Speaking up for men who have suffered domestic violence
Posted Friday 7 September 2012
“Blight” was quite the seductress, or so it seemed, although I was sensing that all was not quite right. I failed to see an unhealthy clinginess and by the time I got to find out that she was married with 3 kids, I was strangely hooked. I was hooked to the extent that I went to Glasgow for a newly acquired job but after a fortnight, gave it up to get back to her. The train couldn't get home quick enough. Unbeknown to me, it was a journey into the jaws of hell!
Blight and I had stayed at her sister's whilst she was in the process of getting her husband out of the house. The kids were introduced to a rather awkward me. I felt uneasy as the kids seemed to be wearing dirty clothes only fit for the bin. They were brown and dark blue, always. I mentioned this and Blight and she told me that is what her husband insists on. Even more bizarrely, I was to find out that every internal wall in her house was dark brown and dark blue too. However, I was going to change things for all of them - step in “Super Stu!” I ignored these early alarm bells, although they contradicted my sense of normality and hygiene, even at that early stage.
Less than a week had passed when Blight began to be really suspicious of me, even me walking to the paper shop was met with a thousand questions and an attack about whether I was having a relationship with the woman behind the counter. Furthermore, a job interview I went for suddenly became a “joint effort” as Blight insisted on providing "support" for me. I allowed this to happen! As part of the interview, we were meant to mix with other candidates. I felt uncomfortable talking to others because I had already experienced Blight in the supermarket throwing tins at me because she thought I was looking at another woman – it was a nightmare.
I was determined to put things right in spite of the fact that my past started to gradually be stripped away too. First my souvenir university mug was smashed on the floor and my graduation picture torn to shreds during one of Blight's rages. Blight also prohibited the use of the name "Carol" in any context whatsoever. “Carol” was my ex, you see. The kids had to say they were going "song singing" at Christmas or they would risk getting hit.
Nothing could ever be mine and mine alone ever again, it felt, not even my own memories. I started to show the signs of trauma. I was not going out and was reluctant to talk to family and even the old friends I was “permitted” to see. When a woman starts punching herself in the face saying "go on then hit me!" you are left helpless, especially when they parade the self-inflicted bruises alongside well placed hints that “you had caused it.” What on Earth can you do then? The Stu I had been was well and truly demolished to the extent that when I tried to leave, I felt incapable of coping in what was becoming an increasingly strange outside world.
So you can see, it happens to men too and I hope having read what happened to me, people will realise that domestic abuse isn’t always about men abusing women. Men need help too to come to terms with what’s happened and get the support they need. I had 7 years of this and I want my experience to get other men who are suffering from similar experiences to speak out, seek help and get out when they can.
Domestic abuse left me with PTSD and I felt like a stranger in a world I once knew. I went through general counselling but was awkward and embarrassed about declaring that me, a grown man, was the victim of domestic abuse. Now, to help others, I am now openly declaring it. So here it is!
Follow Stu on Facebook to find out more about his experiences.
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