A Lincolnshire survivor of domestic abuse has come forward to tell his story, highlighting that abuse can happen to men as well as women.
“I am telling my story to raise awareness that psychological abuse can be just as painful as being physically hurt. Domestic abuse can happen to men too.
“I was married in the mid-1990s. In the beginning we were happy, we looked after one another.
“My wife didn’t work but I used to give my salary to her and she controlled the finances. I didn’t think anything of giving over the money at first, thinking that it would be for us both to share in our life together.
“Soon I realised that this is not how it would be. We ate separately and I had to cook for her, clean the house and then I was allowed to eat later in the night.
“The food set aside for me was low quality, ten burgers for £1, whilst she made it clear that the nice things in the fridge and freezer were for her.
“Gradually the control she had over me became worse. I kept £5 a week to myself for nice things for my lunch at work.
“When she noticed, she was so angry and began to keep an even closer eye on the finances.
“When we had our first child, she presented me with a bill, saying children were expensive. Of course I wanted to support my child, but to be given a bill when I lived with the family and already supported them with my wages was really worrying, I didn’t know how I would pay her.
“The first physical attack came one evening. I was cooking myself a late dinner after cleaning the house. My wife was in bed asleep. I had made burgers and whilst I was cooking, the smoke alarm went off. I heard her run down the stairs and I knew she was angry so I went into the bathroom and sat with my back against the door. I was terrified of what she might do. Eventually she kicked the bathroom door in.
“Sometimes I would think about leaving. I think my wife knew and she used to say that if I left, no-one would believe me, and if we ever did split up, I would be left with nothing.
“By this point I felt totally alone. Later, friends told me they had stopped coming to the house because they didn’t like to see how I was treated. I felt isolated. Looking back I ask myself how I could have let things get so bad, but at the time, I just wanted my marriage to work, I wanted my wife to get help.
“One night I was out in the garden and my wife was making coffee and she brought me a drink. I woke up in the garden in the night – I had been attacked.
“I left straight away, taking only something to wear and something to cook with so that I could eat.
“I went to a friend and I lived in a tent in the back of his house and in the back of my car. That time of my life is a blur and although I thought I was only there a few days, friends tell me I lived like that for over a month.
“I didn’t feel like I would be believed if I told people and often wondered if things would have been different if I was a woman. I felt out of my depth when I tried to talk to the doctor. I didn’t pursue prosecution, I was already at the beginning of a very messy divorce process and I couldn’t face it.
“I had to give up my job because I couldn’t work with the machinery; I wasn’t safe because I was too distracted and shaky. A friend weighed me to find that I was six and a half stone. She rescued me and without her, I don’t know if I would be here today.
“I spoke to Jigsaw, they offer counselling for trauma victims. They really helped me.
“I also spoke to a fantastic support worker at East Lindsey District Council. It was a long time before I told my family what had happened. I didn’t want to worry my mum. She knows now though and my family have been so supportive.
“Finally I am beginning to feel happy again.
“I haven’t told my story publically before, I’ve been too scared. But I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.
“People need to know that manipulation is abuse. Being controlled and psychologically bullied can be just as damaging as physical abuse. In my case the psychological abuse eventually led to physical attacks.
“It’s difficult for anyone who is suffering like I was to ask for help. Talking to friends and professionals helped me to move forward.”