George's Story
I want a way out - After that I went from relationship to relationship

After that I went from relationship to relationship, looking for love, I suppose, but on my own terms. In some of those relationships there was violence, in others there was not. Usually it was sparked off by what I considered to be humiliating comments. I chose that to be my trigger.

At the age of 30 I thought I really had to settle down. I got into a relationship that was very stressful but I stayed because of that thought. Even on the first date, when I was five minutes late because I’d been dropping my daughter off, she barrelled into me. She was a strong personality and gave vent to her anger. After a while I stopped holding back and started arguing with her, and that would just accelerate her. I’d met someone like myself!

One of the worst incidents happened on a Saturday afternoon when a friend had come over to watch a boxing match on television. I loved the feelings boxing instigated in me – pure rage! The fight was about to start and Sheila breezed through the door and asked why I hadn’t done the dishes. I told her “there are only a couple of plates there”. But she said, “Get up now and do them”. I said, “But the fight’s about to start!” I wasn’t feeling angry, I was feeling distressed because she was humiliating me in front of my friend.

She went over to the television and flicked it off. I told myself “don’t lose it” and turned the television on again. She turned it off again. I grabbed her by the hair, marched her down to the bedroom, threw her in and shut the door. She was at the television again before I could even get back! I dragged her towards the bedroom again. My mate was saying, “Stop this! I’ll go home!” But by then I was in a rage.

I threw Sheila into the bedroom and jumped on her and stuck my knee into her solar plexus to immobilise her for a while. I said “don’t come out”, but she did, and she grabbed the television, threw it on the ground and said “what are you going to do now?” Then it was all on. I hit her and started sticking the boot into her. My friend intervened, and I started on him too.

After that incident, it just built up steam and I was at my most violent with her. The curious thing is that she tells me we had a beautiful relationship and that some of her happiest times were with me, but I was at my worst with her. She was always creating drama, and I was trying to settle down. I lived in fear of her because I didn’t want to ruin the relationship by not doing what she wanted. And I felt I became almost girlish trying to keep the peace. I started to understand my Dad in a way.

Then I realised I might kill her, and I had to get out. I decided I needed to find some clarity, some balance. Surely every man was not as psychotic as me – actually willingly preparing to harm or kill people, and thinking about these things on a daily basis.

I had issues around seeing my daughter from my first marriage and a lawyer said to me, “You’ve got these legal problems about access, but really you are coming to an age where you have to start thinking about yourself and what it means to be a man”. He was head of a group that dealt with men’s issues, but he was a shrunken little old figure and he looked as if he’d been whipped into submission, and I thought “who’d want to be like you?” I wasn’t ready to hear those kinds of things, but I never forgot his comments.

Others suggested counselling for my anger problems, but I equated counselling with being mentally ill, so I dismissed that. A good friend used to say to me, “You’re not fighting against these women, you’re fighting against your mother”.

I started to wind down my relationship with Sheila. She sensed it and modified her behaviour. She said she loved me and promised to reform. I always made the woman feel it was all her fault. I knew sometimes it was my fault, but I wanted to dump all the guilt on them – if you hadn’t done this and this, I wouldn’t be doing this and this.

Before I left a relationship, I’d always have another female waiting in the wings. This time it was an Indian girl, Marina. She asked me to marry her because she was about to be sent home to an arranged marriage, and I did love her. There was a lot of interference from Sheila because she wanted me back. She sent me fake letters saying that Marina had been a prostitute in Australia and things like that, and she used to tell me that if I didn’t come back I’d never see our son again. But I wanted to be fully settled and I thought I could be with Marina. We had a couple of beautiful children.

But she used to tell a lot of lies. I had an accountancy business by then. When my business partner got married, he and his wife, who was also Indian, came round for a drink. We men went out to watch a boxing match, and while we were away Marina told this woman all sorts of lies about my business partner – that he’d slept with prostitutes and so on. When we got home, she was in tears, saying she wanted to go back to India. My friend was beside himself.