Trigger warning: This article discusses domestic violence. If you need someone to talk to about domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT or visit White Ribbon Australia's website for more information.
Intimidating behaviour is uncool.
Whether it's hitting, grabbing, pushing, throwing stuff, slamming things or even flipping your lid in an uncontrolled manner, if it's scary in the slightest it is intimidating behaviour.
And that's seriously not cool.
Many people (I won't just say women but it is mostly women who are at the pointy end of this behaviour) think that if they are not actually being hit that it's ok, but I can tell you first hand that it is not ok.
When I was 19 I had a boyfriend who I thought was cool as s--t.
He was powerful with tattoos on muscles on top of more muscles. He commanded respect within his community (a group of Sydney surfers who have made the headlines time and again for all the wrong reasons … and then they went made a movie about them) and our lives were just a little bit crazy.
We partied a lot, and times were nutty.
When he and I were given the moniker 'Beauty and the Beast', I thought it was cool. I presumed I was the Beauty, of course.
If I were labelled the Beast, I probably would have thought it considerably less cool.
In the year and a half we dated, the police removed him from my house, after the neighbours called citing domestic violence, no less than three times.
I never pressed charges.
He was also questioned two other times for aggression not shown towards me.
You see, this dude of mine he had a bad temper.
I moved house twice because my flatmates would end up banning him from our house because of his aggressive behaviour.
He broke doors, smashed windows, and put holes in walls. My friends saw me belittled and pushed around and even threatened with a hammer.
My friends feared him, but worse than that, my friends feared for my safety.
I will never forget opening the front door one night to one of my best friends who took me by the head and rattled my brain.
"You're going to end up dead and I'm not going to watch it."
And she left.
And. I. Stayed.
Sure, he smashed stuff, but he only did it to emphasise his point.
He didn't really do more than push me around or threaten to punch me, and he was always sorry.
So very sorry.
Things came to a massive head in Bali when we were on holidays with a group of surfers.
He lost his temper one night out at a local bar. I left the venue and sought a safe place to chill until the storm passed.
A male friend, a little placid man, tried to protect me and hid me in his room.
When my boyfriend found us, I remember seeing my protector fly through the air after being punched in the face, so I left with this raging man who claimed to love me, before anyone else got in the line of fire.
We went downstairs to our room where he proceeded to unleash his wild temper in a display previously unmatched.
I remember the feeling of his hands tightening around my neck, squeezing the cords together.
I had been crying hard, but I wasn't crying now because you need breath to sob.
I could still feel the tears on my cheeks as I looked up into his purple face. His eyes bulged with his anger and spittle rained down on me as he yelled at me while he pressed his weight onto my throat as I was pinned to the bed.
And then black.
When I came to he was rummaging around, throwing things around and I dashed from the room while he was in the bathroom.
The proprietors of the hotel, who had seen or heard most all of this disgusting scene, quickly beckoned me to hide in a little, dark, rat infested hole in the wall behind the front counter where they stored rice.
The kind old lady pressed her finger to her lips in the international sign for silence as she closed the hatch on this tragic young girl.
I sat in there, wet with tears and snotting all over myself, listening to him raging around like a mad bull trying to find me, until I finally passed out, crouched in a corner.
I woke the next day in a bed.
Someone had carried me to another room and locked the door from the outside. I woke to the sound of the key unlocking the door and someone slid a tray bearing some tea and banana pancakes onto my doorstep.
My throat was covered in bruises but my ego had been beaten to death. I flew straight to my Mama in Melbourne where I stayed for a few weeks but when I returned to home, I also returned to him.
The truth is, I was scared to leave him now. Scared to stay and scared to go.
Quite the conundrum.
READ MORE: Eurydice Dixon's legacy: how her Facebook page will live on in the fight and right for women to be safe.
Then one day, I woke up and I thought –
I don't want this for my life.
Breaking up was hard.
He couldn't understand why I was leaving him.
He stalked me, and terrorised me at work trying to get me to get back together.
Further intimidation didn't really work in his favour.
I moved house yet again and ended up pretty much repeating the mistake with someone else who intimidated me in a different way, but that's another story. I think we can safely say I had a self-esteem issue in my early 20s.
My point is, I'm a smart, sassy, spunky chick, but at that time of my life, I didn't think I was worth more.
Domestic violence is not a scourge of a certain demographic, but an all-pervasive virus, that preys on women whose self esteem does not believe they are deserve better.
If you need someone to talk to about domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT or visit White Ribbon Australia's website for more information.
Danielle Colley is a staff writer who also writes at award nominated blog Keeping Up With The Holsbys. Read more here.
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