Suzie’s Survivor Story

  • All names and identifying information have been changed.

I met my ex through work, he was my boss.  I was 23 and he was 25.  He was charming, good-looking, very tall and powerful.  I found this all very attractive.

He pursued me.  At first, I wasn’t interested but he was relentless and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  He brought me to expensive restaurants and showered me with flowers and gifts.  He was extremely generous and eventually I fell for it.

From the very beginning, I knew something was amiss with the relationship but brushed it aside.  He made it clear that he liked to do his own thing.  He said he was very private and didn’t want people to know his business.  I soon came to realise the extent of this.  He was very adamant about having his own bank accounts and never opening his mail, or looking at his phone.  Throughout the 27 years we spent together, he was always very secretive. He didn’t talk about his family or his childhood.  It was a long time before I met them.

He was very successful, owning and running several businesses.

We married after a couple of years and had 2 children.  I became a stay-at-home mum.

The real trouble started after the children were born.  Although, the problem signs were there from the very beginning.

After I gave up work, I was reliant on him for an income and although he had plenty of money, he always left the household account very low, with just enough for me to buy groceries and pay for petrol.  Anything other than that, I would have to ask for.

Christmas time was always a big issue, as he didn’t like me spending his money on what he considered a total waste.

He took complete control over all money matters, including all household bills, school fees, anything to do with the children, absolutely everything.  He even limited the amount of money I spent on groceries and petrol.

He rarely took holidays with us and when he did, he would again like to go off and do his own thing.  He said he worked hard and deserved to do what he wanted.  He played golf every Saturday and Sunday and rarely spent quality time with us.  He took regular golf trips away with his friends.

He constantly put me down and slowly chipped away at every shred of self-esteem and dignity I had.

After the birth of my second child, things became extremely difficult for me, as he became violent and extremely verbally and emotionally abusive.

I wanted to leave but felt I had nowhere to go and had no money or income.  I did have a very supportive family but I was very embarrassed and ashamed and didn’t want to burden them with my problems.  I hid it from everyone, including my children, which I now realise was the second biggest mistake I made.

I should have left him and I shouldn’t have hid it from my children.

Although he was physically abusive, he was also very clever never to punch or hit me, as that would leave bruises.  Instead, he would trip me up, push me over, pull my hair, hold me down or pin me against a wall.  He has thrown things at me.  Kicked me out of the bed, locked me out of the house, driven the car at me, laughed at me, ridiculed me, and basically made me feel completely worthless.

He threatened that if I left him, he would take the children and ensure that I was left homeless.  I was in no doubt that he would absolutely do his utmost to make that happen.

I tried so hard to be a “good wife” in every way.  I always had house and gardens perfect.  His laundry and ironing were always up to date.  I tried to look my best at all times.  I tried everything but nothing worked – I was never good enough.  The more I tried the less he liked me.

I was terrified of him in every way!

I suspected he was having an affair or affairs.  When I confronted him about this, he laughed at me and made me feel like a complete idiot, which wasn’t hard.  Years later I found out he was having an affair and it had been going on for years and there had been others.

My family and friends soon realised what was going on and tried over and over again to get me to leave.  I was too frightened and exhausted to leave.  Also, having come from a close and loving family, I hoped one day, he would realise how lucky he was to have me and 2 beautiful children.  That never happened.

Throughout the years I was awarded 3 safety orders by the family law courts.  This didn’t seem to bother or deter him whatsoever.

When the boys were still relatively young I suspected again that he was having an affair.  He took the boys to the park and the cinema and they told me that one of daddy’s friends, a lady, was there too.  I was absolutely furious that he would do that to our children.  We lived in a small village, so I made enquiries and within hours, it was confirmed and I had her name.

I again confronted him and as I had information and her name, he couldn’t deny it.  I asked him to leave and after a few days he did.

Again, he was relentless, calling me day and night, sending me flowers and saying how sorry he was for everything and that he loved me and the boys and would do anything to make it right.  He begged me to let him come back and that everything would change and our life would be good.

I reluctantly agreed. We started marriage counseling and initially, it looked optimistic. He bought me a brand new, top of the range Mercedes, we moved into a big house and went on a fabulous holiday.

However, the money situation never changed and slowly he returned to his old ways.

Eventually, with the help of my sister, I decided to seek legal advice.  This was a massive step for me and took a huge amount of courage.  If he found out, I knew I was in big trouble.  I was terrified.  The Lawyer was extremely good and gave me good advice.  She advised me to get a job, open a separate bank account with a different name and address.  It took me several years, but I did it.

I’m Irish and the family law system, at that time, was different to Australia.  You had to go to court, with a lawyer, and seek a divorce,  it could take anything from 5-7 years.  Assets were not split 50/50.  I had a massive battle ahead.

I waited until my boys finished school, as I thought this was the right thing to do.  I then started legal proceedings.  We were living in the same house but in different rooms.  It was extremely painful and laborious as he was being very difficult and nasty.

He tried everything to stop me – being nice and buying me expensive gifts.  Booking an exclusive family holiday to visit our eldest son in South Africa.  Then when that didn’t work he would turn nasty, following me, hacking into my phone and downloading my emails and messages.  He tried to turn our children against me telling them I was trying to break up our family, showing them legal proceedings from the lawyer and saying that was not what he wanted and that we would all end up with nothing and nowhere to live if I continued.  This continued for 3 years.

Eventually, I went against my lawyer’s advice and moved out, as he was destroying me, I couldn’t eat, work, or sleep.  He was absolutely furious and said he was going to change the locks on the house.

That’s when things changed for me.  For the first time in 27 years, I could see hope and freedom.  I could do what I wanted and when I wanted.  It was still a battle with him but he realised I was serious and I was never coming back.

My children were very annoyed with me and didn’t speak to me for over a year.  I tried everything to repair things with them but as my ex is so manipulative and would do and say anything to get his way, it took a long time.

My youngest son is now 24 years old and we have a good relationship but unfortunately, my eldest son who is now 27 refuses to speak to me – I don’t know why.

I married again (my first love) and we are extremely happy.

My ex is living with the girl that he had one of his affairs with.  I recently found out that he has been having an on and off affair with her for over 20 years.  This made me both extremely sad, angry and frustrated.  However, I tried a couple of times to communicate with him to be amicable for the sake of the boys but again he was abusive and refuses to have any contact at all.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t leave him a long long time ago.  I thought I was doing the right thing for my children but I wasn’t and now I have lost my eldest son.  Hopefully one day he will realise the complete truth and return to me.