Daniella’s Story

‘When I was married he liked to control everything, he thought it was what husbands were allowed to do…I felt I was a prisoner in my own home. I felt like a dog on a chain and I couldn’t escape. I was married and I was unhappy. He was violent and didn’t treat me right and he didn’t treat my family right either. He got nasty and nastier. Every day things just got worse.

When things got pretty bad I managed and coped day by day by trying to ignore him. I would do my own thing at home trying to ignore him. If he started nagging at me or whatever I would get in the car and go for a drive or go visit Mum’s place or friends – just to get away from him. When I got back home he would be sweet for a while then he would be back to the old nasty person. When we were together he was very strict about who I went out with. I couldn’t easily go out with other people, girls or guys – I had no life. 

When he went out to play his sport I would sit up and wait for him as wives and husbands do for each other. Half the time he would come home and say ‘Why are you up?’ and I would think to myself ‘I’m just doing what couples do for each other’. He hid money from me. I often thought where’s our money gone and it was hidden in his shed. I thought that’s not on. He spent money on what he wanted but I wasn’t allowed. He would hide money then spend money on crap that he didn’t need, he would later say ‘I don’t know why I bought that’. We were always broke. I told my family how it was in the marriage but I didn’t tell his family. They would have just been on his side.

How things changed I worked at a service for people with disabilities and they sent me to a relationship centre for counselling. I went to the service and they gave me a pamphlet about the local domestic violence outreach service. It was helpful to have information. I spoke to my family about how I was feeling. I have a good relationship with my Mum, Dad and sisters. I discussed with my family the information I found in the pamphlet, then with their support I decided to ring the number for the domestic violence outreach service that was on it. Speaking to the staff at the outreach service was most helpful. They gave me good advice and I wouldn’t have been able to go through all of this without them.

They supported me and my parents. I decided I would tell my husband to get out the door. I had my Mum, Dad and one of my sisters with me when I told him to go. Mum and Dad told him he should go home to his parents’ house for a while. After I kicked him out he kept coming around all the time and his attitude just kept getting worse and worse. I told him he had a lot of growing up to do. He said the same to me. He would call me a lot of horrible names, which I will not repeat, it wasn’t very nice. In the end I ended up calling him a few awful names myself I got so angry. We work in the same place, which made it very difficult. It felt as if he would never leave me alone. It felt as if he was stalking me still, which he was. He was watching me, watching who I was with, people that I know at work, who I talked to.

I had trouble getting an Intervention Order. I got one in the end, which is still current, but it didn’t make much difference anyway, he still did what he wanted. He just would not listen. He broke the Intervention Order a number of times; he still came down my street. I would report it and we would go back to court but it felt as if we were just wasting our time and nothing was happening. He’s a liar; he lied and lied all the way through. He harassed my Mum and Dad, he would ring them all hours of the day and night. One night he rang them seven times, it was unreal. I changed my telephone number to a private number so he can’t reach me.

One day he stalked me in his car. I was driving along in my car and he drove up behind me and kept driving his car really close. It was dangerous and scary. That incident had to go back to court. They went right through him but he kept denying it, just lying the whole time. One of my neighbours went down to the police station with me to report the driving incident. A couple of times he crept into my yard and shined a torch into my bedroom window. It scared the shit out of me – I was home alone. The neighbours saw him in my yard. Court was stressful for me and my family and the last time he didn’t even turn up.

After I kicked him out I was very determined to stay in the house. Mum and Dad asked me to come home to live with them for a while but I felt why should I have to leave? I have stayed in my house through the whole mess, I didn’t move. My Mum asked me to come home just for a week or something just to get away but I said ‘No way’. I thought I have my pet bird and my dog to look after. My dog has been with me through all of this, why should we leave? It’s our house and his yard and I think well no, my dog is protecting me and he’s protecting the yard. My dog has been with me through it all and protected me; he let me know if he heard my ex-husband around the house.
The most helpful thing about Minerva was having someone to talk to. Somewhere I could come to talk it out. If I felt like I wanted to cry I could cry, and when I did cry I could just let it all out and it felt really good after because I had none of that pressure or anger inside of me. When I did that it felt so good after and I would think at least I have let it all out. My mind felt as if it was working overtime. I think I got the help that I needed.

Before I started coming to Minerva I did talk to my husband. I said ‘Why don’t you get some help? If you can’t talk to your family go get help’ and he wouldn’t. So I said ‘That’s not my problem; that’s yours if you can’t get help for yourself.’ I said ‘At least I’m getting help.’ Now look where that helps has got me, today I live without any pressure or anything. When I did feel pressure I had my family, friends, Minerva Outreach and my lawyers. He just did nothing for himself; he said ’I know what I’m doing; I don’t need to talk to anyone.’

It was a difficult time for my family and me but we got through it. You just have to stick together as a family. I hope we never have to go through it again. I think things have stopped now, since the divorce, but if he does anything again I will go straight up to the police station. I have changed my surname back to my maiden name.
My bosses, supervisors and all my friends at work have been fantastic and supportive, they have all been there for me. My neighbours have been very supportive. I feel safer now I know they are there to help. The police have also said that if he tries to call or turns up I’m just to ring them straight away. With this support I feel as if I have no worries now. I am just glad he is not my problem anymore.

How my life is different now…
I got the house in our divorce settlement. My solicitors helped me organise everything. I had to pay him some money. The situation has changed for me now – it’s great, it’s fantastic, I feel as if I’ve got freedom, I can go where I want, do what I want. I feel as if I can go here, go there; which I have been doing and I don’t have all that nagging. I can go out and enjoy myself then go home to a peaceful house. It’s just fantastic and I feel as if I’ve got my freedom and I can do what I want, get home when I want. I can see the people I want to see. I get a little lonely sometimes and I still get little down in the dumps sometimes about things, but then I get over it

My advice to other women is turn to family and friends – I did. If you don’t have family you can rely on, then find someone you trust to talk to. Go to a women’s service – they understand and are there to help you. My work sent me to a relationship centre for counselling, and they told me about the local domestic violence service. Women with disabilities need to know where to go to get help.