1. At what point did you realise your relationship was abusive?
I think I always knew. I was quite young at the time, my youngest memory of it really affecting me was maybe 5 or 6. I know I was at school and I was always told if anyone asked how I got my bruises it was because I was clumsy and that I’d fallen or run into something. It was a lie that I remember practising quite a lot – I guess after a while it became second nature and I never really thought about in my teenage years.
"my youngest memory of it really affecting me was maybe 5 or 6"
I guess when I really understood what abuse was and that it was happening was whilst I was dating my first boyfriend. I confided in him about what my father was like and he was training to be a policeman, so I guess I thought he would protect me – I learnt a bit more about how it didn’t happen to everyone, it was really acceptable – but I still never did anything about it. I never felt I could change it. He is after all my dad.
2. How did you leave/ end the relationship?
This is an interesting question. My current boyfriend knows almost everything about what has happened to me, and tried to help me manage my father and to stand up, and try to remove some of the controlling factors. I think I always automatically revert to trying to placate him, it always felt easier than standing up to him, for which the consequences felt a lot worse.
"I always automatically revert to trying to placate him, it always felt easier than standing up to him, for which the consequences felt a lot worse."
There was a particular time that my boyfriend asked me to not join him as he spoke to my father. (My father was trying to force me to buy a house with him – which I didn’t want to do). Post that chat, my father freaked out and sent me a stream of abusive messages to my phone, tried calling me 20 times plus – and I was so scared I didn’t dare answer. So I blocked him so I could work in peace. Then he emailed my work email saying I never had to talk to him ever again. And I haven’t since.
3. How were the following months after leaving your partner/ escaping the abuse? Other difficulties you may have experienced because of your abuse?
I still have nightmares – and installed 6 locks on my front door so I felt safer. It’s gotten better, and I’ve gone down to 3 locks. I work a lot – and that helps me not think about it, but then I don’t want to not have a life because I work too much, because I’m trying to avoid talking about difficult things.
I tend to shut down quite quickly if people raise their voices – even if it isn’t aimed at me. I hate loud noises, and often can’t help but cry if it goes on too long.
"I still have nightmares – and installed 6 locks on my front door so I felt safer. It’s gotten better, and I’ve gone down to 3 locks"
I definitely felt I’ve lost a lot of people I thought were friends, but when I came out with my truth quickly didn’t want to know. Like it’s taboo… One thing that probably upset me the most is when a friend said “is it cultural” (I’m of Indian descent) and it was like they were saying what my father did is somehow ok, because it’s a “Indian cultural” thing. Which to confirm it certainly isn’t.
"I love tea – and it helps me so much. Everything from builders to strawberry, mint and other herbal ones. I have lots of teas for different moods.
But also being with someone – just to talk to. I definitely needed the support in my life."