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2002-09-18 Julie and her life of abuse and violence

A little while back, I told you of some of the amusing comments we get after our shows.

 

A little while back, I told you of some of the amusing comments we get after our shows.

 

I also mentioned in that column about a more serious after-show experience when a lady called Julie from Birmingham had come to the CD-signing table and broken down, opening up her entire past to us. Hers was indeed an horrific story of domestic violence, one which she has now happily left behind. She now helps others who have been in similar situations, and it didn't take much convincing to share her story with you.

 

Domestic abuse can take many forms, whether physical, mental or sexual. Some people may only be affected by one or two of these during their lifetime, but many endure all of them. This is Julie's experience :

 

Her first recollection of sexual abuse came at the age of four when she was raped by two of her adult cousins. During her school holidays this became a pattern, so much so that she took it to be the norm. When at home, supposedly in the safety of a loving family, she was beaten, and at school she was bullied! She says she simply cannot remember a day where some form of abuse was not happening. On her 16th birthday, Julie was raped at knifepoint by a total stranger. She still has those injuries and this summer is actually having plastic surgery to remedy that.

 

At the age of 21, she got married. But the man she married was to prove to be the worst of them all and Julie endured years of physical, mental and sexual abuse - torture even. Not only did he involve some very sick friends in his supposed "games", but the acts of torture she endured were horrific. She was held forcibly against gas fires until she burned. When he went down to the pub, he would tie her hands behind her back and hang her on two coat-hooks by the door so she wouldn't escape. Almost unbelievably, on a holiday to Paris in 1991, her husband threw her off the side of the Eiffel Tower. She landed in some green mesh. Her husband was arrested and spent only a short spell in prison. After that Julie actually remained with this beast for three years before plucking up the courage to finally leave and turn her back on years of violence.

 

The question that everyone who has never endured this sort of violence asks is : why put up with it for so long? In Julie's case, the answer is obvious. Sadly, she had never known any life other than one of abuse. Also the abuser will always convince the abused that they deserve it and had it coming.

 

About two years ago, Julie began to suffer long periods of depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, suffering with flashbacks of past events. But with therapy, talking about it all, and indeed music, her life has made a huge turn around. By writing it all down, and now even travelling and giving talks about it all, she is finally dealing with her horrific past. She accepted that she could no longer have regrets about her past life as she had had no control over the abuser's actions. Up until now she had been blaming herself and obviously none of the blame lay at her door.

 

She had tired of being the victim, but had to somehow turn negative into positive. The only person who was still suffering was Julie, and not the abusers. Of course it will never go away completely and it would have been so easy to continually torment herself about the past, but then who would have won?

Now Julie talks to other victims of abuse, as well as professionals to help them understand the pain and damage that is caused. She discusses the coping strategies she uses and assures people that you can actually leave the abuse behind and live life again. If what she says helps even one person in the group, it has been worth it. She says she feels like the Phoenix who has risen from the ashes and been given a second chance at life.

 

Obviously, Julie's story is a very dramatic and extreme one, but as she says no one should accept abuse of any kind, in any shape or form. Life is for living and enjoying, and not to be lived in fear.