I have wanted to write to you for so long. It’s been many years since I left you. My letter is prompted by reading about the case of a mother and her children being murdered.
There are tears streaming down my face as I write these words because I fear I could have been that lady.
The day you put your hands around my neck many years ago was the day you were no longer part of my life.
Your action of attempting to kill me was in a sense your need to get me out of your life. Our baby saved me. I was holding him while you attempted to kick me to the ground and strangle me. You stopped when you heard our baby cry. Inside I was shaking. In my head I was thinking how can I get myself and our baby away from you safely.
So, I acted calm for the sake of our baby as I didn’t want to traumatise him further. I looked you in the eye and responded that ‘You stepped over the line’. The line is that your behaviour was evil and sadistic. You took a step to a deep dark place and I was faced with a monster-not a man that I fell deeply in love with.
I locked myself and our baby in the en suite. You instantly changed. Your voice was soft and your demeanour seemed gentle. That in itself was frightening how quick you could change from a monster to a caring man. You immediately apologised to our child. Not once have you apologised to me or showed remorse. On reflection and now, everything according to you was and still is my fault.
I can now see clearly what our marriage was based on. I’m aware now of so many red flags in our relationship. I was blinded by love and as time went on, I was cripple with fear and learnt to walk on egg shells.
I used to make so many excuses for your Jekyll and Hyde character. I used to put it down to your relationship with your mother, stress, tiredness and hunger. I used to think you had OCD or suffered from depression. I’d refer to those dark moments as ‘Moods’.
You would turn dark, your eyes evil and the energy would be so heavy. You would disengage from me at all levels. At times, I learnt to keep quiet as I became aware if I said the wrong thing then you would not talk to me or connect with me for a few hours or a few days.
What frustrated me so much was how people perceived you as a nice quiet man.
Little did our family or friends know that once I sat in the car after meeting them then you immediately berated me for the remainder of the journey home or would sit in silence for days. When you used to come home from work, panic or fear would set in. Did I put the teaspoon up the correct way…? Is the fire shovel clean? etc. etc.
I tried my best to ignore your ‘moods’ and lived my own life as best I could. However, everything changed when our beautiful child was born. I could no longer ignore your ‘moods’ as I was a vulnerable new mother. Your ‘moods’ became worst and more violent and menacing. You preyed on my vulnerability.
You picked at my self-worth till I became a shadow of myself where I no longer knew ‘who I was’. The coercive control is worst that the physical abuse. There are no physical signs or scars but it cuts deep into my soul where I felt broken. I ended up living in your misery.
On reflection, I truly believed you preyed on me from our first date and throughout our lives together. I always tried to stand up for myself and yet in the end I couldn’t as I had a young baby to care for.
After we got married, I naively believed that you and I would create your house into our home. I was committed to our marriage and very loyal to you and our marriage. I tried everything to save it. But the day you put your hands around my neck was the day I was shouting in my head ENOUGH!
I could write another few pages of blame, guilt, shame and hurt. But I don’t want to play the victim card here. Yes, I am a victim of Domestic Violence. However, now I feel so empowered as a strong woman.
So, I want to say Thank You. Are you aware I say those words every time I collect our child from your care or use those words in response to your threatening and intimidating messages from you?
I am grateful to you. Not for the history of coercive control and physical abuse. I am grateful that out of my hurt, hopelessness, despair, loneliness but most of all fear came my strength, my love, my hope and my faith. I am not sure you understand but out of my darkest moment has come my light.
I am now empowered to make choices how to live my life and how to care for our baby. I am now empowered to live my own life. Our child is now aware of a life without control. I love him so much. I love him unconditionally; our home is full of laughter and joy. He is now able to cry and have his tantrums and feel comfortable being angry with me. As when we lived with you, he learnt not to cry as a baby.
You used to take pride telling people what a ‘good’ baby he was as he never cried. He can be messy in our home. He can ride his toys throughout our house and I don’t mind if he scratches the floors. (Every mark he leaves tells me a story). He can jump on the sofa and the beds. He can splash in puddles and play happily with the mud in our garden.
He is so happy. I said that to you when I left you that the controlling behaviour within your family stops with our child. No more control.
So, sadly I am grateful that day you put your hands around my neck. Because if you didn’t, I would have continued to make excuses for your coercive control. The vicious cycle of your ‘moods ‘would have continued. I’d continue to plan in my head how to leave you.
I wouldn’t have had the courage to leave as I would have been crippled with shame and guilt. Shamed to tell our family and friends that I left you. Guilt that I broke up the family ‘unit’. I would have made excuses that I didn’t have the financial means to support myself or our baby.
I can finally say that our marriage is over. I now want to say Good bye to our marriage, to our life together which I now know was an illusion and based on lies. I don’t care anymore.
I am not afraid of you. I now live my life without fear and now with peace. I was surviving and now excited about my life and living it day to day happily with our child.
Finally, I want to say that I FORGIVE you. I don’t forgive your actions. The only way I can move on with my life is to let go of fear. I have learnt the only way to live my life with peace is to forgive. Forgive you. And to forgive myself for all the shame, guilt, doubt and hatred that I inflicted onto myself.
I pray that you will some day find in your heart to love yourself and to heal from your hurt. But somehow, I doubt that you will ever change your narcissistic and controlling behaviour. I hope.
I hope this letter to you will support other women and men to find strength to live their lives with ease and to let go of their fear of living in a controlling environment.
I hope. Good Bye.
If you are a woman or man who has been impacted by domestic violence reach out:
Male Advice Line - 1800 816 588
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre - 1800 77 88 88, drcc.ie
Sexual Violence Centre Cork - 1800 496 496, sexual violence.ie
For urgent assistance, call An Garda Síochána on 999 or 112.