I knew my husband for three weeks before we got engaged. We were besotted with each other.  Looking back, there were a couple of warning signs that I could have picked up on, but I brushed them aside. We had a couple of conversations where he became quite agitated, and then in order to avoid more agitation, I appeased him by telling him what he wanted to hear. This was a pattern that would be very prevalent through our marriage.

I was so busy planning the wedding that I ignored the fact that he was becoming very controlling.

The verbal abuse started very soon after we were married – he messed around with my head constantly and started telling me that I was over reacting each time I didn’t agree with him. He would tell me that I was a bad wife.

I remember one incident soon after we were married, when we were at my parents’ house. Some of my friends had come round and I tried to involve my husband in the conversations that evening. He refused to talk to them at all. After everyone went home, he accused me of ignoring him and told me that I was the worst wife, and that I had ruined his life. It was incredibly hurtful and I was devastated. He managed to convince me that I was in the wrong.

I waited till he was asleep that night and got out of bed. I sat on the floor and wanted to kill myself. I couldn’t work out what I’d done to get to this point. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was in despair.

My husband’s behaviour got worse.  Once he got started on something, the only way I could end the conversation was to leave the room, or even the flat, because he just wouldn’t stop. The other way of ending the conversation was to appease him. I did that a lot, but every time I did it, I lost a bit of myself.

On one occasion he grabbed me and physically stopped me from leaving the room - I started screaming and he convinced me that I was mad to think that he had grabbed me at all - he told me he was just trying to hug me... I did believe him - it was easier to believe that I was insane than I had an abusive husband.

Eventually I went to close friend and told her what was going on. She told me to leave the relationship but I still hoped that things would improve. Eventually, I wasn’t a person anymore. I looked anorexic. I didn’t speak to any of my friends. I was isolated. I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone.

It didn’t occur to me that I was living with abuse. I always thought that abuse was physical, so I was almost waiting for him to cross that line but the emotional torture was horrific.

I left him. My parents arrived and I went back home with them. I was in the most terrible state – I barely got out of bed for weeks. I called Jewish Women’s Aid’s helpline, and a support worker contacted me. She was very supportive and she put me in touch with an outstanding counsellor. Over the course of several months, the counsellor helped me to work through the abuse.

*Names and some details have been changed to protect anonymity