My name is Mary and I live in a rural farmhouse with my two children. I separated from Paddy four years ago, I wanted to leave that house and live in town but the children were still young and I didn’t want to upset them any more than I had to, so I stayed.
Their granny and all their father’s family live around us and the children loved the security of living there.
I was able for the ‘fall out’ of separating from Paddy with the community around me and I knew his family were annoyed the marriage ended but they settled down and it became easier to stay in the house.
However, Paddy didn’t get it and was still very angry, still taking every opportunity to make my life a misery. But I had a plan, I was staying ‘til the youngest went to college and then I was off and I didn’t give a damn what happened to the house; I’d be free.
Then came Covid-19. I was asked to work from home and all the things I used to do to keep myself sane were shut down.
He really turned up the volume on the mad stuff he was doing and I found myself feeling trapped - really trapped. Stupid things like the dog went missing and then he “found it” days later after us spending hours walking the roads and looking everywhere for it.
It was the oldest child’s dog and they were so worried, it was heartbreaking. I couldn’t accuse him of taking it as I didn’t have proof and anyway where would that get me?
He could come to the house any time to see the children and, as he was not working, he came morning noon and night. We never knew when he was coming or when he was going.
The children love their father so I never put a halt on him seeing them whenever he wanted because it was always on the weekends.
If he had just come in and chatted to them I would have coped but it was a constant mind game of being told I was doing this wrong and doing that wrong, that his family hated me, I was the worst mother on the planet and even the dog was running away when it got a chance.
Then he started back on old stuff he had stopped doing like calling me at night and texting me about 20 times a day.
There at the end of April, the internet broke down and some fella from work came out to help me fix it as they needed me to keep working. After a half hour the guy asked me why I had so many surveillance devices in the house. He was joking with me about it.
I was shocked because I had no idea what he was talking about. It turned out that there was a little thing that was recording us, video and sound, in every room of the house, even the bathroom, and it was hooked up to the internet.
I snapped. I took the two children and drove to my sister’s. I didn’t care if the guards stopped me; I had to get out. When I got there, I just told her everything and she convinced me to call the station. I did, even though I felt so ashamed to be doing it. They told me to come in at a certain time and I was speaking with one of them for four hours.
He took notes of everything I said and was patient with all the crying, I was crying with pure frustration. I was frustrated that I was back again doing this, because I had a barring order years ago and I thought he would eventually leave me alone after that; we had been through a legal separation and I thought that would make him stop.
I didn’t want courts and Gardaí in my life again. I didn’t want to have to explain why the man they thought was a normal local lad, good footballer in his day and a great dad was still acting like a psycho around me.
I didn’t want to have to tell anyone about my private life, have to listen to everyone tell me he needed time, he was hurt, he was finding it hard and that I should say nothing.
Thankfully, the guard was able to tell me about coercive control and that what I was talking about was against the law.
He told me I didn’t have to let 156 texts and 35 calls in four days go; I didn’t have to let six surveillance devices in my home go; I didn’t have to let Paddy into the house every time he wanted and I didn’t have to put up with being tormented.
So I made a statement and they are following through with an investigation into the crimes I reported.
I am back going to the Domestic Violence service in Women’s Link again (I was there eight years ago) and this time they helped me get a protection order and I’ll be back in for a safety order in a few months.
I didn’t need the refuge this time either and thankfully we were able to go back to the house in peace because the gardaí themselves went to his house and gave him the court order in person.
I don’t want the father of my children in prison. I don’t want the gardaí at my house. But I want to be left in peace.
Eight years ago, I let him back home after the barring order was stopped when he promised the judge he would have manners and never hurt me again. He didn’t stop but I stopped asking the ardaí for help.
But not this time, this time I am using this order 100%. It’s not my fault, I can’t fix him and it’s time he copped on.
This story is told by a Longford lady however many women throughout the country can relate to her story. Donegal Domestic Violence Service. Helpline : 1800 262 677. Opening Hours. 24-hour service, open 365 days. Contact Details. Tel: 074-91 29725.
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