Fear becomes the over-riding factor when one feels trapped in an abusive relationship. In the early stages of the relationship, fear didn’t exist. I thought that there was trust and honesty. When I met my ex-wife, I naturally assumed that everything she told me was the truth. I believe now that she deliberately lied about certain events that would have led me to ask serious questions and discover her hidden character traits. At the beginning of a new relationship, we don’t ask for confirmatory evidence. We assume that we have been told the truth, unless we can clearly see through the lies. If we uncover dishonesty, then invariably the relationship doesn’t continue. My ex-wife has never been honest with herself, and I suspect that this is the reason why she can’t be honest with others.
The first time that I was exposed to her anger, I was shocked. I’d not seen any behaviour like it leading up to that point. I wasn’t fearful of her. Although I was a victim to rather bizarre and unreasonable conduct, I made excuses for it. However, there is NO excuse for Domestic Abuse in ANY form. I accepted it initially because I thought that it was a one-off occurrence caused by stress and bereavement grief. However, in my unconscious acceptance I allowed my ex-wife to continue abusing me and more extreme actions became part of daily living. That’s when fear developed.
The first type of fear I recall experiencing was fear of being left alone with my ex-wife. Her mood swings were so irrational and unpredictable that I dreaded going home after work. Her aggression could be vented unprovoked. However, in the presence of other people, she seemed calmer. I would encourage family and friends to visit just because I feared those moments when we were on our own. In those moments, nothing could placate her, I just learnt to let the anger burn itself out. It was not a healthy way to live.
Although I thought that other people’s presence in the home brought some respite for me, I have now discovered as I have started sharing my experiences, that those family and friends that came dreaded doing so because of the things they witnessed my ex-wife say and do.
As a male victim, I faced a bigger fear. This was the fear of losing my children. I felt I couldn’t leave the situation. I couldn’t admit to what was happening at home. I knew that society in large had no comprehension of men being victims of domestic abuse. I had nowhere to go. There wasn’t any place I could flee to with my children. My children needed me and if I left, I had no way of providing any safety for them. Again, in most broken relationships, the children stay with their mother. And so, the fear of losing my children overweighed the fear of being left alone with her.
As the cycle of abuse continued through the years, I knew that I could not live in that relationship indefinitely. I was then fearful of how people would respond to the end of the relationship. Again, I put my children first trying to cushion them from the abuse inflicted on me that they saw and witnessed. They would also be the ones most affected by the end of their parents’ marriage. I was also fearful of losing all the security I had in my life. By leaving the marriage, I would also lose my home and job. I was then fearful about finding alternative employment.
Three years later, all fear has gone. My life hasn’t the security it once had. I can’t say that it has been easy. It hasn’t but life is not a bed of roses. Some of my fears proved well-founded.
I lost my job and home. I had nowhere to go or anywhere to work. Some people struggle to accept that I was a victim of severe domestic abuse. Some people I once considered friends have cut me off totally. However, in adversity you discover who your true friends are and I certainly have. My true friends have been very supportive and understanding of me and the journey I’m still on.
And what of my main fear of losing my children? My children now live with me and I’m immensely proud of the young people they’re growing to be. As I’ve written, I’ve tried only to record the impact on my children when it’s relevant without disclosing too much detail. They have their own stories that they may wish to tell one day. That will be their decision. I did everything I could so that I wouldn’t lose my children and so that I could keep them safe and as a result, we have a strong bond. As a father, nothing else matters to me. I now fear about my children’s future, but doesn’t every parent. At least now, I know they have a good future.