'When you hear the front door opening you go stiff with terror'
Published 06/03/2014 | 02:30
REBECCA, from the west of Ireland, suffered years of verbal and psychological abuse, and later physical and sexual abuse, before gathering the courage to leave her husband.
The 44-year-old married her husband in her early 20s, but had known him since her teenage years. She said that while he was always verbally abusive, it was only after they were married that the psychological abuse began.
After the birth of her first child, her husband began physically and sexually abusing her. She told the Irish Independent: "It was really when it became physical that I said 'enough is enough'. I didn't want my child to be witnessing that sort of thing."
She said when she first told her parents about the abuse, they said she should try to "work things out" with him.
"They told me that maybe he was just settling into the marriage, and adjusting to becoming a parent, and that maybe he was just feeling a little bit left out because I was very maternal. They said to give it some time."
She said people who haven't endured domestic abuse don't understand it. "They hear what you're saying, but they don't actually try and think about how it would feel to be afraid to be in your own home, when you hear the front door opening and you just go stiff with terror."
Rebecca went to court to file for separation, and because some of the abuse was witnessed by a third party she was able to gain full custody of her child.
However, she has never told her child about the abuse, despite her marriage ending more than a decade ago.