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It's the side of domestic abuse you rarely hear about. But here, one wife shockingly admits... I was a husband beater

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It's the side of domestic abuse you rarely hear about. But here, one wife shockingly admits... I was a husband beater

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 24.05.10 10:22

By Florence Terry
Last updated at 8:47 AM on 24th May 2010

Losing control: Florence Terry would lash out at her husband. She now helps others to overcome conflict

The first time I struck my husband was during an argument over money. He'd decided to pay off a loan without telling me and we ' d gone overdrawn. I was worried and tried to discuss it with him, at which point he left the room.
I felt we hadn't talked it through properly and followed him. The next minute, I was hitting him around the head.
I remember losing control and my limbs lashing out.

Afterwards he was upset and I cried - I felt scared and ashamed of what I'd done.

I apologised and thought it was a one-off, but in fact it was a pattern that carried on for the next ten years.

I met my husband through mutual friends at Durham University. I was 19 and he was five years older, more worldly and mature. He was less serious, too, and made me laugh.

We married five years later. He had a job in IT by then and I started work as a divorce lawyer. The early days of our marriage were steady, but as the stress of my job and responsibilities grew, I took it out on him.

After that first time, it happened again about 18 months later. I felt a surge of rage I couldn't control. My anger would escalate during arguments over household chores or my husband coming to bed late. I remember feeling I was out of my body, watching myself and telling myself to stop, but I couldn't. I would hit him hard; hitting to hurt.
One time, I picked up a table and crashed it down so hard on the ground that it broke. I left bite marks in his arm a couple of times - it was similar to the way siblings fight, yet he never once struck back. He'd hold up his hands to shield himself, which made me feel even worse.

My husband felt emotionally hurt at times - it was upsetting for him to think the person he loved wanted to hurt him - but he never threatened to leave me.

He felt there was more to me than this behaviour, and that we still had a strong marriage.
I'm a petite woman, a little over eight stone (51kg), and my husband is a big man. Yet he said he didn't feel emasculated, and that I never physically hurt him. While I exploded, he remained calm.

Domestic violence: Florence left bite marks in her husband's arm a couple of times - yet he never once struck back

I was thankful, but I was also frustrated that he wasn't communicating fully with me. I was using violence to get a reaction. I was verbally aggressive, too. I'd make demeaning comments, sarcastic and personal attacks - all the things that erode love.
I'd blame him, preach and criticise. I couldn't understand why I wanted to be aggressive to someone I loved. I now realise the anger I felt was to do with stress and low self-esteem. I was packing my life too tightly, working long hours as a lawyer, volunteering at the Citizens Advice bureau and doing soup runs for the homeless.
I had what I felt was a privileged upbringing; my family was middle class and I went to private schools. I felt I had an obligation to repay this to society. I thought I should be superhuman and I felt my husband should be, too.

Behind closed doors

Domestic violence accounts for 15 per cent of violent crime

To other people I seemed calm and accommodating, a kind of peacemaker. But inside I was pent up and deeply ashamed of myself.
Eventually I accepted something had to change. I'd heard about domestic violence groups, but only for men. I felt my behaviour carried an added stigma - women weren't expected to be violent, especially high-powered working women who volunteered for charities.

Then I found an anger management course on the internet. It was nerve-racking at first, and I knew I'd have to face up to aspects of my life I'd prefer to overlook. Yet the course was a turning point and by the time it finished I felt confident I could control myself.

Then, two years later, I hit my husband again. I had become complacent, assumed that I'd changed. So when I slapped his face for the last time, I was forced to confront the situation.

This time I told my family and friends what had been happening. That they didn't criticise or judge was a huge help. Soon after, I decided to go part-time as a lawyer and a mediator, and now I run a course to help people deal with anger and conflict.
My husband and I are still together, and I'm careful not to choose language that is aggressive. If i ever get angry and feel my heartbeat quicken, I leave the room, but that is rare.

I wouldn't claim our marriage is now perfect, but it's pretty good. It's a caring and gentle relationship, which feels like a big achievement for me.

  • As told to Jill Clark. Copyright Guardian News and Media 2010.

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A couple of comments:

What amazing courage this woman has shown in coming out publically and telling her story. I also applaud her husband for his part in helping make this happen as his journey must have been incredibly difficult. I for one would have no problem in going to see a lawyer who shows this level of honesty and commitment to working on herself. Well done and keep your honesty, it's delightful.
- Liz, Melbourne, Australia, 24/5/2010 6:35

Liz I wonder if it was a man explaining his violence towards a woman whether you would be "praising his honesty" ??

- trev, somewhere in France, 24/5/2010 9:28

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Re: It's the side of domestic abuse you rarely hear about. But here, one wife shockingly admits... I was a husband beater

Post by Cherry on 27.05.10 0:55

There is a distinct lack of help and support for male victims of abuse - most towns now have a refuge for women victims of domestic violence but only two refuges for male victims in the country I believe. There are also still sections of the Police who wont believe a man has been beaten up by his wife for no reason and tend not to believe the male victim. Much more needs to be done in this area.

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