Mary survived five years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Photo: SHERELE MOODY/The RED HEART Campaign
Mary survived five years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Photo: SHERELE MOODY/The RED HEART Campaign

MARY'S STORY: My lover was an evil monster

I met my abuser online just over five years ago when I was going through a very hard time in my life. He was sweet and kind to me, he listened to my problems and offered support.

My friends told me not to go there.

But at the time he was the only person who made me feel like I was worth something, he made me feel special.

Every so often a lie would come out, or a hint of his anger would show. He made me believe I was being irrational for thinking bad of him and made me feel guilty.

WHY I STAYED - STORIES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVAL

I was shocked to find out I was pregnant, even after taking every precaution to prevent it.

I felt completely trapped. So for now I told myself, 'I'll stay and hope for the best'. His anger got worse.

To prevent arguments, I distanced myself from my friends. He very slowly began to control every aspect of my life. If I questioned anything it always ended in an argument and I ended up feeling guilty.

So it was better to keep quiet. I loved him and when he was happy it was like a fairytale. When he was in a "mood" I felt like somehow I created it and felt guilty so tried to make it right.

Early on in the pregnancy an argument occurred - this was the first time I'd ever been punched.

Shocked, upset and in pain I called the police. They arrested him, but the next morning I received a phone call from him. He was very apologetic, he played down the situation and I seconded guessed myself.

By the end of the conversation I genuinely felt bad for him.

I was such an independent person before I knew him.

I was strong. My career was centred around helping people and I believed I could help him too. Once when he was drinking, he became more and more aggressive and argumentative so I went to bed.

I was woken and horrifically raped that night. It was made very clear to me, that if I went to the police I could expect repercussions. I was terrified for my own safety and my unborn baby.

He cooked me dinner that night, gave me a foot rub and ran me a bath.

I clung onto every small act of kindness and tried to numb out any of the bad.

I hoped my compassion would change him, I hoped when the baby was born he would see his wrongs. So I stayed. We had happy moments, but the bad very soon outweighed the good.

Our child was born and although I still got regular beatings he changed nappies, night fed and did everything he could with our child. I didn't want our child to lose a father who loved and gave so much attention.

 Eventually I separated from him. There was so much guilt that I was doing the wrong thing by our child, that I second guessed my actions. I was ashamed and alone.

He would come and go as he pleased, but it would always end the same way - I would be house bound for days hiding the black eye and bruises.

When he was gone I felt free! I vowed to myself I'd never let him back in my house. But then he would weasel his way back in, he would show small acts of kindness that I'd cling to.

When our second child was born I vowed to myself I would never let him manipulate his way back into a "relationship".

I stayed true to myself with that. He then turned his attention to controlling me through the children and he succeeded.

I began to feel there was no escape, there was only one ending to this and that would be him ending my life. He beat me down physically and emotionally to the point where I was just wishing it would hurry up and end. I feared for my life if I stayed, but I feared for my children's lives if I ran.

During an escalation he took our oldest child and refused to return them. He was now no longer just hurting me, I was so angry and sad for our child that something changed in me.

In four days I packed up my house and went into hiding. Scared and fearful of the repercussions of me moving I approached the police and made them aware of the situation. The response I received shocked me - they actually listened to me and genuinely cared - something I had not experienced before.

From the years of abuse, I now suffer with post traumatic stress disorder. But through the help of the police, support from domestic violence services, my mum, friends and counselling I have found my voice. I lived in fear, shame and absolute silence for years. I will no longer live in silence. I often hear, "why would you stay?".

To me, staying was my only option. The heavy psychological abuse put on you to stay and the dangers of leaving are so heavily imprinted in your mind, the thought of leaving is much more scarier that the thought of staying and dying. I will no longer be a victim, I am a survivor. And for any person reading this, living that life, you can be a survivor too.

To read more stories from the Why I Stayed project visit www.facebook.com/TheREDHEARTCampaign



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