Written by Lucy Woodward
This post comes with a trigger warning
When I first saw the post from @freddie_foxandco asking for people to guest blog for them, I thought I can so do this. It will be really easy to write as this has been my life, for the past 7 years. Oh, how wrong I was. It wasn’t just the fear of sharing some of my most personal moments, but it was the emotions, that hit me hard. Now lets just get a few things straight, I’m not writing this for sympathy, I actually wanted to write this blog, for any parent out there, who may have experienced, are experiencing or know someone in a similar situation. If there is one thing, I can give you is that there is always hopes, so please don’t give up – keep fighting; just because this has happened to you, it doesn’t mean you are not an amazing parent!
The thing that really pushed me into writing this was, the ‘this is not consent’ campaign, to be perfectly honest, this didn’t surprise me. It was more saddening, that this was still going on in todays’ society. Despite the countless media drives to what is consent/what isn’t, the legal system is still being allowed to degrade woman in such a vile & public manner. I have my own experience of this; I was told that I was middle class, I was a university educated woman, so therefore I would have known what domestic violence and rape was in a relationship. I would have known that this wasn’t a ‘normal’ relationship, that I would have not put up with this, I would have spoken out…. This was complete and utter rubbish, showing just how little the British legal system has moved forward with their views and understanding of this subject.
This was my first relationship, I was eighteen and looking back I can see how naïve and trusting I was.
I remember the first time he did it to me, the thing that would become a recurrent pleasure of his, to belittle, degrade and violate me, for no other reason I knew, other than because he could. I can recall the distinct sound of the rain dripping off the plastic guttering, the cars making splashing noises, as they drove through the rainy roads. The bright white light from the street lamps outside, peeping round the edges of the trick dark curtains. The smell of stale alcohol on his breath, his sweat and pink Joop aftershave congealing together. The feel of the grey fabric sofa material, burning against my bare skin from his violence. The toughness of his hands creating wells of bruises all over me. His bitten nails scratching and catching on me. The pain he was subjecting me to, his hands everywhere, over my face, limbs pinning limbs down, a force unimaginable. But; the thing that scars my mind even now, years later, is the look in his eyes, the determination to gratify himself, no love or respect. Just the evil to take what wasn’t his, without permission.
I stayed in this relationship for 3 more years. I thought I loved him, and he loved me. This is nothing compared to what some people have endured and are still going through. I finally left him, after a horrific attack, where I was nearly smothered to death at eight weeks pregnant. My mental health was fragile and after giving birth, to my beautiful child, deteriorated to the point, where I made two suicide attempts. I am not proud of this, but I am not afraid to admit it either. In 2017, I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety. This has had a huge impact on my parenting and my daily functioning. I have been on high doses of various medications, been through years of counselling, assessments and appointments with psychiatrists’, CPNs’ and community mental health teams. The first year and a half of my child’s life, I hid the struggles of my mental health, as I was afraid my child would be taken away from me by social services. At the time I had no experience of mental health or its effects, the images I was seeing, were flashbacks due to my PTSD. At its worst, I can remember my child having a tantrum and hitting me, this set me off, having to at one time hide in the bathroom. Just to get away from the images that my child, had in my mind turned into my abusive ex-partner. I was ashamed to let my baby see me not coping , to admit I was poorly, or for the outside world to see me like this; I assumed they would see as me being delusional.
Unfortunately, many professionals involved with me, didn’t have the expertise to spot or support me, I fell through the net. This ultimately resulted in my child being taken into care, my parental responsibility reduced and my child not returning to my care. I am still part of his life and I will always be his mum. I have been working hard to get myself better, not just for the sake of my child but for myself - I have started specialist therapy and dealt with a lot of issues I had suppressed over the years, without any knowledge of doing so.
Am I ashamed of my past? .... Yes.
Am I able to accept my current situation? …. Yes.
Am I afraid to speak about my circumstances – past and present? …. Absolutely NOT.
I know your situation, like mine, is not going to be like this forever. There were times I couldn’t see a future for myself, let alone a future for me as a parent. I’ve been extremely lucky that I’ve had the support of a close network, who have fought my corner, kept me fighting but above all loved me unconditionally. I know not everyone is not as fortunate as me, but I want you to remember, even in the hardest and darkest of times, there is always going to be someone who loves you, someone who thinks you are there world…. That person is your child. They are worth the fight – trust me, I know.
National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
United against violence & abuse (UAVA) 0808 80 200 28 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s Aid 0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327