“If there is something I learned with everything I lived through, it is that happiness is not outside but in oneself. All the things I do will depend on me, and I am the one who must find the paths and decisions. You have to open your mind and search. Finally, one is always alone. Today I feel free of guilt because I could change it, despite the patterns of violence I brought with me since I was a child: I grew up in a house where my father assaulted my mother. I was 26 years old when I met my partner, but we started to be together when I was 30. When I was 35, I got pregnant, and he got distraught: he told me it was my fault and that all I wanted was to marry him. Once in an argument, he even went so far as to hang me. When my daughter was born, he did not recognize her, and even when I was on the verge of death after the birth, he never showed up. I was so rejected that even his family was convinced I wanted to take advantage of him. Finally, with the courts, I managed to get him to take responsibility and start giving me money. When my daughter was five years old, we got back together, and he told me to go live with him; I think to save his pension because he was always very stingy. Even though he is very successful at what he does and earned a lot more, I was the one who was always willing to pay.
“I never talked about what I was going through because I was ashamed.”
From the beginning, he had controlling and harmful behaviors toward me: he talked wrong about my friends, questioned me about how I dressed for a party, and criticized my physical appearance and even what I ate. I became submissive, and no longer wore the clothes I wanted to wear; I stopped seeing friends and began to annul myself as a person. All this triggered a lot of rejection, and I started to avoid him. He saw it as a war and increased his aggressiveness towards me. Alcohol was the main trigger for his violence. I remember that he had telephone relations with other women and masturbated in the bedroom while I was in the same house next door. With the confinement and the pandemic, he began to drink every day, and when he didn’t, he would go into complete silence. Halfway through the bottle of vodka, he would start his aggression at night. I had to endure quietly and fearfully everything he said to me. He even blamed me for his alcoholism. I slept in my daughter’s room, both of us locked up so he wouldn’t bother me. There was no respite. Every day was a nightmare. I went so far as to wish him dead to end all this suffering. He often went to look for me in the other room and forced me to have sex with him. All I could think about was that it would pass quickly. He was sexually crazy. I think one tends to forget all the details of those moments because of trauma.
Very few people know everything I went through. I never talked about it out of shame to avoid exposing my daughter. When we had been locked up for four months, one night, I hit rock bottom and called the public number for violence against women. I filed a report with the Carabineros, and they came to get him to leave the house one night. I live in Las Condes (a wealthy neighborhood), and that was the first time someone intervened in my violent situation because the neighbors did not know about it in my building and nobody did anything. Despite everything difficult for me, I feel fortunate to have had the resources and tools to get out of there. I think that something that helped me a lot in those months of confinement where I saw no way out was to walk. I traveled long distances during the time that I was on leave. Today I climb hills, and I think it is one of the therapies that has helped me the most to feel better”.
Luisa is a pseudonym to maintain the anonymity of this testimony.