The words of Mike*, a man now in his 40s who suffered abuse at the hands of his wife for 15-years.
He is speaking out as part of our 16-days Domestic Abuse campaign in conjunction with our partners Swindon Borough and Wiltshire Councils and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), along with other stakeholders including Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA) and the OPCC commissioned service Splitz, base in Trowbridge.
The aim of the campaign is to highlight domestic abuse on all victims - whatever their gender - and the help that is available.
Mike was together with his partner for twenty years; the couple have two daughters, both who are now in their teens. He said that the abuse towards him and them gradually became worse and more apparent as the relationship went on:
“I first became aware of it about 12 years ago – her aggressive, often violent responses to normal, everyday situations. One moment everything seemed fine and then with the slightest problem or issue she started yelling and screaming. This often led to her throwing and smashing things. At other times she would mimic me, try and belittle me."
It was a pattern which slowly established itself over the years becoming a regular monthly occurrence.
It wasn't just violence Mike added: “She was very controlling and coercive too, not allowing me the freedom to leave the house at times or even speak to people on the phone. If we had an argument, she would sometimes keep it going all day and I wouldn’t be allowed to eat or go to sleep.
“The violence was only part of it - she would also often threaten to self-harm or kill herself. It was emotional blackmail.”
Mike noticed that the abuse increased in frequency during the first lockdown last year.
“Things definitely became worse. In a funny sort of way lockdown helped me. It condensed this awful situation and forced me to do something to eventually get out.”
He first sought help by going to a national men’s advice line which referred him to Splitz – the domestic abuse charity based in Wiltshire.
“Splitz helped me to safely get out of this abusive situation - contacting them was the first step. It hasn't been easy. It was traumatic for my daughters and me and there has been a lot of recovery and rebuilding since.
"I was at breaking point – both my mental and physical health were suffering – I was in crisis. I had to do something to change the situation and leaving was the only option."
Help is at hand Mike has spoken about his experience because he wants to help other men and doesn’t want them to suffer like he did. He also wants to press home the message that abuse can happen to any man - irrespective of background.
He said: "I'm a pretty typical, middle aged professional who lived in a nice house with kids and a wife which appeared seemingly ok on the outside, but it most definitely was not ok on the inside.
“My message to any man who’s in an abusive relationship is get help as soon as you can.
“I know I should have got our sooner - but it’s never easy to break-up a relationship, especially when children are involved. I was scared for our safety, and I didn't know where to turn for a long time, but there is always a choice - even when you feel there isn't one.
"And, of course, there’s always that part of you hoping that your partner will change – that the abuse will stop. But it never did.”
People who are experiencing domestic abuse in Wiltshire can speak to Splitz Support Service on 01225 775276 or on the out of hours helpline 01225 712880 and Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA) on 01793 610610. In an emergency dial 999.