VICKI DERBAS

I got married because I thought I’d have my freedom. When I was 19, I wasn’t allowed to go out. Nine o’clock I had to be home. I didn’t have my freedom.

I didn’t have anyone to tell me “be tough, be your own independent person”, so I had no self-esteem.

When I got married (at 19), my husband was able to mould me exactly how he wanted to.

I wasn’t allowed to speak, I wasn’t allowed to work. I didn’t have opinions. I was never allowed to complain. But inside I was screaming.

I had to ask my husband if I could take the kids to the park. That’s how low my self-esteem was.

My son turned around to me and said, “Mum, why do you have to call Dad to ask if you can take us to the park?”.

That’s when I thought, you know what? That’s not normal.

His outbursts were for five minutes, but those five minutes were poison.

It was really scary. A friend had told me to go on the internet (to find advice) and I think that’s where I found my courage.

I went to the police.

During divorce proceedings, I used to see him driving behind me in different cars every day. Those two years were hell for me, so when he got remarried, I was the happiest person in the world.

But, my experiences have made me a better mother. I have given my children the freedoms I never had.

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