'My partner abused me'

Picture posed by model

One 28-year-old woman talks about her experience of domestic violence and reclaiming her life.

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“Four years ago, I moved to London, started a new job and met Darren (not his real name). He was very charming and complimentary, and was always sending me flowers and cards. He would get up to make my breakfast, put the shower on for me and even watch me dry my hair as I got ready for work.

"It seemed odd but he explained it was because he liked watching me. In hindsight, I realise he did it so he could see what I was wearing. Before long, he started asking why I bothered putting on make-up. He told me that I was ‘beautiful and perfect’ without it. Then he began laying out my clothes for me. It was his way of being able to choose what I wore."

Name-calling, then violence

If you need help, call 0808 2000 247, the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge

“After two months, he began to wait for me outside work. If I didn’t come out immediately, he’d get angry. He accused me of staying late so I could flirt with other men. He said that he only waited because he loved me. He became moody and would start rows. He’d call me names and mock my accent.

"A little voice in the back of my head kept saying, ‘You’re not happy' but I tried to ignore it. I always seemed to be on the phone to Darren explaining what I was doing.

"Even though I was sometimes up at 3am for my job, he expected his dinner to be on the table when he came in from work. Gradually, he became the most important thing in my life – the only thing in my life. I had less and less contact with family and friends.

“One day when we were bickering, Darren pushed me onto the floor. Finally, I stood up to him and told him he couldn’t treat me that way, that people go to prison for behaving like that. He laughed, called me a liability, then rang the police.

"He told them that we had been having a row and I was planning to call them the next day to say he had hit me so as to cause trouble for him. I felt really scared as I’d never been in that situation before. I was embarrassed and shocked and didn’t know what to do."

Hitting, spitting, humiliation

"After this incident, the violence became a regular occurrence in our relationship. One time, he broke my finger and I had to see a hand specialist. On another occasion, I went to A&E with bruising to my head, face and body.

"He spat at me, pushed me, kicked me and bit me. Once he even tried to run me over. After each bout of violence, he would tenderly rub Arnica cream (a treatment for bruises) on my skin and tell me he was my ‘protector’. I began to feel that I was going mad.

“The degradation was harder to cope with than the violence. I became so insecure and unsure of what was right or wrong by my own standards, never mind legally, that I allowed many things to happen that I never would have before.

"Darren would make me beg on my knees if I wanted something, or he’d throw money on the pavement and order me to pick it up."

Leaving, and regaining confidence

“I became convinced I was ugly. When we went out, Darren would blatantly stare at women in front of me then, if I complained, tell me that I was imagining it. Bit by bit, my sense of reason and self-esteem evaporated. He became more and more controlling. He even told my mum to contact me only through his mobile because it was 'easier'.

"Each night, he would search my bag and check the mileage on my car. He would take pictures of me as I was walking around the house, or when I was sobbing after an argument.

"I finally left Darren after he attacked me with a corkscrew. It took me a long time to build up my confidence again, especially as he continued to harass me long after I left him. He had completely crushed my self-worth. My career in PR, which had been going from strength to strength before I met him, really suffered.

"With the support of my friends, family and the staff at Refuge I was able to rebuild my life and confidence. I have worked hard to get back on track and I'm doing really well at work now. Most importantly, I know my own mind again.”

Anyone who has been sexually assaulted can get confidential help, treatment and support at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. Find your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

(The photograph with this article is posed by a model.)


Page last reviewed: 30/06/2012

Next review due: 30/06/2014


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

mamun786 said on 14 August 2012

am 27, separate from my wife 2 years,she send me petition regarding divorce,i caught her in wrong staff with some one but she accusing me ,for drugs,relation with women,so upset i wish i die,always think why i met her,my life ruined,i don't want the house nor claim any thing,but she accused me for stupid staff,my heart broke.i was a very happy man but now i look my self in mirror i look older than i am.
i see my self loosing on this earth for no reason.i cant sleep ,is this a life i go though where our marriage was "love marriage"but i think she was just using me to stand up.

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User629272 said on 04 January 2012

i was with a violent partner for 3 year he made my life hell. calling me names all the time and when he didint get his own way i got the brunt end of it he pushed me really hard and i fell and broke my ankle also because of hot liquid threw at me ive got slight loss of hearing in 1 ear ..it got that bad when i tried to leave he would block the door so i couldnt get out he took all my self esteam i felt worthless and it was my fault .i was at breaking point 'i managed to leave and got help threw my local police were i went to a refuge ..after a while i met the most amazing man ever and have never been more happy !!! .just remember they dont control you get out sooner rather than later and not all men are the same :)

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Susie said on 22 April 2009

Please don't blame yourself - it is not your fault. There is help available to you.

You can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. The helpine staff can offer help and information over the telephone, wherever you are, including safety planning and information on legal rights. They can also help you access emergency refuge accommodaction, and put you in touch with domestic violence support services in your area.

You can call at any time of the day or night. All calls are confidential, and there are translation facilities if your first language is not English.

You can find out more from the websites for Refuge and Women's Aid (see Useful links, on this page). In an emergency situation, you can call 999.

I hope this helps.
From Susie at NHS Choices

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let me be free said on 22 April 2009

i am starting to blame myself for those abuses. why can't i get out of here. i got bitten on both of my hands and pulled my hair and punch in my head. slap on my face and ear. i feel still numbed in my ear. used my own shoe to beat me all over my legs. he told me next time if i upset him, i will be going back to my country in a coffin. i m still here today but i m trying very hard to get out of here. I will. I definitely will.

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susan83 said on 29 January 2009

abuse of women become more and more shocking, i don't really understand what's going on i thaught i was the only one to be abused.
i am married with a british guy,but i have been victim of so many things but the most shoking is since i have been here every time if there is probleme it's always my fault and he is telling me all the time even in front of friends that's he will send me back home i have no family in this country as he knows that i have no family,he even aks me to pay him back the amount of money he spend for me to joign him here,and we are supposed to renew my papers this year we have forms and do every thing but he didn't send it yet as i am telling you is already late,i have worked and pay taxes in this country as he is my husband i don't really know what to do i am there just praying god because i feel like my life is destroyed.

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