“You’re mine now, I can do what I like with you” were the words my husband said to me as he closed the door on our hotel room on our wedding night. I was 20-years old and had just married my childhood sweetheart, he had treated me like a princess all through our 6-year relationship and despite my parents’ concerns I couldn’t have been happier when he asked me to marry him.
I stood in the hotel room in my wedding dress and wondered what he meant, but I didn’t have to wait very long to find out. Seconds later he was beating me around my body, a menacing grin on his face as he told me “no-one will believe you, I won’t leave a mark on your face or arms”.
I don’t recall much else about that night but I do recall going downstairs to breakfast the following morning, looking around the dining room and thinking ‘Is this what they mean when they ask “are you prepared for your wedding night?”, they’re not talking about sex at all, they’re talking about you being beaten up by your husband to show that he’s the boss.’
It was wrong, I knew it was wrong but as I looked at the faces of the other women eating their breakfast all I could see was a sea of broken, beaten souls. That was my perception of the World at that point.
On what should have been the happiest day of my life, I entered what was to become a 20-year cycle of abuse.
It wasn’t until almost 2-years later that I found the strength and courage to leave my husband. In that time I’d endured more beatings; I’d been held under the bath water until I struggled for breath, I’d had a kitchen knife held against my throat as he bragged that no-one would miss me if he killed me, I’d had more dinners and food thrown across the room at me than I cared to remember and I’d been told I was fat, ugly, disgusting and lucky to have him, because no-one else would. I truly believed I was an awful individual and I should be grateful to him. I left him when he tried to push me down the stairs with a wardrobe!
I ran and kept on running.
I ran headlong into my second abusive marriage, a stint as a sex worker and a further abusive relationship before choosing to use my experiences and adversity to change my life and, over time, to improve the lives of women across the globe who had the misfortune to experience domestic abuse.
Once upon a time I was a victim of domestic abuse. Now I’m so much more than that. Domestic abuse and the sex industry were the springboards that propelled me along the path to becoming a relationships coach and along the way I also discovered what it means to be in a truly unconditionally loving relationship.