Denise – friendship, loyalty and redemption


Continuing on from my violent and schizophrenic, drunken boyfriend of that time, and after the incident of the knife at my throat from the night before, I decided it was definitely time to leave. What was to gain by putting my life in the hands of this maniac anyway? I’d say nothing but misery.

The next day when I turned up for work at Dracula’s, I walked through the dungeon-like front doors to find the chef sitting at the front desk chatting to one of the cast. While I waited to sign in, I overheard the conversation that ensued. I had come to know Denise better now and she was nothing like the grumpy chef that my first impression had led me to believe. Denise was full of life, funny, and with a cackling laugh that made people around laugh even if they didn’t know why they were laughing. She looked up mid conversation and sung out to any and all, “Anyone looking for a place to live?” (It’s funny how the Universe provides to those in desperate need.) Straight away, I stepped over and replied, “It’s funny you should ask, but I was just about to see if anyone needed a flatmate. “Done”, she said…”When do you want to move in?” To which I replied that tonight would be perfect.

After tearfully explaining my situation, Denise suggested that I really should come home with her that night and that we would go and pick up my stuff together as soon as we got a chance. This was my introduction to Denise’s big and generous heart. Who knows, perhaps she even saved my life.

Of course she held to her promise and my belongings were safely transported to her lovely little unit in Fairfield, and a fresh and far happier life started for me. I think now of those “Galloping Hooves” pounding on the bitumen as I fled from yet another unhappy chapter of my life.

On our first night together we sat drinking red wine, eating, talking and laughing into the small hours of the morning. I felt as light as a feather felt and stronger than I had felt in a long time. It was as if I had been living in a dark room and someone had just flicked on a light – it all seemed so obvious now that I could see things objectively. Life felt good.

We did have a visit from the abuser one night; crying and saying he loved me; that he couldn’t live without me. Bla, bla, bla. I didn’t care. I was amongst friends now – his power was gone. We just called the police and told him to piss off. The last I heard from him was that he wrote a letter to my parents apologising and a poem to me. I’ve put them in here because I think it’s interesting to see how the mind of this kind of person works. (I have kept all my letters the past)

“Dear Mr and Mrs ………..,

Please don’t hate me for the things I have done wrong to you and especially your daughter. I am sorry and deeply ashamed of myself and my conduct.

Love for me holds many feelings and one of them is jealousy. I know that instead of accepting Jenny’s love, I drove her away. I’ll understand if you or Jenny never want to see me again. Please give this poem to Jenny. I don’t know where she is living and tell her please I am really sorry.


p.s. Please write”

Peter’s Poem – 1988

“The day is hazy deep and gray,

Yet I am full of life,

My heart inside just wants to play,

For you my darling wife. (It was the only word I could think of which rhymed)

The outlook which I had on life,

Has changed from black to blue,

For the feeling of love has blossomed inside,

And I give it all to you (Jenny).”

So there you have it. Obviously he did find out where I lived and he stalked me for a while, but with the support of my good friend Denise, I managed to stay away from his “black to blue” life. I knew in my heart that there would only be one kind of “black and blue” if I went back to him regardless of what his intentions were.


Letter of Reason


Dad solemnly handed me a three page, hand written letter outlining his rationale for me not moving out of home. They were valid grounds, but I read them with an air of annoyance and tossed the note away (I wish I had kept it). I do remember some of the list, which included:

  • Needing the financial support of my parents to complete my degree.
  • Living in an environment conducive to study
  • Looking after my health with my recent diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis
  • That my Irish boyfriend (yet another Peter) was not the best choice of people to support me in the above…..and the list went on.

They were all genuine concerns, coming from a place of love, and Dad could not have been more right; but as I mentioned¸ the letter ended up in the bin and I moved out.

I think that part of the reason for my belligerence was that I had reached an age where I didn’t want to be accountable for every night out or every sleep over a friend’s house. What my parents didn’t realise was that compared to many of my friends, I was a late bloomer and hadn’t experimented nearly as much, or as early with some of the things that went on at school. Also, coming from a household of three brothers, I felt there was a definite imbalance when it came to the freedom given to my brothers and the freedom given to me.

Dad was right though and perhaps he saw through the happy-go-lucky character that Peter made himself out to be. Having been in the merchant navy in Ireland before he came to Australia, he was a big drinker and it wasn’t long before I discovered the many down sides of this. We enjoyed parties and pubs like most of our friends, however, it was about 3 months into our shared living arrangement that I was subjected to his alcohol induced schizophrenia.

One evening on our walk home from a night at a pub called “The Geebung Polo Club”, our happy banter suddenly turned to jealous accusations. I have always been the type of person to talk with someone if they speak to me. Isn’t that manners? But due to my generally friendly and vivacious nature, several boyfriends have chosen to misconstrue this as flirting. I say “chosen” because it has always been a choice.

In an unexpected onslaught, I found myself slammed up against a parked car with allegations and fists flying. His posture was that of pure rage and his face red from the strain of his vehement and cutting bullets of abuse. He left me in the dark street and walked home on his own. With nowhere else to go at that time of night, my only choice was to dust myself off and drag my bruised body and bewildered mind back home. What the hell had just happened? Early that morning, he woke in a drunken daze, opened my closet door and pissed on all my clothes.

Now most emotionally intelligent women would have packed their bags and left the next day…surely. Conversely, after his profuse apologies and assurances that it would never happen again, I tucked the incident away and went on with life.

Everything was fine for a while. I had believed him when he had told me it was a “one off incident”, “totally out of character”. When it happened again, I was just as surprised as the first time. This time we were at home and some neighbourhood friends had popped in for pizza and a few drinks. As the night progressed, he became more obnoxious by the minute. I can’t even remember what set him off but I can clearly recall him shoving me up against the wall and holding the carving knife to my throat. My dog Pepe, although small, was as loyal and ferocious as any trained attack canine could be. He flew at Peter (well his ankles) in an attempt to save me from his wrath. The distraction worked, but Peter kicked my dog so hard in the ribs that he bounced off the opposite wall, but Pepe just shook his head and went in for the second round.

It was about 3am and I knew I couldn’t stay a moment longer. Peter went to have a cigarette and I took this opportunity to make a call to my friends, Lynda and Shane. This couple had been my friends since high school and they had always been generous of heart. Without a second thought, Shane jumped on his motorbike and made the half hour trip to come and rescue me. With my helmet on and my dog bundled up between myself and Shane’s back, we sped home to the familiarity of their safe and happy home.

Dad’s dim predictions had become a reality.  My studies had suffered along with my health. My University results were pathetic and my life in a shambles.

One of my reader, a father of daughters, asked me how he could help to protect his daughters from such a horrible and dangerous situation. I think the first step is being aware, as a parent, that this can happen. Just like child sexual abuse needs to be discussed openly with your children at a young age, boyfriend abuse needs to also be on your list of awkward topics when it becomes relevant. Knowledge is power, and your daughters are more likely to recognize it for what it is should it rear it’s ugly head. 

The only qualifications I have for giving this advice is that I have obviously been in this situation; so these are solely my own opinions. However, there is a lot of great information on the internet and I have added a couple of links including a really informative blog for both parents and daughters, should you wish to know more. Good on you Sean for asking the question, your daughters are already streets ahead.

%d bloggers like this: