46 year old Amy (not her real name) has come forward to share her story with us.
Growing up, Amy’s parents were abusive to each other, though her father was the main perpetrator. Witnessing the violence throughout her childhood was frightening, and at times – terrifying. It left her with long-term psychological damage.
Her father would beat her mum up “black and blue”, call her names and put her down. He screamed and yelled at her; and her mum used the silent treatment, for what would seem like days. “They acted like a pair of fucking savages. At times, he smashed up furniture. One time, she ran away from home and hid in the bush.”
The abuse started long before she was born. It continued on until she was 18, when her father passed away. When she was only 15, she attempted to intervene by trying to convince her mother into leaving her father. It didn’t work, which left Amy feeling a lot of disgust and anger towards her mother – for not getting them out of the situation earlier.
She remembers the police coming to the family home once, but back then, it was considered a “family matter”.
“Nobody ever did anything to help us.”
At around the age of 34-35, Amy got into an abusive relationship. She never thought that it would happen, as at the time, she had just completed a Psychology degree and started working as a counsellor.
That relationship lasted 3 years, however, they were in different countries and only really lived together for the last 6 months. That was when she finally realized things would never get better.
The first warning sign for her was, when after being together for 6 months, he started shouting at her in her own home. “I regret not listening to that warning bell”. She was so obsessed with ‘the dream’ and wanting the ‘happy family’ that she never had, that she plunged herself into a living hell with that man for the next two and a half years. He was never physically abuse, except for when he threw her handbag across the room one time. But he was psychologically and emotionally abusive. However, she stayed in the relationship. Her pride kept her there, as Amy couldn’t face the fact that she’d made yet another poor choice in men.
“My mind manufactured rationalizations and justifications for his bad behaviour. Again and again. I was the sick one, and all the efforts were on me, and dealing with my insecurities and jealousy. Counsellors colluded with him, focusing on my jealousy, when in fact his abusiveness was eroding my confidence on a daily basis. He was verbally, emotionally and psychologically abusive. He would give me evil looks when nobody else was looking. He screamed and yelled at me. He criticized me, played mind games and in front of others, he would put me down in subtle ways.”
“And later on, when he made his amends, he apologized for all his “lies”. To this day, I don’t know what he was talking about, but it seems my ‘jealousy’ and ‘insecurities’ were justified. He was always very secretive. Once, he checked my phone, and when I asked him about it, he brushed it off as if it was nothing. So one day, I checked his phone (which was not something I’d normally do), and he went mental at me.”
Amy walked out of that relationship about 8 or 9 years ago. She never told him she was leaving. She started planning for her “departure” about 3 months prior. She was studying, and wanted to complete her studies before relocating back to Australia.
“We need to stop victim-enabling women who stay in these relationships and put the focus on the life-long damage that gets inflicted onto the kids when they stay. Women who stay in these relationships need to be held accountable.”
“My one message is GET OUT NOW. Before you cause life-long damage to your innocent children. Stop being so selfish and get out!”