To help with understanding why it’s not as easy as people think to “just leave”, I will be writing a few memoir collections on my abusive ex.
From here on in, I will refer to my ex as Ben, after Ben Affleck, because I have an irritational hatred for Ben Affleck.
There’s a lot of reasons to hate on Ben Affleck, like how he ruined Batman, and that time he sexually assaulted Hilarie Burton on live TV, or the millions of times he chose to protect Harvey Weinstein instead of the women he knew Weinstein was assaulting.
But I’ve always hated him, even before I knew all of that, and he ruined Batman, and it’s become a running joke with my husband, because I hate that I love his brother, Casey Affleck, as an actor so much (even though he’s problematic as fuck), that for a while I used to say that it wasn’t fair that Ben Affleck deserved so much hate from me for no reason just because he was really bad in Daredevil, but there was literally a reason to dislike Casey Affleck, but I actually thought Casey could act, and then I learnt that Ben Affleck is trash, so my ex’s new name will be Ben.
After Ben Affleck.
Hate that guy.
These posts will come with a lot of trigger warnings following all aspects of domestic violence. As always, there will be contact numbers at the bottom of the page. I urge you to reach out, to anyone, if you are concerned about your relationship.
Ben, who had become increasingly more possessive, obsessive, and controlling, arrived at my parents’ house the next day. It would be a short trip – he had to go back to work the next day – but its purpose was designed to remind me of my place.
There’s a key element in this story that helped to unravel Ben – my parents had very recently just finished building their new house. But, for now:
Ben turned up, late, because he’d never planned to come, and like I said, he was working.
But reminding me of my place was also very important.
I had sex with him that night – if you can call resigned, please-don’t-hurt-me-more sex, sex – and in the morning, it seemed like things were okay.
I remember feeling so relieved, like everything’s going to be okay.
To be honest, if he hadn’t done what he’d done next, I might have fallen back into his trap, where I saw the “Good Ben”, not the bad one. He’d done it before, and trust me, the truth is hardest when you have to face it – and the consequences that come with it.
Foolishly believing that things were somehow magically good, I went to have a shower.
When I returned, Ben was screaming at me – words I couldn’t quite understand, but I could catch some of them – like “slut” – and the ones I didn’t catch were obvious, with the amount of venom in his voice – I knew something had gone very, very wrong in the time I’d left to go shower and return.
I was terrified, but I was also confused.
What the fuck had happened in ten fucking minutes?
It had turned out, that when I thought everything was fine – because I was still fucking that naïve at that stage in our relationship – he’d only pretended, so he could go through my phone.
It wasn’t the first time.
I’d caught him doing it more than once.
He’d delete emails and messages he didn’t want me to read.
People would reference things I wouldn’t know about, because he’d removed them, or the message.
I’d always been too terrified to ever really approach him about it – more often than not, he’d leave my chat settings open on something he wanted me to see – so I’d never asked before, because poking a sleeping dragon with a stick didn’t seem smart.
When I finally got the answers out of him – it was because Ian was in my contacts, or he’d sent a message, or I had. Nothing in particular, the type of message to say ‘Hey, this is my number’. Like I said the night before, my phone wasn’t working properly. Some of the buttons hadn’t worked properly – I’d had to call someone so they could text me the number for the taxi service because I couldn’t enter numbers – so if I’d given out my number, I would’ve asked people to message me, because I wouldn’t have been able to enter contacts myself.
There wasn’t anything in the message, just like there had never been anything in any of the other messages.
But this time was different.
I don’t know why.
Maybe he sensed that his behaviour had gotten too much for me, and I was pulling away.
Maybe he thought Ian was a threat.
I take that back, because to Ben, everyone was a threat.
He’d recently stopped speaking to me for three days because my friend, Gavin, had rubbed my sore shoulder. I can’t remember what I’d done to hurt it – but I was with B, my bestie, and her now-husband, Mick, who is Gavin’s bestie – so it probably involved tequila.
Anything I can’t remember and I’ve been injured with that involves B, also involved tequila.
Even though he had literally told me it was okay for me to hang out with Gavin because “I’d never leave him for Gavin” (he based everything on looks, and he thought he was better looking than Gavin, therefore, in his mind, Gavin wasn’t a threat), but because I’d allowed another man to touch me, that meant I had to beg for his forgiveness.
For three days.
So when I say “Maybe he thought Ian was a threat”, it’s because he must have thought Ian really was a threat.
He knew I was unhappy – it’s why he got me the tickets to Fiji, but spoilers – so maybe, with the amount of time I’d been away, and his recent appalling behaviour, Ian became a much bigger threat.
I don’t know.
I’m not a psycho, so I can’t tell what it was.
After a bit, I managed to calm him down – apologising, pleading and begging – and then he brought up New Year’s, again.
I told him what I’d told him months ago – I’d spent last New Year’s with him, taking time off work to do so, but this year, I wanted to be with my best friend. We had plans, B was throwing a party, and like he always had been, he was invited – but I’d also made it clear if he had to work, or wanted to go out with his friends on the coast, that was cool, too.
Ben didn’t like this idea, and while we fought, I refused to budge.
I don’t know why.
Ben didn’t have much of a choice – he had to return to work that afternoon, so he told me he’d consider coming, and I reminded him that he’d never requested time off for New Year’s Eve, so he was working until late, so maybe he should stay on the coast and go out with his friends, because he hadn’t planned differently, and he made a big show of wanting to spend it with me before he left.
That afternoon, I started drinking wine, and then I made the very first call that would spark a domino event, the countdown, until our breakup.
I called my best friend, B, and I asked her if it was normal for someone to constantly yell at you.
She didn’t understand.
I gave her an example of something that had actually happened, and I asked her, ‘Well, does X ever yell at you if he accidentally trips over something?’
She still didn’t understand.
‘Like, you mean he yells fuck?’
And then I explained no, I meant more that he would yell at you for a messy room – even though it’d been his laptop cable he’d tripped over, and you were constantly trying to clean it, though last time he’d yelled at you because you’d found drugs during your clean and you’d dared to confront him about using illegal drugs – and then he threw that very same laptop at your head (I ducked. I might be terrible at sports, but I’m excellent at ducking).
B then did what all great best friends do.
She said, ‘I’m coming over, and you’re coming to my place. We’ll watch all your favourite scary movies, we’ll stop at Hungry Jacks’ – this was big, because I loved Hungry Jacks, because I thought their burgers actually tasted like something that wasn’t ass, but B loved Maccas – ‘and get drunk in my living room.’
And that’s exactly what happened.
My mum knew something was up when I was drunk in the afternoon, and B picked me up. (I don’t actually drink very much, or very often.)
She was starting to suspect Ben, though she didn’t know of what yet.
And I started telling B some of the things that had happened, the things I’d never told anyone before.
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