Guest post: "Domestic abuse silenced me - until I found my voice in a police cell"
For Emma*, writing provided clarity, purpose, and a way of processing her experiences
(*not real name)
Posted on: Thu 20-Oct-16 11:50:13
(51 comments )
I was arrested for the second time five years ago, and it was during the following period in a police cell that I found my voice. My arrest was in connection to accusations made by a man who had abused me during our relationship. I'd walked out months earlier, when he threatened to end my life while I was pregnant with my daughter.
And despite later being arrested at dawn as I tried to get my six-month-old daughter to sleep, despite sitting in a stinking cell with breast milk leaking through my t-shirt because my baby, who I had never been apart from before, needed feeding - I'd never felt stronger in my life.
I was ready to talk.
Before the abusive relationship, I wrote a blog – which I'm not allowed to name due to legal reasons. My online diary was a place I visited every now and then to try to make sense of what was going on in my then 20-something head. There was nothing much to say so I wrote about the job that I hated, the band that I played in, and the terrible men I dated. I put up some anecdotes and poems, but no one was reading.
I didn't have an agenda, or a 'story' to tell. I didn't know what it meant to have a 'voice' or what it was to 'find it', I was just talking to myself without purpose.
Then I found myself an abusive boyfriend and life stopped. I forgot about the blog. Domestic violence silenced me. I wasn't allowed to talk to friends, to talk back to him, to talk to him in a way he 'didn't like'. I look back on that time and I see a hunched woman talking low, unable to piece together my own thoughts. I couldn't even make eye contact, I'd speak in a shaky whisper.
I realised that writing through the abuse not only gave me the opportunity to exorcise demons but it gave me strength, clarity and something to stand for – no one was going to shut me up.
The first time he had me arrested had been when we were living together. And when the police released me from custody with a caution my shaky whisper turned to silence - but when he was asleep I logged back onto my old blog.
I wrote about how he had pushed me down the stairs, I wrote about how I had called the police, how when they arrived I was hysterical, terrified but so relieved to see them. I wrote about how my boyfriend had taken one of the officers to the side and how suddenly I was the one being arrested. I wrote about my confusion and how I asked for help that no one would provide. I wrote about that first arrest and about my miscarriage into the cell toilet.
Nobody read it, but I liked it that way. It gave me freedom. I logged every assault, every insult as I tried to make sense of it. I lived life in silence but on my blog I could offload everything that was destroying me.
On the day I left I was ten weeks pregnant. I uploaded a picture of myself; my lip was busted and the skin around my eyes was swollen and black. I was scared but also defiant. When I pressed publish it was me saying that I wasn't going to keep quiet anymore.
I documented refuge life, solo pregnancy, being stalked on Facebook by the man I had run from, and the numerous social media accounts he set up in my name. I published the constant stream of horrific emails he continued to send me months after I had left. And I wrote about giving birth, moving out of the refuge, the immense love I felt for my baby, getting to grips with motherhood and trying to get on my feet.
By then people were reading and I was starting to make a living as a writer. But when my daughter was six months old the police turned up with a warrant; they packed away my laptop, confiscated my phone and carried out all of my notebooks.
My abuser had made a complaint about my blog and I was arrested.
When the police asked me to confirm my name for the tape recorder I declared it with a clarity that hadn't escaped my lips in years. I heard my voice for the first time.
I realised that writing through the abuse not only gave me the opportunity to exorcise demons but it gave me strength, clarity and something to stand for – no one was going to shut me up. When the case was dropped I was given the freedom to use my voice and I made a pact with myself that I always would.
Five years ago I found my voice in a police cell and it showed me that you can find it in the most unusual of places, the darkest hours or pasts that seem better best forgotten – but once you find it, you must never stop talking.
Fantastic post brought tears to my eyes xx
Hi, I cannot write too much as not the best place. I know erm what things can be like.Solidarity!!
You are strong and amazing. I hope things are much much better for you x
Wow OP. So glad you found your voice again. I hope it all works out for you now. Solidarity from me too
Why the hell were YOU arrested and not him????
Well done OP for finding your voice. Your contemporaneous account will no doubt prove very useful, I hope, in convicting your abuser.
Also good that it's leading to work
Best of luck
Good luck to you, OP. I wish you all the best, and that that monster is out of your life forever - and your child's of course.
Wow. You are a strong amazing women. I hope that scum is out of both your and dds life for ever.
Well done for such a brave post. I too have been there.
My ex took policeman to one side and they had a conversation along the lines of "women eh, can't live with 'em,can't live without em"
Thankfully young policewoman was having none of it and carted him off while he was still protesting it wasn't his fault - while I had the imprint of a fire guard across my face!
Glad you've found your voice for yourself and everyone else still stuck in that position
Loved that. Thank you for sharing and good luck to you and your little family xx
Wow - so much of this post resonates with me. Thank you for sharing, stories like this helped me find my voice too and I'm a year down the line
Wow - just wow, how fucking amazing are you?! Keep talking - please
My sister is a survivor who had found her voice and it's amazing to see the change in her. I hope those close to you see the same kind of magnificent difference in your openness.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Well done you. So many of us are scared when it comes to talking about dv because sometimes what goes on behind closed doors sounds so unbelievable but it does happen. my neighbours called the police during an attack one night and I endEd up getting a caution for his spliff he left. Never mind the fact I had just had my head slammed on the floor! You are an incredibly brave admirable lady and it was lovely to read your post today xx
Wow, I wish I had your strength .Would love to get a chance to read your blog. What a failure on police side not to see that you were a victim of domestic violence .
Sounds as if you are healing and rebuilding your life, what courage .
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Need some clarity on why you were arrested for a blog please! Were you living in Iran or something?!
Seeing the heading of this post in "Active" compelled me to read. The level of abuse I was being subjected to also dawned on me in a very compelling way when, like you, I found myself sitting in a cell one Sunday morning, having left my very distressed autistic four year old in the care of his 17 year old sister as I had no other choice at that time (other than to allow him to be taken into care temporarily). The (false) allegations were made by my now ex-husband and the OW. That episode and extensive counselling made me realise how utterly abusive my marriage was. Despite now being divorced, it rumbles on and I suspect probably always will. I do hope your blog gets the attention it deserves, I would love to read it. Wishing you a bright and happy future free from control OP .