In therapy Bella told me that she’d met Samantha in a gay bar, she had been sat by herself doing a crossword and the barman bought her a drink saying;
‘This is from the lady over there my dear, her name is Samantha’
Bella had looked across and nodded a polite thank you. Samantha invited herself to come and sit with her and they did the crossword together, they went for a meal that evening and soon became inseparable, Samantha worked at a local garage as she had just qualified as a motor mechanic. Samantha was very feminine and had tried hard to become part of the male orientated world that she had chosen. The only thing that kept her sane was knowing that she had Bella.
Bella was sitting her English and maths qualifications that would lead to an access to nursing career and she was very happy. They didn’t live together but spent most of their time at Bella’s flat. As time went on, Samantha started to question Bella about the friends she knew on her course. Bella always answered honestly and gave Samantha the assurances that she needed and in doing so, she pushed aside any inkling that she was being controlled or manipulated in any way.
Bella soon realised that her girlfriend had also been logging into her phone, iPad and more recently, her laptop to find any ‘evidence’ of Bella’s possible betrayal. Samantha really had no need because Bella was infatuated with her and showered her with love and affection and as many gifts as she could afford. For Samantha this wasn’t enough, she continued to prove that Bella was seeing another woman or even a man and that she was unfaithful in some way. Bella got a huge pay out from a PPI claim and decided to book a holiday in the sun for them both, hoping that this might show Samantha just how much she loved her.
It was the second night in Fuerteventura, they walked along the beach after a beautiful evening and a scrumptious meal. Samantha asked Bella why she had been looking at the waitress in the restaurant. Bella recalled that she told her she hadn’t.
Samantha didn’t believe her and got really angry, throwing her to the ground and as they lay on the sand she scrunched her fist into Bella’s’ face screaming at her
‘You slut, you filthy slut, you’re always doing it, do you think I’m blind’ her face was in Bella’s. Samantha continued her onslaught both physically and verbally, reigning down punches and kicking an already beaten Bella as she lay physically and emotionally broken, in the sand.
Some hours later Bella had awoken alone and cold on the beach, she managed to find her way back to their apartment where Samantha was already asleep in the bed. Bella quietly made a bed up on the sofa deciding that she would get a flight home the next day, she couldn’t possibly put up with this sort of behaviour any longer, in shock and wounded psychologically. Not having slept much, battered and bruised, Bella woke up in a lot of pain with Samantha sitting quietly in the chair next to the sofa, softly crying and beside herself with remorse. ‘I’m so sorry, I just don’t know what’s wrong with me Bell, I love you so much and I’m so frightened of losing you – it’s like I just press the self-destruct button to save you destroying me by leaving’ said Samantha.
‘I just don’t think I can put up with this Samantha’ replied Bella and she went on to say;
‘You have been trying to control me for months now and I was so happy, but this, this outrageous violence Samantha, I can’t do it’ Bella continued.
Samantha got up and walked out of the apartment, Bella went back to sleep and they didn’t talk again until later in the evening when Samantha had returned. Samantha apologised and begged Bella to forgive her, promising that if she could just have one more chance, then she would prove that she could change and calm down about being so freaked out. The rest of the holiday went okay apart from Bella’s injuries and she spent most of the time either by or in the pool. Samantha was the perfect girlfriend and Bella started to believe that they might have a chance.
As the EMDR processing began, Bella recalled the beach incident as one of her biggest traumatic incidents, but it wasn’t the worst, she recalled the intensity of the continued assaults, after the holiday the violence got more intense and on a regular basis. Every time Samantha got angry, she went into a deeper rage attacking Bella always leaving her beaten and bruised. She had been to the hospital twice with broken ribs, a broken nose and the police were well aware of the violence because of the repeated calls to the house. Bella was by now, terrified of her girlfriend and felt that she had no way out, she lived her life walking on eggshells and did everything she could to stop the violence.
One Monday afternoon she recalled that a police woman, a domestic violence officer called Sophie had called round on the off chance to take a further statement from a previous incident. As she listened to Bella patiently, she told her that she didn’t have to put up with this behaviour anymore and that she could get out at any time, that she mustn’t be frightened. On leaving, she looked at Bella and handed her a card and a leaflet of the local Women’s Aid Service.
That was the day that everything changed for Bella, looking at the clock she knew she didn’t have long but she knew that she had to get out right there and then. She packed what she could, got everything in her car and decided to drive down to the other side of the country to her brother’s house. Jake her brother was a barrister living in Southampton and she knew she would be safe at his house. He was waiting when she arrived and they talked well into the morning. Within two weeks Jake had implemented an injunction against Samantha to keep her away from the flat and Bella started to feel safe. Together her and her brother drove back to her flat, packed up and moved her into a new one, with security and target hardening installed by the local police.
An excerpt from: Working with the Aftershock of Domestic Violence A Guide for Professionals
ISBN – 978-0-9932289-9-5
(Due for launch in August 2018)
Sue J Daniels MBACP & UKRC (Snr. Accred). EMDR Practitioner Professional Counsellor & Trauma Specialist http://www.traumaresources.co.uk