Nicola's story

3 Sep 2014

I fled my abuser 18 months ago and have lived in hiding for much of that time. It began on the evening we married. Having not lived together prior I was devastated on the first night of our honeymoon when he showed almost no interest in me. Instead he made us leave the luxury hotel in the early hours to get some take away food where he then stood and watched a violent street brawl and did nothing to usher me away. I stood and watched while his face lit up with excitement. This was not the man I had said “I do” to earlier that evening.
I was completely crushed, confused and disorientated by the relationship for a long time. I spent the first 4 years trying desperately to figure out what was wrong with him, why this was happening, blaming myself and listening to his lies. He even resorted to the lie that he was sexually impotent and the embarrassment made him violent. Looking back, I simply can’t put a number on the volume of emotional traps he set for me and I now realise it was all designed to entertain him and provide him with his power fix. He controlled everything including the way I greeted him on the telephone. He would become instantly enraged if my breathing was unsuitable or if I gasped with fear during an episode of abuse. He regularly abused me because of “(my) stupid face”. He was particularly twisted in his treatment of me whilst I was pregnant and our son was an infant, assaulting me whilst breastfeeding, screaming in my son’s face when just a few weeks old, goading me by jabbing scissors just next to the baby’s head to see my reaction as he exerted complete control. I often slept in my sons room on a sofa bed just to be safe through the night. I lived in constant anxiety, confusion and terror. By the time my son was around 2 my abuser seemed increasingly interested in abusing him in the form of humiliating punishments and making him do pointless things against his will, which I now realise is classic grooming behaviour.

Upon fleeing I made the decision to never communicate with him, and I would encourage every woman fleeing to do the same. Silence not only offers psychological protection for her, but it also provides an empty arena in which the abuser will display their true behaviour. It offers the woman a new perspective on what has really been going on and it can also bring to light many other things that the abuser has been concealing such as deviant sexual behaviour, drug abuse, other criminal activity and abuses of the children, as in my abuser’s case. Proof of such discoveries can be incredibly valuable in a woman’s bid to ensure the safety of her children via informing both the authorities and social services, as it has for me.
I had come to despise him so thoroughly in the two years before I fled that I have thankfully been spared the confusing agony that I know some women feel in missing their abuser. As a Christian, prayer helped enormously and I’m convinced it’s what gave me the strength to survive the past eight years and protect my son. Each organisation involved in protecting us believed us and acknowledges, from the evidence and his ongoing behaviour, that he displays many of the traits associated with a dangerous mental disorder.

I have been fortunate in that I have a huge support network and was able to provide solid evidence for each and every accusation against my abuser, which I know is rare. Despite this, I am still left very vulnerable and largely unprotected by the law. My son and I had to risk our lives, become homeless, lose our possessions and suffer financial destitution to escape him, but it was worth it. Despite discovery, continued danger and abuse (toward us, my friends, my family) from this man, I continue to exercise the power I have to protect my son daily. I have no regrets about fleeing.

Staying Safe

If you need immediate help contact Women's Aid, the police domestic abuse liaison officer or your local social work office.

You can also phone Scotland's domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline on 0800 027 1234

Facts & Figures

On one day in 2012, 349 women and 323 children were living in refuge (SWA 2012)

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