During the next twenty-four hours I finally spoke out about the abuse that was happening. It had only taken me nearly eighteen years. I had kept quiet for far too long. Why didn’t I speak out earlier? My silence was because of the stigma I knew I would face. I didn’t think anything would believe me. Most people who knew the public Sandra would not be able to imagine her guilty of the behaviour I witnessed most days. As a stocky-built man, I also imagined people assuming that I couldn’t possibly be a victim of Domestic Violence. I also felt that I needed to shield Sandra’s anger away from the children. I also sensed that society in general showed a bias towards single mothers and fathers not dwelling in the family home were victimised. I wanted to be a part of my children’s lives and the only way I could do that was absorbing all the abuse.
It was a very emotional time for me and I described this experience as finally loosening a bottle and removing the top as all the hurt and pain of eighteen years started to flow out. All the bravado in bottling everything up now meant nothing. As I drove away after being violently removed from the marital home yet again, the only thing I knew was that I would not be returning.
I did not even know where I would go. I ended up driving to the church’s diocese offices. As I arrived there, it was evident to anyone who saw me that I was in an extremely distressed condition. The build-up of emotional suppression was exploding. The Bishop was elsewhere so I spoke with another minister who was horrified to hear my story unfold. This minister was the first person I had ever spoken too about the abuse and graciously listened without being judgmental.
I then drove to my parents house. Although they knew that Sandra could be quite volatile, they were sickened when I off-loaded all that I could recall I had gone through during the marriage. They insisted that I stay with them and I spent the next six weeks sleeping on their settee. Most of that first weekend I just sat in the lounge staring into space. I was stunned. I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want to eat. In fact, all motivation and purpose had drained out of me. Internally, I was breaking my heart. I was devastated at leaving my children behind. I hoped that they were safe with Sandra. Although she had often been verbally aggressive towards them, she had never physically assaulted them. They had witnessed her attacks on me and knew that her actions were immoral.
Looking back, I imagined that Sandra was expecting me to return home the following day (Saturday) and then we would fall into the usual pattern of forgetfulness and denial. Sunday came and when I’d not reappeared at the marital home, Sandra telephoned my parents home assuming that was where I was. She left an extremely abusive message on the telephone answering machine. My father telephoned back to try and talk calmly with her, but she was not prepared to speak in a civil fashion and placed the telephone receiver down, hanging-up the telephone call. Hardly the sort of behaviour or language you would expect from a church minister. It was conduct that I was used to and under pressure, Sandra was letting her guard down and showing people her real nature.