Warning: This post contains mentions of emotional abuse and domestic violence and may be triggering to some readers.
It was his eyes that scared me the most. They were black, cold and dead. The look of a killer’s. The sound of my voice terrified me too. It was mine, but it wasn’t me. A rasping hiss squeezed out with what little breath was left. “Please, Ben, Please!” I was begging for my life.
‘Die you c***, die!’ Ben* said, as he strangled me tighter. Then came the white tunnel of light I knew was sucking me to my death. Ben’s psychotic face was the last I’d ever see. The man I loved, murdering me. I was 7.5 months pregnant.
Vivian shares her story of family violence on The Split. (Post continues below.)
I was 18 when I first met Ben at a party. He was drop dead gorgeous and a successful actor, so I already had a bit of a school-girl crush on him. When he looked at me with his baby blue eyes, my stomach did a flip. We talked for hours. There were pretty actresses and models there, but to him I was the only person in the room. He was charismatic and charming.
‘He’s the One’, I thought.
Within weeks Ben was declaring his undying love for me. He promised marriage, babies and a long, happy life together. It sucked me in. I thought I’d found what I’d been looking for. Someone to love me, care for me and grow old with me. I trusted him. I let go and allowed myself to be vulnerable with him. Then I met Mr Hyde.
It was a flash of anger that shocked me. Ben then acted as if nothing had happened. It was brief enough for me to think: ‘did I imagine that?’ And to minimise it. Especially when he was remorseful and bought me flowers.
It was an emotional bait and switch. The romantic, wonderful Ben hooked me in. Then bam, there was a sudden switch to his moody, darker side. No sooner did I get a glimpse of that, he flipped, and it was the loving, gorgeous Ben again.
From then on it became a cycle of seeing one, then the other. The nice Ben, then the nasty. But I never knew which Ben I would get on any given hour or day. It threw me off balance. I walked on eggshells.
I tried everything to keep the peace. If what I wore was ‘too slutty’ I’d change my style, if my friends were a ‘bad influence’ I’d see less of them. Anything to make him happy and get that high back. The one I felt when the loving Ben returned and adored me.
At first, I didn’t even realise I was in an abusive relationship. If I questioned Ben about his behaviour he’d gaslight me, saying I imagined it. He’d shift the goal posts. When you’re belittled and blamed for everything over time, you start to believe it. He crushed my self-esteem. Instead of holding Ben accountable, I tried harder to please and prove I was worthy of him.
An unhealthy addiction to him kicked in. I was chasing the heady high I got from that charismatic, loving side. If I’d admitted this relationship was no good for me, I would have lost the very thing I needed to feel good again.
Watch: The signs of an abuser, told through his victim’s phone. Post continues…