The Relationships Column: Witnessing Domestic Violence in My Home Part 2

TW: domestic violence

The second part of my story begins in the latter half of winter in February 2006. We were settling into our new home, and being the alcohol enthusiasts that we were, most days often involved drinking at home or at the pub. It was easy to find us; If we weren’t at home, we were in the pub, drinking our lives away. I look back and see that part as fun, exciting, childish with no responsibilities. Yeah, it was fun to have a free schedule constantly. I look fondly on those days.

Jim and Hannah were becoming more and more involved with each other, in fact, she was practically a permanent resident of ours. Settling into our household over time, becoming part of the woodwork. It started to become a problem for me because I was one-third of the household, yet I was paying half. I’m still in two arms whether I was right to be mad or not. Anyway, it’s a long time ago so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.

It all started one fateful night when we were all out on the “lash” – that’s colloquial English for going out and getting drunk.

We were having an awesome lads’ night out. Jim, me, Ben, Pritt, Steve, drinking, being merry and having fun. As you do as a young twenty-something lad. I looked to the corner of my eyes and whilst I was talking to an acquaintance I could see Jim getting very angry. His eyes seemed to be glowing red, perhaps all bloodshot with anger, or drugs. I couldn’t be sure. Anyway, ten minutes later he had disappeared. So we got on with our merry evening.

Being a frequent drinker can have you very self-centred. I mean we knew there was something up with Jim, but we just let him disappear. We were too interested in watching the drinks flow and the people jump around. We didn’t give a shit that Jim was in a mood. Who cared. He’d get over it as he always did.

Hannah was there that night. She had different friends than what we had. We all moved in different circles. She was 18, I was coming on for 26–that’s quite a generation gap. So we rarely ever saw each other on a night out. Because her crew was her crew, and we had ours, which was fine. Or so I thought.

The night was merry. I’m not a drinker anymore, but I do certainly appreciate the harmless fun we had as adults in the bar, dancing, drinking and talking about nonsense. We were a good bunch at that age. Never getting into trouble.

As we staggered home that night we were blissfully unaware of what was in store for us when we stepped through the threshold of our house. Hannah had clung on to Jim’s friend Pritt, staggering as she struggled to lift her high heeled shoe over the doorway. The lights were on, and Jim was home, the TV was on; we all clambered around the sofas and sort of flopped down like the energy had been instantly sucked out of us.

Jim was through in the bedroom. It had taken us a while to realise that he had emptied the bottle of vodka that was in the fridge, and that he had drained the lot of it. Not a whole bottle. There was at least one quarter left from last week, though. And he had finished it.

As we all laughed merrily Jim staggered through into the living room and sat down, swaying slightly from the intoxication of the near-immediate alcohol boost his blood had been given.

He sat on the only chair. Face glued to the TV and ignoring all of us. Like a child that was in the huff with his parents. A child. That was a good way to describe his behaviour actually. A not fully matured 30-year-old man. A man-baby. Perhaps I’m letting my emotions cloud my storytelling but even a good ten years on it still affects me.

After about ten minutes of blanking us, he turns to Hannah and asks,

“Who was that bloke you were talking to?”

You see what I had missed was that Jim had been angry with Hannah because she was being sociable with another man. In his eyes, it was illegal for his partner to do such a thing. Such a thing was deemed as cheating to him, and as I look back at the incident it was a result of a very, very poor self esteem.

And then all hell broke loose.

You’ll have to understand that by now I had a fair bit to drink, and my memory is jaded at best when I recall the events of this day, but what does stick in my mind are the horrors I had to witness when all hell broke loose.

Jim throwing Hannah in the bath and punching her

Jim picking her up and tossing her body around as if she was a rag doll

The screams.

Oh, bloody hell the screams.

You see I was sat there scared stiff. I was 26 years old and had never been in a physical fist fight since I left High School. I had forgotten what it was like to stand your ground and be counted. I felt if I stood up I would be pummeled into the ground like the useless little boy that I was.

When the madness unfolded I sat there, rooted to my seat. Scared. Frightened to move. Timid. I tried to talk, but whenever I moved to make a stand I was just glared at and I sat right back down in my place, unsure of where my place actually was.

Frightened to say a word.

Yet his friend Pritt made a stand. He gave Jim a good run for his money and actively got our other friend Ben to muscle in on the job. Ben was the muscle. He usually sorted things out like this. Yet although I was happy for Ben to come running in like the knight in shining armour that he was, I still felt useless. A coward. A no-one.

I’ll never forget when Hannah left for her Mums that night when it had all died down the look she gave me. And she said,

“Well, at least some people stood up for me. Prick”

And although I know that was said in anger, and in the moment, and she probably never meant it, but I still to this day can’t properly come to terms with what she said. Because she was right. I was a prick. I sat and let it all happen. And I was about to let much more happen.

I slept over at Bens that night, and the following day Jim phoned me at work giving me the apologies, blaming it on the drink and promised he will never do it again. And me never being in a situation like such before believed him. And when I came back Hannah had made up with him.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Certainly what had happened was sure to be a relationship dealbreaker? Obviously not. And there was me thinking that but I had just forgiven him exactly the same that she did.

Was I in a fucked up manage trois? God only knows.

Stay tuned for my next part.