Survivor Story – Number Three
At first it was all just so wonderful, I’d met this lovely woman who wanted me around and who just seemed like she couldn’t get enough of me. I was very much swept away by it all, I felt like a teenager! There were long phone calls, that excitement to see her again, all those giddy sorts of feelings. When she suggested moving in together, I knew my family thought it was too much too soon, but I was so excited to be in love! It was their reservations that she first started using against them. She said it was because they’d never accept that I was with a woman, that they were homophobes and she’d protect me, we didn’t need them. Of course, looking back at it now, I know that’s not what was happening – they were just concerned about their mum moving in with someone they hardly knew. But at that time, I was so taken with everything my new partner was saying, I just went along with it all. So we moved in together and I let her screen my calls in case it was my children trying to talk me out of it.
Once I’d lost that line of connection, things started to take a turn quite quickly. I’ve always been quite independent, with or without the wheelchair, but I do require some support and she started to be quite withholding with it. She’d ask me a hundred questions about where I was going and who I was seeing and how long I’d be out. If she wasn’t totally satisfied, she’d make some excuse not to help or why she needed me at home. Eventually, she stopped with that and would just altogether refuse. I never thought I was the sort of person who would just let someone stop me from doing things, but if I tried to protest, she’s get in a rage with me. She’d belittle me and call me names and make me feel absolutely broken down. Afterwards she’d apologise and apologise and be so affectionate and loving. It made me question myself so much – what was I doing to make this lovely woman so angry and so horrid to me?
At one point I had a credit card stolen and some identity fraud issues. I’m still not sure it wasn’t her doing it, but she used that to convince me we should have a joint account with her. I wasn’t too eager, but she would tell me how I wasn’t able to look after my finances, that it would be better for us both. She just wore me down and made me feel like I wasn’t capable of saying no or taking care of my own affairs. I felt so trapped, she had total control of my life, my finances, who I saw, where I could go. I’d just never thought about domestic abuse happening between two women, it just didn’t fit my idea of what that was supposed to look like.
It was only when I saw a poster about LGBT domestic abuse in my GP surgery that things started to make sense to me. I saw that I wasn’t alone and that it wasn’t impossible to do something about the state I was in. I didn’t reach out right away, I had to think it over for weeks, but when I did, I slowly started to feel my old self coming back. Having someone to talk to helped me get back in control. Even though I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the relationship right away, talking it through helped me see all the things I’d already done to keep myself safe. Having people who understood what I was going through and didn’t dismiss me was what I needed to get my confidence up and move on, to start being happier again.