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This article contains references to coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate partner relationship and may be triggering for some readers. If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
You know when you meet a guy for the first time and instantly, before either of you have said a word, there's a spark? It’s very rare that happens. It’s only in the movies right? That’s what happened the night I met Jack. Our first date was at a bar where we talked for four hours until closing.
When I got home, I had a message from him, saying he loved meeting me and asking me to go out with him again to an art gallery. It seemed so perfect. He knew what I liked, he would organise dates that were different and personal and would put in so much effort.
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After a month, I assumed we were a couple. I only point this out because over the next seven months he always made comments that he hadn’t decided if we were boyfriend-girlfriend yet. Despite those comments, we would go on several dates a week and I wasn’t seeing anyone else.
Jack was different. We would talk for hours. He wasn’t like anyone I had met before — he preferred a night in over a night out, and waking up for an early morning run over a sleep in. We seemed to have a lot in common.
I took all of these things as ‘signs’ that we must be perfect together, right?
There were a few red flags early on that I dismissed. Like when he found out I had a mortgage and drove an SUV, he commented, "Wow you’re like a grown woman, not like most girls". It didn’t sit right with me, him putting down 'most girls' — but I knew he meant it as a compliment.
It didn’t matter anyway because he made me feel so special. He would tell me I was beautiful every time I was lazing around on the couch in trackies or had just woken up with terrible bed hair and no make up. Over time, he started commenting every time I wore make up or did my hair.
He would say, “You look so much better without all that stuff on your face". Looking back, I can’t believe I let a man tell me how to look and dress, but at the time I just thought, "Wow he is making me feel so confident, I love that he thinks I look so good naturally".