I only found out about Refuge, a charity that supports women and children who are the victims of domestic violence, this year. They recently launched the latest part of their 1in4women campaign, giving people the tools to support that one friend in four who will suffer from domestic abuse at some point in their life.
For three of my friends, I am that one friend. And I wished I’d asked for help when I needed it.
When I was a kid I was skinny, all eyes too big for my face and big bucked teeth, scabbed elbows and knees and a wild streak a mile wide.
By the time I was eighteen I was awkward, still round-faced with puppy fat and head over heels in love with a guy I worked with. The same age as me, he had curly black hair and beautiful blue eyes, and I was so happy that someone finally wanted me.
Three years later and the shiny had worn off. By then we’d moved in together, bought our own home, although we lived with a friend who rented one of the spare bedrooms in our new house. Things had taken a downturn; we were broke, he was drinking and I was losing patience with his self-absorbed bullshit.
It all came to a head on my Mother’s wedding day when I refused to let him use the last tenner we had to our name to buy more alcohol. He snapped, pushed me against the wall by my throat and repeatedly slammed his fist in to the plaster by my head. When I pushed him off me and went to walk away, he shoved me, almost knocking me down the stairs.
I walked out that door and didn’t walk back for a week. As far as I was concerned, we were over. I only returned because I was paying the mortgage on a house in both our names. If I’d left for good he’d have taken everything, and I was determined that wasn’t going to happen.