I’ve felt really sad this week upon hearing that Matt Newton has allegedly attacked his actress girlfriend Rachel Taylor. Sad for so many reasons. Sad for Rachel, sad for her family, sad for his, even sad for him.
A year or so ago, I wrote here about a girl I knew and loved that had been in a violent relationship, but had kept the fact quiet, even to those closest to her. That girl was actually me. I admitted this on air at my old brekkie job, and it was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever admitted so far.
It was also a really hard moment for one of my co hosts as he felt that because we were working together back when it was going on, he felt that he should have known, could have done something. But he couldn’t. Because I was too embarrassed to tell him it was going on.
My boss at the time was the only one that knew. I can’t even remember now when or how I told him. But he urged me to pack a bag, get out of the house, and go and stay at a hotel, which he’d organised. He acted in a way that I now know was exactly what others should do if they find out this is going on with a friend or relative. Get them away from the danger zone immediately!
But that’s the thing about violent relationships, when you’ve never been in one before, you just cannot believe it’s happening. It’s like a terrible nightmare that you just hope will fade away.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are reasons that women, or men, stay for a time in a relationship that’s violent, and that’s just a fact. What we don’t need to do, which so many do, is judge them.
Yes, the most important thing for them to do is walk away, but as most people who’ve been in a violent relationship will say, they thought perhaps there was something they were doing that was to blame. They were embarrassed to say it was going on. And that they kept hoping that things would change.
I personally felt that some of it was my fault because I was unhappy with myself, and angry as a result. I would challenge my partner, and I was a bitch at times, so it was easy for him to convince me his behaviour was a one off. I was to blame. But there is no excuse, and I was definitely not to blame. It started in his home when he got punched up at age 3. And it kept going. Became part of his life. And now mine.
Once he’d shared his childhood history, I then moved into feeling sorry for him. Grieving for the child that he was that had no one to save him. I wanted to heal that child’s pain, and make it go away. But that child was now a very strong, and very angry adult, so it made no sense for me to try and mother the child that wasn’t there.
I literally look back at shudder at this time in my life. I most certainly would never ever allow this to go on ever again. One push, one punch and he’s gone!
But it was my first time. I hope my only time. And I went through motions that I know others have done too. Others are doing right now. If you are reading this now I want to say to you, he, or she will not stop hurting you one day. It will get worse and you may die. You may end up in a wheelchair, scarred for life, and even blind as I once thought I’d become after having wax thrown in my eyes.
Risking these things because you feel sad, you feel empathy for them or you’re embarrassed of what others might think, just will not be enough for you to forgive yourself once it’s too late.