“ A couple of my friends died because of domestic violence from their husband, and a lot of them ended up on drugs and drink because, you know what, if you get the shit kicked out of you, you’re better off being pissed out of your face or off your head”
Although born in London, Ali was raised in Ireland. Her childhood was devastated by being trapped in a paedophile ring, the details of which remain in a dark corner of her past. The tragic consequences of this abuse were instrumental in her alcoholism.
She had 2 children from an early relationship which broke up through domestic violence. In an attempt to secure a new start for her family, she moved to the Derby area in 2009 and lived with a man she met on Facebook. Whilst it might have been a risk she was not prepared for what she was subjected to – domestic violence, again, and it started almost immediately.
She was alone in a separate land, no family no friends living with a man controlling her every move – actively isolating her, forcing and reinforcing her dependence on him. She was not allowed out to go shopping, she had to ask permission to go to the toilet, and the door had to remain open when she was taking a bath; none of it rational, justifiable or excusable. By June 2009, just a few months after they had first met, she was pregnant but this did not give much respite, and then, when the baby was born there was no holding back.
“He tried to attack me when I was pregnant, but it didn’t happen. Then one time I was holding my new-born son in my arms….he came up to me and hit me clean in the face, that’s the reason why I have a lump above my eye. I’ve had an old-fashioned tin opener put to my throat, I’ve basically had the crap kicked out of me on many occasions….and in the end you think – God, is this all I’m worth? You’re hoping and praying that it won’t be like this forever….and then something wakes up inside you and you realise, yes…..it is going to be like this forever…and you just have to accept it”
Permanently on display in the marital home was a cricket bat – with her name carved in it. Something her husband kept reminding her of. He also knew about her dark past during her childhood in Ireland which he used to violate her, verbally, like a piercing rusty knife with a lacerating jagged edge. Her alcoholism made her vulnerable and that was exploited with full force.
To the outside world, he was a pleasant and reasonable man. Ali had to make excuses for her injuries, having to blame the children, to whitewash the truth.
So what prevented her from leaving?
“Fear! You just don’t know what they’re going to do. You don’t know what they’re capable of! If I took away his only biological child he will kill me….he would not hesitate to kill me.”
But after too many years living with the violence, she could cope with it no more, she was in a desperate place and took the brave step to break away. Just before Christmas 2014 she volunteered to place her children into care, and moved into a women’s refuge. They were finally separated although it wasn’t long before her husband tracked her down – she was then moved again for her own safety.
At the beginning of 2015, Ali was a nervous wreck, her confidence had been systematically destroyed, she was frightened, and constantly on-edge, paranoid about how the smallest activity might be misinterpreted and used against her. Over the next few months she lost a lot of weight dropping from a size 18 to a size 12. Her solicitor then introduced her to Women’s Work. She was initially placed on suicide watch, but over time she gradually became involved in the Freedom programme and other activities which helped her to piece her life back together again.
“Eventually it starts building up confidence, and making you feel – ‘Yes, I am worth something. Maybe when I look in the mirror I won’t see an ugly looking, fat cow staring back at me.’ ”
It will be a gradual process for Ali, and she is waiting for the right moment in her life when she has fully recovered, to seek custody of all of her children. Her third child, is living with his father – Ali’s abuser, the other 2 are in long term foster care.
She has made good progress in the last 6 months; she would not have been able to have spoken to me last Christmas – now she can speak freely about her past, and future. She has learnt a lot about herself and the way she was treated.
“Domestic Violence is domestic violence be it verbal, physical mental or emotional it’s all about a man or woman trying to dominate and control another human being – plain and simple, black and white, no grey areas….not explained by a bad upbringing. It’s all about control – that’s what it’s all about.”
She knows her husband is a serial perpetrator, he hit women before Ali, and she fears for any woman who gets involved with him subsequently. He knows how to manipulate people, and maintain an external charade of being an affable person, apparently innocent of any misdemeanour. He is the archetypal perpetrator of domestic violence – the “House Devil – Street Angel”
Categories: Sex/Domestic Violence