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  • Writer's pictureI'm a Survivor

'The Point of No Return' by Charlotte M

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

No relationship is perfect. Each has its flaw, that’s just life isn’t it? There are ups and there are downs. That is what I told myself. Then I realised this was a dangerous lie.

 

I supported friends through abuse who were dealing with narcissists. I was a shoulder to cry on and was comforted by the thought that my situation was different. I am a successful independent woman and proud of how I’ve worked to become who I am and though this would never happen to me. Any negative thoughts were quickly dealt with. I mentally tied large rocks to those thoughts, I dropped them in the deepest part of the river making sure they would never return to the surface.


Except they would return. Every now and then, during a particularly bad storm, the river bed would get disturbed and one of the thoughts would come floating to the surface. They would be picked up and thrown away. Then one day, there was an earthquake and instead of being eradicated, these thoughts found their way to the top and releasing their weight making their way it to the surface.


And this resurfacing is where my story begins. My story begins with an ending. I had just ended a relationship with a man after he cheated on me and proved himself to have poor judgement and a weak character. After having to deal with this person who was a constant drain to me I was excited to meet him. He appeared strong, opinionated, loyal, protective and adventurous and I truly thought I had hit the jackpot. He went out of his way to impress me, and made me feel safe and secure. We went on adventures together and I liked how he challenged me. Life seemed exciting again.

There were small red flags in the beginning that I ignored or justified. He had asked me to remove any ex flings and photos off Facebook. That seemed fair. I wanted to prove my love to him. Then he asked me not to add any of his friends on Facebook which seemed a bit strange. A couple of years into the relationship he had started to tell me how to act and if I didn’t do things a certain way, he would tell me that I was embarrassing him. He would add a few more names into the mix and have a rant. When I responded by trying to defend myself, the argument would escalate and on occasion he had started to poke me or just use his physicality to tower over me and intimidate me into submission. Once or twice I reacted by pushing him away and then to him I was also labeled drunk and violent along with being an embarrassment, weak, insecure, a freak, uncontrollable, etc.

 

I had stopped seeing my girl friends after dark as the arguments leading up to it made it not worth the effort. I was only allowed to see them during daylight and even when I did, he would message after a while to ask when I’d be home. Yet he would disappear for days with his mates under the guise of conducting ‘hobbies’. With time my confidence started to be eroded. I stopped my morning runs as he accused me of not wanting to spend time with him. I stopped my elaborate cooking which I loved as he would complain I spent too long in the kitchen and not with him. When discussing opinions, he would either accuse me of being weak for not having an opinion or a disgusting feminist if I did have one. He accused me of having affairs if I wore skinny jeans. He would ask me who was I fucking in the office if I wore heels to work and tried to convince me that I didn’t wear heels before.


We got married and had a child. There were good times too. He was still charming and entertaining. I hid the control he had over me from everyone, including my closest friends and family. I barely admitted it to myself and made so many excuses. If I tried not to do anything to upset the status quo, then life would be good enough. The egg shells were always there. I was in too deep. He also made me believe that I was to blame.

It was when my job changed and the role moved from project based to more customer based that things started to escalate even more. He could not cope with the idea that I was having meetings and conversations with other men that he did not know. My job also involved some travel. Each trip he would make me promise that I would not attend any social gatherings and just to be sure, he would facetime my hotel room at 6pm under the guise that our child wanted to talk to me to monitor my movements. If I worked late, he would Facetime only ten minutes into it and manipulate me into coming home.

Eventually, I had got to the point of acknowledging to myself that this was not normal behaviour and at the same time, I had used up all of my excuses for getting out of work events. There was a particularly high-profile event coming up and I had decided that this time I could no longer make excuses without attracting suspicion. He never asked me outright not to go as that would be too obvious but would use manipulative tactics to get his way. “If you truly loved us, you would….”. Leading up to this event, he became increasingly agitated and aggressive. Every evening for hours, he would carry out unrelenting verbal attacks. Finally, he exploded.



I had put our child to bed. I saw that he had drank a bottle of wine in an hour and his empty glass was sitting on the end of the couch. I sat beside him a little nervously as I wasn’t sure of his mood. The tension was broken by a sudden outburst. He leapt up, pushed me over and sat on top of me wrapping his hands around my throat choking me.

I tried to push him away but his grip became stronger. He restrained my hands and leant in close while ranting. I started to screamed so he hit my face repeatedly to shut me up. I closed my eyes so he started hitting my eyes, telling me to look at him when he was talking to me. He went back to choking me. At this point, I started to struggle to breathe but was too afraid to move in case it triggered even further rage. I tried to make eye contact and break this angry rage but I saw that he was too far gone and then I thought I was going to die. Finally, I remembered the glass so I kicked out and connected with it. It smashed to the floor and finally broke the intensity and he released me.


He then followed by picking up a shard of glass and threatening me that if I told anyone about this “roughing up” he would slit my throat, that he would slit our child’s throat and then he would gas himself. This was the exact point that I knew that if I stayed in this relationship, his next outburst would kill me. He went to have a shower and I ran and hid in the laundry and dialled 000. It was the longest 4 minutes of my life. I thought that if he found me exposing him to anyone, let alone the police, he’d instantly kill me.


The police arrive and he was arrested and charged with assault, intimidation and choking. They also took an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) out on him which meant he could no longer contact me, live with me, threaten, stalk or abuse us.


After this the real struggle began. I was terrified he would come and make me pay. He sent messages telling me how much he loved me and loved our family. How he was broken without us. How he would never act that way again. I still loved him and the good in him, and he nearly broke me down. However, I did not want to risk dying. It was clear to me that next time I wouldn’t be so lucky and that he’d likely kill me so I used every little smidgen of willpower left in me to resist his messages. I did it for me and for our little one.

It took a year for it to end up at the court hearing as he pleaded not guilty. That day, walking into court was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had read and reread all my statements. I had watched the 10 minute video statement taken by the police that night. I had gone through a year’s worth of text messages trying to remember dates and incidents that supported the breach of AVO. I struggled with crippling guilt, anger, sadness and fear. But I knew this was something I had to do. I kept thinking of our child, of him and all the women who hadn’t gotten away alive. I stayed strong for those women - in honour of their suffering and loss. These women never got to defend themselves and paid it with their lives.


I was lucky that day. The prosecution and defence went to negotiations so I didn’t have to get cross-examined on the stand. He pleaded guilty to choking and AVO breaches and they dropped the assault and intimidation. The outcome was not the important thing. The important thing is that I was now free. I had lived a lie without even acknowledging it to myself. In hindsight, if the incident hadn’t happened, or the event being so terrifying, I probably would still be in the same relationship with abuse slowly escalating.




I may have ended in the same place either way as eventually something would have set him off. Or worse, my son and I may have been killed.

If this sounds familiar to you please don’t wait. Next time may truly be your last time.

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