'He called me a f**king whore and said he wished I was dead'

The subtle abuse started when this mum was pregnant with their third child.

"You're a fucking whore, I just wish you'd go and die."

Not the words of encouragement you need in the first three months after giving birth to your third child. Or at any time really. But these were the words coming out of my husband's mouth. My partner of 15 years and the father of our three children.

I can't even remember what prompted that particular outburst. In those days, things went from zero to death threat in the space of 30 seconds.

Image by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Image by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

"I thought every relationship struggled"

It all started when I was around four months pregnant with our third child. Sure, we'd had issues before, but I thought every relationship struggled after having a baby. It was subtle in the beginning. Questions over where I'd been and who I had been talking to at work. Doubts over time I spent with other men - friends or colleagues. I'd never given him any reason not to trust me in the past, I'd never even thought about straying since we met when I was just 25.

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I knew he had a slight temper in the beginning and that he had a jealous streak, but I was young, thought I was in love and glossed over the behaviour that didn't sit well with me because there were so many other things that did. When he proposed there was a slight knot in my stomach. I thought I was just excited and slightly nervous about what the future might hold. I didn't say anything to anyone. The night before our wedding we had a massive argument over something little, but our wedding day was glorious and filled with love. Or what I thought was love.

We were over the moon when we fell pregnant with our first child, but a traumatic birth followed and I struggled after we got home. In hindsight, I'm sure I had post-natal depression, but again, I was too proud to speak up. We battled (literally) through and things got easier. I was tougher by the time our second child came around and had learnt not to rely on my husband for anything - emotionally, financially, physically. He seemed to think that life just went on as it had before children, while for me, my whole world had changed.

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Image by Louis Blythe on Unsplash

Image by Louis Blythe on Unsplash

No support

Then came the third pregnancy and I knew what was ahead. I couldn't bear the thought of having another newborn with no support. He seemed to sense that I was pulling away and that's when the green-eyed monster reared his ugly head. I was working fulltime and juggling two small children with no family around for support. I thought that if I shared my fears for my marriage with someone, it would all become real.

The jealousy and nasty comments continued through my pregnancy and then two months before our third child was born, I discovered he had been lying to me. I knew then that my marriage was over. But I had two children with a third on the way. Still, I didn't say anything to anyone. My definition of normal started to change and the name calling that I'd found so incredibly hurtful in the beginning, didn't really bother me anymore.

Our third child was a son and I made a silent promise to him as he was laid on my chest, that I would do everything in my power to make sure he turned out nothing like his father. I couldn't stand the thought of this precious little person growing up to treat someone the way his father was treating me. I even said that to him one day. "How would you feel if a man spoke to our daughter the way you speak to me?". He said that he would be horrified.

Image by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

Image by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

Losing my mind

In those newborn days, he started to make me feel like I was losing my mind. Money would disappear from my wallet and he would tell me that I must have forgotten to take it from the cashier or from the ATM. He would say things in passing, that he couldn't possibly know. Conversations I had had with people when he wasn't around.

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I couldn't work out how he knew where I was at every minute of the day, who I had been with and what I had been saying. I tried to research 'getting your house swept for bugs', but couldn't find anything. I changed the passwords to everything and even changed the wifi, but still, he seemed to know everything.

Finally, came the death threat day. My son was three months old. He walked out of the house with the two eldest children to take them to daycare, so I put the baby to bed then say on the floor and sobbed. Heavy, wretched sobs that I thought would never end.

Image by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Image by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

I had to speak up

I called one of my oldest friends who just happened to be a domestic violence officer with the police force interstate. Over the next half an hour, I told him what had been going on. He cried, I cried, and then he told me to call the police. I refused to believe that what had been going on was domestic violence, it was just name-calling. He never hit me.

Domestic violence was just physical, or so I thought at the time. The next few months passed in a blur. Meetings with police and counsellers, gaining the courage to tell my loved ones what had been going on, struggling to be a good mum to two little children and protect them from what was happening in their home, breastfeeding a baby and lots and lots of tears.

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He only showed remorse once. Cried and said “what have I done?”, before threatening to kill himself. I now know this is a common response. I’m in a good place now with a lot of support from my family, friends and an incredible psychologist. While I still struggle with the regret over marrying the wrong person and not seeing what was going on, my biggest regret is not speaking up earlier.

How to help:

  • Firstly, if you or anyone you know needs help or support with issues of family violence, please contact 1800 RESPECT .
  • We're running a Kidspot Cares campaign this week, and we're asking people to pledge their support and raise awareness by sharing a selfie with the hashtag #couchandacuppa to let your friends and family know that you're a safe person to confide in if they need you. Sometimes all it takes is the promise of a hot cuppa and place to stay to plan your next step.
  • If you would like to donate, there are several organisations doing great work in the area. For this campaign, Kidspot has teamed up with BaptistCare . BaptistCare runs an early-intervention program called Break Free, which works with children who have experienced family violence to end the cycle of abuse.