‘I had a black eye, a bruised back- he could see himself what he did to me’: Brave Irish mum tells Ryan Tubridy how she escaped an abusive marriage
A brave Irish woman has spoken about her experience with domestic violence and the courage it took to end her abusive marriage for the sake of her young son.
Mum-of-one Sinead featured on the Ryan Tubridy Show on Radio One in response to a harrowing letter that was read out on yesterday’s show, written by a woman trapped in an abusive relationship with a young child.
On the programme, Sinead spoke about the circumstances that encouraged her to seek help and begin to make moves to end her three-year-marriage to her now ex-husband, whose abuse began ten weeks after their wedding. The mum spoke of the evening her ex-husband first hit her, four weeks after she had given birth to their son.
“I was married three years and there was never any hitting until the incident that happened that caused me to leave. Before that it would have been kicking and pushing me around that was ten weeks after we got married. My family intervened and took me out of it.
“Long story short, two years in he went to see an anger management professional in Dublin and everything seemed to be going okay and then his business wasn’t doing very well. I had a four-week old baby and one day he came home and things hadn’t gone well at work and by the end of the night he hadn’t spent any time with this little boy at all who was four weeks.
“I said to him ‘You haven’t seen or spoken to our little boy all day,’ and I guess he thought I was being a bit cheeky with him and he just started giving out to me and I said to him ‘How dare you?’. I said ‘Your mother and father would turn in their grave if they heard how you spoke to us’.
“And then an incident pursued. That night I went and got help from my sister-in-law and I went down to her house. The next morning I came back and he could see himself what he did to me by looking at my face. I had a black eye, a bruised back. He was utterly remorseful. I asked him to leave me alone for a week,” she said.
Offering advice to the woman who wrote to the Radio One presenter about her own abusive relationship, Sinead advised her to seek the help of someone she trusts as a first move towards finding the courage to end the abusive relationship.
“My first stop would be to seek support of someone you can trust. Tell them what’s happened. After a week of being in the house by myself, my parents came up. I eventually told my mum. I sought help from a GP. I had to get an X-ray on my back. The second step would be to go to a GP and ask to pen out what are your options. For me I went and made an appointment with a psychotherapist in Dublin, a wonderful lady and the first thing this lady did for me was she told me I needed asylum.
“That I needed to get away and have time out from my husband, who's now my ex-husband. That I needed to figure out and have a clear focus on what it was I wanted. So I went and did that.”
Sinead revealed that she calmly sat down with her husband and told him she needed to leave, before seeking refuge in her parents’ house, where she said she attained clarity quite quickly.
“The day I went and visited the psychotherapist, I was with my mum and my little boy. We drove home to the house and I calmly sat down and told my now ex-husband that I was leaving, that I needed to go home for a little while and he didn’t tell anyone because he had a reputation.
“My mum and I and the baby drove home to where I’m originally from and then from there, that’s when I started to get clarity. You know you can’t go back into that situation. Number one, it’s not safe. Number two, you cannot raise a child when a hand is being threatened at you,” she said.
“If she doesn’t have the finances, like I didn’t, I was on maternity leave. You know I had a career, but we had just built this house so I didn’t have a lot of cash per se in the bank. I had maternity benefit coming in.
“I think that with the help of a parent of a confidante and once she can stay with that person, she has a safe house, a safe bed and a help with the finances if she needs it. She doesn’t need a hell of a lot once she has a roof over her," said Sinead.
Offering advice to other Irish women in abusive situations, Sinead admitted that the services provided by Domestic Violence charity Cope in the west of Ireland was a huge support to her during the difficult time.
“Slowly but surely when she’s strong enough for it, she can get help from the likes of Cope here in the west of Ireland, who do wonderful work. They can advise her as to her plan, possibly meet solicitors so she can know legally what she is entitled to in the home. He will eventually have to pay maintenance or you know contribute towards the cost of nappies and food.
“Eventually you get there, but it’s step by step. There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Sinead.
Speaking about Sinead’s experience, Ryan commended the young mum on her bravery and said her story will help shine a light on the “grotesque” behaviour so many men and women find themselves victim to in Ireland.
In the email sent anonymously to the show, the writer revealed that she was worried about the future of her son and asked for advice from other listeners.
“I’m writing to you as I lie on my couch in my clothes from yesterday,” she wrote.
"I haven’t been able to sleep much as I’m trying to plan how I can safely get myself and my baby who isn’t even one-year-old yet out of this situation. My husband once again flipped last night, smashed up the house, woke the baby. This is not the first time he has been violent but this time he got violent towards me. That is a step too far. Our neighbours turn a blind eye even though they’ve heard him shouting for months I’m sure of it."
In the letter, the writer spoke about her “limited options” because she and her son depend on her husband financially.
“I need us to be safe and secure in our own home. I have no idea what I will do when he wakes up and what the outcome of tomorrow will bring. I have many friends and family that I can stay with for a while but as with many women I financially depend on my husband and my options are very limited. I see myself as a strong independent woman and that’s what scares me the most. How did I get into this situation? Blinded by love is the only answer to that.”
The show received hundreds of texts in response to the powerful letter, read out by Tubridy on Monday's show.