Domestic abuse affects children too
In a household where domestic abuse takes place, the abused partner is not the only victim; the children are the silent victims.
According to statistics in the U.K, 1 in 5 children is exposed to domestic abuse. These children are left with mental scars that can last a lifetime and affect every aspect of their lives. Christine was no different until she took charge of her life and created a better version of herself.
Her first female role model was her mother, a woman who had the nervous disposition of someone always under scrutiny, always held up to measure against standards that were always out of her reach. Her father was as physically and mentally abusive to his wife as he was to his children.
Extract from No Fourth River: “He intimidated and humiliated her in much the same way as he treated us,”
In this environment, Christine learned that a woman’s opinion and value was worth very little in their household. The man of the house ruled the roost and was always right. This had a negative and lasting effect on Christine’s life and impacted her first marriage, during which she endured physical and mental abuse herself, before being beaten into a coma.
It is shocking that at an early age, Christine describes the relationship with her father as “My father was the hunter and we were his defenceless prey.” Extract from No Fourth River.
Christine’s first marriage
Christine’s first marriage was a violent one that saw her beaten into a coma after 11 months of marriage and left her fighting for her life. Looking back, Christine’s violent marriage was a natural progression from her abusive childhood and wild adolescence.
Starved of love and affection, Christine fell into the arms of the first one who showed her some love and offered some longevity and commitment to their relationship. Because she was used to her relationship with others being abusive and selfish, the violence of her marriage was normal to her. Christine suffered through various humiliation, both in private and in public by her husband.
Example from No Fourth River:
He regularly took Christine’s car home while she was having classes in evening school out of
malice. The first time Christine called the police and reported her car stolen, after that, she
just took the train home.
Harry, Christine’s first husband was the typical abuser, he was a master at belittling and undermining his wife’s confidence. Although he wanted money, he was against the concept of working for his money. He wanted easy money, money he did not have to work for, money given to him in a lump sum, from his wife’s diamond magnate father.
He resented his wife’s ambition and willingness to better herself, to learn and to gain the skills needed to earn her living and to better their lives.
Extracts from No Fourth River:
“My earliest idea of love and marriage came from my parents, and that meant I thought of the whole thing as something of a misery—an enslavement of sorts.”
“We started arguing and fighting all the time but each time it would get bad, he would apologize. Harry was a master at apologies and I always believed him. I wanted things to get better.”
“Despite his apologies, his drinking and penchant for humiliating me became worse and worse the longer we lived together. He hated that I earned more money than he did. He simply could not cope with that at all.”
“He came from a lower social background and his parents were on benefits. He couldn’t stand that I found a job, that I was more successful than him.”
“…as someone who grew up being abused, I just wasn’t shocked by his behaviour.”
“He said he loved me. I made excuses for him and believed I could change him.”
“When he wanted sex, I agreed- whether or not I wanted it. Not that he really asked. It would be more accurate to say I complied without fighting back.”
“You never think of the person you grew to love for what they do but for what you think they are—and perhaps that was my biggest downfall.”
“My main problem was not that Harry was abusive and violent; it was that I was too afraid and full of self-doubt to leave him. Loneliness is the cruellest of all emotions and I avoided it to the brink of my own death.”
“I was the first woman in Belgium ever to have to pay alimony, so my lawyer told me.”