By NAOMI ASHCROFT
I didn’t think it could happen to me.
I’m a masters educated, independent woman, in my mid thirties who always had a good social life and lots of friends. But I’ve just left an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship that was escalating to the point I could clearly see that physical abuse was coming next.
Like putting a frog in a slow boiling pot of water I didn’t even realise it was even happening until I was well and truly broken. As a teenager, I remember seeing a midday movie about this subject and thinking, “that looks awful, but I’d never stay with a man who’d treat me that way.”
One incident stands out. Not for any real reason… but it was what I had become used to hearing every single day.
After my best friend’s wedding in country, we drove back home and had a Sunday night dinner with a movie on the couch. About 9:30pm I started feeling sharp pains in my stomach, so I went to the bathroom where I began throwing up, became sweaty and flushed with a high fever.
I called out to him and as the bathroom was within earshot of the lounge, I expected him to come in. He never replied so I came out into the lounge and said to him, “I’m really not well, I think I might have to go to emergency now.” I was shaking with fever and quite scared. He had been snoozing on the couch. He looked up at me and said, “If you stop being a bitch I’ll help you.”
I was shocked and my mind immediately raced to what he could possibly have thought I was being a bitch about. I had seen this unpredictable, unreasonable turn in him before so in my vulnerable state I knew the best thing was to go. He followed me, apologising for calling me a bitch and then got angry again when I told him I was too sick to argue and I had no idea why he called me ‘that’ name.
I walked away got into my car and drove to emergency in tears of confusion, feeling very let down… again. I was there 5 hours until 3am, a friend came to support me and stayed the whole time. He called once to ask where I was, I told him at the hospital which was only few minutes from home. I again told him calling me a bitch upset me, isn’t acceptable and is verbal abuse. He began defending his position, saying it again and saying I shouldn’t have done this and that.
I hung up and went back into the emergency waiting room. I had blood tests, internal examinations and cried in my little back-sided open white gown, the fluro lights stinging my teary eyes until 3.30am. I hoped deep down he would turn up to support me, but I knew in my heart of hearts he wouldn’t. I recognised I had begun to walk on eggshells around him. I didn’t want to be on the end of another unreasonable angry outburst. I was afraid of him.