Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Abuse, Support & the ‘System’ – Part Two

Deep breaths.

It took me a while to get over part one.

So, the dream house. I was fairly destroyed by the fact I had to go back to work so early after having my baby because of financial issues. It was a kick in the gut every time he spent the equivalent on his crap. But, the dream house would change this.

It should have been tricky to get a mortgage but it was boom time. We moved in and played happy families. I became pregnant again. I miscarried again. It became clear that nothing had changed; that the drinking was still  continuing and was taking a new turn. I took the decision not to get pregnant until he sorted his act out. Despite how often I reiterated that we could not afford the house and him drinking and smoking, he didn’t change. Now there was a pub across the road. Each evening consisted of, “I’m just popping to the shop”, then he’d return in the middle of the night steaming drunk. We  really couldn’t afford the house.  I wasn’t going to bring another child into this. Predictably the bills started piling up.

So I borrowed money. Yes. I borrowed it as no one would lend him any. On my part time low wage it was ridiculous the amount of money they would lend me. The debts continued piling up. The drinking continued.

Eventually it stopped as he wanted another child. Or, I thought it stopped. A few weeks pregnant it was clear that alcoholism was still there. On and on it went.  Debt went deeper and deeper. The misery and the regret built higher and higher.

Another droplet of poison. My second pregnancy was agony. There was a problem with my back and hips and from very early on, I was on crutches, unable to walk any great distance. I struggled with my toddler; at this point I was unaware that he had Asperger’s. Bedtime was always difficult. Trying to carry him to bed, getting him settled. Zero support. In agony, I ended up stuck on the landing. The help I got? Accusations, verbal abuse, disbelieving what I was going through. Get on with it. Buggering off to the pub. Bastard.

Time went on. My daughter was born. The night I was in hospital, my son stayed with his grandparents. He couldn’t even take the responsibility of looking after his first born for one night. Things happened with his work. It’s not relevant here. He got injured. Money was rapidly become a desperate issue. There was no way I could even begin to pay back £25000 debt or continue with a £100000 mortgage.

Family too, noticed things. They’d comment on his habits, on the money being spent. We often had to turn to his parents for top ups. Everyone looked down their nose at us. Before I’d left work to have my second child, I remember people frowning about how often he rang. He would call me incessantly to “see how I was”.  I spoke to them about some things that were happening. I don’t really remember their response, I think it was along the lines of telling me their problems.  But I do remember feeling isolated, feeling people would judge me and there wasn’t anyone to just discuss it all with.

I did not want the stigma. My parents had been divorced. This wasn’t happening to my kids.  I decided to stick at it for them.

Another horrid, disgusting droplet has just reformed. At some point whilst living at that house, we were visited by a friend’s teenage daughters and a friend of theirs who lived down the road. They came a couple of times. Then things changed. Clearly the friend had a ‘thing’ for him. He would have been about 38…she under 16. She became hostile towards me in my own home. She was hanging around late at night, waiting for me to go to bed. I had to spell it out straight for her and ridiculously for him.  He could not see what was happening…or maybe he could, that worries me now. What if he would have been willing to go there?

So I was suffering. I was unhappy. However, I was able to protect my children from what was happening. I kept him away from them when he was drunk. I did everything myself. To be honest he was often absent in the evening anyway. I had to give it my all, explore every avenue so if we didn’t make it, I could tell my children that I had honestly tried everything.

I started looking for other places to live, places that were much cheaper.  If we could buy another house, in an area with cheaper house prices, we could pay off the debts and have a fresh start. Somewhere, where no one knew us. I would no longer have to battle to hold my head high. I would never have to wish the ground would just swallow me up. So we left for the valleys in South Wales. He’d lined up work. We found a house. We were off.

It seems this is a good place to leave part two as it is after this that things spiralled quickly downwards. But before I do, what of the “support” and “system” parts of my tale?

In terms of support, I think my mum recognised the signs but probably didn’t know what to do or how to handle it then. She didn’t want to drive me away which she could see was happening whenever she made comment. Friends didn’t understand. Why would they? I did feel very alone.

Another random drop of poison. A huge argument between him and one of my sisters. I have blocked out the cause of it. I may pluck up the courage soon to ask her if she remembers. But what I do remember, was him going behind my back about something. He’d waited for me to go to bed before phoning her and being incredibly abusive. My mum and other sisters were fuming and I got stuck in the middle. He denied an awful lot of things. He lied through his teeth. It’s so obvious to me now. As time went by, I discovered he was a compulsive liar (hence my trust issues). It is so upsetting now, remembering that I did not know who to believe when it was crystal clear that it should have been my sister. Still I stood by him. Fool. In my mind it only strengthened the need to move away to a new area, away from my family.

My marriage was certainly turning rotten but that happened to lots of people. I’ve recently seen information about signs of an abusive relationship that had I seen them then, would have set the alarm bells ringing loud and clear. If friends had seen it, I think they’d have recognised it too.  There is just a lack of education and knowledge about it. The topics are taboo. As a teacher, I know they are still taboo. It’s just something you don’t talk about. Hence the reason I worried about writing this or how others would react if they found out I’d written it.

As for the system. The obvious systems probably had no chance of finding anything out.  I was good at keeping it away from my children and any experts. However, there were things that kept me “in my place”. He constantly criticised me, made me feel thick. I could not get anything right and did everything wrong. He constantly complained about my cooking etc. The trouble is, I’d never had any confidence. My mum had been destroyed in this manner too, and I learnt the same attitude.  No one had seen this as a problem and addressed it.

I understand we can’t tell the financial world what to do, but really they lent me a ridiculous amount of money when I was earning under £10k. I became trapped in debt and didn’t think I could get myself out of it. He’d spent most of it and his work paid more (there’s a surprise). I could hardly become a single parent with no way to house my children or pay off the debt. Moving was the answer.

At school, I was generally a well behaved student, who did fine without putting in any effort. I slipped below the radars. I was never pushed, challenged or made to consider I had some intelligence. So I continued believing I didn’t. That I wasn’t capable. When I went off the rails BIG TIME, it seemed to go unnoticed as my results didn’t suffer.  I had a huge fight in the middle of town and they asked every single student in my year with blonde hair if it was them…except me.  Chances were missed.  Too often, teachers know more about what is happening in the students’ lives than the parents…but it’s not our place to state that their child is on drugs etc.

I came very close to being groomed…I was to some extent. It’s important for you to understand how serious and dangerous this situation was: the end result of one of my friend’s grooming was her murder. The police knew. They KNEW what was happening, how we were being treated, who we were. Having had a more fortunate upbringing, I wasn’t fully integrated to being the well behaved groomed girl and had gone to report an assault to the police on another friend of mine by one of these men. I believed that if someone broke the law they should be arrested and dealt with. Going to the police was the right thing to do. Their interest amounted to my value to them as an informant: were they dealing drugs? Where were their hiding places? What addresses did they use? What did I know? What was their routine? What were they doing on such-and-such a day?  A vulnerable female CHILD and there was no move to warn my parents or me, or help me. Just ”give us info”. Fuck you Officer. I never went back again; even when I was attacked, even when I knew about a 16 year old girl who was in a room with a waiting room of 40 odd men of all ages outside and a bowl of condoms being worked through as she earned the ecstasy tablet she wanted. She wasn’t being abused, she was just a slag. The systems had conditioned me. I hate myself for that.

I digress slightly, but this is important to how I ended up in an abusive relationship and remained there. I was worthless. No one would want to help me. This was just the way of the world and what was most important was my children. They needed a father figure, right?

You see, ending abuse is not just looking at the courts role.  It is multi-faceted. It runs throughout a person’s life. It’s the whole of society that needs to listen, learn and change. If you don’t get that from the story so far, look out for part three that will undoubtedly make it even clearer.

This post was first published here - thanks to author for permission to cross post.

You can find Part One here - and we'll update our site with Part Three when the author has completed it.

 

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