It was a Sunday, my husband and I had been for a Sunday roast next door, our first social meal out for around four years. I ate everything on my plate, had seconds when offered (it was delicious), drank three tiny glasses of wine and enjoyed dessert (apple crumble and ice cream).
When we got home my husband announced that I’d been disgusting eating that much food and drinking alcohol; did I realize what I’d done to my body?! And he insisted that I get on my spinning bike for 7.5 hours to work off all the calories.
Yes that’s correct, he demanded that I cycle for 7.5 hours to work off all the calories. I was at that point a size 6/8 at 5ft 7, weighing less than 10 stone…. So not really in any danger of getting fat on it.
I told him ‘I don’t care’ to his surprise assuming I was going to jump on my bike as ordered. I replied ‘no, you’re not getting it. I Don’t. Care!’ Making it perfectly clear I was not getting on that damned bike. At which point he gave me an ultimatum either I got on the bike or he wanted a divorce. I said ‘finally!’ And sat down to watch some telly.
He then got upset that I wasn’t crying. I explained that all I felt was relief and happiness and that I’d move out the next day. And that is how I finally escaped my abuser. I baited him until he snapped and it was his decision it was over, and to be honest until he’d pushed me to the point that I could no longer make excuses for him.
I realised that I’d rather be alone (as he said no one else would ever love a fat ugly person like me) than be miserable with him.
I read somewhere it takes on average nine attempts for a person to leave their abusive spouse. It took me four, and I’m proud of myself for that.
Six years on, I’m engaged to a wonderful man, we have a beautiful one-year-old son together and life has never been better.
Me about six months after leaving him, celebrating with new friends and finally able to eat a decent meal again (and keep it down, my stomach was so small when I escaped him) and finally having put on enough weight to look healthy.
The start of the most amazing journey in my life.
So to anyone in an abusive relationship, it’s amazing how much there is in life that you are missing. It’s scary choosing to go back into life alone, but you can. And trust me it’s better than remaining with an abuser. And wonderful things can happen without the abuser’s walls around you.
So here goes… I had to bait him because the previous times I had tried to leave had been on my terms. By making him state he wanted a divorce (which he swiftly changed his mind on when I actually left) absolved me of any guilt or emotional blackmail. He had previously threatened suicide on multiple occasions to make me return. This way in my mind I could say it was his choice, and it’s not my fault if he kills himself.
I later began to realise he had mental health issues before he met me, and therefore his mental illness was not my fault and never could be. Although whether he exaggerated his illness as a method of manipulation remains anyone’s guess.
Regarding the mental abuse it started on our honeymoon, as soon as we were married he believed he ‘owned’ me. However in hindsight the manipulation started prior to that.
The abuse was all about manipulation and control. I was allowed to eat a small bowl of shreddies in the morning (portion dictated by him, I fought tooth and nail for some cereal)! Lunch was 5 pieces of chicken dry pan fried (no oil or butter) in a single pitta bread with some lettuce. Occasionally if I had been ‘good’ he’d portion out a tiny bit of mayonnaise. The chicken pieces were about an inch round each.
Dinner was 5 more pieces of chicken breast, a handful of green beans, broccoli, a few carrots and some swede. All steamed. Once a month I was allowed a single potato.
He would make a single chicken breast stretch across dinner and lunch for two adults. Our monthly food bill came to £50.
Heating was rationed. I ended up with pneumonia, which tells you how tightly it was rationed! Water was also rationed and he would sit with a stop watch and time me while I showered.
After escaping I threw up after every meal for a good month or two. This wasn’t an eating disorder, my stomach couldn’t cope with food!
I would also call my mum in tears over trying to work out what to eat for dinner or what to watch on TV. I’d had decision making taken away from me for such a long time every tiny decision just felt too monumental to make.
I’m out now, obviously. But to anyone in a relationship where the partner is starting to build control over them. Just get out. You may be strong willed, you may be a fighter. But they work by wearing you down. You may say no to their unreasonable demands time and time again. But eventually out of guilt for saying no all the time you’ll say yes instead. That is the start of a slippery slope where it becomes harder and harder to say no, and the yes’s just keep rolling out. Before you know it you can’t remember how to say no.
CREDIT : Clairey