December 4, 2020
Be kind, always. Maisie’s domestic abuse #16Days
On the surface Maisie* is the most positive, high-spirited person, she oozes vibrance and personality, she is so happy. Underneath all of this, Maisie carries such emotional torment from her past experiences. Never resentful, she is fuelled by the possibilities that the future holds for her and children. But she shows us that even the seemingly strongest, most personable people can carry great weights. She reminds us that we should always be kind and we should always listen, be alert and be mindful of everyone’s personal battles. Maisie wants to support other young women like her who might be experiencing domestic abuse or living with the strain of their past experience of domestic violence.
From the age of ten, Maisie was abused by her stepdad. She held this dark secret, scared to tear her family apart and what the consequences might be. She now understands how she was groomed by this man to accept things that no child should ever be subjected to. As a teenager she discovered that this man was also abusing her sisters. In the midst of court proceedings and dragging up so many traumatic experiences from the recesses of her brain she had met Phil*. Phil was there for her, he made her feel more at ease and he gave her strength. After they had a child together in their teens, the cracks started to form, Phil’s attitude changed and this progressed into violence.
Today, Maisie is moving forwards with her life without Phil in it. She’s going to college and she’s taking steps for her children and her own independence and happiness. She’s getting counselling to talk about her life experiences and processing everything in a safe space. And it’s her mission to get this same support for other people.
Read her story…
‘When it all came out it was so hard. I had to talk about something that I didn’t want to talk about. We had to.’
Until the age of fifteen, Maisie had grown so used to staying silent about her childhood experience of abuse. She wanted to protect those around her and her own feelings were suppressed on that basis. She never ignored them but she locked them away. Her sisters had been talking about secrets one day when the truth emerged. At the point the devastating realisation was made that all sisters had endured sexual abuse at the hands of their stepdad. They’d all had similar experiences and they had to relay these back as an adult, seeing at this age just how traumatic and unthinkable these experiences had been. This was such a difficult part of Maisie’s life and, as she talks about it, her warm glow dulls. She found the legal proceedings around this so physically and emotionally draining and it took a great toll on her family. The fact she had met Phil just before this all came to light meant she relied on him a lot to get her through. He was someone she could turn to during this difficult chapter.
The start of an abusive relationship
‘He was lovely, we did everything together’.
Phil was the model partner to begin with, him and Maisie were inseparable. This was their first real relationship and Maisie describes how they were, ‘naive kids’ together just enjoying their first love. Maisie relocated to Merseyside, moving miles away from her family to be with Phil. She was so excited about starting a new life with him.
Before Maisie got pregnant with Conor* Phil had started to become a bit ‘lazy’, as she puts it. He didn’t seem to want to do all the things that they had done together in the past and was more interested in video games. Maisie didn’t read too much into this, whilst annoyed, she saw it as a natural transition in their relationship. She thought it would get better and, especially when they had a child together, she thought Phil might go back to his old ways. This wasn’t the case and, despite Maisie’s best efforts to talk to Phil about what was bothering her, his behaviour only got worse.
Domestic abuse after having a child
‘The abuse started just after Conor* was born. It started off slowly though. It would be smacks and little punches at first. I didn’t think anything of it.’
When Maisie and Phil became parents they were both teenagers. It always seemed to Maisie as if Phil wasn’t ready for children, he loved his kids but resented the responsibilities it had given him.
Maisie had warning signs before Conor was born, she was upset by Phil on many occasions and made to feel like he didn’t care about her. She felt like she had to do everything for herself and never got support. She never saw this as emotional abuse and she never expected physical abuse to start. It was as is something just switched in Phil after the birth of their child. This is where the physical abuse started.
‘I remember the first time he hit me and actually made a mark on my arm. He had punched me because I was asking him to do something for me’.
Maisie had been asking for support with their son and Phil wasn’t willing to do this or accept responsibility. Instead of helping her he got frustrated and attacked her.
Physical domestic abuse
‘I just cried and never mentioned it again. I couldn’t believe he did that. He never said sorry though’.
Maisie couldn’t understand how Phil could do this. She was completely shocked by what she had witnessed. This happened a few times and Phil would never apologise for his actions.
The abuse would always seem to be triggered by Phil being disturbed from playing his games and Maisie asking him for support. He wasn’t ready to be a parent or willing to help and he dictated that through physical abuse.
‘After it happened we wouldn’t talk about the abuse and then it would just go back to how he wanted things to be’.
Phil left Maisie feeling unable to talk about her experiences, like she had to accept this and was very controlling. She would have to do all the chores around the home and look after their children. If she asked for support he would just become aggressive.
A pause to domestic abuse
After the birth of their second child, Amelia*, abuse stopped completely for two years. Maisie was so happy, she felt like Phil had changed and she was looking forward to their happy future together.
Before this change, Maisie had ended their relationship and Phil had moved out until she missed him and wanted him back. She thinks that this scared Phil, he didn’t want to be without her and knew he needed to stop the abuse. He managed to do this but, unfortunately, this was not the end of the abuse.
Domestic abuse and affairs
The abuse started again after Maisie had found messages that Phil was sending to another woman on his computer. She challenged him about this and was understandably emotional. Phil didn’t like this. At this point he became more aggressive than ever before. He was enraged and pinned Maisie against the wall and punched her.
Maisie was shocked by this and devastated that the abuse had started again.
The fear of telling people about the domestic abuse
Maisie was physically far apart from her family and says they had, ‘inklings’ that the abuse was happening but they couldn’t prove this. Maisie stayed quiet about this and the main reason was to protect her children.
‘My biggest fear in the whole world was losing my kids’.
This is what motivated Maisie to stay quiet and stopped her from opening up to those around her and getting support for domestic abuse. She always wanted her children to have a stable future ahead of them, she wanted them to have a mum and a dad together, she wanted the best for them.
Maisie accepted the abuse on this basis until it reached the point where she became completely overwhelmed. She ended her relationship with Phil and, whilst they were still living together because of lockdown, the abuse got to the worst point it had ever been. Jelousy took over and Maisie became terrified for her life.
Domestic abuse from an ex-partner
Often in domestically abusive relationships, ending the relationship is definitely not the end to the abuse and in many cases abuse can become worse at this point. Practically, people are sometimes still living with an abusive partner after they end their relationship and, because of the pandemic, this has happened a lot in recent months. People are therefore incredibly trapped by the abuse.
When Maisie and Phil lived under the same roof as single people, Phil’s aggression took over. He would get incredibly jealous of relationships that Maisie had despite the fact he was beginning new relationships himself. He got to a point where he would need to know where Maisie was going, who she was going with and what she was doing at all times. He controlled every aspect of her life.
One day, Maisie was reconnecting with an old male friend from home, in fact talking about his own family and Phil couldn’t accept this. He felt like he had lost control at this stage and wanted to get this control back. He attacked Maisie in a jealous rage and she was badly injured. She didn’t call the police because she was too scared. A few weeks later Maisie was on another call and Phil got angry again because she was talking about the children to another person. Phil took his rage out on their home and smashed some of Maisie’s items up. The police were alerted and he was arrested for criminal damage. She told her family and they begged her to tell the police about what she was experiencing.
‘It was really, really hard but I’m so proud of myself for doing it.’ Maisie says, clearly elated and relieved that she found this strength.
After this incident Maisie found out about Ruby @ Turnaround and began to get the domestic abuse support she needed.
Domestic abuse support during lockdown
‘Six months of being pain-free – it’s amazing!’
Maisie’s domestic abuse support with Shelley started over the phone because of lockdown. She explains how she loves speaking to Shelley, like she finally had what she needed.
‘I didn’t feel alone anymore. Speaking to Shelley has been amazing’.
Maisie feels so much freedom with Shelley to talk about whatever she feels. It has been such an enlightening experience for her and she sounds so excited and passionate just talking about it. With Shelley, Maisie has been given advice to seek specialist support for her emotions and her anxiety, along with being a listening ear for her. She feels that she can turn to her about anything.
Maisie has been supported to cut all ties with Phil. This was her choice and she feels that she has been given the tools she needs to manage her emotions around this. She recently found out that her case was classed as, ‘under serious risk of homicide’ by the police. Finding this out scared her a lot and it suddenly dawned on her what could have happened. This has really impacted her and she now imagines what could have happened to her if she had stayed in this relationship.
‘No-one deserves it and I don’t want anyone to have to experience this’.
Maisie’s future after domestic abuse
Maisie is now feeling so positive about her and her children’s future. She has started a college course and loves learning and planning her career. She’s got the opportunity to meet lots of new people and feels that she has people around her who can support her now. Before she had been so isolated and on her own without Phil she strangely feels like she has someone more than ever.
‘All I do now is think of me and the kids and I love it. I can’t wait to be the person that I’ve always wanted to be!’.
Her advice to someone else in the same situation now would just be, ‘don’t be scared of the people who are trying to help you. There are good people. Get that help’.