live in, and something needs to change.
After I wrote my last blog "No excuse for domestic abuse" I was overwhelmed with messages from so many people who had suffered domestic violence in the past, some who are unfortunately still suffering. They talked of hope and found comfort in the sharing of my story. Even though it is still to this day difficult talking about what I have gone through in the past, if it helps just one person to see that there is a life to live after suffering, that there is hope, then I will have considered it one of my greatest achievements. Of course, there were those who questioned my blog, some who even went along their merry way reporting back to the predator himself that I had written a blog about him, and the abusive messages began. My response to those people is this; how is it that you know who I was referring to in my blog? I never named anyone, never described him, never even said where we were living. So how is it that you had no doubt at all who I was referring to. I'll answer that as well; because you know him, you know that he is nothing more than a predator who preys on vulnerable and innocent young girls. You know that this has happened before. I wasn't his first, sadly I don't think I was his last either. That's what vile people like him do you see, they move on to their next target, never giving a moments thought about the hurt and devastation that they cause. I wasn't brave enough to expose him publicly using the judicial system, simply because I didn't think anyone would believe me. I didn't want to go through the humiliation of standing in a courtroom telling everyone in great detail the things he had done to me, what horrors he had put me through. I wasn't brave enough, I didn't want to think about it, let alone tell people. I didn't want my parents to have to sit in a courtroom and listen to what this man had done to their child.
I did get to court. It was the beginning of starting my new life. But to get there, I had to suffer violence and humiliation at the hands of a vile man. That night will forever be etched into my mind, no amount of therapy or medication will ever remove it from my thoughts, but I have reached a point in my life where I will no longer let it control who I am today. I will not let his actions define me, I will not be bullied into a corner to be silenced. I am better than that, I am stronger than that. I survived, only just, but I did, and that's because I am a stronger person than him. It was a Saturday night and my friend had come over to the house to invite me out to the town for a few drinks. I thought he was going to make some pathetic excuse as he normally did but he surprised us all by saying that I should go out and enjoy myself. This may sound strange, but that scared me even more. He never let me go anywhere without him unless I was accompanied by a member of his family or one of his "girls". Why suddenly was he letting me out with my friends? I didn't turn the offer down though, I ran straight upstairs to get changed, and headed out with my friends. It was such a relief to have a bit of freedom, but all I kept thinking was what would I return to at the end of the night? The girls took their opportunity to ask what was going on. They knew that something wasn't right, they said they could feel it, I was different to the fun, carefree girl that they knew. I wanted to tell them, I wanted so much to let the horrors free from my mind, to tell them everything, anything. But I couldn't, he had embedded a fear in me so deep that I was powerless. I was weak and scared, he had turned me into nothing. Even when the opportunity was there, I couldn't speak out, that's how absolutely terrified of him I was. Within 30 minutes of being out, the phone calls started, every 20 minutes, it was him, wanting to know where I was, who I was talking to, what I was doing. It was maddening, and I tried to hide the fact that I was so embarrassed, but my friend picked up on this, and continued to ask me what was going on, expressing her concern. The phone calls and text messages continued, and I had finally had enough. I switched my phone off and decided to live with the consequences of my action. It was after a visit to the ladies’ bathroom when my friend happened to notice a bruise on my back as I knelt down to grab my purse that she had decided that enough was enough. We all went to the bar to get a drink and found a quiet corner in the pub to sit down and talk. I didn't reveal too much only that I was unhappy and uncomfortable being at the house with him, and that I just wanted to have a bit of time with my family. My friend decided that I was not going to stay there any longer. We were all going to go back to the house and I was to pack as much as I could whilst they would tell him that we were to have a girly night watching films and having a few drinks down the road in a friend’s house. I needed a bit of Dutch courage so I finished my drink and felt that with my friend by my side this plan might work. We left the pub and started making our way towards the nightclub. As we were walking along her phone rang. It was him, he wanted to know why I had switched my phone off, had I ran off with someone, had I talked to anyone. She said that he sounded like a crazed man, and it made her feel rather uncomfortable, she handed me the phone as proof that I was still there with them and the things he said terrified me. He sounded scarier than when he usually threatened me. I knew it was going to be bad, and decided that maybe our plan wouldn't work after all. I told my friend that I was going to go home, I made the usual excuses; I'm tired, he's had a long day, he just wants to know that I'm safe. But she was having none of it, it's as though she could read my mind, she was going to get me out. We all walked the ten-minute journey back to the house and found him sat in the living room. The girls were the first to walk in, placing themselves between me and him, they sat down and smiled and tried to start a light-hearted conversation with him, he barely acknowledged them. This was strange behaviour, and it made me feel terribly uneasy. The girls said we were all going to stay a few houses down the street, watch a few films and have a proper girls night in as a late celebration for my birthday since they hadn't seen me in such a long time. I was expecting the usual excuses to come out of his mouth, but they never did, he just nodded and continued to look at the television. This had me terrified, but I took the opportunity and ran upstairs to get as many things as I could into a bag. I just needed to make it to the front door and I would be free. But it was not to be as easy as that, he came bursting in through my bedroom door and grabbed me by the neck. His grip was so tight I was struggling to breath. He threw me against the wall and repeatedly punched me in the stomach, the ribs, the back, the face. He was completely mad, and so angry. He grabbed me by the neck again and started to squeeze. I could feel myself going, this was it. This was how my life was going to end. My second brush with death had come at the hands of this monster, but this time was different. This time he was ready to finish me off, he welcomed it. All I could think about was my family. How were they going to be told about my death? Would my parents cope with having to bury their youngest child at the age of 19? Did this mean that the pain was finally going to end? I tried in vain to loosen his grip, but he was too strong. I closed my eyes and accepted my fate, he brought his ugly face right next to me and whispered in my ear that if he couldn't have me then neither would anyone else, after that I blacked out, I could hear faint mumblings in the background then feeling that I was falling from a great height into a deep, black hole.
The mumblings turned out to be screams. You see, he had turned the volume up on the television downstairs then told the girls that he was going to make everyone a drink before we left for the night, and had walked out the living room closing the door behind him. After a few minutes my friend went to the kitchen pretending to see if he needed help, when she saw that he wasn't there she came running up the stairs to find him strangling me. Without any thoughts for her own safety she lunged at him to get him to release me, it worked, he let go of me and I fell to the floor (that must have been the feeling of falling I was experiencing) but in his rage he turned for her, and put his hands around her neck. I was slowly starting to come around, but was still struggling to breathe. I crawled along the bedroom floor as I had no energy in me to stand up, and I saw that he was pushing her backwards along the landing towards the stairs. I knew what he was going to do, he was going to throw her down the stairs, I knew because he had done it to me before, that's how he killed our unborn child. I wasn't going to let him hurt my friend, not her as well, not this night. Out of nowhere I got the energy I so desperately needed and charged myself towards him hoping to rugby tackle him into the wall. To some extent it worked because he did let go of her, but he now had the both of us stood at the top of the stairs. My friend told me to run but before we could even turn around he shoved us both and we went flying back. Luckily our friends had heard all the commotion despite the loud music in the living room and had come to our aid, they managed to half catch us as we fell down the stairs and we all ended up in a heap on the floor. One of the girls shot up and ran for the front door, grabbing her phone to call the police. He came charging down the stairs like a madman and started hitting us and kicking me as I lay on the floor. He was utterly deranged. There was no stopping him. Somehow my friends all managed to make it out, and they were all stood in the front garden trying to digest everything that had just happened. As I got up off the floor and headed for the doorway, he grabbed me by my wrist and pulled me towards him. I remember turning my face away in disgust. I didn't want to look at him, he disgusted me. What he had done on this night had been so humiliating. He had done somethings much worse to me physically in the past, but this felt worse at that moment. He had beaten me in front of other people, and I was absolutely distraught. He grabbed my face and turned my head to look him straight in the eyes. His face was wild with anger and hatred towards me. He said that he should have killed me when he had the chance 5 months before. I knew what he meant, I knew what he was talking about, and up to this day the only other person who knows what he meant is my husband as it pains me too much to tell others about it. But that didn't matter to me then, I knew it was over. I knew that I was finally free from captivity, so I looked him square in the eyes and told him that he couldn't kill me 5 months ago or on that night because he didn't have the balls to go through with it, and I pushed him away with every bit of strength I could muster from deep within and headed for the front door. Of course, him being the stupid cretin that he is thought that it would be a good idea to follow me outside to where we were all now stood in the front garden in full view of every neighbour on the street and the CCTV camera that pointed directly towards our house, and proceeded to beat me in full view of everyone that was gathered around. I think it was a neighbour that dragged him off me, when the police arrived and immediately arrested him. I was an emotional wreck. I sat in the middle of the road and cried myself silly. All I wanted at that very moment was my grandmother. I hadn't seen her in over a year because he had kept me away from most of my family as much as he could, and she was the shining light in my life. The police took me down the street to my friend’s house out of the way of everyone who had gathered outside to see the drama unfold, to find out what had happened. I remember it clearly; I was sat on my friends’ couch shaking from head to toe with fear and adrenaline and all sorts of other emotions when it dawned on me that my ordeal was over. His reign of terror over me had come to an end. I was free. The policewoman suggested I go to hospital but I refused, all I wanted was to go home to my mum. And that's how it came to be, I was taken back home where my mother nursed me back to health, and promised me that I would never again suffer at his hands. She was a pillar of strength for me during the next few months. I made my statement to the police about everything that had happened on that night, and after my interview was over and I signed my statement. I sat with a wonderful police officer for two and a half hours telling her about most of the things I had experienced at the hands of this man. She suggested I made it a formal complaint, but by that time I was exhausted. I had been fighting to survive for too long, I just wanted it to be over. I knew he would plead not guilty which would have made it a very difficult case to prove, and all I wanted to do was forget. I wanted to bury it deep in the past and never think about it again. 6 weeks later, I got my court date through the post. I had dropped the charges against him, as he had called me 2 days after I gave my statement threatening to come after my family if I went ahead with the case against him, but the CPS had enough evidence. He had been formally charged and was to appear before the magistrates’ court, I was called as a witness. I spent days debating whether I should or not but with the help and support of my family, the helped me see that I deserved justice for what he had done to me, and everything he had put me through. So, when the day finally arrived, as he stood by the front door of the court with his not guilty plea ready for all his family and "friends" to see, it was a big shock for him to see me turn up. There with my mother I was prepared to stand up in court and tell them everything that had occurred that night. After sitting in the witness room with my mother, a volunteer from Women’s Aid and a burly 6 foot 2 police officer the call came through that the proceedings would start in 10 minutes. 5 minutes later, we got told that he had changed his plea to guilty and that I wouldn't need to give evidence. I wouldn't have to face him again. I could go home, forget about him and move on with my life. For the first time in years I felt that I had won. Justice had prevailed, my abusive ex was going to be punished for what he had done. I went home with my mother and that night I slept a little easier.
He got 1 year community service and a £200 fine. I couldn't help but feel slightly let down by the system, just when I was considering making a full statement to the police about my entire ordeal at the hands of this monster and they didn't even have the courtesy to let me know themselves, I had to hear it from a friend of his who happened to see me in the supermarket one day. Which brings me back to the statistics I showed at the beginning of this blog. Is it any wonder that people don't report domestic violence to the police when the conviction rate is so low, and even those who do get convicted in my opinion the sentence or judgement they receive is far too lenient. More needs to be done to make a real change to the way victims get the justice they deserve. I may have a happier life now, but that doesn't happen to everyone. We need to stand up united and demand a change. Domestic violence is serious, and victims suffer terribly at the hand of these evil people. My hope is that the change will come sooner rather than later. I was lucky, I survived, but the sad truth is that not everyone does survive. So many innocent people are killed because of domestic violence. Will you stand b and let this happen? Or will you join me and thousands of others and speak up about domestic abuse and the changes that need to be made. Even if it's something as simple as checking on that friend that you were concerned about, talking and listening to their needs, not turning a blind eye because it makes you feel uncomfortable.
One day I hope that things will be different, but until that happens, look after each other.