‘After visiting our daughter in the hospital I came home to find all his stuff gone. The cat was out of the bag. Our daughter was born at 28 weeks and that’s when the real problems set in.’

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“It all began just before Christmas 2015. I had met him 7 years prior to this date but at that time he was only 14 and I was 21 so there was no sexual chemistry at all. Fast forward 7 years and he was just about to turn 21 when we got back into contact after years; he had turned into an incredibly handsome and somewhat mature man. He was charming, sweet and we instantly got on like a house on fire. On Christmas Eve he came to stay with me and my children; he was going to be alone that year. He was going through a tough period with an ex and wasn’t on speaking terms with his family. We went to a family event at my dads house and I remember picking him up from the train station and my heart skipped several beats as he walked towards the car, now a gorgeous grown man. It was at that point I knew it was more than just friends I wanted and he felt the same. By Christmas morning we had spoken and in what was a whirlwind of emotions we had decided to get into a relationship! At first things were absolutely perfect, he was everything I could ask for in a man and he got along with my 4 kids. Everything just felt so perfect and that was when we decided to have a baby of our own.

Natalie J. Thomas

Looking back, I definitely would have waited before getting pregnant but I believe everything happens for a reason. Within 4 weeks of starting our relationship I found myself pregnant with our first baby! We were over the moon about it and we eagerly anticipated the birth of our first baby together. I was particularly happy because this had been the first time I had had a relationship and planned to start a family. All of my other children had been surprises! Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long! Our daughter was due to be born in October but one day in July I was lying in bed waiting for him to get home from work when I felt my waters begin to trickle but when I checked it was mixed with blood. I panicked and immediately called the ambulance and then called my partner and he rushed home. I was taken to the hospital and they confirmed it was my water and labor was imminent. I was in the hospital for over a week waiting to give birth and in that period of time it was particularly difficult for us as neither of us had a lot of people around for support. Our daughter was born at 28 weeks and that’s when the real problems set in.

We would argue constantly due to stress, lack of sleep, lack of childcare, etc but it was at this point he began to say things pretty out of character for the man I had known. There were times I would say to him ‘Is that how you speak to the mother of your child?’ and he would apologize. But before long, he would say something horrible again. It quickly got to the point where things were terrible between us and we broke up. One day after coming home from visiting our daughter in the hospital I came home to find all his stuff gone and I couldn’t get in contact with him. Days, then weeks went by and I struggled everyday with going to the hospital with my older 4 kids as they weren’t allowed into the intensive care section where our daughter was. I ended up leaving them with other mothers I had met over the weeks while I went in to tend to the baby. It was the most stressful period of time in my life. Eventually she began to do better and moved out of intensive care and into the room that was just before she was able to go home. Then the hospital decided she should finish her care in our local hospital that was closer to our house so we moved her there. He was completely unaware we had even moved hospitals. Eventually as the baby was almost ready to come home we got back into contact and we agreed he should see his daughter so he began to visit with us again. It was at this point that I should have shut the whole relationship element down and just co-parented with him but my love for him was so strong I found myself back in a relationship with him before we knew it.

Natalie J. Thomas

Samiyah came out of the hospital in the beginning of September 2016. Not long after we found out I was pregnant again which I sadly miscarried. After the miscarriage we decided we would actually try for another baby and once again I got pregnant immediately! Fast forward to my birthday on November 14th 2016. Things hadn’t been going well between us and I found myself constantly feeling down and to top it off, he had begun to blame me for everything including the pregnancy we had both agreed on. Everyday he would make me feel guilty about every little thing that happened when realistically the red flags of narcissism had begun to appear. He would always pick an argument with me and then somehow manage to get me to apologize for it just to keep the peace. After a while of this happening I had had enough and decided to confront him about the way I was feeling after not enjoying my birthday. He began his usual shouting and trying to overpower me with the loudness of his voice, getting up in my face. Then things went from bad to worse when he decided to punch a hole through our bedroom wall even though our daughter was on the bed in the room. I told him to leave and he refused initially. That was when I said I would get the police to come and get him; at that point he threatened to get someone to ‘Shoot me in my face.’ I made the police aware of his threats and they swiftly came and arrested him. The very next day the council moved me out of town for our safety. The whole move was very rushed and stressful as I was eager to spend as little time packing up the house as possible as I didn’t know whether he would turn up. I didn’t know whether he had been released from prison.

Natalie J. Thomas

For about 6 weeks, we had started our lives over again. I hadn’t spoken to my ex since the incident and no one knew about the pregnancy at this point but on Christmas day I went to my mum’s house where we ended up speaking about him and truth be told, I had been feeling terribly guilty he wasn’t seeing the children for Christmas. We decided I should call him and try and arrange for him to come to my mums and see the babies. Later that evening I picked him up and brought him to my mums house and by the end of that night we had gotten back together. He knew he was my weakness and I was in such a vulnerable state I was willing to put up with all manner of behavior from him in the name of ‘Love’ and because we had a family together. At the time it felt like he loved me and wanted to make our family work. He was manipulative and the definition of a narcissist and I kept missing the signs. During 2017 while I was carrying our 2nd baby, a boy, things had begun to get WORSE. There was a particular female who was always around him. He claimed she was an artist of his as he was involved with music. He began to meet  her outside of our house in her car for ‘Writing sessions’ they would speak on the phone at ridiculous hours of the night which I felt was disrespectful to me but he insisted it was me being a bitter, jealous mother and that I was the problem. The more I brought it up to him, the more I was pushing him away. I began to rack my brain to figure out what was wrong with me and why was I acting so irrationally. I couldn’t figure it out. I put it down to my hormones and began to hold my concerns and discomfort inside and kept it all to myself.

Natalie J. Thomas

This really began to affect my mental health as I was constantly searching for an answer I didn’t have. Depression began to set in. I was crying constantly in secret. I would put on a happy face when he was around but inside I was crumbling. I began to self harm in secret. Going into the bathroom and slicing at my arms and legs in places that wouldn’t be seen by anybody. I just wanted an outlet for my pain. One day, the night before our first daughter together (Samiyah) birthday he told me he was going to the studio for the whole night and he would be back early morning for her birthday. Reluctantly I agreed as I had no choice. He had manipulated me into telling him I was fine with him staying out when I really wasn’t because if I had said I didn’t want him to go I would NEVER hear the end of it and once again I would be the bitter and jealous girlfriend he was trying to portray me as. The next day he came back MUCH LATER than he said he would and strolled in with his hair freshly done in cornrows. It was at this point I knew he was messing around because being in the studio, why would he come home with some female doing his hair? At this point I was broken and I couldn’t tell anyone about it. He had always portrayed himself as the perfect partner to friends and family, I had kept up the facade because I didn’t want to hear all the ‘I told you so’s’ from family and friends who had picked up on the red flags I had swept under the carpet.

Natalie J. Thomas

I was now isolated with nobody to turn to. At this point I decided everyone would be better off without me. My children, him, my parents. I had let everybody down and I was a burden. I decided to take my own life, on my daughters 1st birthday and with a 4 week old baby, not to mention my older 4 children. I was so broken I was willing to leave them all behind to escape the pain I was facing daily. I went into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet and found 2 packs of cocodamol and swallowed the lot while crying silently but hysterically. Around 30 tablets. I was done with life. I sat there for a while and began to feel the drowsiness set in. I then got up and staggered into the front room where my children were getting ready to celebrate our daughters birthday. I hugged them all and told them I loved them and goodbye. It was at this point he noticed I wasn’t ok and he took me back into the bathroom and asked me what I had done. I began to regret what I’d done so I told him about the pills and he called me an ambulance as I began to drift in and out of consciousness. Thankfully they came and managed to get me into the ambulance where they made me drink a disgusting drink of charcoal which they give to OD patients. Before long I was throwing up like crazy and thankfully I didn’t have to have my stomach pumped. There I was in the hospital on my own. Crying non-stop about where my life had led. I couldn’t understand how my life had come to this. soon my mum arrived at the hospital and then later on so did my dad and brother with my sister in law. The cat was out of the bag. They now knew how unhappy I was.

Natalie J. Thomas

Luckily I was able to go home in the early hours of the morning. When I arrived home he was acting very off with me. In the days that followed he decided we should break up and that he was moving out. In the days after him leaving my daughter told me the same girl I had been worried about had been at the house the same night I was in the hospital. At this point I should have said enough was enough but he managed to convince me it was all my fault because he had important business he was meant to do with her and my overdose had caused him great inconvenience so he had to make alternative arrangements and decided to invite her to the house instead. Incredibly I didn’t make a big deal about it and once again, before long we had worked things out and got back together AGAIN; AFTER EVERYTHING. November 2017 we moved back to South London and a couple weeks later I found out I was about 2 months pregnant. I had already started taking contraception to avoid more babies but this one beat the odds! Christmas day he surprised me by proposing to me in front of his family who he had recently reconciled with.

Natalie J. Thomas

I was OVER THE MOON but by the next day we were arguing again and he said something so terrible to me I ended up throwing the ring onto the floor and his family had to get involved to reconcile us once again. Fast forward to February 2018 and one night he had been out all night and promised he would come home early but ended up being late. I took off my ring and left it on top of the toilet. I knew I had had enough, I walked out of the bathroom and went to get some water. I couldn’t take anymore and I said ‘If you’re going to leave then leave!’ I just wanted him gone. I began to take his stuff out of the wardrobe which is when all of a sudden I felt him grab me by my arms from behind and threw me against the wall causing me to bang my head.

As I began to get up he came towards me and then as I tried to defend myself he threw me back onto the floor and climbed over me and pinned me down by my neck with his forearm. I was 3 months pregnant with his child while all this was happening. Nothing I did would make him let me go so I did the only thing I could think of and spat in his face. He let go. I gathered myself and went into the bathroom and began to take his toiletries out of the bathroom which is when he came and shoved me, causing me to knock my bump on the porcelain sink. Eventually he left after packing his stuff and saying goodbye to the kids. That was it. I was finally free! This time felt different. I knew it was the end. I knew there was no going back. I decided we would co-parent and that would be it. Around a week or so after we split my children disclosed some information that rocked me to the core. I immediately cut all contact with him and notified the police. Unfortunately the case against him vs the kids was dropped because of lack of evidence which was unfair but there was nothing I could do about that. The case against him for my assault carried on. Around 2 months or so after breaking up with him I decided I needed to make a life for me and my children. During the course of the 2 years my ex and I had been together I had COMPLETELY lost my sense of identity and I needed to rebuild my life and make it bigger and better for me and my 6 babies alongside the 7th who was on the way.

My cousin told me about a machine she had bought that helped her to customize T-shirts so I put out a post on facebook asking friends and family to help me raise the funds so I could buy the machine and start a business with my then 9 year old daughter. Within a day we had raised over £400 and the machine only cost £250 so we bought it alongside materials and equipment to use and we haven’t looked back! We started up our boutique and things have progressed well ever since, now my 2 oldest children also have their very own boutique which they create customized items of clothing. We also began vlogging my journey as a mother of 7!  I have also recently began to homeschool them all and have rented out an allotment space in which we are growing our own fruit and vegetables and just learning new things every week. Life is amazing. I’m just glad I was able to get out of that situation with my children and rebuild my life to even better than it was before him. Our daughter was born in June 2018 where I gave birth to her with just 2 midwives whoo I had never met before. Myself and my children are living happily and making the most of our lives together. I don’t regret a single thing that has happened to me as it was all necessary steps for my  growth as a woman and a mother and now I am able to reach out to others to help them.

I have grown in strength and character and also gained 3 beautiful babies from the relationship, this was my journey and the path I had to walk and I’m proud of myself for making it this far. Last month we went to court for common assault against me and he was found guilty! He was given a suspended sentence, community service, court fines and has to pay compensation to me as well as a restraining order. I’m just glad it’s over and done with so I can just continue to grow, heal and build a better life for me and my babies!”

Natalie J. Thomas

Read more from courageous women leaving abusive relationships: 

‘Every night, I put a sign on our bedroom door that read, ‘come in and kiss me on the cheek. I didn’t cheat on you.’ I accepted his marriage proposal after 2 months. Almost immediately after we were married, the abuse began.’

‘Get out,’ he said. He left me on the side of the road and ran over my phone. It was pouring rain. I was in my pajamas, barefoot. ‘Mom, I think I made a mistake.’

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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Natalie J. Thomas. You can follow her journey here. Submit your story here. For our best stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter. 

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