“I’m not a woman basher, you don’t have bruises on your face.”
Those were the words my older, cooler 17-year-old boyfriend told me when I was just 15. This little gem was slotted right between a hard punch to my thigh and a pledge (more like a demand) to run away with me when I turned 16.
That little statement has stuck in my mind for a decade now, and as I get older and wiser, it gets more ridiculous, funny and scary.
I have never been more afraid as I was as a 15-year-old in a violent relationship. I have also never been more alone.
The older I get, the more I realise how scary my teenage relationship was, and how I thought it was the norm. When I imagine being in a similar relationship today, I am filled with absolute horror.
At a time where I was supposed to be living carefree, hanging out with friends and making beautiful memories, I was being subjected to emotional, verbal and physical attacks. I was constantly reminded that I was fat and useless and, to top it off, I was forbidden from seeing my friends.
You see, he was not in school and he lived alone. So, any time I wasn’t in school, I had to spend with him. And if I didn’t, oh boy, s**t would hit the fan.
Listen: It hasn’t been an easy road. But the Mamamia Out Loud team discuss everything that happened back in 2015 that meant we began to take Domestic Violence seriously. Post continues after audio.
I once worked a double-shift at my weekend job and this did not go down very well with him and sent him into a spiral of rage. He did burnouts in my yard (sorry about the grass, Dad) before coming into the supermarket I was working at.
He bought a packet of biscuits and a carton of flavoured milk. As he got to the checkout I was on, I served him while silently begging him not to make a scene. He heard my silent plea I think, and decided to go against it. He smashed the box of biscuits, which went flying all over the counter, and then threw his milk out into the street and left. And I stood crying, forced to keep serving customers. I remember hiding in the back of the store for the rest of my shift, watching him on the CCTV cameras. The next week, I quit my job.
Another time, he drove to my house drunk, broke into my house and snuck into my bedroom. I had to wake Mum to take him home in the wee hours of the morning before Dad got up for work.
Another time, we were at his house on a weekend. He had had too much rum to drink, and, as usual, got violent. He was always violent when he drank. I remember he picked up a table, filled with full drinks and plates of food, and threw it at me. I remember hiding in an empty block outside his unit all night, not able to go home because my parents thought I was at an innocent sleepover with the friends I no longer had.