I wasn’t going to speak out. I'd rather have forgotten.
I wasn’t going to read any of your posts either. But I did. They made me cry. They also made me realise that some of you didn’t want to tell your stories either. But sometimes stories have to be told. So here is mine.
When people ask me how I ended up in Australia I usually try changing the topic as quickly as possible. I came here because of a guy. I met him while I was working in the US. I should have seen the signs then. I think I did. But I followed him to Australia anyway.
I was in a new country where I knew no one. He told me he didn’t want me to talk about our relationship to my friends and family. He felt that it was something between me and him and by talking about it I was betraying him. I didn’t want to betray anyone. I lost my support.
He’d get angry and swear at me, or he’d stop talking to me for 3 days because I had forgotten to turn off the light in the bathroom and that was a sign of disrespect for his parents (we were living at their place at the time). When I tried explaining that I hadn’t been anywhere near the bathroom and it hadn’t been me who left the light on, he’d stop talking to me anyway, because I was trying to make excuses for myself.
He was moulding me into what he wanted me to be. I was to anticipate his every wish because that was what true love was supposed to be all about. He knew better than me what I wanted and I was meant to be grateful when he was thoughtful enough to buy me a coat (with my own money, because he wasn’t working). And yes, he was entitled to my money, because he had sacrificed his income for me – if he hadn’t been with me, he’d have been able to get the dole. I didn’t know anything and I couldn’t do anything right. Oh, and everything he did was for me, and if I ever disagreed with him it meant that I didn’t appreciate it.
Then I got pregnant. He didn’t want the child and convinced me to have an abortion. I’m still not sure how he managed to do it. I remember him threatening me that he’d call the Immigration Department and tell them that we weren’t together anymore and they should deport me (he was sponsoring me for my visa), but that alone wouldn’t have been enough. I remember him promising me the world and how we’d have many more children once we were ready. He made sure he was present at the compulsory pre-abortion counselling rightly suspecting that if he hadn’t been in the room I’d have broken down and told everything as it was.
A few days after the abortion it hit me. I had done something I’d never thought I’d do, something that went against my every instinct, against everything I believe in. In a way life got easier. Something in me had died and I just didn’t care anymore. I suspect I was depressed but he wouldn’t let me seek counselling because that would be involving a third person into our relationship and I would be betraying him.
Fast-forward a few years. He cheated on me and we broke up. Even though it felt like it was the end of the world, in reality it was a blessing in disguise. I was free to rebuild my life.
I’m now re-reading my post and I realise just how ridiculous it all sounds. Did it even happen? Am I just making excuses for myself because I still feel so guilty and ashamed? Why would a young, beautiful and intelligent woman, who could take on the world, put herself through all this?
You see, people like him have gift to convince you that what they want you to believe is logical and the only way it should be. And when you have no other support to fall back on and when you hear the same thing again and again from the one person you hold dear, you start believing that he’s right and there’s something wrong with you for not understanding all these simple things by yourself.
It is the kind of emotional abuse that Dorothy from Singular Insanity talks about – she’s chosen to talk about it and I didn’t want to remember. My story was going to stay buried forever until the Speak Out campaign made me see things in a different light. If my post helps just one person recognise emotional abuse for what it is then it will be worth the discomfort.
Some of you blog anonymously because you don’t want strangers intruding on your family. I don’t sign my blog with my full name because I don’t want him being able to Google me, find my blog and gain insights into my life. As much as I want to believe that I’m now strong enough to stand up to him, there is still this fear in me. What if he gets into my brain again?
Tat is now a mum of two and in a happy relationship. She blogs at Mum in search about parenting, self-discovery and all those things that make us feel good about ourselves.
Editor: Thank you to Tat for sharing your story with us. I am honoured that you allowed me to publish it here.