When growing up I was always the shy one who would sit at the back. Now I feel like I can tell it like it is – people can take me or leave me. That’s thanks to Emmaus. Staying here has given me the confidence to just be who I am.
I was married at 21 and had two children with my first wife. After that marriage ended, I moved back to London from Norwich, where I had been working as a bus driver. I went back to my mum’s house for a while, but then I met the girl who would be my second wife.
In the beginning, things were fine, but tension soon started to mount over money. I was paying maintenance to my previous wife, and my new wife also had children. She was very controlling and aggressive and I would just stand back and take it – both verbal abuse and some physical. She accused me of not looking after her and her family, of neglecting her. I felt conflicted on all sides.
For years I suffered in silence and told no-one, I just kept it all to myself. In my opinion, it’s difficult for a man to admit he’s a victim of domestic violence. It felt like a kind of weakness, and I just kept bottling everything up inside. The stress and strain got so bad that eventually I felt like I would explode with my high blood pressure. That stress has left me on medication for life.
I finally plucked up the courage to walk out in February 2009. I went to stay with my sister, who told me about Emmaus Greenwich. I stayed for just over a year, and started counselling while I was there. I felt better and moved out to live with another woman, but the cracks started to show after about 18 months.
Since coming to Emmaus Medway I have had more counselling, which has helped me a lot. My counsellor has taught me a lot about building myself back up, mostly by slowing life down and just taking one day at a time.
I’m also happy to say that I have met a lovely lady and we are engaged, though we’re not going to rush things. We have done so much talking and have found that we are of a similar nature and can support each other because we’ve been through the same kind of things. It’s really restored my confidence that she understands where I’m coming from and that she accepts me for who I am.