'MY HUSBAND INTRODUCED ME AS THE WHORE HE WAS MARRIED TO' Emotional Abuse Is as Shocking as Physical Abuse, the Pain and Damage Are Just More Difficult to Spot, Even for the Victims Themselves. Nigella Lawson's Recent Public Argument with Her Husband Brought Back Difficult Memories for Rebecca Who, from the outside, Also Looked like She Had a Perfect Life

Sunday Mirror (London, England), June 30, 2013 | Go to article overview

'MY HUSBAND INTRODUCED ME AS THE WHORE HE WAS MARRIED TO' Emotional Abuse Is as Shocking as Physical Abuse, the Pain and Damage Are Just More Difficult to Spot, Even for the Victims Themselves. Nigella Lawson's Recent Public Argument with Her Husband Brought Back Difficult Memories for Rebecca Who, from the outside, Also Looked like She Had a Perfect Life


Byline: Words: Busola Evans

When I met Ben on an online dating website in summer 2005, I thought I had struck gold.

He ticked every box on my imaginary checklist - funny, kind, from a similar background and ambitious - all my friends were envious.

Although I lived in London and he was in New York, things intensified quickly.

Within weeks we had moved from emails to daily phone and webcam calls.

We visited each other as often as possible and in the summer of 2006 I moved to be with him. Six months later we were married. My parents and friends were concerned things were going too fast but I assured them I knew what I was doing.

We then decided to move, which meant being further from Ben's parents. But in the run-up, he got increasingly moody and often yelled that I was forcing him away from his family. The day of the actual move he screamed at me and kicked a wall in frustration before throwing boxes across the room. Eventually he calmed down and tearfully apologised, blaming the outbursts on the stress of moving.

But things didn't improve. I got a new job as a marketing manager - and Ben grew more hostile. He hated the fact I wasn't at home when he got back from his job as a delivery man and that I earned more money than him.

He started trying to control me. I travelled for work and Ben would call me out of meetings saying I needed to return home as he was about to take an overdose because he missed me so much. But when I got home, he was fine. I always made excuses for his behaviour. I was in love and wanted to believe he would change.

At work and to friends I was a confident woman in control of her life but behind closed doors I was an emotional mess.

Ben was extremely manipulative. Once, he lent me his car to visit a friend two hours away. But when I was halfway there he called, swearing and demanding I bring the car back or else he was going to report it stolen. When I ignored him he left an onslaught of abuse on my voicemail and several threats to kill me. An hour later, the messages had changed to tearful pleas for forgiveness.

He often accused me of having affairs, called me a c*** and a bitch, and said I was fat even though I was a size 10. I was constantly walking on eggshells.

He also enjoyed humiliating me in public. Once I met some of his friends and he introduced me saying, 'This is the whore I'm married to'. It was his idea of a joke but I felt degraded.

I walked out on Ben about six times but he always lured me back with tears and the promise he was going to change. I never confided in anyone. Friends now admit they knew something wasn't right but never guessed the extent of the abuse.

People don't understand why I stayed with Ben but, to be honest, I used to think domestic violence meant being beaten up. Yes, there were times he got angry and was physically threatening - there were dents all over the flat from when he would push me against the wall and repeatedly punch it just inches from my face. But the emotional abuse was worse.

My self-esteem plummeted. I didn't want to admit what was happening even to myself because I was too embarrassed. I worried about telling my parents and the shame they would feel and how stupid I would look.

The wake-up call came 18 months after we married. We went to a public fireworks display and he got into a bad mood and whispered in my ear, 'I've got a gun and I'm going to put a bullet in your head tonight as you sleep. …

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'MY HUSBAND INTRODUCED ME AS THE WHORE HE WAS MARRIED TO' Emotional Abuse Is as Shocking as Physical Abuse, the Pain and Damage Are Just More Difficult to Spot, Even for the Victims Themselves. Nigella Lawson's Recent Public Argument with Her Husband Brought Back Difficult Memories for Rebecca Who, from the outside, Also Looked like She Had a Perfect Life
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