Julie escaped to her room, desperate for some peace. A good gossip with the girls would usually take her mind off things, but today she just needed some time alone. She picked up the newspaper that she had found in the corridor and started flicking through the pages. A headline immediately caught her eye.
“MORE REPORTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE”
The words just seemed to scream out at her. A shiver went down her spine and her hands started to shake. It was all too raw, too recent, these feelings she had. Julie got up and made herself a drink, telling herself off. “Its only words in a bloody paper” She said aloud, hands shaking so much that she dropped the beaker and water spilt all over the floor. Ignoring the mess, she turned back to the article in the newspaper. Julie knew it was more than just words; this was proof that more and more people were going through what she had gone through, what she would never be allowed to forget.
“What’s been going on in here Jules?” Stacey, Julie’s room mate was standing in the doorway. Seeing all the water on the floor, she started mopping it up with paper towels. “You wet yourself?!” She joked. Julie burst into tears. What could she say? She had never opened up to anyone about what she had been through, but she had known Stacey a while now, so felt maybe it was time to talk about it.
“This article, I…I know what these women have been through.
Stacey quickly scanned the page and looked at Julie sympathetically.
“Your old man, did he knock you about? You’ve never really spoken about him”.
Julie sunk down onto the bed and began to pour her heart out to the only person she felt she could trust.Fidgeting with a loose thread on her jumper, Julie nervously told her story.
“Neil used to be so lovely. Really romantic, always buying me little presents, taking me out, he treated me like a princess. I fell in love with him very quickly and we married a year later. I couldn’t see it at the time but I guess looking back the problems started as soon as he had that ring on my finger. He started to demand sex more often, telling me as his wife it was my duty. I was terrified he would cheat on me if I didn’t keep up to his demands. He wanted me to dress up for him in the bedroom, which I didn’t mind, sometimes it was quite fun, yet when I went out, even to the shops, he would always have an opinion on what I was wearing. And you know us girls we like to dress up don’t we?”
“Oh yeah definitely”. Agreed Stacey. “Men don’t understand that we like to look nice for ourselves, they assume we want to pull other blokes”.
“Exactly, so he started to come clothes shopping with me, which at first I thought was sweet. I mean how many husbands do that? But he would pick things out for me, roll neck jumpers, baggy jeans and boring shoes; insisting they would suit me, and that he would pay. I told myself that maybe as a married woman I should be wearing different clothes so I went along with it. I stopped wearing make up to please him, but I didn’t feel like “me”. Then he got so he would start checking my phone, my emails, and my bank statements. It was like he didn’t trust me but I didn’t know why, because I never gave him any reason not to. I started to feel quite down about it and began to comfort eat, which made me put on weight. Neil picked up on that and started calling me a fat cow and a lazy bitch, that I obviously wasn’t pulling my weight around the house. When I reminded him that I worked a 40 hour week same as him, he told me that maybe it was time I quit my job and be a stay at home wife, and mum.”
“A mum?” Stacey gasped. “I didn’t know you had a kid!”
“I haven’t. I fell pregnant quite quickly but miscarried.”
“Oh god I’m so sorry Jules”.
“It was awful”. Julie continued. “I cried all the time; I felt like a failure, that I couldn’t even provide my husband with the child that he so badly wanted.”
“But did you want a baby?”“Not at that moment in time but back then I would’ve done anything to keep him happy. He was my husband. He came from a large family so I guess it was only natural that he wanted children once we had got married. I wanted to concentrate on my career but I put him first. So we tried again for another baby. But every month we would get our hopes up, only for the tests to be negative. I started to dread the trip to the chemists to buy them. I knew he would be so upset and angry when he didn’t get the result he wanted. He would shout and tell me it was my fault, and that there must be something wrong with me. “
“Oh honey that’s awful”. Stacey reached out and held Julies hand, and saw that she had tears streaming down her face. She wasn’t sure how to comfort her friend; she had never experienced anything like what Julie had. She suddenly felt very lucky to have a lovely boyfriend, and couldn’t imagine him ever being like this Neil character.
“One evening when he got home from work,” Julie sniffed, her hands shaking and her face red and puffy from crying.” He saw a text on my phone from a male friend. It was only asking how I was and if there was any luck with the baby plans. I hadn’t thought to delete it and when Neil read it he went mad, accusing me of having an affair with this friend. He started shouting and throwing his fists about, punching a hole in the door. I screamed and ran upstairs, terrified he may hit me. He came to apologize straight away and explained that he was just under pressure at work, and that it was just a one off.”
“And was it”?
“No. He was fine for a few weeks but then came home from work one night in a foul mood, saying that a colleague’s wife had become pregnant after just two months of trying. Again he started telling me that there must be something wrong with me. My heart sunk. Maybe there was. Maybe I should go for tests. But he interrupted my thoughts when he put his face right up close to mine, and he growled at me “I don’t think we have been trying hard enough”. I told him I wasn’t in the mood for sex and that I needed to get his dinner ready but he pulled me upstairs quite forcefully, almost dragging me. He pushed me onto the bed and pinned me down with his strong arms. I really didn’t want him to but he wasn’t listening to my protests, and I couldn’t push him away. He told me I would give him a baby however many times he had to do this.”
“He raped you? Bastard. Did you report him to the police?”
“No, how could I? He told me it wasn’t rape, as I was his wife and it was my duty. I didn’t mention it again as I was just so desperate to make him happy. Every night after that he made me have sex with him. I felt powerless.”
“Come here babe”. Stacey put her arm around Julie, and Julie cried hard on her shoulder. She’d never spoken to anyone about what Neil had done. She didn’t even like to think about it, pushing it to the back of her mind whenever it crept up on her. But it wasn’t easy for her. She had too much time on her hands. The days just seemed to drag and she longed for the day when she could start over again. She dreamed of a new life, somewhere that nobody would know her or judge her. She wasn’t interested in meeting another man; her experience with Neil had put her off relationships for life. Julie looked up at Stacey and saw the shocked look on her face. Had she said too much? Should she continue to pour her heart out? Maybe it wasn’t fair to tell her the whole terrifying story when she knew that Stacey had enough problems of her own. But Stacey looked at Julie expectantly; she wanted to help her friend through this difficult ordeal and wished that she had met her sooner so that she could’ve supported her. She wondered where Julie’s friends and family had been but didn’t like to ask too many questions. So she just said
“It’s ok Jules you can tell me”.
“One evening he got home really late, as I was then getting into bed. I knew what was expected of me but somehow I managed to speak up, refusing point blank to sleep with him. We argued and I plucked up the courage to tell him I didn’t want a baby yet. WHACK! He punched me hard in the face. I fell to the ground. I looked at him, horrified. He came towards me and I scrambled away from him into the corner of the room. I remember our conversation like it was yesterday.” “Get up you stupid cow”. He snarled.“You keep away from me, don’t you touch me! WHACK! He hit me again round the top of my head, and then dragged me to my feet. I had never felt so terrified in my entire life. He pushed his face up close to mine and I could smell he had been drinking, something that he rarely did. I thought maybe this was why he was behaving this way. “Everyone else’s wives obey their husbands. Why can’t you just do as you are told? ““Why should I? What’s got into you lately? You’re treating me like dirt. “
Stacey got hold of Julie’s hand.
“You stuck up for yourself. Good girl”.
“I don’t know where I found the strength to snap at him like that, but he didn’t like it. I saw the look of anger on his face, his eyes, they looked evil. I ran out of the bedroom onto the landing. I told him I was going to leave, stay at a friends for a while. He grabbed me and told me that I was going nowhere, I fought back, in his drunken state it wasn’t hard to push him away from me, but he pushed me onto the floor and climbed on top of me, un zipping his jeans, I wasn’t going to let this happen again, I couldn’t. I owed it to myself to stop him. With every bit of strength I had left, I pushed and pushed his heavy body away from me, I didn’t realise how close we were to….”
“To what Jules?” She gripped Julies hand firmly, very concerned about what her friend was about to say next.
“The stairs, he tumbled down and down, it seemed to happen in slow motion. I remember reaching out to try and stop him, but it was too late. He hit the bottom step and lay lifeless. I don’t know how long I sat there, totally in shock. I felt as if I couldn’t move, or breathe. Eventually I rushed down the steps and checked if he was breathing……” Julie was crying hard now and finding it difficult to breathe. Stacey now understood what had happened. Neil was dead. This was why Julie was here.Suddenly the cell door swung open and the prison officer announced “Julie smith, its time for your sentencing”. THE END.