My Life Ripped Apart
I met and fell in love with Dennis when I was 24 and he was 30. This was my first relationship. I thought he was handsome, urbane and sexually magnetic. At first we could not stand being away from each other. We loved driving in the country and going to shows together. He brought me out of my shell sexually. I believed I had found the great love of my life.
He suddenly revealed that he was still living with a partner who was interstate visiting family. He assured me they were finished anyway and his future was with me. When they split I agreed to move in with him. My family and friends welcomed him with loving open arms.
He changed immediately. He was regimented, controlling and paranoid. He would snipe at me when I spoke to my straight male friends on the phone, thinking they were my lovers. We were encumbered with baggage from his previous relationship.
One letter to my mother falsely claimed that I had AIDS. The stress of this gave her a mild heart attack.
I found out his true age was 40. He explained that he lied because he feared losing me. I forgave him, believing we could overcome our obstacles.
I was a professional musician. He initially loved watching me perform but decided he would not tolerate living with a ‘shift worker”, demanding I get a ‘real’ job. Fearing rejection I agreed to sell my car and possessions and move interstate together. At my last performance he violently evicted a man standing too close to the stage who was not hurting anybody. Dennis insisted he was protecting the band.
Moving interstate was initially pleasant, but I became confused and isolated without any support system. Reluctantly he permitted me to resume performing when I could not match him financially.
His moods would change abruptly. He fluctuated between being caring and loving to cruel and abusive. If I expressed dissent with the way he treated me he would force me to retreat by threatening to throw me out.
After an overseas trip he took I found a photo of him there with his ex-partner. He claimed it was a coincidence that Paul was there then started yelling at me saying I was ‘nosy and ungrateful’.
He regularly accused me of infidelity. I was never unfaithful. When I tried to defend myself he would force me out of the house refusing to let me in for hours, sometimes well into the night. These incidents were very traumatic. When the accusations happened before a performance he tormented me by denying me access to the car, causing me embarrassment and disruption as I couldn’t get to the gig.
We eventually returned to our home city. When he involved my parents in his finances he orchestrated a falling out by falsely claiming they had been negligent. He told me he would sue them if I left him or was disloyal. This estrangement took a toll on my parents’ health.
Mental abuse became physical. One day I was vomiting and could not respond to a question. He accused me of ignoring him and hit me hard across the face. Another time when we were walking around the city he accused me of cruising the beats then jabbed me in the stomach with his elbow causing me to collapse.
He pressured me to disassociate from many of my friends when he realised they liked me better than they liked him. He became increasingly aware of their knowledge about the violence.
The last 2 years were a cycle of throwing me out then ‘rescuing’ me when I could not function. He exercised emotional control by threatening suicide if I did not return. He finally made an attempt after he threw me out once too often.
With the encouragement of his family - who blamed me for his suicide attempt - he harassed my parents with poison pen letters and phone calls. One letter to my mother falsely claimed that I had AIDS. The stress of this gave her a mild heart attack. He maliciously accumulated a huge phone bill in my name. He visited my straight friends, maligning me with sexual anecdotes and tales about supposed infidelities.
Most of my musical equipment was taken and sold, forcing me to discontinue working. He wrote a letter to Centrelink claiming I was working illegally.
The last time we were together I confronted him about the various letters. When a fight ensued I retaliated. He tried to have me charged with assault. The allegations were so unprovable and exaggerated the police did not take it further.
After this incident he posed as a victim and formed a gay domestic violence forum!
He kept everything. I walked away with a few boxes of junk. I had one pair of shoes for a year. For 2 years I was broke, depressed and suicidal. Other times I felt homicidal. Although my friends and family supported me I eventually sought professional counselling.
Though I am still a loving person I don’t know when I will be ready for another relationship. I never imagined that being genuinely loyal and monogamous for 7 years would bring such bizarre retribution.
He still occasionally harasses my family but we never respond. Whilst I would like my possessions back I do not want my day in court. I don’t seek revenge. I just want to be left in peace.
I am now 35 and have a new career. My quality of life is better and I am independent. I am happy with my appearance and am getting into music again but I still have issues. Sometimes I become fearful of things blowing up in my face and losing everything again. Living here in a different state from him helps, but I do miss home.
Although I sustained much injury the ordeal was a learning curve. I have overcome the limitations that he placed on my life and remain comfortable in the knowledge that I am not capable of treating another human being the way he treated me.