I haven't written for so, so long. It's been like an itch I haven't been able to scratch - excruciating. But the last few nights I have laid awake thinking so much I felt compelled to write. I must say something. I must open up. Otherwise it's cowardly. I know a lot of others are offering their opinions on Nigella Lawson. The fact that it is leading news is indicative of several things. Our ridiculous thirst and fascination with celebrity being the least important. Statistics are flying at us like missiles Journalists quoting "one woman per week killed by her partner in Australia". Why are we not hearing about these women? Where are their funerals? Their stories? Buried in the silence of shame that surrounded their lives? Disguised as "tragic accidents"?
It's such murky ground. Behind closed doors..... It's not "our" business.
Well it is. It was my business. It was my life. I was the victim of domestic violence. Although, like Charles Saatchi, he refused to admit that it was. When I saw that man's hands around Nigella's neck I felt them. Again. When I saw her trying to cajole him, pleading with her words and her eyes for him to calm down, to stop, to love her, I felt all that. Again. When I saw them leave separately - her in tears, he in a rage, I was there. Again.
Same but different.
Apparently hands around my neck and throwing me repeatedly against a wall do not constitute violence because he "never hit me " "never threw a punch". The fact that police were called, (twice)? That was just me being "dramatic". He didn't punch me. I didn't have a black eye. My bruises were in places hidden. So it wasn't domestic violence. Uh huh.....
My shame was like a cheap, synthetic blanket. It wasn't keeping me warm but I couldn't take it off. I was scared what was underneath. I was at fault. I was dramatic. I was hard work. I was making some of it up.... wasn't I?
As Mia Freedman wrote this week, domestic violence needs a circuit breaker. Mine came in the form of a friend who "just knew". Because she had been through it herself. She to told me to "leave". "Leave now. I'll loan you some money to get yourself sorted. You can pay me back when you're on your feet." These words were my lifeline. I knew I had to run. Get my son and run.
So I did,. And I never looked back. He tried it again. The control was slipping from him and it brought out the beast. But this time I felt less shame. More anger. And determination that my life would be beautiful again. The steps I made every day towards this new life were joyous and liberating. Putting oil in my car, learning internet banking.... I know - embarrassing that I was not doing it previously right. But there I was, a thirty something emancipated, strong woman. I would never let anyone let me feel any less than powerful and respected again.
But the fear creeps in, doesn't it? The little niggling feelings that pull you back under that synthetic, horrible scratchy blanket. Believe me I know.
But you can shake it off. Knit yourself a beautiful, soft, warm woollen one that you can cuddle up to. One that will protect you but not make you believe that is the only option. Or sew a patchwork quilt that shows your story in all it's bitter sweet glory. Be proud of where you've come from.
Open the closed door. Let in the light.