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Coercive control Victim's living hell after husband subjects her to years of sexual and psychological abuse

If I done (sic) something that he thought was wrong then most times he would take me upstairs and lock the bedroom door on the kids and make me do things"

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Upset woman (stock)

Upset woman (stock)

Upset woman (stock)

Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse that many know little about.

There are no visible bruises or scars yet the pain and suffering of victims of controlling partners suffer in silence and live in fear of their lives.

Sara, not her real name, endured eight years of hell at the hands of her controlling husband she met when she was just 17.

He immediately began to gently ostracise her from her family and friends then, when he fooled her into getting pregnant, he took over her life.

“He told me he couldn’t have kids so we started having unprotected sex because I thought I was never going to get pregnant but it was a lie.

“It was so he could trap me and stop me from leaving and going away to university which is what I had planned to do, the control started at the very beginning but I was too blind to see it then,” Sara told Sunday World.

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“When I found out I was pregnant I was terrified, I thought he was going to go nuts because he would think I had been sleeping with someone else which I wasn’t.

"When I finally plucked up the courage to tell him he just acted normal and then casually admitted he had lied about not being able to have kids, it was a lie he said he told to stop me leaving him,” she revealed.

Once they moved in together he began to make every decision for her – what she wore, what she could eat, where she could go and who she was allowed to speak to.

“He promised me everything and wanted to be with me all the time and I stupidly thought then that he must really love me but looking back now he was grooming me.

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“When I found out I was pregnant and moved in with him - that’s when the fear came in. He would explode all the time, call me names and tell me how useless I was. If he didn’t like what I was wearing he would call me a slut.

“It really was a case of walking on eggshells. I tried everything to keep him happy, I even changed the tone of my voice, spoke quieter, just so I wouldn’t annoy him. I was terrified of him but I was young and I didn’t know any better, I didn’t even know then that it was domestic abuse and I was the victim,” the 30-year-old revealed.

The young mum lived under the constant threat of physical violence and endured years of sexual demands she only later realised were rape and sexual abuse.

“If I done (sic) something that he thought was wrong then most times he would take me upstairs and lock the bedroom door on the kids and make me do things. I did what he wanted, I let him do what he wanted but now I realise that was sexual abuse.

“I remember one time I thought I was having a nervous breakdown because of all the stress. I was lying on the bedroom floor and I couldn’t physically get up.

“I was begging him to take me to the hospital but he wouldn’t, he lifted me up and threw me on the bed. I know now what happened was rape and it wasn’t the first or last time,” she recalled painfully.

The man who professed to love her more than anyone locked her in rooms and left her for days on end with no food or electricity, locked inside their marital home.

When she tried to make a stand, to leave, he controlled her by threatening to kill himself, harm her children and brainwashed her into believing everything was her fault.

“I remember at the start when I threatened to leave him he stood with a syringe and threatened to kill himself. He was holding the baby at the time too so I knew if he did what he did he would drop the baby. So I did what he said and wanted.

“He never lifted a finger to me, not once, but he didn’t have to. He had me exactly where he wanted through fear.

“I could have walked, he opened the door for me once and told me to go but it would be without my children and I was never walking away without them and he knew that.

“He had me convinced that social services would come and take my children and that I would never see them again, that they wouldn’t allow someone like me to look after them on my own.”

Sara only escaped his evil clutches after he was jailed for other criminal offences.

“When I told my family they said it was domestic abuse and at the start I refused to believe that.

“It was only when I started talking and with the help of Women’s Aid that I finally realised that I was a victim. I was victim of sexual abuse, of rape and of coercive control.

The Belfast woman is delighted at the prospect of the new Domestic Abuse Bill going through next year.

“It’s desperately needed, if it had of (sic) been in place and coercive control was illegal I wouldn’t have suffered for so long, I would have been made aware more quickly.”

Sara has rebuilt her life – going to university, getting a job and buying her first home for her children.

“I am proud of myself for what I have achieved but I’m also proud of the old Sara because if I hadn’t have behaved the way I had, allowing him to do what he did he would have killed me and my children would have been left with him without their mummy.”

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