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I wasn’t bleeding, but I was broken

"My husband had always drunk heavily. Years ago, it wasn’t even noticeable that his drinking was any different to my own or our friends and I didn’t actively monitor it. The 6 months leading up to the assault, things had been escalating. I had started to realise the drink was a problem, but I was still in a bubble and wondering if he was depressed and how to help him.

One night, I woke my husband to ask him about a message that came through on his phone from a woman I didn’t know. It turned out he had ‘known’ her very well. We got into an argument and then he attacked me, yelling at me that it was all my fault. Nothing stopped him hitting me until my young daughter walked into our bedroom. She was white as a ghost and asked “What are you guys doing” – I truly believe she saved my life.

I explain domestic abuse to people as a storm. When you’re out at sea in a storm and you can’t see your hand in front of your face, all you can focus on is surviving the next wave – a wave you may or may not be able to see. That night, after the violence, my husband left us both in the room shaking. I wasn’t bleeding, but I was broken. I rang my sister and she told me to call the police. I needed her to convince me into dialling 111 – “This isn’t an emergency, I’ll just call the police station” – I was still in the storm. I had no idea I was being abused until after the assault; through Shine, I learnt what domestic abuse was. Hindsight is such a… well you know what it is. All of the red flags were there, and they are so obvious now, but I wasn’t educated on what domestic abuse was in order to compare it with the reality I was living. 

Shine wasn’t the only organisation I spoke to the day after the assault, IAG (my employer) was there from the beginning as well. IAG provided me the security of knowing I could continue to provide for my children. Although my injuries prevented me from working for a period, the gesture made 3 days after the assault did so much for my self-belief and helped me know that I would make it through.

People sometimes ask me how I cope when victims keep going back – I have lived it and leaving is brutal – it takes a village to get you out of the storm. If the only village you have is the one run by your abuser, of course you stay because what’s the alternative?

Domestic Violence is all consuming, it ruins everything you have, stripping you right down to your core. It damages your children, ripples through everyone who loves you, and everyone who knows you (if you tell people). It hurts everyone. And it is everywhere. When Shine told me IAG was looking into signing up to the DVFREE Tick, I was not surprised because of all the amazing support you have given me. I was so proud to see you as an organisation walking the talk."

- Written by a former Shine client, November 2018