[Trigger warning: domestic violence]
I escaped a violent marriage over 25 years ago, after nearly 23 “years of tears” (so named by my children).
I was assisted to leave by a lawyer who gave me free legal advice, my boss, who said “Take the days off you need to”, my adult son who returned to drive me and my daughters to our rental accommodation, the estate agent who believed that I would be a stable tenant and the removalist who wondered why we were moving at 8pm and was so supportive when he found out that was when my husband was normally working. There was no thought of getting counselling in those days for a situation that I had disclosed to no one in any detail and only vague hints to my sister, I was so ashamed. I felt isolated and deep down afraid of what my husband might do which is why I stayed with him so long, I did not believe I could escape him, especially while my children were young. It took me years not to distrust any man and eventually I remarried happily. I had learnt to accept courteous and respectful treatment as a given, not a bonus if you’re lucky. After suffering various kinds of physical abuse in my first marriage, as well as emotional and financial abuse I found when I escaped that I was able to start becoming my own person again. It helped having children who were close and loving as well as my sister. I now volunteer at a women’s information line (WIRE) and unfortunately many women are still undergoing the same sort of abuse as I was. At least there is public acknowledgement that it is a crime and is not the woman’s fault. But it is still a hidden problem in many cases. Hopefully sites like this one can reach more people who need help.