Eve* was beaten and abused time and again by her husband yet it was she who always felt guilty.
She was guilted into staying with him because he needed her support to battle the “demons” that turned him violent.
She was guilted into letting him remain in the family home after she began separation proceedings because he would suffer financially if he had to move out.
She was guilted into not pursuing assault charges after he tried to strangle her because she didn’t want her children’s daddy jailed.
Finally, after 17 years of marriage and three years of separation, Eve feels something new.
She feels happy.
However, she doesn’t feel entirely safe.
Eve told the launch of Women’s Aid’s annual report that, four months ago, her husband assaulted her elderly mother because she was a little late getting the children to him for his access visit.
She told how she must comply with the access order even though she believes him to be a “ticking timebomb” who could turn his violence towards the children. She even has to get his permission to get counselling sessions for her young son.
“I had naively thought that nothing could be worse than being trapped in the relationship,” she said.
However, after three months living apart in the same house, he came home to find Eve had gone to see a friend and left the children with a babysitter and he waited to teach her a lesson.
“He smashed furniture,” said Eve. “He threw an unopened bottle of wine so hard against the window that the pieces of broken glass stuck into the double glazing. He woke our children and dragged me by the hair to their bedroom to tell me what a terrible a mother I was.
“The children stood in the bedroom with their backs against the wall frozen to the spot. He threw me on the bed and then he straddled me and punched me over and over again. He told me he was prepared to do jail time.
“He tried to choke me. I was struggling to breathe. I could hear my four-year-old daughter saying: ‘Stop daddy. Mummy can’t breathe. She can’t breathe, daddy. You’re hurting her neck.’
“I think that’s what made him stop. He took the children into what had been our bedroom and locked the door.
“I phoned the gardaí who knew I had a protection order and I explained my emergency. It took them 55 minutes to respond from a station a mile away.”
Despite the difficulties of breaking free from her husband, Eve’s only regret is that she didn’t do it sooner.
She has appealed for more support so that other women don’t feel they have to wait so long.
*(Not her real name)
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