The defining moment for me came at the beginning of 2009 when I decided to keep a journal charting the abuse that was taking place. Much of it had become such common practise within the family home that it seemed a normal way of life. I felt absolutely lost and desolate. I tried to act as if all was well but there were many occasions when I was withdrawn and subdued. No one had any real notion of what went on behind close doors. My external pretence of a perfect home life seemed to be mirrored by the children. Had they behaved in an unruly fashion due to the example set them, they may have had good reason to. However, they always behaved impeccably and extremely well-mannered and polite.
Two things occurred when I first commenced writing this journal. I wrote of some of the historic actions which I have also written about in this blog. By now I had over sixteen years of material to draw from and the thought frightened me that I had only recorded the things I could remember. There was so much more that had been assigned to the dark recesses of my mind - that place where we place stuff we want to forget.
As I started to document current happenings I then attempted to read back my words with an unbiased open mind. It had only taken nearly seventeen years but reality hit me. What I read was absolutely horrific and shocking. I had been living domestic violence for so long, I had accepted the irrational behaviour of my wife and I had become numb to unreasonable behaviour occurring. Over the years I had adopted my own personal coping strategies to get through each day. The self-justification I’d made to explain Sandra’s actions and words had eroded away the severity of the abuse.
Furthermore if anyone else ever read my journal, I felt that what I was describing would sound far from plausible. I can’t imagine that anyone would treat such an account as fiction. It became important to me to take photographs on a mobile device to substantiate my personal witness.
For anyone caught in a violent relationship who feels that they have nowhere to turn for help, I would recommend keeping a diary or journal as your first step. As I’ve already stated, this was for me the defining movement. It didn’t solve everything but it helped to make me aware of the full impact the abuse had and was taking on me. It also became a form of self-therapy. It would also prove to be a great support in the months and years when I started to rebuild my life.