Hilary Bennett, a prominent writer at the Emporium has given her permission for the Emporium to share some of her well chosen words from her Facebook notings, of which she has a rather impressive fan base.  Ever thought why intelligent people shack up with the psychotic?  Perhaps you know someone or are someone who can very much relate to the following.  This is slightly new territory for the Emporium, but we feel that Hilary’s story is well worth a read …

They say that hindsight is 20/20 but it is also a bit of a harpy as well. It berates me for staying so long with a nasty sort and one wonders why, with my now rational brain, what possessed me to move in with him. I know full well that I am to have a night terror about him tonight but this tale has to be put down on paper and sent. Else it was years for nothing.

I met Andrew at a friend’s wedding when I was 20. Life was at a crossroads and I think I was subconsciously looking for a bit of stability. I had just left school and found a permanent job. My Dad was moving to Dorset, about 200 miles from me and  I really wanted to stay in Hertfordshire. Andrew was 10 years older than I and had a car and a job. He lived in a flat share about 150 miles away from where he was born and where his elderly Polish parents still lived. At the time he seemed stable, wise, mobile and I liked him. I don’t think I loved him even at the start, it just made sense to shack up with him in rental accommodation. I also felt all grown up and free from living with my crazy stepmother and overbearing Dad.

At the end of the first year of living with him, I could possibly say I was unhappy. He hadn’t technically done anything bad but I didn’t see many of my friends any more. In fact I only really saw him, his family and my closest friend Rebecca. I also started to be distanced from my Dad as his faults were all laid out bare by Andrew time and again plus reasons we could not go visit. Work schedules and money issues that did not seem relevant when seeing ‘his’ parents. I was also still waiting to love him but the guilt of not loving him made me stay. After three years of renting in Letchworth, quite close to my best friend and where I’d grown up, we moved to an isolated estate in Hitchin….the next town along. As I do not drive and buses were once an hour, I was stuck at home if he did not wish to go out. Asking if I could go into town for stuff…anything would almost need a written request of why and how long. Things were bad at that point and one should have walked away while I still had some self esteem left. Alas, at that point, money because a huge issue. I was still working in my office job which I hated but all my earnings seemed to be paid out on all the rent and the car. Later on I would also have to pay his credit card bills as he blamed me for them all, even though it was plain now that they were from before we met. It was at this stage the actual bullying started. Now that he had isolated me and left me unable to afford to get out, even to the extent of him driving me to and from work. As I had estranged myself from my Dad, I didn’t understand that Dad would always be there for me and help.

All of the above problems and the lack of any mental or artistic stimulation had resulted in my developing severe OCD tendencies and anxiety issues. Plus I was slowly going deaf and reliant on lip reading by this point. Andrew used my anxiety for his own benefit and also my guilt, to get his own way. Andrew was very good at lecturing. I could be trapped in the corner literally, listening to him go on for hours….about anything, usually getting bruised wrists from being held in the corner. Sometimes it was my behaviour or an opinion I held. Sometimes it was that he had no money for a bill or to mend the car and it was my responsibility. Andrew would make sure I had my work travel money and then take all my free cash away. If I should buy anything for myself, a lecture would follow about how selfish I was etc. The lectures would go on so long and the threat of menace would be so great that I would either cry a lot or lash out…which was not the person I am really. Andrew would then say it was natural for a person like me, with learning difficulties and unable to cope to act this way. His point about me was proved.

To make my anxiety all the better, Andrew would sometimes throw a tantrum…with fists and feet thumping on the floor. Or….for a treat, he could use an aerosol and a lighter to make a flame thrower in the middle of the flat and make me beg him to stop. Usually by getting his own way about something. Then he would ignore my presence. As I could not hear the TV and definitely not hear him AND the TV….he would turn the TV up and then shout over the top of it….then turn  it up some more, leaving me a wreak of a person. Any problems at work were my fault, any falling out with my best friend were my fault. The fact I did not like or want to see his sister in law…was my fault. Yet….I stayed for another two years…making it ten years in total. I had talked to him of me leaving him before but he always said that a person like me would not be able to cope on their own. So I stayed. Even after he had turned me into someone who would lash out at him…whether he deserved it or not…I still hate the fact that I slapped him twice.

In the end and after ten years, Facebook was invented. I suddenly got back in touch with a lot of friends and also my Dad. I could talk without him being there or alienating my mates. One weekend soon before I left, I arranged to meet my brother (arranged over FB no less!!) and we met in a pub in Camden town. When I told my brother how desperate I was, he burst into tears in front of me for the first time since our mother had died 20 years before. The very next day, the pub we were drinking in burnt to the ground. Which was an omen…

A few weeks later, I had a flash point moment and did not want to go home. I rang my dad and said that I did not wish to return…ever. I had a friend with a spare room and I had it in mind to stay there till I got my bearings and then see what to do. The most important thing was to leave. Just leave.

And I did.

(Written by Hilary Bennett 2012)

National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline

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Legal helpline: 020 7251 6577

Sexual violence helpline: 020 7251 8887

Website: www.rightsofwomen.org.uk

Men’s Advice Line

A confidential freephone helpline for all men experiencing domestic violence by a current or ex-partner. This includes men in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.

Helpline: 0808 801 0327

Website: www.mensadviceline.org.uk

In case of emergency, call 999 for police or an ambulance.