Talking about family violence: Women talk about types of abuse

Talking about family violence: Women talk about types of abuse


I thought it was my fault. I thought that something I’d said
or something I’d done. In my case sometimes it was something I hadn’t done. If I
opened my mouth I was arrogant, if I didn’t say anything I was ignorant. So I couldn’t win.
I just thought it was all my fault all the time. So, the psychological manipulation, that it’s all my fault
and that’s why I don’t have anybody, ‘cause it’s me. Followed
with the physical assault, which in a way was easier than all the psychological manipulation and abuse because
once it’s over it’s over, you know. But the mental scars that you’re left with just don’t go away. So the physical violence I guess is really, really hard in terms of, you know, battling
through that every weekend: Friday, Saturday, Sunday you know what’s gonna happen you’re
gonna get knocked out, you’re gonna get this, this and that. A bruised eye, a bruised rib will heal. A bruise on the shoulder or a bite on the neck will heal so you sort of get over it you watch it healing. But then together with that physical violence started the
emotional abuse and started distancing me away from my support network being
my whānau. And before I knew it I wasn’t calling my family for weeks on
end because I was trying to recover. I was trying to heal. I guess it’d be a lot of psychological manipulation to begin
with. Kind of backhanded comments, under the breath comments, comments about who I would be hanging out with, who I’m
friends with and what we do together. So, you know, you know that there’s things that you had to do because if you didn’t you would get the bash. Okay, it was
the bash. And it was about being on time. It might be that you weren’t
there for a phone call. It might be that you smiled at someone, another man or
talked to a friend, to their friend. So, now, in my shoes today, I have an understanding of what
isolation is. In some parts of my abuse and violence experiences isolation
isn’t about taking me away from my family or distancing from my family. Actually for one of my partners isolation was ensuring that
he was there all the time and I thought, ‘This is really awesome. Like, I’ve got a man
that sticks by my side he comes everywhere that I wanna go.
You know, I’m never alone with my children.’ I now believe that was a form of isolating me from using my
voice. It was a way of making sure that I would never say what’s
happening behind closed doors. I slowly started to isolate myself, as well as he would actively attack people in my life so that they wouldn’t
really want to have anything to do with us. It got to the stage where it was so toxic
that people kind of gave up, kind of gave up on looking out for me or offering a hand. But he was very cunning so he’d actually won over everybody, you know, and then got them at a
comfortable space so that they thought it would be okay for them to leave me
alone with him. There was that form of I guess isolation, which I didn’t
recognise as abuse and control because I’ve been conditioned to believe that abuse is
physical. If you can’t see the result of abuse then it’s not abuse. Generally everything would happen behind closed doors. Even if people were in the same house they wouldn’t really
know what was going on until I would leave the room and be verbal about a few things. Well, he’d always be behind me. So he’d always have an opportunity to kind of shove me in
the back, push me in the back, whisper things into my ears. Very subtle. So there would be things going on in front of people that
they wouldn’t realise until one day I would have the strength to say something. And sometimes it is, “Oh, get dressed let’s go out for dinner and after dinner we’ll go to the nightclub” sort of thing and I’d go, “Oh my gosh I haven’t been to a
nightclub for a long time. Yes, I’ll come with you.” So you get prettied up and you walk out. It’s like, “Take that off. You’re not going anywhere with me looking like that. You look like a slut, you look like a ho bag. You look like you’re going out there
to find you a new man.” “Okay, so what shall I wear?” And then so having your clothes selected for you, even when you go to the shop. “Oh, here, buy this. This’ll look nice on you.” “Oh, cool, that’s one of my
favourite colours. Yeah, I’ll buy that.” So it’s that subtleness of actually I want to go to the clothes shop and choose my own
clothes. He’d try and contact me through people I thought were my friends. He would try to contact me through work. He would try to contact me through texting, Facebook, emails, the lot. If I didn’t respond he would find me or he’d come to my work. So after I’d blocked all of his contacts he’d message me through his sister’s account, his mum’s
account, his brother’s account and so there was quite a big web. And then once I’d blocked all of them it was the extended
family, it was his friends, it was their friends, you know? There would be Facebook accounts created with my pictures and my details,
so I did have a lot of pretty terrible stuff come back to me that people had
thought was me. They’d message people pretending to be me. There is really
no way of controlling it. As private as you try to keep it you can’t control all the
people on your friends list so, of course there is information that does get shared. Being alert or hyper-vigilant or waiting for him to walk or to speak or to shut a door in a certain
way that would make me know that oh-oh, he’s in a bad mood. I need to be either really careful here or I just escalate it. Because I know that regardless of whether we fight now or the whole house walks around on eggshells for several
hours, he was gonna bash me. So sometimes you play that game where you wanna just try to
make things okay and keep the kids quiet, or try and keep the house clean, or
do whatever it is you need to do to stop him from hitting
you, or you just start that argument now because at least you’re gonna get
bashed up right there and then and it’s not gonna postpone the inevitable. I didn’t actually realise that your partner could rape you. Like, yeah, you know, like after you get a beating from them and then they do what they want with you. I didn’t actually
realise that that was rape. I didn’t know that that was rape. I thought that was just
normal, you know, until one of my mates enlightened me and told me, “That’s not right” you know.

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