True Life: My fiancé beat me black and blue By Simon*, 32 from London*All names have been changed You’d never think that the person you love would ever raise a finger to you. Everyone has the dream of meeting a nice guy who will care for you, treat you right and always be there for you. I met one of those guys. He was tall, attractive, made me laugh. I felt so comfortable with him. I ended up falling in love with him. Eight months into our relationship he asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes! Our happy life started to go bitter quite soon after we got a flat together. Michael* would ask me where I was going and who I was meeting all the time. He would get angry if I was home late or had to stay in work for longer than I told him. He became quite controlling and made me feel bad about not checking in with him on a regular basis. It came to the point where we would be fighting several times a week. Without realising, I was seeing friends less and going out less while spending more and more time at home with him. He would sit on the couch drinking and smoking weed telling me how much he loved me and that no-one would ever love me like he loved me. Then he started to comment on how I would dress, that I put on weight, that I was letting myself go. He was breaking me down bit by bit and I didn’t realise it. Then one night when I was asked to work late, I called him and asked him not to get mad but I had to work late. He was not happy and told me I wasn’t paying him enough attention and put work before him. I told him I’d get home as soon as I could. One of the girls at work bought some wine into the office that evening and we sat there having a few glasses as we tried to make our deadline. I didn’t mean to get drunk but I was quite tipsy leaving the office. When I got home Michael was very angry with me. He called me an alcoholic and told me I didn’t love him. At this point I snapped and told him to fuck off and turned to walk to our bedroom. Before I knew it I felt a thump to the back of my head. Michael had thrown a cup at me which made me fall to the ground. It cut me open and I was bleeding. I can still remember his face and how he looked at me. He was truly sorry for what he done and came over and hugged me. He started crying and asked me to forgive him. I told him OK and asked him not to do it again. A few weeks later, on a Friday night, we we’re staying in drinking and watching some Netflix, when I got a text from my friend Rob* who asked me to come to the 2 Brewers. I asked Michael if he wanted to go. He said no, but told me to go out and enjoy myself. This was the first time he had told me to go out without him in a long time. I had such a great time: I danced, laughed, drank and had fun. When I returned home I came back to a very different man. Michael was not happy and I could see it in his face. He asked where I was, and when I said the 2 Brewers, he didn’t believe me. He asked if I was chatting to anyone, if I kissed anyone. He took my phone and started checking my messages, my phone log. When I demanded my phone back he snapped and threw it at me hitting me in my chest. When I asked him why he did that, he screamed at me, went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. He said he was going to stab himself if I didn’t tell him the truth. I told him I was telling him the truth, but he shouted at me. I asked him to put down the knife and he did. I told him to come over to me and gave him a hug. At that moment my phone beeped. He pulled back, looked at my phone then punched me in the face. I fell back, knocked my head off the wall and passed out. My next memory was waking up on the floor with sore ribs, a bruised face and a broken nose. Michael had beaten me black and blue. At this stage I had no idea if he was in the flat or not. After shouting for him I could tell he was not there, so I looked around for my phone so I could get help. I was able to call an ambulance and soon after they arrived I was asked if I could remember what had happened. I lied and said I didn’t. I felt ashamed and wanted to protect Michael. They brought me to the hospital where I was visited by the police and asked again what happened. At this point I couldn’t contain my tears and broke down. The police were very helpful and told me what my options were. With the support of my friends and family I finally had the courage to do the right thing. It took them two weeks to find Michael. Eventually he was charged and sentenced to eight months in prison for what he did. Looking back now I remember blaming myself for everything that happened. I thought it was my fault that he did that to me. It took me a long time to get over this, but now I can firmly see that I was not the problem in our relationship. I did not deserve the emotional abuse. I did not deserve the physical abuse. Michael was wrong, not me. I’m always asked how I feel about Michael now. I tell everyone the same answer. At one point he was the love of my life. Now I feel sorry for him. He’s messed up and needs help. I’m a much stronger person now because of what I went though. I hope someday I can forgive Michael but in the meantime I’m just going to get on with my life and leave him in the past. I’m now happy, healthy and enjoying life. My advice to you is the following. If you are in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, then do something about it. You are not at fault and don’t deserve it. Tell your friends, get their support and do something about it. Life is short and you deserve to be happy. SUPPORT Galop is London’s LGBT anti-violence and abuse charity. Galop gives advice and support to people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence or domestic abuse. If you are affected by Simon’s story then please get in contact either by calling 020 7704 2040 or visit www.galop.org.uk. Broken Rainbow – support for LBGT people experiencing domestic violence. Tel: 0300 999 5428. Men’s Advice line – a helpline for men who suffer from domestic violence and abuse. Call 0808 801 0327 – free from landlines and from mobiles using the O2, Orange, T Mobile, Three (3), EE, Virgin, and Vodafone networks) or email [email protected] HOW TO INCREASE YOUR SAFETY AND REDUCE THE RISK Domestic violence happens in same-sex relationships too. Just because it’s two men doesn’t mean someone is allowed to hit you or emotionally abuse you. No-one, whether gay, lesbian, bi, trans or straight, should be in an abusive relationship. There are some things you can do to help you reduce the risk from your abusive partner (or ex-partner). It is important to prepare in advance for times when you may be in danger or are being physically or verbally abused: Keep a record of dates and times of all incidents. If you have been injured, get medical attention from Accident and Emergency (A & E) or your GP and they will make notes of your injuries. Keep your phone fully charged and on you at all times and your credit topped up – in case you need to make emergency calls. Tell a friend or family member about what’s been happening. Keep your passport and copies of important documents in a safe place in case you need to get away quickly. Think about telling your employer about your situation. Always report the violence or criminal damage to the police. DO NOT RETALIATE - It's not safe Always try to avoid retaliating as it may escalate things and you might get seriously hurt. Think about how you can leave the situation when you recognise that the abuser may become violent to you. If you retaliate and the police are called it may be that they see you as the abuser and you could be arrested and charged, particularly if your partner has any injuries caused by your retaliation. Male victims of domestic violence often say that they are reluctant to involve the police; either because they don’t want the abuser getting in trouble or because the police will not believe them or take action. Most police stations have an LGBT liaison officer trained to offer you the best support possible. Advice supplied by: www.mensadviceline.org.uk.