explainer

'My abusive husband of 40 years died. I discovered he had written my eulogy.'

This post deals with domestic abuse and might be triggering for some readers. 

Angie Jordan didn’t have a home for the 40 years she was married to her husband. 

She had a house. But no home. 

The latter would imply a sanctuary of safety; a place she nurtured just as it nurtured her. In reality, though, she lived in fear inside her house on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. 

Ms Jordan, 60, was the victim of coercive control. Whilst domestic abuse has historically been understood as those behaviours that result in broken bones and bruises, it is now known to involve much more insidious forms too. 

Coercive control occurs when the abuser uses a deliberate pattern of behaviours to exert and maintain control over their victim. The most common behaviours include interfering with family and friends, monitoring movements, insulting and belittling emotional attacks and financial abuse

Ms Jordan knows all too well how dangerous it is. 

She was nearly murdered, which she discovered after reading a eulogy her husband wrote for her.

But, of course, it didn’t start with the horror. 

Ms Jordan met her husband when she was 18-years-old. He was 14 years her senior. 

“I fell madly in love, but I realise now that I didn’t fall in love with him… Essentially he just mirror-imaged me. He said he loved all of the things I loved, but he didn’t. He just said that to entrap me in this relationship.”

What ensued was a marriage spanning four decades that was filled with horrific abuse. The examples are as endless as they are frightening. 

Angie Jordan, 60, was the victim of coercive control. Image: Supplied. 

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At one point, Ms Jordan’s husband put a webcam in their house to keep a watchful eye on her movements. 

If he saw her on her phone via the corridor camera, he would ask her what she was doing - so obsessed was he with monitoring her communications with her friends.

“I was just on Instagram,” she remembers telling him.

“Put me on Instagram, I want to see who you're following,” he demanded in reply.

When Ms Jordan would tell him she was grabbing a coffee with some of the few friends she had left, he would demand to come with her, to stop her from speaking about him without his knowledge. 

“I won't sit on your table, I'll sit on the table behind,” he would command. 

Ms Jordan wouldn’t go, to avoid the humiliation of her husband spying on her in front of her friends.

Not only would he monitor her movements and messages, but also her weight. 

If he believed Ms Jordan had put on a few kilos, he would bring out the scales and insist she strip off and step up. 

On occasion, when Ms Jordan knew she had put on weight, she would feel sick at the prospect of him finding out. And when he did, he bullied and berated her. 

“I didn't marry you so you could become fat,” she recalls, with tears in her eyes, him telling her. 

Ms Jordan subsequently starved herself, living on a diet of Coke Zero and cigarettes, to fit the criteria her husband forced her to be. 

Watch: The hidden numbers of women and violence. Post continues below. 


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It was in every aspect of her life that this level of callous control was exerted. 

She couldn’t work - that was his role. She couldn’t wear what she wanted - that was his decision. She couldn’t do what she wanted - that was for him to dictate.

But the manipulation was masked by his ostensible love for her.

“You can only trust me,” he would tell her. “I'm the only person that can love you. I'm the only person that would die for you. I'm the only person that can protect you.”

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Whilst desperately miserable, Ms Jordan was not aware that she was a victim of domestic abuse. She has retrospectively been diagnosed with Stockholm syndrome - a psychological response where a victim develops positive associations with their abuser. 

It wasn’t until her eldest daughter, Jess, returned to Australia in December 2017 after working overseas that Ms Jordan realised the seriousness of the abuse.

“My daughter came to me and said, ‘Mum, this is not normal. I know you don’t see it, but how he treats you is not normal’,” she recalls. “Jess phoned the local support place for women, and we got in the car... 

“When I got there, they took me into the safe room and I told this woman [about my marriage] and she looked at me and said ‘You are a victim of DV’. When she said that, I just broke down because I realised that someone would believe me.”

Ms Jordan says her husband’s public persona of being a “caring and wonderful person” meant she never thought anyone would believe the truth - that he was a monster. 

Angie Jordan was married for 40 years before she realised she was the victim of domestic abuse. Image: Supplied. 

The day Ms Jordan decided to leave, he threatened to kill her. 

“He told me that he would find me, he would have my door kicked in and then he would have me gang raped or murdered,” she recalls. 

Filled with terror, Ms Jordan left.

“I became so fearful that if I was walking out on the street with men walking toward me I would have a panic attack thinking, ‘Are these the men that are going to do this to me?’ He built up this level of fear - he made me totally fearful of the outside world.”

Then her abuser killed himself. 

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It was only after his suicide that Ms Jordan learned how close she came to being killed herself.

Ms Jordan came across a eulogy predicated on her having killed herself - despite the fact she was alive and had no plans of ending her own life.

“I have no idea why Angie did this,” the eulogy read. “She had a loving forever home here with me surrounded by all her treasures and her animals. However, Angela made her choice and we must respect that choice.”

She also stumbled upon a letter, addressed to her, concerning her life insurance policy. 

It was clear he had planned to murder her.

Every week in Australia, on average, one woman is killed by a former or current partner. Ms Jordan became spine-chillingly close to being one of them. 

But she survived. And today, and every day, she feels grateful to be alive.

“Every day is pure joy. Some days I just sit and cry about how wonderful life is now.”

Ms Jordan, who undergoes constant therapy, says she will “never have closure because he will never have to face what he did to me”.

But part of her recovery has been finding her voice again. Tonight, Ms Jordan will share more of her story on SBS' Insight.

Ms Jordan felt compelled to share her story after the death of Hannah Clarke, who was a victim of coercive control before she was doused in petrol and killed by her estranged husband alongside their three children in February 2020. Their deaths have triggered a campaign to criminalise this insidious form of domestic abuse. 

Ms Jordan says there should be no question over whether this behaviour should be criminalised. 

It is a necessary step, she says, in preventing more women from being murdered in this country. 

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month and, at Mamamia, we're sharing women's stories of bravery and courage. If you have the means, please donate to RizeUp to help women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence.

Insight’s Intimate Terrorism episode airs at 8.30pm tonight and accompanies a suite of programming available across SBS and NITV that aligns with documentary series See What You Made Me Do.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

Feature image: Supplied.