Rachel’s Domestic Abuse Story
Rachel’s domestic abuse story started as a simple ‘boy meets girl’, except this girl missed the warning signs and was soon subjected to intimate rape, beatings and death threats. This is the story of Rachel, co-author of “Real Rape, Real Pain”.
My meeting with Paul was really just a typical ‘boy-meets-girl beginning. I was an eighteen year old single mother. Initially, there was no attraction for him, but I developed one. He was good looking and very funny. He moved in with me.
I didn’t know what early warning signs were at the time, but boy, if I had known then what I know now! He was overwhelming at first, courted me with roses, charm and passion. But he was terribly posessive, and didn’t like me talking to other men, and had a sort of strutting, stereotypical masculinity. He could be very crude about women at times, and I found myself constantly justifying him to family and friends.
The violence started, as I now know it does, with name calling, which graduated to pushing and hairpulling. It eventually became violent battery. I was ashamed, and covered the bruises. I feared him, but I also pitied him. I didn’t know that he used his story of a terrible childhood to manipulate me. All I saw was an abandoned child.
The story of how the sexual violence began is more fully told on my website Aphrodite Wounded. But it was just something that I thought was not real because he was my partner, even though it hurt. Also, I believed I deserved it.
Many friends left me because I would not leave him. Desperate to hang on to the few I had left, I started to lie and say he was not hurting me, that he’d changed. In six months, I was not the young woman he’d met. Life depended on keeping him happy so he wouldn’t hurt me.
At first, I believed him when he said he was sorry, and that he would change. I started to not believe it after a while. But by that time, I was terrified. I fully believed he was capable of killing me (he did go on to murder a male).
The sexual violence seemed to utterly despoil all my fantasies of loving and being loved. He would sometimes tell me I was a stupid, prudish bitch who needed a good fuck; he seemed to enjoy desecrating my highest ideals. I wondered if they were worth hanging on to.
I didn’t know what to be to stop it; it didn’t occur to me to think it was strange that sometimes he said he was doing it because I was a whore, and at other times, because I was a prude. I now know that it was not about anything that I was or was not. It was about him. At any time, I was never permitted to say no. Strenuous refusal met with beatings.
But you know, I never stopped thinking about escape. While I was busy telling him that yes, I was looking forward to marrying him so he didn’t beat me bloody, I was secretly looking for a way out. Being honest about leaving meant beatings, violent rape, death threats. I tried to leave several times; once I got the police to come and get him out. The lady across the road persuaded me to take him back.
Of course, I sometimes felt that I loved him too …
The clincher came when I could see what the violence was doing to my little boy, who was becoming more and more withdrawn. I couldn’t have it. I had had a child by Paul, too, and I could not have her growing up with it. I didn’t know then, as I do now, that I was also worth being free for. I actually made arrangements to be evicted from the flat I lived in.
I told Paul that as soon as I could find somewhere else, we’d move back in together. That was not true; I had no inention of doing that, but did not dare say so. I moved in with a friend. He still came every day, still beat me when we were alone. But eventually I made the break … when others were about.
I was stalked, raped again and threatened, emotionally blackmailed. I got a court order. I came out so sick, so depleted. I was hospitalized for severe depression; what I now know was PTSD.
But I clawed my way back. I met and married my current partner, who, because of Paul’s crime of murder, adopted my baby girl. I went to university because I wanted to get professionally qualified to help other women who’d experienced what I had. Funny, I thought I was ‘too stupid’ to succeed, but I achieved consistently high results.
It’s been a hard slog. I wasn’t to understand, until I was in the middle of writing a literature review on marital rape, that the sexual violence, which still sat in me and shamed me so badly, was absolutely real; that all those feelings I’d had (and which are shared at different parts of Aphrodite Wounded) were valid. I kept stopping writing to cry and shake as it all came back …
I got sad, and then I got mad. I saw what the view of rape in relationships tends to be, and that invalidation certainly did not fit my feelings. I asked myself: what if the feelings of women raped by partners are actually what is real, and not the invalidating views? I knew I’d found truth in that.
I came to understand that I hadn’t made him do it – he’d wanted to keep me down, and had known that raping me was a good way to snuff out any rebellion.
I decided I would equip myself with all the knowledge I could on rape by partners, so I could reach out to others and let them know that they are not alone, and that there is healing for them. It hurts me that women experience this in aloneness.
I am a laughing, clever, warm, loved and loving woman who survived. I still have my moments, but I did survive, and in the words of my friend, Jes, I now thrive.
I want others to know they can too.