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One a day Live

'I closed my eyes and he slapped me across the face'; 3 women share domestic abuse experiences

Three women have spoken out about their experiences of domestic abuse, writes Denise O'Donoghue.

Survivors Lisa, Sarah and Orla told their stories on the Ray D'Arcy Show on RTÉ Radio 1.

Lisa described the emotional abuse she endured from her partner, which started after she suffered the loss of a parent.

"I met him a year after my mam died and I think that was crucial to my story, really, that I was in a very vulnerable place. My mam died very suddenly at a very young age," she said.

"A couple of months after I met this man who was like a knight in shining armour. He came in, he swept me off my feet. Everything that I ever wanted was handed to me on a plate. It was so seductive. He put me on a pedastal. I fell for him, hook, line and sinker."

Lisa said her partner started to change after a few weeks, telling her that she was common. She recalled a time that they were in a restaurant together and she offered him a glass of wine.

"One of the vulnerabilities I always had was [the belief] that I wasn't good enough," she said. He played on this fear from an early stage.

"He just looked up in horror at me and went Put. That. Bottle. Down. Now. And I put it down nervously and asked what's wrong. He said, we are in a really nice restaurant and you have just embarrassed me. He said, you're so common and ignorant you don't even know that no lady would ever pour her own glass of wine, they wait for it to be poured for them'.

"He said it's ok, it's because I like you so much I can forgive you, but don't ever do that again.

"I look back and I think, why did I not walk out at that moment?"

Lisa said things came to a head after they were married and she became pregnant.

"We got married, we started trying for a baby and I got pregnant, and that's when things went completely pear-shaped. I was trapped and there was no way out for me."

She said she felt too ashamed to report him to the gardaí.

"I wouldn't even tell friends, I'd never have gone to the guards.

"The shame was that I had allowed a man to do that to me, that I was one of these weak women, that I was just one of those women that got beaten up by their husbands. It felt like I had failed.

"By the time you're in that position, you've already lost, you're already a shell of yourself, you already feel unworthy."

Lisa attempted to take her own life and a nurse in the hospital phoned Women's Aid on her behalf, getting her the support she needed.

Sarah met her ex-partner through friends of hers while grieving for her father. She said he showed her a lot of attention that made her feel amazing in the beginning.

She discussed the psychological abuse she suffered. When it was at a particularly bad point Sarah moved in with him, hoping it would fix their problems, showing this person that she did care. However, that was when the physical abuse began.

"He had a really good way of making people feel sorry for him," Sarah said.

Now, Sarah says that when she thought she was being composed, she realises now that she was being compliant.

"It's not until afterward that you step away that you can see the huge gap between who you were and you've become."

Each of the three women said they felt isolated from friends and family.

Sarah spoke of how plans made with friends were always ruined, so it became easier to not got out with them as she always worried about going home,

"Sometimes it's not worth it to come home, and have to go through that again, so you change yourself like that, stop doing the things you like," she said.

Orla was much younger when she was in a relationship with her ex-partner.

She endured psychological abuse stemming from her reacting to him texting an ex. Seeing her reaction, he realised that he could get to her.

When in college, Orla, who was an Access student, would receive texts from him that hit her emotionally, saying things such as 'How did you even get into college, do they accept people like you? I can't believe they let poor abused kids in'.

Orla said when you love a person, it's not easy to get out. Orla's first experience of physical abuse at the hand of her partner was around his birthday,

"He leaned in like he was going to kiss me. I closed my eyes and he slapped me across the face," she said. She said that once he choked her to the point that she nearly passed out.

Listen to the Ray D'Arcy Show's domestic abuse special here:

Women's Aid can be contacted at 1800 341 900 or at womensaid.ie