Wednesday 13 December 2017

Tale of terror: ‘He would get so mad he would be choking me, pushing me and pulling me around’

EMMA (not her real name) was with her ex-partner less than five months when she first sent her parents the chilling text message: "I think he might kill me".

But it was took another five years of mental, physical, psychological and sexual abuse before she found the courage to finally leave him for good.

Even then the harassment continued, with suicide threats, numerous calls and 4,000 text messages in 16 days before she changed her number for a fourth time.

The bubbly college graduate had just come out of a long-term relationship when she became friends with her former partner in an online chatroom seven years ago.

She said he was charming and funny and that they were inseparable when they finally met four months later.

But within four weeks she was pregnant, was stopped from leaving the house they shared on her own, and accused of looking at other men while her savings paid for everything.

"He hadn't physically harmed me at that time, it was more manipulative, he always questioned what I was up to, called me names, but I felt I couldn't leave because of the baby," she said.

Their baby son was six months old the first time she was punched in the back while she washed the dishes.

"He would have really bad days," she continued.

"For years he would wake me at 3am and throw everything in the middle of the room and make me clean it.

"If I tried to go back to bed he'd pull me out of bed and threaten to throw me down the stairs.

"He would get so mad he would be choking me, pushing me and pulling me around. But I never bruised," she added.

Twice she fled to a women's refuge in their home town in the southwest of Ireland, and both times she gave him another chance when he promised he had changed - but his jealousy and controlling behaviour got worse.

It was when he pushed and hit her in front of their three young children that she decided she had to go for good and get out of the area. That was almost two years ago.

In the early hours of the morning she crept out of bed and packed the boot of her car with essentials while he slept.

She took the children to school, where staff called Women's Aid and within hours she was in Dublin in an emergency refuge run by Sonas Housing.

"One of the hardest things for me when I moved out was that I had choices," she added.

"At the time I couldn't even pick out my own outfit.

"I can still hear that critical voice in my ear, but I set myself goals and now I'm getting on with my life."

The Women's Aid Helpline is on 1800 341 900.

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