I was in an abusive realtionship……that used to be so hard to say. I met and fell in love with a man ( I will call him Tom)  and had two children with him. I thought we had it all, he was so good to me and he loved me so much. My family weren’t so keen and my friends thought he was a bit controlling. I thought he did what he did because he loved me so much. My family weren’t making it easy and I visited them less and less. My friends, I thought were jealous of what I had, and I distanced myself from them because I was sick of hearing them tell me he was no good.

I think it was Tom that suggested we move on and start a fresh up north. Somewhere we knew nobody and we could  have a new life and make new friends. Tom thought it would be better for us to get away from family and friends as they were causing problems with our relationship. I was very sad to leave as I had lived in that town all my life, gone to school with my friends, all my aunts and uncles, everybody was there but I knew that I wanted this realionship to work. Tom said they would destroy us.

We came north to Cairns and life was good, we got a place, I feel pregnant and we were happy. Tom got a job and I was happy, I stayed at home and looked forward to the birth of my first child. I can’t remember when it started to fall apart…… I look back now and see signs. Tom coming home from work and wanting to know what I had done today, who had I spoken to, why was I wearing that dress ?, not giving me access to the car, questioning what I spent money on. I dreaded when he came home as he questioned everything about the day. I got a little confident one night and said it was none of his business. That was the first time he hit me. I was so stunned. The next night he came home he had flowers for me, he was so sorry and he told me how he loved me so much and he was worried about me. It just got worse from there. The slaps became punches, the bruises were always on my back or upper arms, and I would be so scared to look / talk to anybody because he was so jealous. He thought I was sleeping with everybody.

I think back now, and life was very lonely and I was so scared of upsetting him that I stayed at home most of the time with the two children. I never knew what sort of mood he would come home in so I just played it safe. I met a woman who moved in next door and she befriended me. She was lovely, she would invite me over and she had a daughter of similar age to mine. Sometimes the conversation would come round to Tom and I told her little bits but not too much as I was so embarassed that I was in this relaionship. I still loved him though and I wanted it too work.

The night he came home and I was over at the neighbours was the night it all changed. I could see when I went home that he was not in goog mood. His eyes told that story. We had dinner and I put the children to bed, I usually slept with them but he came in and pulled me out to the lounge. After the first punch, I just curled myself up as he yelled and screamed at me whilst he was kicking me. I don’t know who called the police but they arrived and it was a terrible scene. They told me to grab what I needed for the next few days and they were going to take me and the children somewhere safe.

They took me to Ruth’s….. I was exhausted and overwhelmed with what had happened. That this could be me, here at a shelter. What was I doing?

I was shown a room and given all the essentials I needed for the night. I didn’t sleep much that night, all I could think about was what sort of mood Tom would be in when I returned home in the morning. Because I had to go home. The children were up early the next morning and off exploring all the corners of this new place, other children, other faces and different toys. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. Over the days I found friendship with others, stories were shared and I saw that I was not alone.  I found the strength to look at the realtionship for what it was. Did he make me happy? Did he really love me? Could I trust him? Would he hurt the children?

Some days I thought I would go back and others I moved forward. This took weeks of contemplation and I lot of thought. Could I make it work on my own/ I was frightened of him and wondered if he would let me go. Was it easier to just go back and live the life I knew and be good. He meant well, he was just jealous.

I listened, I talked, I went to counselling, I shared with others, I saw my children laugh, I felt I was a different person and then I had the strength to move on. It wasn’t any easy road but looking back now at what I endured before, I see myself and my children as so different from before.  I have recently made contact with my family and I know this will be a journey in itself. I am getting my life back on track and finding the strength to make big steps in my life………………………