This is not something I never thought I would be sharing with the world. However, I feel I may help people who are currently suffering or have suffered domestic abuse. This is my story, how I escaped, what happened after and how I am affected still.
Get comfortable cause this will be a long one.
When I was 14 I had a HUGE crush on a guy, let’s call him John. I did what most young people do when they have a crush, I followed him about with my friends, went bright red when seeing him and generally acted like a stereotypical school girl who has a crush.
Like most secrets at school, they never stay secret for very long, word got out that I fancied him, I tried to avoid him as much as possible and denied my feelings when questioned.
Fast forward a few weeks, my friend called me to say she had been chatting to John on MSN and he admitted he also fancied me! I screamed with joy and immediately got dressed to go tell my other friends. John had given his number to my friend to pass on to me so I could text him. With the support of my friends I wrote the all-important “Hey its Bekah” text, I remember feeling so nervous about the whole thing it felt like hours before he replied, even though it had only been a few minutes. After texting back an forth for a few hours he asked me to be his girlfriend. I felt like I had won the lotto! I said yes of course even though I had never had a face to face conversation with him before. We arranged to meet up the next day.
In the beginning, things where perfect, it wasn’t until a month later I noticed things beginning to go downhill. I was out loitering around the local shops like teenagers do with John and my friend Sophie(not her real name), I got a phone call from my parents to say I had to come home for dinner, so I left Sophie and John alone.
An hour later I returned to him sat with his head in his hands and her looking at me like a guilty dog, she told me she had to go and left me and John alone. When I approached him he walked away from me calling me a sl*t, obviously, I questioned him as to why I was a sl*t and he proceeded to tell me that Sophie told him everything about my past with guys. What past? Turns out Sophie decided to tell him that I had already slept with a guy and he was not my first boyfriend, which was all lies! I tried to explain to him that it was not true and at one point I remember us screaming at each other in an alleyway, that was the first time he hit me. One full whack slap across my face, at first I didn’t feel pain, I just stood there in shock holding my face. John pulled me in to hug me repeating “I’m sorry, I’ll never do that again” over and over. Lies.
After that day I never felt the same, it was like something inside of me broke. He became obsessive of me, He would leave for school early so he could walk me to school and walk me home, I was not allowed to walk to and from classes without him beside me. He would wait outside my classes and if he wasn’t there I had to wait for him. From the outside, my classmates always thought he was super cute walking me too and from classes like a gentleman but that wasn’t the case. When walking about together he would hold my hand in a way that he could push my thumb backwards when we walked past groups of boys in order to remind me not to look at them.
The slaps escalated into punching, kicking, spitting.. you name it. John even hit me at school, if I cried he would put his hand over my mouth so our classmates could not hear me. I lost all of my friends as he told them I secretly hated them and bitched about them behind their backs. I was isolated.
My home life wasn’t much better, my parents were always “occupied” so they were never home, making my home the perfect place for the abuse to happen. I remember he kicked my dog so hard he yelped, when I went over to my dog to see if he was okay he dragged me up by my hair, I grabbed a broom to protect myself but he got it off me and hit me multiple times across my back and legs whilst I held my dog to protect him. I very quickly learned the abuse would not last as long if I did not fight back, so a lot of the time I remained still and hoped he would stop soon.
By the time our 1st anniversary came along I was emotionless, I was just a shell covered in bruises. We went to Thorpe Park for our anniversary, the day was going well, no arguments, no hitting. He was planning out future and for a second I thought he was going to change for me. Maybe an hour later he forced me out of the line for vortex as he thought I was “checking out” a group of lads. Round side of the ride he tried to slap me, but as I moved back to avoid the blow he caught his nail on my nose, leaving quite a nasty cut that bled so much it was dripping down my face. People saw me crying, people witnessed what happened and done nothing I truly believed that I would never escape and no one would care.
After John worked out that his nails where a good weapon that he could easily hide he kept them long. Digging them into my hands, arms and legs with enough force to break my skin and make me bleed. My arms are still covered in scars to this day.
Friendless and broken I wished for days to end just so I could sleep. Sleep was the only escape I had from the hell I was living in.
There were a few times John was almost caught, my Mum came home just after he had head-butted and split my lip open, he told her some elaborate story about me having a fight at school before quickly leaving covered in my blood. Another time my Dad had heard me screaming from outside the house and came steaming in demanding to know what was going on. Both times we made up cover stories… The only reason I covered for him was because I was scared. In a way, John was my escape from my sh*tty home life and now I had no friends he was my only escape.
In the last few months of our relationship, John had thrown a shoe at me but it missed and went straight through my bedroom window, my parents forced his parents to pay for my window to be fixed. After the window incident, he was not welcome in our home anymore. Seen as we were forced to spend a lot of time at his house where his parents were always home, I thought the abuse wouldn’t be so bad. Yet again I was wrong, in one particular beating he spat into my face and I screamed “don’t f*cking spit in my face!!” he shoved his hand over my mouth and begged me to be quiet, his Dad called him to come downstairs.
I thought “this is it, someone knows, they’ll help me for sure” John returned and smirked at me… I knew what that smirk meant.
That wasn’t the last time Johns parents listened to their 15-year-old son beat his girlfriend and not do anything about it.
John had taken nude photos of me and also blackmailed me to send him nudes, he proceeded to show his friends all the pictures. He had always told me I was fat and ugly, my boobs where wonky and gross so when I found out people had seen my nudes I was so embarrassed. One of the guys he was showing my nudes to added me on MSN and told me how out of order he thinks John is etc (let’s call this guy Sam).
Sam was a nice guy, I had never had spoken to him directly before but he was really supportive in regards to John being an ass. Sam gave me his number so I could text him so I wrote it down and hid it in my underwear drawer as John regularly checked my phone to make sure I’m not talking to boys. I felt guilty but I texted Sam every night for a few weeks.
Sam and I decided to skip our afternoon classes and meet up to talk about Johns behaviour, We spent all day walking through woods whilst I let everything out about the abuse. Sam was shocked at the extent John went through to torture me and he encouraged me to end it.
So I did. With Sam’s support, I simply sent a text to John saying “its over, I never want to see you again”. This is the first time in a year and a half that I finally took control of my life and put an end to the abuse! At 3 pm Sam walked me home, as we were approaching my house we saw John standing outside… John came steaming over shouting “wtf is going on?!” I told Sam to go home as I did not want them to fight. I told John things where over and I wanted him to leave me alone. I warned him, my parents, where home and he left.
I had never felt so strong in my life! One text, that’s all it took I should have done this sooner!
The next day I woke up feeling like a new person, the old me was back! As I was never allowed to wear makeup I decided to go all out with liner and eyeshadow (which might I add looked dreadful) and I even put a bow in my hair (that looked equally as awful but bows where a thing back then don’t judge me.)
I left my house feeling confident to get my life back, I as walked onto the cycle track I saw him walking towards me. I turned around and started walk towards the back entrance of the school. John ran after me and asked me “where are you going dressed like a wh*re? To see Sam?” I ignored him, he then ripped the bow from my hair and threw it into the floor.
I picked my bow up looked him dead in the eye and said: “this is exactly why we are over”. I decided not to go to the school that day as I couldn’t handle seeing him. I spent all day indoors texting Sam (who was at school) he told me that word had got round that John and I were no longer together and Sam had told my cousin who attended the same school what John had done to me.
That day my cousin and his friends beat the living hell out of John when he was on his way home from school, I felt sorry for him? Why?! I convinced my Mum to let me have the rest of the week off school because I was “ill”.
For the rest of the week he walked past my house after school blaring Taking Back Sunday – Make damn Sure which was my favourite song at the time. I know he was only doing it to intimidate me, and after I realised it was him I ignored it.
Monday came and I was actually excited to go to school for once. When I got there I tried to build bridges with old friends, and in short, I was basically told to F off. Everyone was staring at me, whispering when I walked past, giving me dirty looks… anyone would think I was the one who had been beating him! I still had zero friends, expect Sam but we did not acknowledge each other at school. I was walking to health and social class and a couple of girls from my year were standing outside the door, they looked at me like I was dirt. I heard them saying “yeah apparently she lied about John beating her up and all the boys went and jumped him for no reason. The sl*g”
Who doesn’t love a bit of victim shaming on a Monday morning, and it wasn’t the last time I heard it from students or teachers.
Seeing John about was defiantly easier than I expected. In the classes we had together I could feel his eyes burning into me, watching my every move, especially around guys, a few times he would purposely barge into me in the hallways. Considering the extent of the abuse I went through when we were together the odd barge in the hallway was nothing.
I didn’t take long to make new friends, and life got easier for me. My home life was pretty awful still so I was always out to avoid it. Life at school was still awful, I had a lot of suppressed emotions and I took them out of people closest to me. When teachers shouted out me I got severely triggered and I acted out. I was that stereotypical “bad kid” who was super annoying, a lot of people thought I was an attention seeking cow bag. I started to bunk off school all the time to escape seeing him and feeling intimidated by teachers and students. I did not know how to handle my emotions anymore, I spent so long not feeling anything.
I opened up to a support officer about what John had done to me, she called his parents in to talk to them about it. As I was waiting for my friends I saw John and his parents leave the support officers room. John approached me smirking. “Do you think your funny? Even Mrs Smith(not her real name) said that you’re a bitch and you deserved it”. My heart sank. Even teachers won’t help me?! Isn’t that their job?
The last time I saw Mrs Smith she said: “Johns parents don’t believe he’s capable of doing the things you said, I’m not saying your lying but if you’re not you need to get over it, there’s not long left till you leave school anyways”.
That was the last time I went to school. I could not bear the thought of him strutting about telling people that teachers don’t believe me. The school never contacted my parents after that, no threatening letters about me not being at school, nothing. I never understood why? They were quick enough to call my parents when I had missed one lesson, but when I haven’t been seen in a week at school, with no explanation, they didn’t care?
Fast forward to now.
A lot has happened in 8 years, I got the counselling that I needed to help me overcome depression and to manage my emotions in a healthy way. I moved out into my first flat at 17, Had a couple of bad relationships, I moved into my second flat at 20 and my third at 22. I have a much better relationship with my parents now. My friends are supportive (shout out to Gibbs) I have a gorgeous fur baby who truly keeps me going. And most importantly I have finally found a man who treats me with respect and loves me no matter what. I still flinch if people raise their hand near me and I have anxiety problems that sometimes make my day to day life hard. But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. I am the way I am because of the things I have experienced.
In the end, I realised that even though some people didn’t believe me, most people did and that’s all that matters to me.
If you notice any signs of Domestic abuse PLEASE get some help. There are people who will listen and help! I was far too young to understand that I could have taken things further and got the justice I deserved. PLEASE do not suffer in silence and never let anybody convince you no one will care because they do!