I said it would never happen to me. Living with domestic abuse.

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If you talk to someone who has never been in an abusive relationship, they will probably ask ‘why didn’t you walk away the first time? Why didn’t you leave sooner?’

I always said I would never allow a man to abuse me – if he hit me, I would walk away right away. Yeah right. Things didn’t quite work out that way. You don’t see the abuse when it’s happening to you, and when you do see it, you’re so far into it, that it’s really hard to walk away, and sometimes easier to stay and just put up with it.

By the first time they hit you, you’ve already fallen in love with the kind, caring and protective soul they’ve been to you so far. They hurt you in places that it doesn’t leave a mark, or that no one will see. They apologise, grovel & beg the next day. You chalk it up to a mistake – they didn’t mean it right? Maybe they just drank too much, maybe you provoked them?

Now you’re hooked, and they’ve tested the waters. You’re still there hanging on. The next time, they’re not so subtle, and the apologies are less. With each bruise and broken bone the apologies decrease, until they don’t even bother to say sorry anymore. Instead, the torrent of verbal abuse and manipulation begins.

It’s your fault. You made me do it.

You’re a whore.

No one else will want you.

You’re worthless.

Your family hate me, they make me angry. It’s their fault I hurt you.

You shouldn’t listen to X, Y & Z – they’re just trying to split us up.

You made me sleep with that other girl.

I can do what I want to you. You’re mine.

You become their property. They can hit you, grab you, scream at you and have sex with you whenever they want to. Fighting back only makes them come at you twice as hard.

They take your money, leaving you unable to leave. Tying you to them. If they really want to keep you there, controlling you, they sabotage your birth control and get you pregnant. Over and over again. Keeping you tied to them forever.

For some, that moment of realisation hits, and they find the strength to leave. For some it is too late. Their abuser loses control and kills them.

If you recognise yourself in any of the above, then please let this be the moment realisation sets in and leave. Don’t stay and become another statistic.

There is life after abuse. I’m not going to lie and say it’s all a bed of roses. There will always be days where you will see something that reminds you of them, of a time when they hurt you, of a time where they took a part of your soul, but there is life beyond abuse. There is help out there. Your life matters, so speak up.