I’m sat writing this post ten months after my world came crashing down, ten months after I was kicked out of my own house, and ten months after that one person I was meant to have been able to trust with my life, broke that trust into one thousand tiny pieces.
I don’t know whether I will ever share this, but I’m at a point where talking about what has happened is a little easier, but given that I’m one for bottling everything up, I think I just need to write it down, get it out, and hopefully feel better for it.
I’ll take you back to August 2018. Two months after I got married. One month after I moved my home & job permanently to be able to properly start a life with my husband.
For the last year we had lived a somewhat chaotic life, not assisted by my shifts. In March 2017 we bought our first home together, which we had spent the following year working on, totally gutting and refurbishing it over rest days, in order to be able to move in when we were married, with little work remaining to be done on it.
When we got married we had been together just over four years. A lot had happened in those years. We had a right laugh though. Hardly ever argued, and he would always comment about his friends who always seemed to “squabble” and how we were lucky that wasn’t us.
The wedding came around so quickly, and it was honestly one of the best days of my life. I know that sounds really cheesy, but it is so true. Having all our family and friends in one room with us was just magical, and the only thing missing was my grandpa. He was just too poorly to travel, but he had friends with him and they had champagne for us, bless them.
Whilst on Honeymoon I received confirmation from what is now my current Police Force, that my transfer application had been accepted and my start date was going to be 31st July 2018.
Resignations went in, paperwork came out of my ears, and on 27th July 2018, I completed my final night shift in my old Force, left my little shift family, was embarrassed with a radio shout out from our Controller, and set off 140 miles up the motorway to what was to be my new life.
I had so many emotions about leaving. It was so hard. Having only moved for University, I was born and bread in one village. I returned after Uni. Many people I’m sure would say that wasn’t clever, however I disagree. It has been and always will be home. So many friends and memories belong there. It’s everything I know and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I remember a conversation I had with a Chief Superintendent before I left. I have known him years, he’s more a friend now. We went for a coffee and he asked me if I was excited to leave and I distinctly remember saying “I don’t know.”
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited, of course I was. The distance was no longer going to be there. The ridiculous amount of miles I was racking up on my poor car, and the fact I could do that drive (not literally) with my eyes closed, was getting tiring. Most importantly though, I had just got married and we were properly, finally, starting our new life together. It didn’t stop me being scared, scared of leaving everything, everyone and everywhere I knew, but I did it. And I did it for him.
Fast forward to August 2018. A matter of weeks later. I was popping back to my family home for rest days. I forget why. Taking the opportunity to grab the final bits and pieces and seeing a few people I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to when I had left I expect.
We had the biggest argument before I went. Christ knows why. Looking back now it screamed of jealousy on his part. Jealous I still had my friends? Jealous that because I had moved he didn’t expect me to go back? Did he know me at all…?!
I don’t remember the details of the argument, how it started, or exactly what was said. I do however remember him taking my wedding rings off me, throwing my handbag out of the bedroom window and punching the wall. He told me it was his house (mortgage technicalities) and I needed to leave.
I’ve always been told I’m an over thinker, but even for me the amount that went through my head in those minutes was insane.
Am I homeless?
I don’t know anyone here.
He’s never been violent before, what the fuck was that about?
He has taken my rings. What does that even mean?
What actually are we arguing about?
Where the hell do we go from here?
Can I have my bag back?
And why, if you don’t want to be with me for whatever reason, did you wait until we were married and I had uprooted my whole life. What a prick. I told him that. He didn’t answer me.
Off outside I went, to retrieve my bag which had taken a swift exit a la window and emptied its contents on the way down.
Off he went in the car. Where? God knows. Why? God knows. Now what? God knows.
I had the phone number of one of the girls at work. A girl I’d known 4 weeks, who actually can be quite the pain in the ass, but at that time, she was great. Let’s face it, I was a stranger. I text her a summary and she said she was in work early the following day and said I should go in early with her if I felt safer.
Safe. Was I? Somebody I thought I knew had suddenly lost his shit and shown me a side I had never seen before. Did I feel safe? No, not really. Scared? 100%. Scared of being in my own home. In our home. The place we had spent the last year working on. It was utterly ridiculous.
Work the next day was tough. I mean the work bit was fine, the talking to my new DS and “honestly I’m really not needy” chat was less than fine. Hello man I’ve barely spoken to, here is my current life situation and have some tears for a bonus. Sorry.
He was ace. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. We spoke, a lot. I cried in equal measure. He told me not to go home because he couldn’t keep me safe there, but he could at work. He asked if I could stay elsewhere. He told me to phone him any hour of the night if I needed to get out, and he would help. Talk about a way to get to know each other quickly! Again though, that word. Safe.
I’ll be honest, I think I buried it. I buried my feelings, I buried what I wanted to say, how I felt and maybe even my gut instinct. It was easier to kid myself I suppose. Ridiculous maybe, but easier. I felt ashamed.
Having worked for 2 years in Safeguarding, more specifically with Child Protection & High Risk Domestics, I really struggled to understand what was going on. Maybe the more accurate truth is that I didn’t want to admit it. Not being safe at home was something I supported people through, not something I went through myself. Pleading with my DS not to record a domestic incident of my own, and yes really I’m fine, isn’t my life. Well it wasn’t prior to this. I couldn’t really process it. I felt numb. I felt lost. And I felt so alone.
I went home that night and throughout the 40 minute drive from work, I felt sick. What was I about to walk into? What was going to happen? Would I be welcome there? Was he going to be violent again? Christ. However, he gave me my wedding rings back, so kind of him, and apologised. We didn’t really talk about what the hell had happened. I don’t know why, and in hindsight that was an error. A massive, massive error.
I had rung my brother because I couldn’t get hold of my parents. He’s younger than me but oh my god do I owe him. He has been golden this past year and has dropped everything to help me more than once. My little pain in the backside of a brother growing up was suddenly this protective man who wanted to help me.
August came and went as did the argument. The most that was ever said by him was sorry, the most by me was that if he was ever violent again I would really, really struggle to stay.
I may have been naive to what was going on, but I still had some sense. I knew it didn’t end with punching walls. It sadly never, ever does. I had seen it at work far too many times. I just didn’t think I would see it on my own doorstep.
Since August all seemed fine. Friends would ask how things were and they were just that, fine. It didn’t get spoken about and life went on at its ridiculous pace. There were a few spats but nothing that really raised my concern. Nothing that at the time made me worried, scared or feel unsafe.
On Friday 29th March 2019 I was in Court for a sentencing. He had the weekend off and was going home to his family. It was Mother’s Day weekend. I dropped him at the station that morning and told him I would phone around lunchtime when I was done in Court. I was with my work bestie at Court. She’s so much more than that really. More of a sister, less of a colleague. She makes me laugh till I cry and even though she’s too nice to admit it, she knows she saved me this past year.
I rang him after Court as promised. Sentencing, we thought, was rubbish. Too lenient – standard. I relayed this on the phone to him, and then said I was back at the office and would phone him later that night once I was home from work.
I kid you not when I say the reply I got was “Don’t bother, I’m busy for the weekend.” And that was the last conversation we had.
He didn’t let me know he had got home safe, he ignored my phone call that night, and that is how the weekend went. To tell the truth, I stopped texting because it was pissing me off more that I was being ignored than not texting in the first place. That in itself was winding me up. I am not the kind of person who pesters and pesters their other half as to what they are doing, who they are with, where they are blah blah. But this was out of character, and to be brutally honest, he was being a massive knob. Everything, I thought, had been absolutely fine when I had dropped him at the station that Friday morning.
Let’s not forget the uproar caused when I went home for a weekend…double standards? Quite possibly.
I worked the Saturday, and I had the Sunday as a re-rostered Rest Day as Monday 1st April 2019 started the beginning of my biggest Crown Court trial to date. I have to say, his timing for what is to follow was impeccable. Pick a worse week, I dare you.
That Sunday afternoon I still had not heard a word, and was becoming slightly curious as to whether he was even coming home the following day as had been the plan. He was on a week’s leave until the Friday night, so I hadn’t put it past him to stay up at his parents and just not tell me.
I text him to ask him, and got a “yep” back. That was it. 3 days of no contact and I get a “yep”. Splendid, love you too. He had also got me a ticket to the football the following Saturday. Following a slightly disjointed and ridiculous text exchange I told him he could take a mate to the football if he wanted, and I would cancel my leave and go to work instead.
To tell you the truth, I could take or leave football, it really doesn’t bother me. Let’s face it, it’s not rugby is it, and we all know that’s the better sport!
He told me he had already sorted someone else going to the football, but that he was taking the car.
When I moved up here, we went down to one car – my car. He insisted on buying a bike. If I was working, I had the car, I wasn’t going to walk up the motorway to work. If I wasn’t working and didn’t need it, he could use it. It worked and we never had issues with it.
Naturally, when he said he was taking the car, I disagreed, for the motorway reason above. If I wasn’t going to the football I was going to work, therefore I was driving. I told him I would pay his train ticket, and he said “tough I’ve made plans, I’m taking the car”.
Any of you know me, know I have a feisty side. I’m really not a pushover, and when it’s required I have no issue in fighting my corner. I told him bluntly that it was my car and I was having it if I was going to work.
I never saw the reply “It’s my house, move out” coming. Could have done with the heads up for that one I’ll be honest. To begin with, I thought he had a shit sense of humour and was trying to be funny. It became clear quickly, he was not.
This insignificant football related tiff appeared rather quickly as though it was the excuse he had needed for god knows how long to lose his head and dictate what was to happen next.
It’s his house (back to those mortgage technicalities), I need to leave, he’s already sold the football ticket, he hadn’t even spoken to me about his Nanna’s 80th party in September, we would sell the house and go 50/50 and he would get someone in to value the property the following week.
What the fuck. It transpired with the birthday bash saga that he had already told his parents that I “wouldn’t be an issue by then” so there was no point telling me about it. Nice.
I’ll be honest, this wasn’t the ideal set of circumstances to end the day on, given that 70% of my brain was already stressing about court. Everything I thought about in August I was thinking about now. Back on the phone to my brother, love him, and I tried to get some sleep.
On the Monday when I returned home from Court, his mum’s car was on the drive. I could have died. What on earth was that there for. Am I about to be significantly outnumbered? Is it going to be World War Three? Was she oblivious and we were now to play happy families? Given that the previous night’s conversation included that he would be moving in to the spare room, the latter option could prove difficult.
Naturally then, the latter option it was. She was oblivious. We hugged, we laughed, we talked. I say we – I mean his mum and me. He barely exchanged a look in my direction all night. I made my excuses and went to bed. I was knackered, this was killing me, I was so confused, and Tuesday meant day 2 in Court. My 15 year old victim was giving his evidence, and I needed to be there for him 100%.
The following morning I was up and out and at work before his mum or him had woken up. I had sent him a message asking that we talk when I got home, and he told me he didn’t want to.
Well, tough. There were two of us in this marriage and up until this point, I had absolutely not a clue what was going on. He had sent me a draft message of what he proposed to send my parents in order to explain the fact that our marriage was ending. He could fuck off. He appeared to be controlling everything, he wasn’t controlling that. He told me we would speak on Wednesday, but I should text him when I was leaving work that evening and he would go out. Charming.
As it happened, Court resulted in a to do list as long as my arm, because CPS once again had excelled themselves in being catastrophically useless, so I didn’t get home until about 2300hrs. I had shared my DS’s dinner, as I hadn’t foreseen being at work that late! I I should mention that this was not the DS from August, sadly he’d left the department. This was another DS, and yes, I cried on him too. (It’s a really rubbish habit, I wouldn’t advise it).
When I got home that night, I felt like I was walking into somebody else’s life. Somebody who when I worked in Safeguarding I would help and support. Somebody suffering controlling, psychological abuse from their partner. When I pulled up outside, I noticed a number of lights had been left on in the house, weird.
I got in and the lounge door was shut. Also weird, as this was never shut. I walked straight through into the kitchen to dump my stuff. The light was on. There was a list on the side. It was a list of items in the house – bed, sofa, TV, drawers, garden furniture. He had literally divided up our possessions and left them in a cute little list for me. I didn’t really know what to do with that. He still hadn’t had the balls to talk to me, but his views seemed to slap me in the face rather harshly when I read that.
I opened the lounge door, more out of curiosity now than anything else, and as soon as I did I felt tears roll down my face. Every single picture in the room had been removed. The gallery wall I had made now was just a load of picture hooks in the wall. Our wedding photos weren’t on the mantle piece, there was nothing. It felt like an empty space.
I now really dreaded going upstairs. The study light had been left on. It was like a shit game of hide and seek. Although I kept finding stuff which I really didn’t want to see. On the floor of the study were all the photos. Not just the ones from the living room it transpired, but all the photos in the whole damn house. He had left a note on them which said “Let me know which ones you want, I’ll bin the rest.”
The spare room door was shut and the light was off. Clearly, he was asleep in there like he had threatened prior to his mum coming to stay. In our room, he had moved all of his stuff out. He’d left the drawers open as if to prove a point that his stuff wasn’t in them, and had taken it all into the spare room – including his bedside table?!
By my side of the bed was a vase of flowers. This was bizarre for two reasons. Firstly, because he never bought me flowers. He would “joke” about them being pointless and a waste of money because they die within a week. Secondly, because the note he had left with them was not your usual note you receive when you’re given flowers. It read “Don’t worry, these are not a ‘I’m sorry’ bunch as I’m under no illusion we are well past that. I just hope it brightens up such a shit start to such an important week for you.”
What on earth was I supposed to do with that? The irrational side of me wanted to launch the flowers out the window the same way my bag had exited all those months previously. The rational side of me said “go to sleep, you have another long day ahead tomorrow”. I took Option B.
Wednesday evening was “let’s have a conversation” night. Whether I was more nervous for that conversation, or for Day 3 at Court was a hard one. I was nervous in equal measure, for different reasons. I felt sick all day. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to have that conversation, because I was scared it was going to confirm all my worst fears. Boy was I right.
Before I left work that day, I spoke to my DS. This is the DS who shared his dinner with me the night before. By this time, I hadn’t even told my work bestie, who I was at Court with, what was going on. I just couldn’t bring myself to. I think she’s just about forgiven me! More importantly, Court was a lifeline over these few weeks. It kept me going, it kept me busy and it kept me occupied. My mind didn’t have time to wander, to worry, or to overthink. It saved me. If my life had fallen apart at least I could try and get the right verdict for my poor victim.
I asked my DS whether my previous DS had told him any of the chaos of the previous summer, which was a resounding no. I knew he wouldn’t have, because as far as we were aware, there weren’t issues anymore, all was dandy. What was there to say? I just hoped he had, so I didn’t have to repeat it all. Anyway, I gave him a whistle stop tour of August, and then explained where I was at now. Again, I asked he didn’t record a domestic, that I wanted to speak to him as a Boss not a Police Officer. He was okay with this, but I was careful what I said. He was fab, which was to be expected. In the end when I moved out, within a month of it all going South, he got a van and helped me. We spent hours doing shuttle runs, building bed frames and winning the Ikea flat-pack fight! I owe him so much.
The Wednesday night chat was pointless. We got nowhere. I asked to talk about it and he handed me the list of property he had made the day before. Clearly what I meant was talk about what actually has caused him to decide that our marriage was over, not who got which half of the sodding sofa. We argued, we shouted, he yelled, I went to bed.
I tried again on Thursday. Somehow that went even worse. He stomped off upstairs and I followed him (maybe an error) and watched as he ripped our wedding photographs up. I don’t remember what I said, I think I just stood their crying. It prompted the response “Well we don’t need them anymore”. Did I still have any idea of what had actually gone on? Nope. I knew that our marriage was over, that was fucking obvious, I just had zero knowledge about why.
He was breaking my heart, I asked him for a cuddle and he said no. He didn’t appear to have an ounce of care in him. I had a shower, and something made me pack an overnight bag. I don’t even remember doing it. As I came out of the bedroom, he punched the wall so hard it sounded like furniture had been thrown at it. I asked him if he was okay, I genuinely thought he had broken his hand. He told me to fuck off. He smashed another photo frame and cut his hand, again, when I tried to help him, he told me where to go.
With that, I went. I grabbed the bag I had packed (pleased with my organised self) and drove to my work bestie’s. I rang her on the way and said I was coming for a sleepover, which of course was no problem. She was fully sighted by now on the disaster that was my life.
I was so livid. What was he doing? Did I deserve that? Any of it? What had I done? What could I do to fix it? I knew the answer to that was “absolutely nothing, and do you really want to?”
He had blamed me that night for being busy at work for him not talking to me. Bollocks to that, I told him to try again. He then told me that he hadn’t wanted to talk to me about whatever it was whilst I was dealing with my Grandpa passing away. I nearly hit the roof. Either, he was telling me that the past 3 months of support he had given me were absolute lies, or he was using my Grandpa as an excuse because he was a coward. Either way, I didn’t hold back with what I thought of him for that.
From that night I stayed at my friend’s, I didn’t properly ever go home. If we were going to both be home, I didn’t go back. By this point I had admitted to myself that I wasn’t safe, and that was one of the hardest things I had to do. If we were working opposite shifts, I went home – more so to ensure he hadn’t changed the locks to be honest. Between my Court Trial which, having been warned for an optimistic 4 days, lasted 10, and trying to process all of this, it dawned on me that I really needed to find somewhere to live. And I needed to do it quickly.
29th March 2019 he told me to leave. 24th April 2019 I moved into my new home. Efficiency is a strong point of mine, but this really wasn’t something I was proud of. I still felt numb. I knew what I had to do, I didn’t know why, and maybe a part of me didn’t want to.
My friend went on holiday for 2 weeks during this month and I moved in there. Following yet another argument which started badly, ended horrendously and made me scared, the following day another friend from work went home with me and we moved everything I owned (minus furniture) to my friend’s where I was staying. I realised very quickly that no, I couldn’t trust him, and yes, he appeared to be a total stranger.
I wouldn’t have put it past him to damage anything of mine that was in that house. I needed it out. I went into robot mode really, and with the help of my Safeguarding background, for once I followed my own advice. I did everything I would tell the victim’s I frequently dealt with to do, and I did it quickly.
When I secured my new home, I didn’t tell him a moving date, because if this got delayed I knew he would be an utter arse about it. To this day, he never has asked whether I had found somewhere to live. I don’t actually think he cared. He told me I had a month to get out, and that I did. He never answered me when I asked if there was someone else. My suspicions remain on that one..
Whilst moving out, I had to change all of the bills to his name and account details, get some stuff down to my parent’s – brother to the rescue again – and win the lottery. I’m still waiting for the latter.
Since moving out, I’ve ensured he doesn’t know my address, changed my car, and made as much distance as possible between us. He ruined my home and the life I had built, I’d be damned if he was doing that again. This was now my safe place, he didn’t know where it was, and that was the biggest relief.
I’ve gone over everything 4 million times and still not found any answers. I’ve become more aware of things that went on in our relationship which I used to excuse, which now I think I should have seen as warning signs. Hindsight is a funny thing. But, for example – Sam on my old shift, one of my favourite girls, I saved in my phone as “Samantha” to save arguments. He always had issues with me having a social life, and would make me feel so guilty about it. He’d moan if I went to a friend’s for dinner, but would go out and watch the football every weekend. To be blunt, he didn’t like me doing things he wasn’t either involved in, or aware of. The icing on the cake really was when he hacked into my Whatsapp. See ya!
As a result of all of this, I have become an expert in saying “Always” when asked if I’m okay. I’ve put my guard so high up, quite frankly good luck to whoever tries to break it down. I struggle with compliments, because he clearly meant squat by it, so why should anyone else? He’s broken my confidence, which was never spectacularly high, into a million tiny pieces, and I hate him for it.
10 months on, I still feel broken, I still struggle, and I still don’t talk about everything that happened, maybe to protect myself, or maybe because I don’t want to admit it ever happened. But if I am honest, I also feel so relieved. If this was going to happen, best it happen now than years down the line. I’m free, I’m safe and I have nothing to feel guilty for.