He never did try to stop or reduce his drinking, despite my frequent pleas. One night in September, he became very drunk towards the end of another College event. Since the first assault, I had been nervous every time he drank, which he hated, and this time was no different. When we got home he asked me what was wrong and I told him I was nervous and upset because he had promised me he would stop getting drunk. He flipped and started shouting at me that he wasn’t drunk and that I had to trust him not to hit me again. I told him I was trying to, but that it was difficult and I couldn’t help being scared when he drank. I was sitting on the side of the bed and he pushed me back onto it, then stood over me, pushing me down with his left hand tightly around my neck. As I was struggling to get free, he punched me twice in quick succession in the left side of the head, the same place as before. He then told me “you didn’t trust me not to hit you, so I ended up hitting you. This was your fault”.
I ran downstairs crying and sat on the sofa with a bag of frozen peas against my head, which was throbbing. I have never felt as alone as I did that night. I came so close to leaving him, grabbing my things and leaving. But I couldn’t think where to go and something so strong was tying me to him. I felt as though I had no choice, that even if I hated being with him, I had to stay. My confidence was gone, my ability to function on my own or make my own choices was gone. It felt a bit like being stuck in a moving car with no way to operate it. All I felt I could do was wait and see what direction my life would go in next.
In the morning my housemate came downstairs. As she had been involved in the aftermath of the first assault, she knew that he had been violent before. She told me she had heard me run downstairs crying and asked me what had happened. I panicked and said nothing as I was worried that if I told her the violence had continued, she would want to move out of the flat. But then, as she went on to make her breakfast, I felt so miserable and alone that I decided to tell her. I remember half-hoping she might make him leave or tell someone, that perhaps the relationship could end without me having to find the strength to end it. She was furious and spoke to her boyfriend, our other housemate, about it. When my partner awoke at midday, he came downstairs. He apologised to my housemate, who told him it wasn’t him he should be apologising to. In front of them, he said sorry to me, but once we were alone, he explained to me how I had to trust him more not to be violent and that my distrust was harming him and causing him to do these things. I told him that I would forgive him if he promised to stop drinking, at least for a little while, which he agreed to. I convinced my housemates that it was again my fault and that everything would be fine.