My Story: Lisa Lee, Domestic Violence Survivor & STOP DV Ambassador
I was 15 when I met him.
It was my first relationship. I was in a pretty bad place in my young years and it felt safe and comforting to be with someone. To begin with, there were no alarms bells. No red flags. I didn’t know any different.
Gradually the name calling stepped up. So did the mental abuse in the form of telling me no one else would ever want me, making me feel useless and worthless. Blaming me for everyone that went wrong. Things were always my fault. He’d tell me he wouldn’t say the things he did if I wasn’t so stupid.
And still, I didn’t know what domestic violence was. The term wasn’t in the media. No one spoke of it. I actually didn’t learn what domestic violence was until about 11 years later. I didn’t know it was a thing, I just knew it was a horrible way to live.
By the time I understood I was living in a domestic violence relationship, I felt stuck. I had no self-esteem, no self-confidence and after being with him since I was 15 years old, I didn’t know any other life. I was terrified of being on my own. I was terrified of being a single Mum. And I was also terrified he’d actually kill me and my family if I ever left, like he’d threatened for so many years.
Arguments got physical sometimes, but it was the mental abuse that still haunts me. I’d will him to hit me sometimes. Because in my mind the episode would be over on the spot. The arguments and screaming and blaming and threats could go on for hours. And they never let up. I wished so many times he’d just hit me or knock me out so it was over. But instead I sat in my own home constantly in fear, constantly crying, hating life, hating myself.
Derogatory words have lost their meaning to me these days. But what remains is the way I was made the feel. The eggshells I walked on. The fear of setting him off or doing something wrong. Feeling like I couldn’t do anything right or that nothing I did was good enough.
It took an allegation of cheating (he believed I cheated on him with a friend on a night we went to a social function together), a whole weekend of abuse, damage to my property and then calling me on Monday morning at work, visiting my workplace, more phone calls, threats and believing he would truly kill me this time that I let a work colleague call the police. That phone call started my leaving journey. I was bundled off to the police station to give my statement and apply for an Apprehended Violence Order in between phone calls and verbal threats to myself and my property. He was charged with intimidation and ordered not to come anywhere near me, my house or my workplace. I was petrified to begin with. My mum and friends stayed at my house constantly because I was too scared to be there on my own in case he came over. I carried my phone to the washing line and slept with my phone in my hand. I only left the house for work and to get essentials. I looked over my shoulder constantly and I wondered if the stress, fear and angst was worth it.
It’s been 7 years now since I left and the stress, fear and angst was worth it. It’s been a tremendous journey. Not without its ups and downs, good times, bad times and downright messy times. But I’m so glad I did because this is a freedom I’ve never experienced before. And it’s a very beautiful feeling.
This article was kindly written and contributed by STOP Domestic Violence Conference ambassador Lisa Lee.