Jason and I met through mutual friends when we were both 23 and he had just arrived from the UK. He was the sort guy that everyone adored, well spoken, well mannered, and incredibly handsome. As soon as I looked into his eyes I felt an instant attraction. Physically he was everything I wanted in a guy and we got on so well.
The first 12 months with Jason was a fantasy of domestic bliss. This was my first serious relationship and it was perfect. It was the first and only time my father would say to me “I am really proud of you son, you have met a great guy and I am happy for you”
I have joint nationality so we decided to move back to the UK when Jason’s visa expired. Two weeks after arriving in London however, things started to change. Jason found the ‘stress’ of having to find a job too much, and regularly visited his friends down the pub to forget about his woes, leaving me in the house. He said he needed time alone with his friends before introducing me to them and we didn’t have enough money for both of us to drink. Later he told me I was a social embarrassment and that’s why he didn’t want me to meet his friends.
When Jason did start introducing me to some of his friends he was always putting me down in front of them. He’d blame me for anything that went wrong and tell everyone I was the closest thing he had ever experienced to ‘working with a chimpanzee’. But after each of these occasions he would apologise and tell me he loved me.
Six months after arriving in London Jason stopped all physical contact with me. We stopped having sex, cuddling or even kissing. He blamed his abusive behaviour on stress from work and “other” problems. If I said or did anything that upset him, he would lock himself in the bedroom and I would feel terrible for making him feel bad. Sometimes I would take his dinner up to him and leave it by the door. When I’d come back it’d be eaten, the door still locked and the lights out.
I was not happy in the relationship, but I knew no one, had no money, and much to my detriment, I loved him. I was living on the edge, feeling worthless and always stressed. The few sweet words he said were always as an apology for shouting at me, locking me out of the bedroom or for throwing his dinner across the room. I was living on the memory of the good times we’d had and hoping that he would change and things would go back to the way we were when we first met. I was living on blind faith.
As he drove along pouring venom on me I clenched my fist, screamed “I hate you” and smashed him across the face…
We had a joint bank account which was always over drawn. Jason blamed me for spending all our money but it was him who had new clothes and a new car. I was not working at this point and scrapping by on a series of cash in hand jobs. Jason started taking my car and house keys, as well as any cash I had to work with him every morning. I spent the days locked in the house. It was then that I found a huge collection of bottles, vodka, gin, Bailey’s, hidden in a cupboard. All the times he’d locked himself in the bedroom he was drinking.
The response to any question I asked would range from a terse “If I felt the need to tell you I would”, to being thrown against the door or being held by my throat my while he yelled, “mind your own fucking business”. I couldn’t understand what I did wrong. I knew I could never hit him, I loved him too much. For him to have done this to me, I started to believe I must have really deserved it.
After nine months without any affection or sex Jason admitted it was his problem and suggested that I have an ‘affair’. After three months of thinking about his suggestion I went out and met Warren. It was great to be with someone else. Warren introduced me to his family and friends and the more time I spent with him the more I realised how unhappy I was and how dependent I had become on Jason.
I got home late one night from work and as usual Jason wasn’t home. So I decided to go to see Warren. As I walked into his bedroom I found he and Jason asleep together. I was so calm about the situation. All I knew was that I finally had proof that Jason had been lying to me about his nights at the pub and his sexual dysfunction.
A few nights later Jason and Warren met up at the pub I was working at. That night Warren told me us never wanted to see either of us again. On the way home Jason was calling me ‘a worthless piece of shit’ and blaming me for everything that went wrong in his life. He said he wished he’d never met me and wished I were dead. I sat there, feeling the weight of his words like stones around my neck dragging me deeper into myself. I hated him. I hated everything he put me through and I hated myself for letting him. As he drove along pouring venom on me I clenched my fist, screamed “I hate you” and smashed him across the face and causing the car to swerve off the road.
As I ran out of the car he chased me and threw me against the road, smashing my head repeatedly on the gravel only stopping to punch me in the chest. Eventually we stopped, I wiped the blood from my head and we got back in the car. At the house he tried to lock me out and we started fighting again. I kicked him and yelled “Come back and fight you miserable coward. It’s not much fun now that I’m fighting back, it is?”
We ended up back in the house where he threw me on the bed and pounded my chest with his fist. He then started strangling me. His face was contorted and I could read his lips saying ‘I’ll fucking kill you,’ then everything went black. When I came to he was beside me and had put a wet towel on my forehead. He looked at me a said “ Now look what you made me you little piece of shit.”
That was it. I played along being as nice to him as I could and saying nothing. I secretly did extra jobs and saved enough money to move out. I then saved up enough to pay off all our debts and get my name taken off our joint account and finally to come back to Sydney.
I didn’t go out at all for the first 6 months in Sydney. I hated myself and felt the biggest failure. My friends could not understand what I went through, nor the quiet and withdrawn person I had become. They all held fond memories of Jason and many refused to believe he could have done what he did.
Even though Jason remained in the UK he continued to send me death threats and vile postcards signed by him and his current partner while at the same time sending my parents sickly sweet Christmas cards.
For years I wouldn’t let anyone get close to me. If I see the slightest hint of abusive behaviour from a partner I end the relationship immediately – no explanation. And I’ve never again shared joint finances with a partner. It has taken me a long time to be able to deal with what happened.
I did not think of my experience with Jason as Domestic Violence until several years later, when I heard about it at a workshop. I just saw it as a bad relationship I needed to get away from.