IN RESPONSE to stories on domestic violence, this is my tip of the iceberg account.
My life began with domestic violence, with physical or emotional violence being the norm. From a child not old enough to understand the soul destroying and physical damage, constant abuse was present in my family. A roller coaster existence of abusive relationships began in my late teens through two marriages. After the last marriage, I leapt into a four year traumatic de facto hell sentence.
My first marriage, in which I had four children, was doomed. I now know I subconsciously wondered what was going on. Why was I being treated decently? Marriage number two, where I had three children, was mind controlling. Here I didn't look out for my children from the first marriage. They underwent emotional abuse too.
Fighting back the wrong way, I ended that and jumped straight into the worst ever relationship, so damaging that two of my children went to live with their father for three years. Still, after that shock, I stayed with the belittling and slight taps and pushes that escalated in four years into kicks, punches, black eyes, busted lips and knocked out teeth and cigarette burns to my body.
I concentrated on keeping myself alive and put my children on the back burner, allowing myself to be alienated from family and friends. Many times police or other people said why do I stay; get a domestic violence order against my abuser. I said I can't leave, if I tried I would've been dead before police got to me.
I continued dragging my family through the gutter and making them live in abandoned houses and the river bank. I came too, literally, and ended up in a women's shelter.
I was asked many times why I stayed. I stayed because my abuser convinced me that I was nothing; that I was dirt; that I was worthless; that I would never find anybody to care for me; that my family and friends didn't care about me and that I needed only him.
My self-esteem and confidence was shot to pieces. It's been 18 years since I escaped and starting to live a life. My body has healed but mentally I'm still getting there.
My children, after many, many talks with tears and anger within them are beginning their lives.
If I met a saint of a man, I will be sadly untrusting and unwilling to let him into my life. Perhaps one day.
Domestic violence is out there. The cycle can be broken. I've done it and that's one thing I'm proud of in my life.