IN PART 2 OF MY PERSONAL JOURNEY FROM MOUNTAIN BIKER, MOUNTAIN RUNNER AND ADVENTURIST TRAHARN CHIDLEY CONTINUES HER VERY PERSONAL AND TRAUMATIC STORY OF SURVIVING DOMESTIC ABUSE AND HOW SPORT GAVE HER THE STRENGTH AND CONFIDENCE TO TAKE CONTROL OF HER LIFE.
Up until this point I had no idea what he was capable of, I thought he had insecurity issues I could help him with, but things just got worse. It hadn’t even been a month in our new house and all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, he kicked off. He grabbed my orange juice from the side of the bed, poured it over my head, hit my head with the glass then smashed it against the wall causing it to shatter everywhere and splinter into the wall. He dragged me down the stairs by my hair, grabbed my jaw and didn’t let go for what felt like a lifetime. After that it’s all a blur.
Nothing was really said, I was in shock, and believed he was too. For the next few weeks my ears were black and blue, my jaw was in agony and I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to eat properly. I tried hiding my ears and the dent and shattered glass marks on the wall. At the time I thought this was a one off reaction and it wouldn’t happen again. I didn’t, and still don’t know what triggered him. We lived together for two years and I lost count of how many times he physically abused me, I thought he was losing control and didn’t know what he was doing, but not once did he touch my face, so it remained a secret.
It’s only recently that I’ve learnt how controlled he actually was and how insanely predictable his behaviour was. People have literally written step by step books of a perpetrators actions, and they mirror his.
Alcohol was never to blame as he attacked me when he was stone cold sober too, it was just more inevitable it would happen when he’d had a few drinks. It was always my fault, he told me I ‘had it coming’ and sometimes he blamed my parents. I was constantly walking on eggshells trying not to set him off; I also tried to protect my family from him, conversations regularly got heated and I did everything I could to get them away from ex before he switched; on one occasion this really upset my aunty, she wanted to go outside and reason with him, but I wouldn’t let her. She didn’t know that I stopped her because I was scared at what he might do, so she became annoyed with me too.
After living together for a year, and together for four years, I was severely unhappy, scared, trapped and alone, feeling unable to share my situation with anyone. He’d used my name to purchase several items on finance, found my emergency credit card and used it. With him being unemployed half the time I had to work as many jobs and hours I could to make sure they were paid off, and was still expected to give him money before entering the pub so it looked like he paid for everything. Countless times I’d come home from working 12+ hours, stuck inside while it had been a beautiful day. I’d come home to Ex lying on the sofa, curtains drawn, tens of empty crisp packets surrounding him and multiple DVD cases everywhere, and then I’d be asked when I walked through the door at 8/9pm. “What’s for tea?”
I thought I was protecting everyone else by not telling them. Knowing I was unhappy I still convinced myself that I could live the rest of my life like this, not knowing a way out, feeling this was the best option for everyone. I’d stay with him to protect the ones I loved and keep them from ever knowing what was really happening. I felt extremely alone and for a while the only friend I felt I could be myself with, showing my sadness and vulnerability, was my little dog Chester.
However, there became a turning point in the relationship. Just after we moved house again Ex had a good friend, we hung out a lot and I got on with him like a house on fire, with a lot in common. Ex always accused me of wanting to be with him which fuelled a lot of attacks but I never saw him that way. Ex would be suffocating me with a pillow whilst the friend was sleeping on the sofa in the next room, trying to get me to scream so the friend would come running in, but I never did, thinking I was protecting him. One day this friend told me how much he liked me and I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was; all he’d seen was the emotional abuse and verbal attacks I constantly received. We became closer and for the first time in years someone other than my parents gave me compliments, it was a shock, and I didn’t really know how to handle it, but it opened my eyes to what I could have, what I should have. Someone who really loved me and made me feel special.