It was with a sick feeling in my stomach that I read Denis Waterman’s admission and justification as to why he hit his ex wife Rula Lenska. He differentiated between the fact that Rula was ‘hit’ and not ‘beaten’. His excuse? She was intelligent, she could argue well, he couldn’t win an argument with words so he lashed out. She was too clever.
I myself had to extricate myself in my early 30s from marriage to a man who became violent. To the outside world he was successful and charming. At home it became a different matter. He had to have total control over all his ‘possessions’. It seems that on marrying him I became one of them. The change in his behaviour towards me was dramatic and occurred only days after the wedding, and it something I was totally unprepared for. After the first incident I was in shock. I was successful in my career and had a hectic social life prior to my marriage. My world came tumbling down.
Who would believe that my handsome successful husband was violent towards me?
Who could I tell? As he said, because of his status who would believe me? At first I couldn’t believe it had actually happened, while in shock I wondered if it had even happened at all. The second instance was quick to follow. My crime requiring my first ‘punishment’? He realised that my company car was worth more than his – it seems that this was an insult to his education. My second ‘crime’? He dreamt that I was having an affair with a male friend. In fact my so called infidelity had occurred that very night in our home. The fact that we were alone together in the house and the friend had never visited was of no consequence. He dreamt it therefore it had to be true.
He was clever. He made every attempt to isolate me from friends and family (this was when we had fixed car phones but no mobiles). If anyone called for me they were told I was not at home. If I arranged to see friends he called them to say I had to cancel- telling me that they had called to rearrange. When he left the house he unplugged the phone and took it with him in the boot of the car, locking me inside the house. He called my place of work and told them I was too ill to come in. He visited my parents (alone) to say that I was having difficulty adjusting to married life, and that he had ‘lost his temper’ once or twice but that was no reason to walk away from marriage which was a commitment I had undertaken and should be for life, not a few short months.
I tried to see counsellors to try to make sense of the situation – he manipulated those situations too.
At this point I could find nobody to meet alone to start to explain what was happening and who would believe what I was going through.
Despite the odds I was headhunted by a company and decided to at least attend the interview. I thought that a change of role and location might enable me to make a clean break from him. Firstly he tried to call the company to cancel my interview.
Broken bones due to husband’s violence
His reason? The role I had been approached for would suggest that I was more successful than he was. As he was suggesting to people that I was timid and less than capable, an offer of a very good job would have dented his own credibility. And he forbade me to leave him! When his attempts at sabotage failed , as I was l leaving for my interview, he caught me by my wrist to prise open my hand to remove my car keys, then systematically bent back my hand and each finger until he had broken my bones. He then coldly called my father and said that I needed to be taken to hospital as there had been an ‘accident’. He then turned to me to say he was not sorry for what he had done, but was sorry that I now had proof. His next call was to a vet, where he informed him he was bringing in two cats (mine) to have ‘put down’. The vet refused. So I arrived at A&E in a taxi, with 2 cats in a basket to be met by father who was mortified that he hadn’t listened to what I was saying previously. In the space of 14 weeks since my wedding my weight had plummeted to less than 7 stone.
There are far more incidents than I have listed here, and I will never forgive my ex-husband for the time he called my parents to say that I had committed suicide ( after I had left him) and he had been informed – in fact he had somehow gained access to the apartment building where I was living and cut my phone line. He knew that if anyone called the phone would not be answered. I was interrupted from a perfectly normal evening at home by the family members living closest to me who were dreading the situation they were expecting to find. I was totally oblivious to the drama and upset he had created on this occasion.
Does a woman ever deserve to be hit?
So, do I think any woman deserves to be hit- clever or otherwise? Absolutely not!
I did get the job- even though my arm was in plaster for my interview with the MD, and I did move my life onwards and upwards. On my first day in my new job a brick was thrown through the window of the flat I had just moved in to. I was effectively stalked for some time. There were times when I needed police protection.
The psychological scars of what I went through remained for years. I no longer trusted my own judgement when it came to personal relationships. I remained single for more than a decade but did eventually meet and subsequently marry a man who was very understanding but who I kept at arms length for a long time before I felt I could trust him – and my own judgement again. But that was the decade when I probably would have had a family had I been in a relationship. During that period my career went from strength to strength. I formed great friendships and travelled extensively .
Moving on from domestic violence
You can move on from domestic violence, but it is not easy. Fortunately in my own case once friends and family realised what was happening I received a tremendous amount of support. But 20 years on I still react to accounts like that of Denis Waterman. Like Denis Waterman, my ex husband was quick to tell everyone initially that my accusations were untrue, and that it was my fault that my wrist and fingers had been broken. It was not his fault. He tried to blacken my name in the industry I worked in. Fortunately few believed him.
I have every sympathy for Rula Lenska, and no time for Denis Waterman’s excuses.
The contributor of this story has asked to remain anonymous, but wanted to share her thoughts and experience in the hope that it may help others finding themselves in the same situation move on.
Photo credit: Kenfoto