It started out with small things early in our relationship. Firstly, small decisions being made without really asking for my input, even though I always liked to include my partner’s opinion in everything we wanted to do in our plans or future needs. Decisions like buying items that weren’t budgeted for, or making arrangements to do certain things without asking if I was available (from work mostly).
These things were no big deal at the time, as we were a couple and loved each other right? We would work through any issues that came up in our lives together, just like other couples did.
This was also the beginning of what ultimately was my denial of a serious underlying problem with our relationship.
We ended up having five children – the first of which was born only two weeks after I left hospital due to major cancer surgery. This was a very difficult time for both of us, especially for my then fiance, whom was 9 months pregnant and also having a partner that might not have come home from the hospital.
The small issues from the past weren’t so obvious, but they were still there, as I just was too unwell to see it at the time.
Fast forward to the mid 2000’s and the real abuse started. This was mostly in the form of psychological blackmail, when it came to relationship issues like sex, money or decisions about our family’s future. While I was by no means the perfect partner or father, I was always 100% committed to my wife and family, and would never consider doing anything to put that at risk. It seems this was known by my partner and used against me.
Eventually, bigger decisions were made without my input at all. Such as my partner travelling interstate without telling me, and leaving our five children in the care of friends. The first I knew about these events, was when I would receive a phone call from those friends to ask when I was picking them up that day. I worked 2.5 hours drive away at the time, so this was not so simple. I was told by the friends that my partner had told them that I would be picking them up, while she went interstate. I said I knew nothing about this.
When she returned, there would be sex for favours, or to otherwise try and make up for the past week. This was very a very common method of abuse in our relationship at the time. There was no real personal involvement from her, it was just her way of making sure things worked in her favour. I later learned about the cycle of abuse, and immediately recognised this behaviour as abuse.
Any questions about what my partner was doing were met with silence. Eventually, large sums of money were going missing from our accounts, a lot of miles were being put on the car, without any obvious reason for it. The kids were going hungry, the house wasn’t being kept, all the while I was working away trying to build a future for my family.
The end came with her weaponising the children, and essentially never having to deal with the emotional stuff that had occurred. This was very damaging to me, even though I had been through a lot already with cancer etc, and heavily relied on my partner to take part in the relationship.
Thank you, Rod, for sharing your story. You are strong. You are brave. You are not alone. Thank you for being one of the two men that shared for this project.