It’s amazing (that is probably the wrong word, because there is nothing about this that is amazing) how often I listen or read of someone else’s life story living with a mental illness or living with domestic abuse and I think god that is exactly what I went through, that was what I was feeling and doing. It always leaves me thinking if it is how I felt, if my experiences is common then why is it that it happens way too often…..
Last night was no different. I was watching Sunday Night on Channel 7 here in Australia and they had the story of Alison Baden-Clay. For those not familiar with the story her husband was recently charged and sentenced for her murder after he abused her physically and mentally for many years. Last night the story was from Alison’s perspective, using her family and friends to talk about what she went through, what they were seeing, and how they felt helpless at times to do anything about it. It also relived Alison life through her diary entries and letters that she had written to her husband in attempt to stand up to him and say that what he was doing to her was not acceptable and she didn’t want to live like this anymore.
What moved me the most about Alison’s story was the mental abuse that she went through and how it related so much to the way my ex-husband abused me and how I was too scared with no confidence to do anything about it. Listening to how Alison became isolated from her family and friends was exactly how over the years my ex-husband isolated me from everyone and therefore left me with nobody to talk too or to ask for help. How the constant put downs, abusive words, criticisms, and endless tirades left me crying, alone, helpless, hopeless, worthless and not wanting to exist at all.
The mental abuse for me, like Alison, was endless, every day, every night, it never stopped. I was never good enough, I never did the right thing, I was useless. The constant abuse on my mind was so debilitating, so heart breaking, so damaging that it left scars on my soul, my heart and who I was as a person. I will never be the person I truly was before I met him, he took a part of me that I will never find or be able to heal. Once someone takes your will, your strength, your essence as a person, it is very hard to re-find it or heal it so you are as good as new. Like a physical injury that will always heal, a mental injury doesn’t have that capacity. You may move on but in the back of your mind there is always the open wounds waiting to re-surface and torture you again.
There were times when he left me with bruises, in pain and covering up these with make up and layers of clothing but I am sure that observant people would have noticed but as we all know, when it comes to abuse nobody likes to ask questions, nobody wants to know because they just don’t want to get involved. Stigma will always haunt the abused and leave them completely alone when they need help and support the most.
Its ironic that an abuser can constantly accuse you of having an affair, flirting with someone or your looking at the other sex the wrong way yet in most cases it is them that are having the affair! Not only was this me but this is what Alison went through as well. My ex-husband cheated on me for many years and I knew because after a night out, a boys weekend away, after his time with HER, he would make sure that he told me. Torture me with his infidelities and his affairs because he enjoyed seeing me crumble, he enjoyed seeing the hurt build in my eyes, he enjoyed pushing me further and further into myself. I knew it wasn’t right, I knew I should leave but I was trapped in a world of abuse and loneliness that I could talk nobody about.
Since I started writing about my experience and talking about my experience people have said to me ‘why didn’t you just leave’ or ‘ why didn’t you say something’? But when the abuser actively isolates you from everyone in your life, family and friends, who do you turn too? Who can you have enough trust in to say ‘please help me my husband is abusing me’? Nobody who is abused is going to openly come out and say that! Its not that we don’t want to or that for some we cant say something, its because we live in fear of what will happen to us if we do say something and the abuser finds out.
I know for me it was the fear of being hurt again but also the reality that I had absolutely nobody to talk too and nowhere to go and he made sure that I knew this all the time.
I was so trapped in abuse that there were no doors, no windows, no light, and no air. It was a place that suffocated me, closed me off from the world and everyone in it, it locked out the person I use to be and anything I wanted to be.
I eventually escaped my prison of hell that my ex-husband put me in. How? I still don’t know to this day, how I did it? But I did and I will never look back, I can only look forward and one day hope that I would have recovered from the abuse that he put me through and that haunts me every day.
For Alison, her attempts to escape, her attempts to stand up and say you can’t do this to me anymore, I don’t want this life anymore ended in tragedy! Her husband, the man who she married and loved dearly, ended up being not just her abuser, torturer but the man who would murder her. Leaving her three girls without their Mum, her parents without their daughter, and her friends without their dear friend. These poor people will always be left feeling guilty, regretful and with deep grief because they will never stop thinking I should have done more to protect Alison.
Domestic abuse happens more often than what the media report, what researchers find or what the Police investigate because it is a hidden epidemic. An epidemic that comes to the forefront of our minds in the blink of an eye when the worst happens but we will truly never know what happens behind so many closed doors. We will never know how many people are domestically abused and left alone and hurting wishing that someone would rescue them or wishing their abuser would just leave them. It is such a cruel and lonely world when you are trapped in such a vicious circle of absolute fear, terror, violence and pain. Maybe one day the stigma will be gone and people will see the signs and say I will do something about this!
Alison’s life story will not be forgotten, her family and friends will not allow that, she will leave a legacy that we can only hope will change the stigma associated with domestic abuse but also give the abused the confidence, the courage and the support to escape, to get help and to start over. That is the hope, that would be Alison’s legacy that nobody would have to live the way she did and nobody should have to lose their life because of domestic abuse. It is, however, sadly the reality!
Rest In Peace Alison……