Updated: Feb 14, 2021
In a world where you can be anything, be kind. As simple as that sounds, it is the reason I am still here, alive today. Kindness of strangers changed the course of my life when it became unbearable. I am a victim of domestic abuse. My abuser denies this: he believes I should not be using the term as my body is not covered in bruises or scars. His stance appears to be commonly held among perpetrators of emotional, verbal, and financial abuse. They each fail to realise that, like with physical abuse, the damage caused by these can also last a lifetime. For over a decade, I was walking on egg shells everyday, minding my every word, and watching how I behaved at home and in public. This created a world where my humanity was eroded.
I had to invent a persona, create an illusion of happiness, and pretend that I was doing well whenever I walked out of my front door. My face was constantly plastered with a huge smile even though I was dying inside. I wanted an escape from my troubled home life but I did not know who to turn to for help. My fear was also that my story would not be believed because there was no scar or bruise to show as evidence of what I was going through. When you have been told repeatedly that no one will believe you, it is hard to shake off. I decided it was not worth it to keep fighting. The energy to carry on was gone. My mind was made up. I had strived for so many years to stay strong, trying to convince my husband I was not the awful person he had made me out to be, but I had failed. Nothing could convince him that I was not having an affair, or trying to make his life miserable by my mere existence. Nothing I did would deter him from forming untrue opinions about me.
My nerves were shot from being constantly scared. He would regularly punch surfaces and walls around me, producing sounds so loud that he made me fear I would be next. Sometimes he would clench his first and push it into my temple and other times push his face so close to mine that I could see all the pores on his skin. This was all accompanied by both viscous accusations and curses flying out with spittle.
When you have been told repeatedly that no one will believe you, it is hard to shake off.
In the dark depths of making a plan, I looked through my phone. In my contacts was the HIDVA (Hillingdon Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy.) Something in me pushed me to call their number. I debated with myself regarding the likelihood of the person on the other end not caring about what I had to say. I thought that I would be dismissed and given another number to contact as has become the norm when people need help. When it rang, I panicked and nearly cut the call; but something in me kept me on. The best thing I did was staying on the phone until it was answered. It was a short wait but seemed a lot longer; my heart was pounding so hard, it felt like it would burst out of my chest. The “hello” from the other end started a new chain of events that turned my life around.
For the first time in years, I could talk about my feelings and what I was experiencing. The person I spoke with listened to me and told me to stop apologising every time I said sorry for taking her time. The best part of it: I felt believed. She was kind to me that day and started helping me to make steps to leave the abusive relationship I was in. Leaving was not immediate because we agreed that I had to be careful. It is widely known that the most dangerous time for a victim is when they are about to leave their abusive relationship. Plans were carefully made alongside other agencies such as Hestia and the Housing department of Hillingdon council. My GP was also instrumental to my mental health recovery. Through the kindness of those strangers, my life is worth living now, and I am gradually becoming who I was meant to be.
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