Your Voice, Your Story – How I Escaped a Violent Marriage

Meet *Valerie.

I met Valerie in an online group for mums. We didn’t meet when we had our babies but shortly thereafter and over the years she has shared tidbits of what she went through in her first marriage and now she has agreed to share her story.

I am astounded at the courage she has shown to go through that and come out the other side the woman she is today. She is sharing her story in the hopes that it will be able to reach someone who is in the same situation and help them to find the courage to get out. She is certainly not what you would think of as a typical victim which just goes to show that there is no typical in family violence. It could be happening to anyone. Chances are it’s happening to someone you know right now and you wouldn’t have the faintest idea. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. That is a very scary statistic.

We have included websites and helplines for Australian and NZ residents at the bottom of this post.

*Name was changed to protect privacy.


There was something about him.

Something that enticed me to leave my life and my friends; and move 800km away to be nearer to him.

He was adamant we didn’t live together before we were married. He said he wanted to do everything right so I got an apartment. Mouldy and damp, but in a great location, right on the corner of the 2 best streets in Melbourne. Life was good. I was working in gyms, teaching classes and meeting great people.

One night I got a call to fill in a class at 6am. The class was at a gym 2 minutes walk from his apartment, as opposed to mine some 2 tram rides away. I asked if I could stay. He said that would be fine.

That night he lost his temper. I can’t even remember why but I remember he threw a bag of wet gym clothes at me. It was heavy. It hit the wall. Not much, I know but enough to scare me. He was sorry of course … it was his guilt at letting me stay before we were married. There was only one thing to do. We had to get married.

OMG right?? I was excited. I called my friends back home. Their reaction was predictable: “You hardly know him!” “Are you serious?” His response was equally as predictable: “I don’t want you talking to them anymore”.

We moved back to his home state. I was accepted to finish my law degree and my parents had since moved there but I didn’t have the support of my friends and was too ashamed to tell my family that their strong willed smart kid was being bullied and hurt by someone she was supposed to marry.

There were other warning signs of course. It started off as control. Snide comments about my clothes not being appropriate. I wasn’t “allowed” to do a lot. I made friends at the gym where I worked and one of the girls invited me out to a club around the corner from my apartment. I wasn’t “allowed” to go. He framed it as ‘what would people think of him if his girlfriend was seen at a club with “those girls” ‘. I didn’t go. I was asked to fill in shifts at a pub because I had done it before. I wasn’t allowed to work in such an establishment. If I disagreed or stuck up for myself at all; he would yell, scream and throw things. I had very few friends. They were ‘our’ friends. It was easier to just do what I was told.

Leading up to the wedding, I knew it wasn’t right. He gave me instructions as to what I was to choose for my dress. No pink. Simple. He didn’t want me to look like a fat marshmallow. He told me if I was 1 minute late, he would walk (I’m notoriously late. Even now). If he smelt a whiff of alcohol on my breath, he would walk (so much for my champagne breakfast).

That sort of control isn’t normal.

I knew that; but I felt trapped. Like I had come too far and couldn’t back out. I know now that was because he destroyed my self esteem. He actually said that I would never find a man that treated me better because it was me, not him. Never him. (I have since found out he did this to both his ex girlfriends before me and also publicly humiliated a girl after me when they broke up; so I’m guessing nothing has changed).

It escalated when I started to question this control. I’m smart and independent. I worked to support myself while I went through Uni. I completed Law and practised as a lawyer. Not a wallflower by any stretch.

He didn’t like that. He threw things at me, at walls, and then started hurting me. It was slow, but it was like slow motion. I didn’t feel like there was any way out.

We were married on 27 November 2004. Even on the actual day there were reasons why I should have run. But I didn’t.

He first made the transition from throwing things at me to hitting me when I was 7 months pregnant. I tried to leave. I got in my car. He kept ringing me continuously until I eventually picked up. He asked where I was going. I said my mum’s (some 2.5 hours away). He said he would call my parents and tell them what I was ‘really like’ unless I came back. I didn’t know what this meant. I was scared. I went back.

On 15 January 2006 our daughter was born. He wasn’t there when my waters broke. In fact it took him close to 6 hours to get to hospital but that in itself is another story.

After my daughter was born, the violence stopped but the emotional bullying did not. But it was OK. He was tired. It would get better.

We built a house. When we moved in, I was sure this was it. That this was the start of our life together. We went from staying with his parents to being on our own.

Our new life.

Guess what? It wasn’t better. It got worse. The violence started again. I was working as a lawyer in family violence and living it. I would find myself cradling my toddler under a bridge at 3am because we had been kicked out of the house again. But who could I tell? He was a charmer… a good catch… and I was a lawyer… this wasn’t the profile…

With each incident it got worse. And worse. Punching the steering wheel while I was driving, pulling the handbrake when I was going 100km/hr; nearly breaking my finger. By this time our daughter was 20 months. She witnessed it. She was living it. At less than 2 years old.

I had to leave. But how?


I was living on an island state hundreds of kilometres from my friends. My parents were living in the UK. Predictably, he controlled my money. I had no access to the joint account but I received $50 a week to fuel my coffee habit.

So I started saving that $50 a week. I scrimped on groceries and saved those few dollars too. I stopped buying clothes for our daughter, syphoning the few dollars here and there into a new bank account I opened in my name. I told 1 person. My best friend in the town where I was living. Together we hatched a plan that we would save what we could and run (she was in a similar situation to me).

But there was one problem. I couldn’t leave the state without a court order allowing me to do so.

I knew this, and also knew that as a lawyer I would be made an example of and forced to return if I ran. So, I did what I never thought I would be brave enough to do. I confided in my boss (who had seen my bruises) and another friend who had her own family law practice. We drafted orders to allow me to leave and presented them to him with an explanation that if he didn’t let me leave, we would press charges. He let us go. Just like that. I had $550 to my name when I got on that boat on 23 February 2008 to start my new life. Luckily for me I was coming home to friends. To people who helped me get back on my feet. I survived. My baby survived.

People have asked me where I think I would be if I stayed. Honestly, I would be dead. He would have killed me. I truly believe that.

No matter how bad things are; you can always escape. I’m not saying it will be easy. It will be the hardest thing you ever do. But it will be worth it.

Are you looking for a way out? If you are in Australia you can find information at White Ribbon Association (Ph. 1800-737-732). In New Zealand you can contact Shine (Ph. 0508-744-633) or Women’s Refuge for further information and advice.


Linking up with: #IBOT @ Essentially Jess 

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27 thoughts on “Your Voice, Your Story – How I Escaped a Violent Marriage

  1. Such an incredible story, and one that would be so familiar to many women. I hope that even one of them reads this and is able to reach out to someone to help them xx

  2. Thank you for sharing this story it is incredibly powerful.
    We can never know what happens inside the four walls of someone’s home. When someone confides in you that in itself is a huge step. xoxo

  3. This sounds so similar to my experience with my ex-husband. Only I was lucky to get out of the marriage before we had kids {but only because we had fertility problems for years}. I was never allowed to go anywhere, I could only have married friends that were our friends and he always said he’d tell my friends and family what I was really like and that if I ever left I’d never find anyone that would love me like he did. I also knew it wasn’t right when we got married but I felt trapped. This is my story here – Its so scary that there are so many men out there acting the same way.
    Toni @ Finding Myself Young recently posted…Kidloland Educational Toddler App ReviewMy Profile

  4. What a terrifying, powerful story. The world needs to hear more stories like this, so hopefully one day there are less stories like this x

  5. Wow, that’s incredible. This lady had such a horrible story to share, but she wrote it so well. Thank god she got out when she did. But so many people don’t.

  6. Oh my goodness. Thanks so much for sharing. So many people go through this. Someone very close to us is going through something similar right now. Not as bad nor for as long. But it’s happening. Today. We are helping her to leave. She is showing so much strength. It’s stories like this one that help women find the strength to move beyond the barriers, the torment and the terror.
    Again – thanks so much for sharing.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit recently posted…Day 2406 – When it’s time to get back on the bikeMy Profile

  7. Thanks for sharing your story, anonymous! I grew up in a house where we had to fear our dad on a daily basis. We watched him berate my mum, belittle her, break down her self-esteem so she was never the same. The verbal abuse was the worst. But physical abuse was terrifying. I would beg my mum to leave him. She kept having his babies. She thought she was being a good christian wife. When she finally got up the courage to leave she had to use the neighbours phone in secret for a whole year because he tapped the phones, and there was no mobiles (pretty new technology back then). Even then my dad managed to wiggle his way back into our lives by apologising to my mum and saying he’d changed. It was hard to feel secure growing up. I know I have anxiety now because my brain has been trained to look for danger.
    Peachy Keen Mumma – Jess recently posted…We Will Rock You Review – The Musical By Queen and Ben EltonMy Profile

  8. This story chilled me to my bones. Thank you for being brave enough to share it, Valerie. I’m so glad you got away safely. #waywow

  9. So scary, but unfortunately,something I can relate to. While I wasn’t married, I had a boyfriend who acted similarly. I was able to get out of the situation, too, but sometimes, it hits me where I would be if I hadn’t. I’m glad that you got out, and got your daughter out.

  10. I am so glad you got away! Having witnessed domestic violence as a kid, then finding myself in a domestic violence situation as an adult, I can completely relate and am so glad you found a way out. It is one of the hardest things a person has to do but once you leave, at least for me, I felt like a whole new person! Thank you so much for sharing your story! #waywow

  11. Oh gosh, I am in tears. Just so glad you got out when you did and so sad you had to go through it. What a brave woman you are Valerie. Thank you so much for sharing and for showing your little baby, just how brave and courageous you are by giving her a safe life without him.

  12. Have faith in humanity, Valerie and move on to find a partner for life. Very few of us get what we want in the first try. For most of us, it takes a few beating to achieve our dreams, find our life partner, as in your case. So, fly away, and do not stop till you find what you are looking for.

  13. What a terrifying experience for you and for it to go on for years. My heart goes out to you. Good on you for having the courage to make a break. I hope all is well for you and your little one now.
    Renee Wilson recently posted…This is 39My Profile

  14. Thank you for sharing this story. It’s scary that DV can happen to anyone. There’s a myth that it’s the uneducated or the low SES communities where it is more prevalent but I’ve seen wealthy people become victims of family violence. It’s just hidden better. I’m so glad you got out.

  15. My first marriage was a bit like this. Nothing physical, but the mental and verbal abuse was horrible. It has followed me through life and it took a long time to figure things out. Most people thought that I was being crazy, that he wouldn’t do those things, I was exaggerating. Once he threatened to kill me, then people started to believe me.

    I am so happy that you got away, and that you have the chance to build a new life, not everyone does.

    Haidee, this is a great series, and I hope by reading the stories that people will be more empathetic towards those who are sharing and that those that are still trapped will be able to find the strength to get away. xx
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Behind The Scenes-Make Lemonade ShopMy Profile

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