A male victim of domestic violence - The untold story.
On the 5th of September, 2014, my partner's mother was killed tragically in a car accident. She had not yet told her mother that she was pregnant with our first child. It was supposed to be a surprise. She was quite obviously devastated. She had planned to break the news to her mother on her birthday, only three days away. It was never to be.
Not even two days later, her grandmother suddenly passed away in her sleep. It was later found that she had an aneurysm, possibly brought on by the stress of losing her daughter.
Not even having had two days to process her mother's death, my partner had to now also deal with the loss of her grandmother. She was now alone in the world, as her grandfather died as a child and she never knew her father.
I had never lost anyone before, so I found it very difficult supporting her emotionally. What were the right things to say? What would I want to hear? All I could do was hug her when she needed it.
She was very strong, surviving on what I could only assume to be adrenalin. Having to do all the work to have her mother and grandmothers funeral organised, it seemed that she never had time to cry. This really bothered me.
Eight months later, we were on the verge of meeting our new daughter. Things had been OK during the previous eight months, however, I was concerned that she never seemed to mourn. I often asked her if she wanted to see a councilor. With a smile, she would look at me and say she was OK.
Childbirth did not go to plan. There were many major complications and an emergency C-section was required to be performed. I felt so bad for her. It had been the year of hell. Everything that could go wrong, was.
We returned back home with our new bundle of joy. A healthy little girl. Whilst there was a new addition to our family, I feel this is when we lost someone. The woman I went home with, was not the partner I knew. She became distant, quiet and would not leave our bedroom.
One day I returned from work and found her painting our bedroom windows with black paint, to keep the light out. I obviously found this very odd.
I once again, as politely as possible, asked her if she was doing ok and if she needed to speak to me or someone else about how she was dealing with the deaths of her mother and grandmother. She became agitated and threw the paint at the wall. She regained her composure, smiled and said "I'm ok. I have just had a bad day". I knew there was more to this behavior.
Small arguments about trivial things ensued. We had never argued before. Disagreed yes, but argue? Never!
I walked into the house on another occasion and poured a glass of orange juice. I went out the back to sit down with my drink when out of nowhere I was hit in the back of the head with something heavy. I immediately noticed that I was also saturated. She had thrown the bottle of orange juice at me.
Absolutely speechless, I looked at her and simply asked, 'What the?"
She responded with, "You put the fucking orange juice on the wrong shelf, it goes on the lower one."
There had never been an agreement on where orange juice belongs in our fridge. This was also the first act of violence that I had ever experienced in a relationship.
I cleaned up the mess and whilst doing so, wondered if this behavior had something to do with her lack of mourning. I walked to the bedroom and asked her if she was sure that she was ok.
She responded with, "Just fuck off! If you ask that again I swear to god....". I did not raise the discussion again.
Things seemed to settle down after that until another night we both decided to go to bed. We jumped into bed and I started to hear a whimper. I knew she was crying over her mum. I rolled over to hug her. I thought about something that would sound nice, what I would want to hear if I was in her position?
I told her that I believed her mother would one day get to meet our daughter. Even though I was not religious, I truly fell that life continues on after death. I hoped that this would be soothing to her and I expected her to roll over and hug me. This was not to be.
"Get the fuck out of my bed. Do you think I need to hear that kind of shit! I am already upset when you go and rub it in further!" That was not the response I had expected. I decided to get out of our bed and sleep in the spare room.
As I walked out of the bedroom into the living area, something heavy once again slammed into my back. I heard it smash all over the floor. It was a glass vase.
When I turned around she was walking through the broken glass towards me, completely oblivious to the broken glass cutting her feet in the process. The rage in her eyes was genuinely terrifying. I didn't feel like she could really hurt me, (I am twice her size) but there is a nervousness of what she could be willing to do. How far would she be willing to go? I had not seen her like this before.
I tiptoed through the broken glass, and bear-hugged her, lifting her up and carrying her to the tiled area that had no glass. She was screaming at me to put her down. I told her "Look at your feet!"
Her feet had been that badly cut, that there appeared to be arterial bleeding, massive pools of blood collecting on the floor.
She collapsed to the ground and started crying. She looked at me and said, "I scare myself when I get like this". I found this comment odd, as she had never been like this in the eight years we had been together, so what was she referring too? We drove to the hospital and she had to have 8 stitches in total, on both feet.
Over the next few months, things got far worse. She would sleep most of the day, and cry all night. I would often have to take many day's off work, exhausting my annual leave to take care of both her and the children.
The behavior continued to worsen. She became suicidal, often stating she wanted to be with her mother and grandmother. She would spend the day obsessing about being dead, and asking me very uncomfortable question such as, "Do you think dying is painful?"
She did not want to speak to a professional about dealing with the loss of her family, but I knew that I could not keep up with working a 10 hour day and getting limited sleep assisting her. It was taking its physical and emotional toll on me also.
I demanded so much of myself. I was raised as a traditional man and that it was always my responsibility to ensure my family was protected and safe over all else, especially my own needs. I drove myself into the ground.
Knowing I was unable to keep this up, I devised a plan to ask her to participate in couples counseling to discuss our little feuds. I was hoping that a professional would pick up on certain cues that I was not trained to see and that she could possibly feel comfortable enough to discuss things she had no yet dealt with. To my surprise, she agreed.
She eventually opened up to the counselor, and stated she had been obsessed with the notion of suicide, and that she had not yet dealt with her families death. She stated she realised she had treated me like a punching bag. I lent over and grabbed her hand. "That's what I am there for. I don't hold it against you. I know you were hurting", I said. I thought this was when things were finally going to get better, and that we could finally enjoy being new parents.
It ended up being the start of a different type of anger. When we returned home, she was much happier. Smiling and laughing again. Life seemed peachy.
But then the demands started coming. "I don't want your family coming over, ok? I have really bad anxiety and you need to do this to help me."
It didn't appear to be an unreasonable request given the situation. So I agreed. "I also do not want your friends over, OK?"
I agreed. I mean it shouldn't take long for her to start feeling better.
This went on for some time. We never had visitors, and I never left the house. If I attempted to leave she would tell me that it would make her upset and that she may become suicidal again. To me, it made sense. It would, from what I had seen. So I complied. At the time, I didn't see this as controlling. My partner needed my help.
I started to get concerned when our daughter was about 7 months old. I realised one day, that she had never met another child, nor any of her extended family. In fact, our daughter had hardly ever left the house or saw daylight. I raised this with my partner as politely as I could.
I was greeted with hostility and anger. "Why is this suddenly become you and not me!" I explained this was not for me, but to ensure that our daughter was being socialised and learning about the world. All she had seen was the inside of a dark room and a dark house.
"I am the mother and I will determine when and where she goes. If I say no, then it means no!"
I no longer attempted to ask to take our daughter anywhere. Life became very mundane. Often going to work, and returning home. Never to leave the house.
Many of my friends and family were contacting me asking to meet our daughter. I would have to always make excuses as to why I could not visit them, or why they couldn't visit us. I would tell them we had plans, or that I was sick. Anything to stop my partner from becoming angry. I walked on eggshells, and she would oversee the conversations.
After this continued for about 3 more months, I was invited out on a camping trip with some friends from work. I made excuses but they would not take no for an answer. They stated that I had become reclusive and unsociable. Sadly, it was true. I didn't want to be. I felt that I had to be for my family. I desperately wanted some time out.
When I returned home, I proposed the idea to my partner. Surprisingly she agreed. I did not expect this. However, there were caveats. I was really excited and I agreed to the caveats.
Two days before leaving for the camping trip, I realised that in order to complete the caveats (I can't identify what they were as it would identify her), I would require some help on her behalf.
She would not provide me with the very limited help that I required. It became obvious to me that these caveats were chosen because she was aware that I would need her help. And she never had any intention of helping me. She simply did not want me to go.
For the first time, I decided to stand up for myself. I stated that I was going to go camping regardless and that I had made all attempts to for fill the caveats but it appeared she was intentionally trying to make me fail by not helping me. She simply stated that I would not be going as the agreement had not been honored. I stated that I would be going regardless. That night, I decided I would sleep in the spare room, as it was obvious she was going to be angry.
At around 3 am, I was awoken to the light being switched on. I was asleep on the futon. As I awoke I turned towards the door to look, when I was struct to the left temple. I saw the light in the roof turn into an infinity symbol, before falling unconscious. I had been laying down with a blanket over me, in such a vulnerable position.
I had never been knocked out before. It's very strange because its a rather pleasant feeling. I know that sounds strange, but that's how I remember it. It didn't hurt.
When I regained consciousness (at a guess I had been unconscious for a few minutes), my partner was leaning against the wall with her head in her knee's, crying. I got up and fell to the floor. An overwhelming sense of dizziness made it difficult for me to stand and my left eye would not align.
I managed to get to my feet and walk to the kitchen and grab my car keys. I got in my car and drove to a friends house. I had to keep my left eye closed in order to see straight. When I arrived, my friend asked me what had happened, noticing that I had a large lump on the left side of my forehead.
He encouraged me to go to the police to report it, however, I did not want to. He continued to encourage me and I promised I would do it in the morning.
The following morning my friend took me to the police station. We had an interview with an officer and I told him what had happened. He asked if my partner was OK, and I told him yes, she was fine. He started to ask me questions about what I had done to her. I stated I had not done anything and I asked why he was asking such questions.
He then proceeded to talk me out of pressing any police charges and that it would more than likely exacerbate the issues. I agreed with him. I was still empathetic to the problems she had and the hurt she was experiencing. I didn't want her to have charges on her plate also. I was still practicing 'protect my family at all costs, even against my own needs.'
I decided that the best course of action to take was to temporarily move out. Let her have some space. I also felt that she was taking her anger out on me because I had never lost any family members, and in some macabre, tragic kind of way, this made her angry at me. Strange, yes, but it made a little bit of sense to me.
I discussed this with my partner and she stated that it would probably be a good thing to do. I set up a little room in the back of my friend's house. He only lived 5 minutes away, so I was close by if she needed anything.
I started receiving suicidal phone calls and messages again. I would send her consoling messages, but nothing would calm the situation. I would offer to come over, but she would state that she didn't want that. I asked her if she could call the counselor. She didn't want to do that either. My hands were tied.
Nearly a year exactly after the birth of our daughter, I received a text message stating she had decided to go on a holiday. She was going to head to a remote part of the Northern Territory bush, with just our daughter. She would not tell me when she would go, when she intended to return, or the specific locations she intended going. I told her that I would hire her a sat phone if she was going to go that remote. She stated she would not need one.
I felt that a holiday would be good for her. (She loves remote bush camping). However, I was concerned about her consistent suicidal texts and phone calls. She had also recently been clinically diagnosed as being a person at risk of self-harm and/or suicide.
This did not sit well with me. She told me that the decision had been made and that she intended to leave the very next day. My focus now moved to the safety of our daughter. As hard as it was, for the first time ever, I did not trust my partner. I did not feel safe letting her disappear from the face of the earth, with our child given the messages she had been sending me.
Our neighbor had also contacted me, (She was a child health care nurse). She contacted me stating that I needed to take action, as when she returned home from work, our daughter was left in our garage with the door opened, unsupervised, and she had to remain with her for 20 minutes until my partner returned from inside the house to take her inside. She had not answered the knocks at the door.
I contacted child protective services to ask them for assistance as to the best way to deal with the issue. Their attitude towards me seemed as if they did not believe anything I had been saying. They continually stated "Let me get this straight. You do not live together? Are you sure you are in a relationship? There must be a DVO."
They did not seem to understand how we were in a relationship, but not living together. I explained the circumstances, and they insisted that I must be lying and that I was using the service to punish her. They would not take my explanation seriously and this was very frustrating.
The following day, the police visited me at the house I was living at. They had a member of child protective services with them. She stated that they were threatening me with domestic violence-related offences as the transcript of my phone call to CPS stated I had referred to her as a 'Bad Mother'. This is considered domestic violence.
I explained that I had NEVER used that to describe her and that she was a fantastic mother. She just hadn't dealt with the loss of her family. Right then, I remembered that I had a phone recording app on my phone that I use to record work phone calls, to be able to recall later.
I asked for the transcript and played the recording. When she realised I had a recording of the phone call, the CPS woman appeared to become nervous.
I followed the transcript, line by line through the recorded conversation. There was never ANY reference to her being a 'Bad Mother' in the recording. In fact, where the statement was supposed to be, was me stating "it's affecting her ability to parent", in reference to her depression. The person transcribing our conversation decided "Bad Mother", was equivalent to "it's affecting her ability to parent".
The CPS woman apologised to me and stated that there was not much that they were able to do for me, and it was best that I just allowed her to go. Reminding the CPS woman that she was clinically at risk of suicide didn't seem to raise any concern.
I jumped on the internet looking for services that assisted parents in this situation. I phoned many of the common government services, but many did not seem interested or concerned with the gravity of the situation.
One of the services stated that they do not help fathers. Another stated this was for mothers only. I was unable to find anyone that helped dads.
I suddenly started realising that something I heard many years ago (but never believed) was starting to seem true. That men are not catered for in any way in situations of domestic violence or issues involving children.
I always assumed these stories were fabricated by angry blokes that had lost their children to the family court system, but were not willing to admit that they had been abusive.
I did some more Google searching when I came across a well-known men's service.
I decided to contact the service to see if they could assist me with advice and guidance. The woman who I spoke to wanted to know the whole story, so I filled her in. She stated to me "And do you think your behavior may have contributed to this?" I stated no, it was a traumatic event that brought all this on. There had never been any violence in our relationship prior.
I continued to ask her what I needed to do to ensure the safety of our daughter, but the woman on the phone asked me if she could have my partners contact details and that it was fantastic that I was willing to take responsibility for my actions. This comment confused me.
I asked her what she meant by that statement. She stated that she needed my partners contact details to verify my story and to make sure that she was OK. I explained that she was not OK and that she was threatening to harm herself. I was becoming very confused about the direction this conversation was going.
The woman stated that she wanted to ensure that she was OK from MY actions. I moved the phone away from my head and stared at the screen to ensure I had dialed the correct number.
I asked her, "Say again?"
She told me that women are only violent in retaliation to abuse and that my actions have had a great effect on her, however, I seemed reasonable and would more than likely be responsive to a perpetrator's domestic violence program. I could not believe what I was hearing and explained to her that she had this all wrong. I ended the conversation.
I decided to contact the police to see what I could do. They asked if there were any family court orders in place. I stated no, we are not separated. They stated that I had a right to deny her the ability to leave with our daughter. I asked if they could be present for it. They agreed.
The next day, I went to our home with the police. We entered the house and she seemed completely unbothered by the police's presence.
The police asked me to wait out the back whilst they did a domestic violence check. They explained that they needed to ensure that she was not trying to escape a domestic violence situation, and I stated that I understood the need. The female police officer, after questioning her, stated that she was not trying to escape and that there had been no domestic violence between us.
I was told to inform her of my intention. I explained to my partner, that I was willing to allow her to go, on the condition that she take her sister with her. I was going to offer to pay for her sister's expenses because I thought a holiday would be good for her but I would prefer that someone be with her due to her suicidal threats and the remote location she intended to go.
I never got the opportunity to finish what I was saying. She stated, "I am the mother, and I can choose to take the kids whether you like it or not".
The female police officer informed her that this is not the case, and that she had called the mental health crisis line and that the record of her 'risk' was on file. The police agreed with my concern.
That's when she absolutely exploded, as I had never seen before. It took two police officers to restrain her.
The police issued her with a 48-hour police order. None of this was supposed to turn out this way. It was supposed to be simple and calm.
Our daughter was left with me. The police encouraged me to obtain an extended domestic violence order. However, I declined. I stated that in 48 hours we could discuss it again when she had calmed down. They told me I was silly.
It would all be in vain, as 24 hours later, the same police officers came knocking on my door, looking rather upset. I asked how I could help them. They stated that they were sorry, but they had to collect our daughter and return her to mum because she had obtained a recovery order from the family courts.
I was absolutely baffled. They entered the house and sat down with me. I stated that she was going to go on this trip in the middle of nowhere, and I am terrified that she is going to take hers and our daughter's life.
I said goodbye and handed our daughter to the police. The female police officer looked at me and said: "I am so sorry".
I sat down and read the affidavit that came with the order. All throughout the affidavit was claims of horrific violence. That I had held knives to her. That I take drugs (I have never taken drugs in my life and I am drug tested on a monthly basis for my employment). That I was a raging alcoholic. (I very, very rarely drink). There was no truth to ANY of what was said in the affidavit, in fact, some of the events she had listed, were the abusive things she had done to me. I wondered if she included the attacks against me, with the roles reversed, as a way to intentionally hurt me, for challenging her authority. This whole affidavit was filled with nothing but lies. It was not even remotely close to reality.
I spent the next 48 hours crying. I had not slept or eaten. I had never had any dealings with police or family courts in my life, and I thought I was never going to see our daughter again. I had no idea what I was reading (on the order), or what it meant.
I felt destroyed that I had put myself through so much suffering, to help someone I loved. I don't know if it was a fear of her losing our daughter as to why she made these claims, I didn't know.
My intention was never to remove our daughter from her. She is a wonderful mother, I just wanted her to get help. I would never keep our daughter from her mother that I know she loves. It was her actions that led her to be separated from her.
This story will be continued.