Women’s Wise Words


I was 29 when I started seeing PJ who had been part of the same circle of friends. I was surprised when he asked me to marry him. We had been dating for two weeks. The pattern of coercive control behaviour had begun. 

I was a freelance professional, he spent more time on the dole than in blue-collar work. 

I moved in six months later. He was behind on his mortgage repayments.I paid the arrears. Within weeks I was pregnant. He rang up another substantial bill telephoning sexlines. I paid. 

He promised not to do it again but his work situation was chaotic. 

I had an emergency c-section, went back to work early as we had no money. I’d come home and find he’d ‘gone to the gym’, leaving the baby with a childminder, who I had to pay, or else the house was in chaos, and dinner uncooked. 

I felt I had to try and fix the father of my child so I took over responsibility for everything. We got married, moved – that mortgage was solely in my name as he hadn’t paid a car loan – but his pattern of coercive control behaviour particularly financial control intensified. . 

We had another child. He started businesses, which collapsed, and drained my finances. He spent months in bed, ignored or fixated on one child or the other, engaged in reckless behaviour, overspending, taking drugs, abusing alcohol, and constantly criticised me, my family, my friends, my work colleagues. Outwardly, I had everything but I was a bundle of nerves and worry. 

After our youngest got sick, we moved again. He lost his job while we were waiting for the new house to be completed. I got a job. Never holding down a regular job, he joined pyramid selling schemes and used my credit cards to buy clothes and treat his friends from the gym. 

Our teenager was mortified by Dad’s behaviour while the eight year old was confused. Both kids were bullied about his strange behaviour, We were all scared, walking on eggshells. He threatened to shoot us, himself, burn down the house with us inside. 

In 2008, he went on and off antidepressants prescribed by the GP, and after a crazy 24 period, he admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital.. He rejected his diagnosis, bipolar and narcissistic personality disorder. He walked out and never went back for treatment. Days later, when we were alone, he threatened me with a knife, I left and got a series of barring orders. 

PJ stopped paying maintenance when he was jailed (not for domestic abuse). His financial coercive control meant I was forced to sell the family home because he refused to sign any mortgage documents.

I am now divorced without savings or private pensions as I had to use them to bring up my two children who are now adults. My experience has taught me a lot and I now work in domestic abuse research. I am 56 and happy in a new relationship.