Seven Years In Me

The story of domestic violence and its impact on me. No woman should have to experience this slow, painful, and intense destroying of their souls. I survived. Other women are still riding on their private nightmarish rollercoasters. There is no simple solution to violence, and leaving abusers often places women in more danger. Family and friends find it hard to support women living in abusive relationships, while the women themselves find it hard to speak out about their experiences due to shame, embarrassment, the need to protect their partners, and conceal the violence. Here is my herstory.

2001: The first year

This was the year I met Ernest in person. We got married so he could stay in Australia and in a relationship with me. I did not agree with the institution of marriage and did not intend to get married at all in my lifetime. However, it was the easiest path for him to get a visa to stay. I took his last name too something else I didn’t originally plan on doing, but at the same time also didn’t want to keep my father’s name. As I didn’t have a name I wanted, I just took his.

Ernest had mood swings right from the beginning, angry abusive exerting moods that he expected everyone to be affected by, and would be madder with people if they appeared unaffected. I didn’t recognise this. I just saw it as him being in a bad mood and that he’d get over it.

He also wasn’t very social around my family. He was like a child who was out from under his parents' yoke, and thought he could do as he pleased and to hell wth other people. I think a lot of people were hurt in the process.

I did all the house work and he did a little like the fun stuff that I encouraged him to do, like digging up a tree with my Dad’s ute and replanting it outside our window. Mostly he would play on the computer in between socialising and interacting with me.

2002:

I fell pregnant. Ernest was working for Dad. I was too but stopped when I got too sick. Had a little girl at the end of the year. It was awesome. Ernest didn’t like the midwife. Or my Mum. Made himself absent from the birth a fair bit, but I barely noticed as I was enjoying my labour supported by the midwife and my Mum.


2003:

Ernest got fired from my Dad's work for provoking Tim, one of the employers. Tim attacked him, Ernest fought back and there was a whole ruckus, of which Ernest blamed Tim for with a passion as Tim was the one who attacked Ernest first physically.

This year also had loads of family shit going on which Ernest had integrated himself into it with a personal vendetta against Tim (also my Mum's partner at the time) cos he’d witness Tim’s behind the back sort of behaviour and Mum’s defense of him, and my Dad's defense of Mum. Fuck it was messy. It was a relief when Ernest got fired as he went back to his computer games and stopped giving me a hard time over my family.

Mum showed up at the apartment to tell me she was concerned about cycles of abuse and was worried Ernest would treat me like that. Specifically, she said about how Ernest would deliberately provoke people until they snapped, and then blame them for the situation. I dismissed it as I did not think Ernest treated me like that. What I didn’t know at the time was my caretaking of his behaviours including his abusive anger, was a part of domestic violence.

I was doing the majority of the work and Ernest wasn’t being a supportive equal partner other than the fact that he had somehow made it so that it seemed like it was him and me against the world. That he was the only one I could depend on and trust, the only one who had my back. This reinforced the traumatic bonding between us and further drove a wedge between me and my family. I also did not notice it at the time, but in hindsight, I had started seeing my friends less as it was too much energy to maintain the perfect relationship in front of people who knew me well.

We moved to America. It was nice to escape the family problems going on at the time. I think I went so easily because I saw it as a chance to get away from my family, the bickering and emotional stresses.


2004:

America. Living in Oregon. Relieved to be out of the in-laws house, and doing what it took to survive financially on Ernest’s unreliable low income and my savings. Focused on cooking and Kalea a lot. Was depressed a lot. It was always cold, we couldn’t afford heating so I didn’t have it on at all when Ernest wasn’t home. For someone as used to sunlight as I was, there wasn't enough in Oregon. Ernest would work long hours then not come home from work, instead going out with friends who had no family or responsibility. When at home he’d play World of Warcraft. I was so alone. I had made friends with a mum who lived near us, and it helped a little.

I remember him pulling me off the bed, onto the floor. He grabbed my ankles and pulled til I hit the floor on my butt (hitting the wooden side of the bed on the way!) It hurt like fuck all and I was so scared.

My Mum, 2 brothers, and brother's g/f came to visit over Xmas. It was stressful and difficult cramped in our apartment with everyone there but a relief to have familiar faces that I knew cared about me.

While they were staying, there was an incident where Ernest wasn’t driving safely in the car and being rude to me when I said he was driving too fast for the road conditions. Came home and cried cos it seemed that my kid brother was backing Ernest up.

Kalea told me I was pregnant. I took a test and found out I was indeed pregnant. I waited and waited for Ernest to tell his family. He kept putting it off, and then when he told them, they were annoyed with me for not telling them sooner! I decided enough was enough and told Ernest I was going home to Australia, with or without him, his choice, I didn’t give a flying fuck if he came or not. Unfortunately for all of us, he came along with us!


2005:

Came back from America, pregnant with my son, Tyger. It took weeks before I felt safe again, and felt like I was truly home. I think I was a bit shell shocked and traumatised from my two years in America. One day, driving to the rubbish dump with my Dad, I realised just how fake and surreal everything seemed in the bright Australian sunshine. Was this real? Was I really here?

I gave birth with just Ernest there. It was lovely that he was there for me like that. I felt more connected to him and unfortunately it is probably what drew me into staying with him with his behaviour that followed that year.

We lived in my family home, Mum moved out so I could have space, but being in her house was a source of stress and pressure for me. I was living in an abusive relationship where Ernest would do NOTHING at all. He wouldn’t wash up. He wouldn’t parent. He wouldn’t mow the grass or do yard work. He wouldn’t clean the walls or take out the rubbish. It would be easier to tell you what he did do. He would sit there and play World of Warcraft and eat food and sleep and shower and say mean things about my family. It took a while, but he finally got himself a job, which I had to drive him to work for repeatedly as he refused to get his shit together and get his license sorted. Then he had his license, and refused to drive!

This was the year he got mad with our daughter for some reason and had her up against the wall holding her up with his arm pressed against her chest and his hand around her throat. She was fucking three years old. I punched Ernest in the face cos he wouldn't let her down. I told him he had to get counselling and help or I’d leave and that this was his last chance. Of that incident he only seems to remember that I apparently broke his nose. It looked fine to me. It didn’t even bleed. Fucking blame deflecting fucker. I wish I had left but I was still not equipped to realise the depth of what was happening. Two weeks came and went and nothing came of the counselling. I blocked the incident out, because forgetting was the only way to continue on with him in the picture.


2006:

Don’t remember much. There was a lot of stress on my part from trying to live with Ernest's behaviours and keep up appearances for everyone else. He did a lot of damage to the house and was also physical with me. He never ever flat out hit me but he did many physical things such as blocking doorways to prevent me from leaving the room, grabbing my wrists tightly, twisting my book out of my hand etc.

We moved out of Mums house. Before I had the chance to clean and move out completely, Mum came around before we were moved out and gave us hell for the state of the house. Her judgment, disappointment and lecturing was just awful. I remember it was a Wednesday and she never gave me the chance to put things right with the house before showing up in the middle of me packing and cleaning and moving. Moved to our own place.


2007:

A blur. Fatigue. Exhaustion. Living in cycles of abuse. Losing myself in my passions for web work, reading, writing, doula study, childbirth educator study, homeschooling, parenting, mothering, breastfeeding to escape the shitty behaviour from Ernest. Did the mowing. Took care of the car whenever I got the chance with the kids occupied inside. Repaired holes in the walls from Ernest. Drifted here and there.

The dishes were an eternal source of conflict. The agreement was I would cook and he’d wash up. He had so many rules about washing up. He’d only do it once a day and that would be after dinner never mind if the dishes were dirty and I needed clean stuff to cook with. He would only wash up if he felt like it. The standard response was eyes glued to computer “I’m busy, I’ll do it in a minute for fucks sake” repeated every 30 minutes until I would explode and scream at him. Sometimes I would just do it myself. Sometimes I would refuse to cook. Sometimes I would just feed the kids but not myself cos then he would get mad at me for not getting him food. Sometimes he would get mad anyway and ask where his food was and I would use the kids as an excuse saying I was just getting them something.


2008:

Domestic violence was getting more physical. Had a couple scary incidents where I was shoved onto the floor banging my knee. It hurt so much I was out of my mind, babbling and crying for my Mum while the kids were trying to comfort me. Oh, my poor children. I remember my son got me a bandaid, while Ernest just walked out of the house, ignoring my and the kids distress. Fuck my knee hurt so badly. Even with that, I still didn’t identify the relationship as abusive or Ernest as abusive.

Fatigue and exhaustion were at all time highs this year. I was always so drained and tired from the emotional roller coaster. My best friend provided some solace. Parenting was difficult and I yelled a lot and hated myself for it. I was always frustrated, trying to improve my life and parent the way I wanted to, and model the things I wanted to but Ernest was forever a resistant obstacle to all that. I was isolated a lot cos he made it hard for me to spend time with my family or my friends.

I remember trying to talk to him once about how his behaviour towards my family made it harder for me to see my family and somehow he twisted it all around so he was blameless and it was my fault/their fault and I was left feeling like he had done a job on my head. I knew I wasn't crazy, but he did a fantastic job of making me feel that way.

Then along came October and everything came crashing down at long last.

Thrice October.

Narratives of My History Herstory.

Narrative, n. A spoken or written account of connected events; a story.

Please read this first before continuing...!

Inane Drivel ~ Fuck Skool Yo. - the beginning of my unschooling journey at 16 yrs old.

Seven Years in Me - my experiences of domestic violence

Breaking Free - a short story based on fact, names changed

Confessions of an Ex-Lapdog - on cults and recovery.

Joyous Birth - A political cult? - exploring cultish aspects

Growing Into Me - the transition from child-me to adult-me.

Shae - single mothering by choice.

A Recalcitrant Pity-fest - realisations of the hardships of deafness.

Thrice October - A tumultuous progression.

^ back to top

copyright © Lisa Morgan 2007-2012