A few short years ago, domestic violence survivor Billie believed she would become a statistic. Today she has broken free of her abuser and embracing a life free of violence. Photo: SHERELE MOODY/The RED HEART Campaign
A few short years ago, domestic violence survivor Billie believed she would become a statistic. Today she has broken free of her abuser and embracing a life free of violence. Photo: SHERELE MOODY/The RED HEART Campaign

BILLIE'S STORY Staying alive was my idea of normal

WHEN a psychologist told me she was concerned for the safety of my children and I and felt we should not return home, I giggled. Why wouldn't I? Everyone lived like this.

My children and I had "staying alive plans" for every little moment, every little change. Pick an errand, but make sure it's boring - so he will not come, not drive us. Don't ever let him drive us.

Why did I stay? I had been stripped of self-worth, I had no financial means, we were isolated from friends and family. Over time I was denigrated, bullied, belittled and convinced on so many levels that I could go nowhere, do nothing and so on. I became anxious, fearful, and unsure - I was on eggshells. I would try to work on myself, fix my shortcomings, fix my marriage.

WHY I STAYED - STORIES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVAL

I was also fearful of the ramifications of taking my children away from their father.

My family was kept away. My friends could not visit. My phone was "misplaced".

I was not given opportunities to create a new circle of friends or to do anything other than be with the children or with his family.

There were rules, punishments, revenges and so on. New rules were created and punishments exacted when rules were broken.

The children and I were in a state of constant flux.

My ex-husband tried to kill me in a car and with a drug overdose.

When his doctor father diagnosed the drug overdose, my ex-husband laughed and told him "Yes I will try harder to kill her next time".

He would injure the children so they would require emergency hospital care. I found myself supervising him when he was near the children.

I was in a state of shocked numbness - anxious and hopeless. What could I do? If I stood up to him, things would be worse. So we were victims. Quiet, complacent zombies.

He had been hurting the other kids for years "accidentally" but when he started on our third child I realised I needed to get the kids out.

At the hospital, I decided I could take more hits and I would. I started to place myself between him and the children. I decided to formulate an exit strategy. Work out what sort of re-training I needed to be able to work and parent alone. I knew that whilst I had given him his business start, he would leave us in a mess.

I couldn't prepare for how bad it would be. But being out is better than being in. It gets better each week and there is always something to be grateful for. Always. 

To read more stories from the Why I Stayed project visit www.facebook.com/TheREDHEARTCampaign



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