I wrote this in July 2018 for use by a police force. They told me they had no stories on their website from male domestic abuse survivors because none were prepared to give their account, not even on an anonymous basis. Below is my short summary. It necessarily excludes the behaviour of the police at the time.
Men think they can’t experience domestic abuse. Some say it can only happen to a woman but it’s not true, because in 2016/17, 713,000 victims were men. I am a survivor and this is my story.
When we first met she seemed wonderful. Her healthcare role was to counsel dying people and their families. We married and then the problems started. She isolated me from close friends, saying I should start again with new people. She checked my emails to monitor who I was meeting. She insisted I apologise for things I hadn’t done, saying she was brought up better than me. She even demanded that I drive through red traffic lights, just to provoke an argument and try to make me angry. Sometimes I got out of the car and walked home for up to three hours.
She said I had a condition called sleep apnoea and that I slept far too much, (but no more than her). She would wake me up saying I had stopped breathing. Medics proved I was OK, it was her excuse to wake me. I remember working very long hours with little sleep and being so tired that I would fall asleep even in the middle of a sentence. Medics diagnosed Acute Sleep Deprivation. My wife knew, but early in the morning she would pull all the covers off me and demand that I make her breakfast. When I complained that deliberately preventing someone sleeping was a form of torture, she ridiculed me.
She complained most about my adult daughter. When she got married, my wife was strongly opposed to me giving her away. After many arguments, I didn’t. It is my biggest regret. She said my daughter, a married woman with a responsible job, was “ferrule and would sleep with anyone”.
When I backed-off from arguments or I suggested she was unreasonable, she replied “you’re dysfunctional”, “you’re not resilient” or “I’m not talking to Mr Angry”. Leaving the house after an argument was forbidden. She said I was not in a good frame of mind and she feared for my safety. She blocked my way if I tried to back-off, then if I tried to get past she said I was violent. I learnt to run upstairs, jam the door with a chair, then write about what had happened. She said she could provoke me as much as she liked, but I must never retaliate. Whilst running up the stairs I once pleaded “stop, stop, stop”. She stood against me blocking my way, insisting my behaviour was abusive. She constantly put me down, asserting her high ethical standards because of the work she did, yet these were some of the methods she used to provoke me. She made out she was the victim and made many allegations of financial abuse, but it was very easy to disprove by viewing our bank and credit card statements.
There were times when I sought help. A church minister & his wife listened to us and described her as “the attacker”. Someone understood, but my wife made sure we didn’t go back! Then I saw a close friend, the person my wife had tried her hardest to isolate me from. She reminded me of her work for a women’s domestic abuse organisation. She was certain I was a victim and said contact the Mankind Initiative, an organisation that helps men through domestic abuse. When I read about domestic abuse on their website I suddenly realised what my wife was doing. Mankind helped me come to terms with things and move on with my life, getting back in contact with family and old friends.
I have left my ex-wife’s ‘crazy-making’ behaviour behind. Now I see my daughter’s family regularly and with my new wife’s support I speak publicly about domestic abuse because no-one, man or woman, should have to experience it. If you’re a man and you think you are treated abusively by your partner, first contact the Mankind Initiative or a similar organisation that helps men. They are used to callers, including sisters and mothers, who may be unsure what domestic abuse is. Men deny it happens to them, but it does. The people at Mankind are very understanding, encouraging and they offer practical advice. Find them online and give them a call.www.mankind.org.uk