I wasn’t going to write anything on this topic and this is not about Zariah, but again, it’s just one of those things that goes on so frequently in our communities, but just isn’t spoken about.
Love is not anger. Love is not pain. Love is NOT having a lack of self control, it is not physical fights, and it is certainly not being rude, volatile and intolerant because he or she “makes you like that”.
I actually wonder to myself, does anyone actually know what domestic violence/abuse is? You think of violence and just imagine a man beating up his girlfriend, but it’s not just that. It’s sooo much more. I was going to say that this is one for the ladies, but you know what, men need to take a read too (before anyone attacks me, I am well aware that women can also be perpetrators of violence, so this is for EVERYONE).
I covered the tiniest amount of my relationship with my daughter’s dad in one of the backstories (see previous blogs), but mostly just covered the pregnancy leading up to the birth. I never wanted to actually cover the whole relationship, but I will go into the red flags that should have been acknowledged from the get go. As women, we tend to completely put ourselves on the back burner to care for others, but fail to acknowledge when the people we are caring for are not caring for you.
I met my ex partner when I was 17/18. I wasn’t exactly looking for a relationship but when he started speaking to me, I was quick to find out what kind of person he was from the get go (well try). He was 19 and told me he was working, has future goals of becoming a physiotherapist, and was due to start university in September (it was the middle of summer at the time). For me, I thought he was ticking boxes, he seemed like a quiet, nice, humble guy, but things changed so quickly.
He forced himself on me the first time he ever came to my house. I was NOT raped, we did not have sex, but he stormed out after I wouldn’t give in to his many attempts (this should have been red flag number 1, but I gave him chances after that). He told me he stormed out because “my friend was annoying”. What convenient timing…
You know when you’re young, you fall in “love” quickly, everything could be a complete mess but you’re just caught up and completely oblivious lol. He was a party guy, would go out and get drunk with his friends pretty much every weekend which caused him to lose his job (he would miss shifts because he was hung over). Suddenly, me, the looked after kid living in a children’s home, was paying for his upkeep. It started off as him asking me to pay for his driving lesson as a one off, promising to pay me back of course. Then he asked again, and again, and again. I didn’t even have a driving license, and I’m paying for somebody else to get theirs? Excuse me?
Then he asked for me to pay his phone bill one month, and then the next month, and the month after that. This is someone who had the support of both of his parents at home. By the way, I just want to outline that this is not abuse. There is NO problem in helping someone financially, but there is a fine line between being a helping hand and being an idiot. He got so comfortable asking, and didn’t even care to ask what my financial situation was. I was still a kid.
Summer came and went, and suddenly, he wasn’t going to university anymore. Don’t ask why, but he told me that was his decision. I went from dating someone who had a clear path of where he was going, and was self sufficient, to basically having a son. I paid for everything. I was still in college, and working ridiculous hours, but to be honest, things weren’t that bad. I still spent every free minute with him. We spoke about everything, our morals, our plans, our hopes for the future, our childhoods. You name it, we talked about it. I helped him fix his CV, would apply for jobs for him, take online tests for him, get him interviews. I was literally his personal recruitment agent. I searched for jobs all day long for him, would send him endless links, where he would just need to send his CV (the CV I created) to apply for jobs. Like I said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with caring for your other half, nothing wrong with carrying them if they don’t have things together at the time, nothing wrong with being there. Nothing at all, but you can’t spend years of your life giving and caring and doing whilst not even getting 2% of that back in return. It slowly drained my spirit.
Despite that, in the beginning, things were generally good, although we bickered quite a bit. My issue was every time we would argue, I would want to break up, and his issue was every time we argued, he would say stuff that was way below the belt. He would call me names, send paragraphs of insults, shout abuse over the phone and then cut off. He would come back very quickly and apologise, but that in itself should have been another red flag. Someone who says they love you shouldn’t feel so comfortable calling you every name under the sun so quickly. This is abuse. It was never warranted. It is never warranted.
I was a fairly sociable girl before I got into that relationship. I had a good circle of friends. When he would be spiteful and spew abuse, I would go and speak to my friends about the issues in our relationship. I needed to get an outside opinion. Sometimes I just needed to vent. That in itself would cause even more problems. He didn’t like me talking to my friends, “putting our business out there”. He didn’t like me speaking to male friends, and was sure that every single guy had ulterior motives. He would call me naive and dumb for talking to a male, and would say that all my female friends are “jealous of our relationship” and are “haters”. He called all my friends fake. He had a problem with me speaking to anyone, and wanted me to cut that off. So I did, and when serious things happened like what went on next, I was so isolated and had no one to talk to. This is abuse. No partner should ever control your friendships, relationships, or anything else. You should not be forced or manipulated into making decisions. You should never be made to choose. It can be come very isolating, and having no support system can make it even harder to come out of those situations.
Then the biggest hurdle in our relationship came. We had been together maybe 5/6 months, and I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t know how he would react, and it’s such a major thing to deal with at 18, or any age really, but I reluctantly told him, thinking we would make a decision together. We had spoken about what if’s maybe 3/4 months before, and looking back I know I was stupid as hell to ever think he genuinely meant the stuff he said, but he gave all the text book answers that a gentleman would give (I’d be there, I don’t believe in abortion, we’ll figure it out me and you till the end bla bla bla). When I told him though, that “gentleman” was missing. We would talk about it, and he would do all the standard “blame the female” techniques (why didn’t you take the pill, you should have sorted it yourself etc etc), and would tell me I need to get an abortion. There was one phone call in particular where he shouted down the phone calling me all sorts and said that I’m trying to “trap him”. Excuse me? Trap you for what? Men with this mentality that aren’t famous rappers, or athletes or CEO’s are just a mess. For him to spurt that out of his mouth was low, considering he didn’t even have a damn thing to his name, and I was still paying all his bills. He made me feel so small, and said whatever he needed to say to make me decide on an abortion, and that’s what I did. He pressured me to make a decision.
Anyways moving on. That decision really affected me. I was going through a lot and didn’t have his support. Mentally I was drained, and still felt so much shame regarding what I had done. I was drowning in depression, and he didn’t give a damn. I finally helped him get a job, and with that he basically f*cked off. He went back to partying and left me on my own to deal with it. He didn’t break up with me, but we didn’t see each other for around two months. He was living his life, but would still drag me along with the same “I love you, I miss you” lines. In February/March times, I called it off (to be fair it was “off” for months now, maybe I just needed the closure).
I was sad for a while but I moved on. Got a proper flat, got myself a dream job, I was happy where I was and barely spoke to my ex. In the summer, I started talking to someone new. We went out, did stuff together, would speak on the phone for hours on end. I was happier. It was nice to have someone messaging me for once, checking on me, caring for me. Of course, the minute my ex partner got a sniff of me moving forward, he came back. He came clean saying he had been sleeping with girls whilst still dragging me along, and did the most to try and get me back. He was consistent, attentive, plus all the qualities I “fell in love with” before. Of course, he only did that because there was another guy in the picture. He was the kind of person that doesn’t want to keep you, but could never let anyone else have you. Unfortunately for me, I was so in love that I couldn’t see it. Suddenly, he wanted to see me everyday, message all the time, speak on the phone, would cook for me, clean my flat and make all the effort in the world, but again, of course it didn’t last.
Within a few months, he asked for a key. He made a “joke” on the phone, about how fun it would be to live together. Of course he probably just said this to get away from his parents who he resented, but me being stuck on stupid and in “love”, I saw this as a good thing. He wanted to move forward with me. I thought it symbolised him being serious about me, and failed to realise he hated being at home. We spoke about him moving in, and I made it clear that he wouldn’t be living here for free. I expected him to pay half of everything, and made sure he was aware of that before even thinking of taking my spare key, and of course, he promised the world. It never came.
Things went swiftly downhill from there.
He moved in. He didn’t pay a penny, not even in the first month. Did he move out? No. Did I force him? No. I did the same stuff that didn’t get me anywhere before, because I genuinely cared about this man. I updated his CV, and started looking for jobs. I didn’t chase him for his half, baring in mind he still owed me hundreds from early on in the relationship, I just assumed he would pay me back when he had it. But months grew into years real quick.
I was working in a gambling shop, I think I mentioned this in the first back story blog. Because I didn’t chase him for the money that he owed me, and for his half of the bills, he became complacent. He got comfortable. My bills more than tripled, and he still wasn’t contributing anything. He wanted the sports channels, he wanted more games for MY PS4. He wanted more snacks in the house. He just wanted more, all the time there was something more. I rarely even got a thank you. I tried to encourage him to apply for jobs. He had everything set for him, the laptop, the CV, the websites, I sent him stuff for him to look at all the time. I would leave the house in the morning and if he wasn’t sleeping on the sofa, he’d basically be inside the TV, playing FIFA or NBA2K something. If it wasn’t that, it was another game he had asked me to buy him. I got home from a 13/14 hour shift, and he was doing the same thing. It. Got. Draining. The relationship was suffering. I felt like his mum. He didn’t ever ask how I was, or if I’m coping. I had debts piling up and he was so comfy where he was, he didn’t even care. There was ALWAYS something more. I was tired. Working 70 hour weeks meant we never had time for a relationship. I think I started to resent him. Our relationship became more of a room mate situation, and he was the room mate that didn’t pay for a damn thing. Even calling it a relationship in the first place is stretching it.
I got a new contract, and started leaving my old phone at home. He would go through my phones behind my back, trying to look for something to argue over. He had already been disloyal before, stringing me along initially whilst sleeping with other women, so maybe that made him insecure. He would call me whilst I was at work to argue, to shout insults and call me names. He would always apologise by the end of the day, when it was time for me to come home, but your sorry does not take away the tears that I cried and had to hide at work. He would entertain other women and make me look and feel stupid, but if I was to bring it up, he would get angry at me, and find a way to blame me for the unspeakable words that came out of his mouth. This is abuse. His words, his actions, are never your fault.
Things got worse. Our arguments got more heated and escalated into violence. When I tried to ask him to leave he would throw fits, smash things, punch holes into doors, do everything but leave. He would go through anger, aggression, then depression and sadness and would end up crying in one corner of my bedroom. Sometimes it felt like he manipulated my struggles with my mental health to make sure I didn’t leave him. He would tell me he’s worried about me, I don’t seem okay when I was absolutely fine, to make me question myself, or if I mentioned breaking up or him moving out, he would tell me he has no purpose without me, and would threaten suicide. I was never going to take the risk and find out whether he was serious, and I can’t kick someone when they’re down, but in me choosing to stay with him, I was choosing his well being over my mine, and it was never appreciated. This is abuse. Threatening suicide when I wanted to leave? It was manipulative, and again put me in a position where I had to choose someone else over myself and my happiness.
When I was pregnant it was 10 times worse. He found more ammunition. I distanced myself from him because he did not do anything or bring anything to the table but arguments. He was not a pillar of emotional support, financial support or any other kind. By then, I started to realise that I was always caring for him, looking out for him, checking for him, providing for him, and the time where he was required to do all of that he was nowhere to be found. Me distancing myself didn’t help either. He would bombard me with messages, and his insecurities led him to always assume that I was with another guy, and some other man would be looking after “his child”. Maybe the fact that he wasn’t doing a thing for his unborn child played more on his mind and led him to overthink, but that thought caused him to send more paragraphs of abuse, calling me every name under the sun. Towards the end of the pregnancy, he threatened to call social services and mental health teams to lock me up. He would tell me stuff like he will fight for custody and I will never see my child. The word vomit that used to come out of his mouth was honestly horrendous, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. At a time where I was already going through a lot, when I didn’t want to get back into a relationship with him, he would return to being abusive. This is abuse. I was heavily pregnant, and in outbursts of anger he would threaten that I will never ever see her, and will spend the rest of my days in psychiatric wards, away from my baby. It takes a different kind of person to threaten you using your children.
& then there was more. After she was born, he would only show up to things if I was willing to get back together (which meant he showed up to nothing). In spates of anger again he would scream abuse down the phone because I didn’t want to try again. He would tell me I would never find any better than him, and call me names for preferring to have a blended family than get back with my daughters father. Less than a week after I gave birth to his child, he screamed down the phone shouting “err, who do you think will love you with that ugly pregnancy body”. He laughed, mocked my weight and my Caesarean section stomach, and cut the phone. I have never felt so small. I had never felt so insecure about my appearance and that damage lasted a long while. Abuse is not just giving your girlfriend a black eye (although he had done this once before). Psychological scars last way longer than superficial ones. This is abuse.
The timeline just goes on and on. I wanted to take my daughter to her first birthday party when she was a few months old. At this point, her father was not involved in her medical care or any other kind of care (we were aware that she was likely to be disabled), but I still did my best to try and keep him involved, for my daughters sake. I invited him to places, let him know of events in our calendar, and would let him know he was welcome to come. I asked him if he wanted to come to the birthday party weeks in advance, and he said he would let me know. He didn’t come back and let me know. I came back to him and mentioned it once more and he moved oblivious and so I left him to it. I invited my (female) cousin to come with me as I was still anxious to take Zariah out alone, and on the day I got myself and Zariah ready and was quite excited. Her dad messaged me on the day, I guess just to have general conversation. We spoke normally, and I told him that I would speak to him later as we were getting ready. With no mention of a “he, him, man, mr” or any other male reference, my ex blew up. Accusing me of trying to play happy families with a man, calling me a hoe, a slag and every other derogatory term you use on women. He constantly accused me of dating, or trying to replace him as a father, or chatting to men or whatever other insecure thing he could think of. Number 1, I was not talking to any male, and was not in a place to at the time, but number 2, it was not his business. I am a free woman, and not under the control of any man. He entertained women and I left him to it, but the slightest thought of me being anywhere with a man that’s not him would lead to an onslaught of abuse. I didn’t want to argue, so I blocked him on Whatsapp. He then iMessaged me. I blocked him on iMessage, and he Snapchatted me. I blocked him on Snapchat and he called me. I blocked his phone number and he harassed my house phone. He spewed abuse from every possible avenue. If I entertained it, it would escalate, and if I didn’t, it would escalate. This is abuse.
I feel like even this is like a 100 page read so I won’t go on, but the fact that I could go on and on and on is a sign of something horribly wrong in our communities. When I tried to mention that this is abusive, it seemed to trigger him more. I couldn’t speak up, and so many other women are in these sorts of situations, and just believe it’s normal and comes with any relationship. My ex partner still carries that same opinion. It was toxic, it broke me physically, spiritually, and mentally and is something I could never put myself through again. Please understand the true meaning of domestic abuse, it’s more than being dragged across a room and brutally beaten. It is common amongst young adults but does not have to be a part of everyone’s story. I never wanted to write a blog addressing this topic, but the messages from strangers and old school friends made me realise that this is something that isn’t uncommon. It should be!!!
I am far from figured out. I am flawed, but I know now what I didn’t then, and would never subject myself to such a situation again. If you have found yourself in toxic situations, you need to let go and let God.
As I have always said, no matter who you are or where you come from, if you are ever in need of a friend, or a chat, or a support system, please feel free to contact me via my social media. I am ALWAYS happy to talk. Love yourself xx
P.S. This is not to bash my previous partner. I have learnt a lot about myself from that situation and it shaped me to be the person I am today. I am happy, and loved and in a caring, peaceful, happy, HEALTHY relationship. One situation does not define you or your character, and this goes to men and women, perpetrators and survivors. Everyone makes mistakes, but the first step is to acknowledge the problem. To do that you must know what abuse is.
Let’s maintain healthy relationships guys, thanks for reading xxx