Sean's personal story
Sunday, April 28, 2019
One in Three Campaign

We were married for 13 years. I was in the Navy and she was studying her VCE as an adult student. We were both 20 at the time. We had a great relationship for the first year or so, but then she started to show her violent side. She would kick, punch and scratch. I had ashtrays, plates of food and even dog poo thrown at me. One Sunday morning when we were living in Rockingham, WA, I was cleaning out the shed. She came out and demanded I go into town and buy more Chinese food for her and her cousin, visiting from Victoria. I refused, for two reasons. The Chinese restaurant we went to the previous night was not yet open, and I was filthy from cleaning out the shed. As I bent down to pick up a piece of timber, I felt a thud on my back, which at first I thought was a punch. After a few minutes, the area where she hit me began to sting, so I went inside to look in the mirror with my shirt off. I couldn't get the shirt to come up over my head, and when I looked, I found that she had stabbed me in the back with a fork, which was pinning the shirt to my back. The fork was buried so deep, I had to use as much force as I could to pull it out. It also had a pork & prawn dim sim still attached. I just carried on cleaning outside, and didn't give the stabbing much thought. The next day, I felt sick and went into the Base Hospital to see a Doctor. The doc straight away could tell what had taken place, and said I needed to report it. I refused and begged him to just leave it alone – just treat my injury. He said the fork just missed my spine, and the wound was infected. He cleaned it out, patched it up and I went on my way back to work.

At other times, she would get drunk or stoned on marijuana, and lash out with her nails when I refused to have sex. She would ring me at work and tell me when I got home, the dogs would be dead and cut up because I refused to have sex. I told her many times that it was not right, and she needed help. She overdosed on Valium and Largactil several times, each time ending up in the psych ward at the hospital for weeks. I stayed because I thought she needed me, and we were both in Perth, thousands of kms from our families. The ODs continued, along with the violence.

In 1995, I left the Navy and we moved to Adelaide to be closer to my family. I bought a Jim's Mowing franchise, and I was working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, earning great money. I left the banking to her, as I was too busy. After a couple of months, I discovered she had been depositing the money into the Pokies, not the bank. When I confronted her, she tried to stab me again, this time with scissors. As the months went by, I became more and more depressed with the combination of running a failing business and coping with being freshly discharged from the strict regimented life in the Navy. By Christmas in 95, I was suicidal, and in the Daw Park Repat Hospital Psych Unit. I was also going bankrupt.

After a year of not working, I finally found a job driving buses. Most of my shifts were afternoon shifts, so I was not normally home for dinner. There were several occasions where she would wait at the stop where I would have my meal break and beg me to just leave the bus where it was and come home because she felt lonely. It made working very difficult. In 1997, after many years of trying, she finally fell pregnant. I thought maybe having a baby would settle her down. 18 weeks into the pregnancy, she began bleeding and went into labour. We lost the baby, and the doctor believed it was due to a weak cervix. This happened again twice more, the second baby again lost at 18 weeks, and the third at 22 weeks after a cervical stitch was inserted. Her and my depression deepened greatly. In 1999 we moved to Vic, where I began a career as a Prison Officer. We also discovered a new technique which gave us a final shot at having a family - an Abdominal Cervical Suture, basically a big drawstring around the womb. We had it done, got pregnant and at 36 weeks had a beautiful baby girl. The suture was meant to stay in, but was causing great pain, so she had it surgically removed. During surgery, the surgeon nicked her bowel. 4 weeks later, her bowel ruptured and she ended up with a colostomy bag.

The abuse started again, as she had become addicted to opiates, smoking marijuana, drinking and using the colostomy as a form of abuse – she would deliberately take it off in bed and let the contents leak all over me. I spent many nights cleaning up shit in the bed and all over the house. I still stayed, because now I had a little girl who needed me. The colostomy was reversed after 6 months, and she was again put on even stronger pain meds. I had to install a secure medicine cabinet in the bathroom to prevent her from over dosing on opiates. With this, she then began calling 000 for an ambulance at least once a week for “chronic pain”. She'd get a shot of morphine in hospital and me and baby daughter would drag our arses out of bed in the middle of the night to go and pick her up.

The final straw for me was when she kicked me out of our home on several occasions, and I was forced to sleep in the local park at night. She would pass out on the back porch from all the drugs during the night, so I would sneak home, have a shower and get ready for work, and take my daughter to a neighbour's to go to school. At the end of the day, she would have no recollection of what she had done.

At night, she would fall asleep at the sink while washing the dishes. She would come into the bedroom with a knife and tell me when I went to sleep she would come in and slit my throat. One night, I left, with basically the clothes on my back and some uniform for work. We divorced, and to get back at me, she allowed the family home which was still in my name and hers, to go into foreclosure. She had gone bankrupt, and therefore was not liable for any of the debt, including the Mortgagee Insurance. I was left to pay. When I would visit to see my daughter, she became violent. On different occasions, she threw a treasured picture from my childhood at me, smashing the glass. She kicked my car door as I was getting in, trapping my head between the door and the body. She attempted to reverse over me in the driveway as I approached the house one day, just missing me. She was going as fast as she could in reverse, with our daughter in the car. All of this was reported to Police, who said there was nothing they could do as it was a “Domestic Dispute”. They also knew that I was a Prison Officer, and basically told me to harden up.

Fast forward a few years, and the abuse continued in the form of having IVOs brought out against me by my daughter, under the guidance of her mother. I have not seen my daughter for more than two years, except in court. My current partner and I have two children, who also miss seeing their sister. She is now 18.

In August 2018, my ex wife passed away suddenly from a blood clot on her lung. For the first time in years, I am finally free of her abuse. I went to her funeral, expecting to be glad to be there. Instead, I was a sobbing mess, not because I missed her or her presence, but because I realised I was grieving for the life she took away from me for all those years. The life I could never get back. The years without seeing my daughter. The years I suffered mentally and financially because of her ongoing campaign to bring me and my family down. I am finally free to tell my story, because, after all these years, her hold over me was still so strong that I was afraid of the consequences if I dared speak out while she was still alive.

Not everyone you lose is a loss.

Article originally appeared on One in Three Campaign (http://www.oneinthree.com.au/).
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