Despite it being the very last few days of October, I still feel the need to say or do something for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I usually don’t, in all fairness, usually because I talk about and discuss domestic abuse quite often at other times of the year, but meh, this time I feel the need to write a thing.
(This is only part one of the thing. I didn’t have the emotional energy to get through both.)
The thing is triggering because I got stuck in flashbacks and ended up writing more detail than I usually would.
I’ve been in two serious abusive relationships, which isn’t exactly all that uncommon for survivors; whether they’re survivors of incest and CSA or trafficking and prostitution. Prior to those relationships I was in other relationships that could very definitely be classed as being domestically abusive, but I was young and they were short-lived and I generally don’t consider them to be as serious as those other two. That’s obviously not to say that there are varying degrees of domestic abuse; it’s never OK to abuse a partner, but as far as my own experiences go, there are some things I just write off. Besides that, those earlier relationships were very limited as I was so very young and privacy hard to come by and so any abuse were isolated incidents whereas those other relationships were much more long-term.
The first started when I was sixteen, or at least that was when the more official relationship started; I had been speaking to him since I was fourteen. I was traumatised, hurting and so far beyond self-destructive. On some level, I knew how dangerous he was, I knew how much risk I was putting myself in, but I did it regardless. Between having been raped, abused and trafficked for my entire life and determining that my worth was based in men using and hurting and wanting me and the fact that my old girlfriend had died just a few months before, I forced myself back into the closet, denied my lesbianism and agreed to meet up with a man who was significantly older than me; a man who had been grooming me for two years before we met.
He’d originally told me that he was only two years older than me. It wasn’t until I was already on the train, meeting this stranger off the internet who had a large collection of Lolita images on his blog and an equally big collection of BDSM porn, that he told me he was actually older. I was suicidal, self-destructive. It was barely six months after my girlfriend’s death and barely two months after a suicide attempt that left me in a coma for three days. I didn’t care how old he was, I didn’t care how much risk I was in, I didn’t care if he killed me there and then, I wanted to die, I wanted him to kill me.
It was his suggestion to meet at the train station in public, probably his attempt to get me to feel somewhat safer, but I was so far beyond the point of caring. It was a surprisingly sunny day, he was late and I found myself sat perched on a little ledge alongside the glass wall of the station, the crappy red benches already full of other passengers. I spotted him before he spotted me. I remember being instantly repulsed by him. He was much older, 28 to my 16, his hair receding and he was generally really fucking ugly but I didn’t waver.
His hands were on me and he was kissing me before he said a word. Telling me how hot I was, telling me how much he wanted me. I’d long gone past the point of flinching when men touched me, I just waited until he was done. I’d dressed for him, I knew what he liked, I’d seen enough of the images on his blog to know what he’d want to see. I knew what to expect from him, I knew what was going to happen to me.
He took my hand, said there was a place he wanted to show me. The town we were in quickly gave way to hills and woods; he took me further and further up this hill then suddenly veered off into a wooded area, further away from footpaths and walkers. I started to panic, a small part of myself that wasn’t maybe quite as self-destructive, that didn’t want this, that didn’t want to be with a man, that didn’t want to be here, that didn’t want any of this to happen.
He suddenly stopped, said he didn’t care if walkers still came up here, that he had to have me now. I didn’t protest, I didn’t have the ability to say no, I didn’t have the ability to scream just how much I didn’t want this. He put his hand up my skirt, I wasn’t wearing underwear as he’d instructed, he said I was a good little whore, to get on my knees like the whore I am. He raped me and the surge of panic came back and I very unusually tried to push him off of me, he just pinned my arms down and carried on. I started crying, again unusual for me, but I guess there was something different about this day, this wasn’t just business as usual. After he was done he took pictures of me, took me back to the train station and told me to come back the following weekend. When I got back to my dad’s (where I was sofa-surfing after being kicked out of my grandma’s for my suicide attempt) I went online and found he’d announced us as a couple all over his Myspace and Vampirefreaks.
I stupidly went back the following week, this time to his parent’s house where he was staying during the summer holidays. He again raped me as soon as he got me through the door. His parents came home later in the day and we ended up eating together, I accidentally got his mum’s name wrong and that was the first time I saw just how angry he could get. After the food he dragged me upstairs to his room. Once the door was closed he shoved me against it, his hands around my throat. Hissing at me about how I’d embarrassed him, how I was a useless little bitch and couldn’t get anything right. He choked me for so long, I didn’t think he was going to stop. He let go, started to walk away then doubled back and punched me in the stomach so hard I collapsed to the floor. I lay there for a long time and when I was able, got up and started apologising to him, asking how I could make it up to him. I already knew the answer and he raped me again.
The pattern of me visiting him at his parent’s house, him raping me, little bursts of violence then niceties repeated until he went back to Uni. in the September and I started college, having just turned 17. I was still technically homeless, living on my dad’s sofa trying to avoid his leers and his coming home drunk and masturbating whilst I ‘slept’ on the sofa and I took every opportunity I could to not be there, which quite often meant visiting my boyfriend at uni, it was a lose-lose situation. I ended up missing so much college, but I didn’t care, I was still so self-destructive and suicidal, I had no future and I had no hope. October half-term came and he demanded I stay with him for the whole week. I didn’t refuse.
My week long visit ended up lasting significantly longer than just a week. The moment I got there he took my phone and all my money and basically locked me in his room. He lived in a shared house with one other woman, who was nearly always out, which meant I was basically alone with him constantly barring the times he went to work and he left me locked in his room.
He was raping me on a regular basis, trying out all of his little BDSM fantasies on me, beating me whenever I made a mistake or messed up or pissed him off, he was taking pictures and videos of me and putting them up online; on the few occasions I’d ‘earned’ the freedom to go outside with him, he was wonderfully nice to me, buying me things, telling me he loved me, taking me out for meals etc. But the niceties could never balance out the violence. Could never balance out the broken ribs or the black eyes or the bruises. Could never balance out the time he got so angry when we were cooking that he threw a pan of hot oil over my naked chest (when his housemate wasn’t home, I was never allowed the privilege of wearing clothes); he cried after that, when he realised how badly he’d hurt me, I forgave him.
One of the days I was there, he threw a house party. One of the guests had weed and he asked for some, but admitted he didn’t have any cash. He was asked if he had anything else to sell. I felt my blood freeze, I’d been here often enough, I knew what was coming. They negotiated and they agreed that the guy with the weed and three of his friends would all get a turn and my boyfriend was covered for weed for the night. He took me to one side, told me to go to his room and do whatever they wanted. I took a bottle of vodka with me.
The night before the last day I was there, he had hurt me really badly, dislocated my shoulder and left me covered in bruises. He went to work the next morning, he’d long stopped bothering locking the door, he knew I wasn’t going anywhere. His housemate knocked on the door and I hid under the quilt, I hadn’t earned the privilege of clothes that day. She looked at me and I could see pain and sadness in her eyes. She got my bag, got some clothes out and laid them on the bed next to me. She got my phone out of the cupboard he had been keeping it in and put it next to me along with £50 out of her own purse. She watched me struggle to get dressed and helped me, got a damp cloth and wiped dried blood off of my face. She still hadn’t said a word to me. She took my hand and took me downstairs, there was a taxi waiting outside, she put me in it and told the driver to take me straight to the train station and then finally spoke to me, told me to go home and never come back, to not answer the phone to him and to never contact him again. She kissed me on the cheek and shut the door.
I never even knew her name, she was always just his housemate, but she saved my life and I’ll be forever grateful.
I got back to my dad’s, who had barely even noticed I’d been gone. He saw my bruises and told me I should know better than to piss boyfriends off and I better haven’t had got myself pregnant and that was it.
I didn’t contact him again, though I did get an expensive necklace and a letter in the post a week or so after, him telling me that he loved me and he missed me, that he needed me and that he couldn’t live without me, that he was going to kill himself if I didn’t go back. I nearly lost my resolve when it arrived, I nearly went back. I went on his social media sites and saw messages from a younger woman than me, she was thirteen. I messaged her and she admitted that she’d met up with him at the same time I was locked in his room, that she’d ‘slept’ with him in the park around the corner from his house. I hated him so much for hurting her and it strengthened my resolve to never see him again. I threw the necklace and the letter away.
For so many years, including to an extent still now, I wrote all of this off. I declared it wasn’t abusive; that I was sixteen, an adult, legally able to consent, that I’d wanted this relationship and that even if he was older (which nobody, not his parents, not my dad, not his friends ever questioned) we were equal and it was all OK. That I’d gotten myself into that situation, that I knowingly met up with him even though I knew the risks, that I knowingly got into a relationship with him, that it was something that I did to myself. That I was an annoying piece of shit and if I could have just kept my mouth shut long enough, he would never have gotten angry at me.
For so long I’ve refused to see it as an abusive relationship, and there’s still part of me that questions if it even was, but what else could it have been?