But what's in a word?!
In today's society of alter egos and hidden agendas it's hard to know who the 'good guys' are. We don't go out and meet a man and upon request of his personal resume read 'I will turn your life into a nightmare'.
What starts as the ideal relationship can eventually turn into something that is confusing and much more sinister.
Growing up I was privileged to live in a household with both of my parents. I saw their happiest and proudest moments and I saw them argue like any couple would... But most importantly, I saw them work at their relationship. It was an equal partnership built on a foundation of deep love, admiration and respect for one another. I formed the understanding that relationships weren't easy and everything fell back onto the importance of communication. It's a pity my previous partner didn't see it this way.
What started out as the perfect relationship and remained as such for a number of years turned into a battle. Not a battle between 2 people but a battle within myself.
A battle to remain true to who I was. A battle to remember that I did matter and I wasn't 'useless' or 'stupid'.
Looking back now I am able to see that this mans actions towards myself stemmed from his own insecurities and personal problems... At the time it wasn't so easy.
Being told on a daily basis that you can't do anything right, that you don't deserve to be treated with respect and so on really chips away at the person you once were. Slowly and little by little you feel yourself disappear into the shadows. You come to believe what you are being told and in turn you become the submissive partner the abuser desires. A person to control and instill fear over. Someone to degrade in order for them to feel more 'masculine' and superior.
I came to believe that was the life I was meant to live and I wouldn't be able to attain anything more.
I was made to feel guilty about seeing my family and in the end only saw them at christenings or other big occasions and always without my husband as he 'had to work' when really he was at the gym or home watching rugby league.
My friends were told not to visit me and I was told I wasn't to visit them.
Finances were always an issue and I remember vividly one day when I was told that the 5 minute drive to visit his family was a waste of $2 (in fuel)! Money was always a touchy subject.
Then I fell pregnant... The best thing that could have happened to me. It was no longer about the life I felt I deserved, instead it was about the life my unborn child deserved.
I packed a bag and I left. I stayed with family and friends when I could but due to complications throughout my pregnancy I also spent large quantities of time in hospital. It got to a point where I required care within my home and as a result (and after my then partner begged me to return, that he had changed!) I went home. It was only a matter of time before I was back to being mistreated and while heavily pregnant made to sleep on the lounge as he 'needed' the bed.
He would go out at night to meet up with a 'friend' and not return until the next day. If I questioned him he would refuse to answer and then proceed to tell me I was fat and ugly.
The day my daughter was born was bittersweet and although he was in the delivery room I was thankful to have my mother and a very dear of mine in the there as well for they provided me with the support I needed. While I recovered he went off and met his girlfriend. While his newborn daughter was is neonatal intensive care he was going out having 'fun'.
My situation escalated out of control. I wasn't happy and I worried constantly about the life my daughter would lead if I stayed.
As much as I wanted my marriage to work I knew it was a lost cause and I needed to move on, find happiness and most of all stability.
I couldn't allow my daughter to grow up in that environment believing it to be the norm and carrying on the cycle in her future relationships.
I told my husband I wanted a divorce but due to circumstances I stayed in our home for an additional 2 weeks... Until one night I was thrown across my driveway and my head smacked against the pavement. I was able to stand up but due to a heart condition I passed out and fell down again.
My ex father in law was witness to this and did nothing to stop it from happening. Instead I was told that if I went to the police he would lie to protect his son. He threatened to slit my throat and by this stage I was so worn down I went into the kitchen and took out a butchers knife. I held it out to and told him to 'just do it'
I couldn't help but think the way my husband was raised contributed to him thinking that domestic abuse was ok. Early education and understanding is so vital in teaching our society that violence is unacceptable. My ex husband learnt how to treat women from his father... A man that would beat his first wife, cheat, lie, gamble and walk out on his first 3 children.
That night as a result of my injuries I ended up in trauma care at my local hospital. I had bruising over my body but I was still in denial about what had happened.
Afterwards, a police issued AVO was placed against my ex husband for this violent attack and in relation to previous acts of domestic abuse.
I returned home but only to pack a suitcase for myself and my daughter and then I left in the early hours of the morning leaving everything behind (I would never reclaim my items which included some very sentimental pieces)
Over the following 2 years I received further threats, I was harassed and stalked, I was assaulted and not only by my husband but also by the girl he was seeing. The girl he cheated on me with.
During that time I was fortunate to have developed a relationship with a wonderful man... The man I would end up marrying and having my second daughter with. He became my rock and my comfort. He helped me to realize that I was somebody and that I deserved so much more.
He also received death threats, had his car vandalized and personally became caught up in my problem... But he stuck by me and even after my ex husband voluntarily signed over parental rights to our daughter he stepped in and took over the dad role without hesitation. He made the conscious choice to love her as his own. Both my daughters could not wish or ask for a better father.
Together we have been able to build a wonderful life full of hope, respect and love.
We still have ongoing issues due to the people from my past but through his support and the support of my friends I found the courage to speak out and shatter the silence.
Everything that survivors feel is normal. Feelings of inadequacy and rejection. Isolation and fear... The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and there are people out there willing to help, Willing to listen.
After suffering physical, financial, social, emotional and psychological abuse I was able to rebuild my life and so to can you!
I am a queen with scars fighting for a future of #queenswithoutscars