The King never seemed to like how I looked, always had something to say about my hair, my makeup, my clothes, wanted to change them in some way. If my hair was up, he’d want me to put it down. If my hair was down, he’d say “why don’t you ever wear it up?” When my hair was my natural colour he’d say why don’t you dye it blonde. He’d tell me how to exercise, “why don’t you go for a run around the park?” He told me that his work friends thought I was fat.
For at least the last few years of the relationship there was constant pressure from him to have sex. He wanted it all the time, three or four times a day if he could. Morning, day, evening, night. Constant harrassment. It was never enough. The King was good at sex, but it wasn’t intimate or romantic, it always felt like I was being pulled and prodded. He would put his hand around my throat, or pull my hair. Looking back I realise that he used sex as a way of controlling me. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t need it or want it as much, that I preferred it less because it allowed me time to build up my desire, but he ignored me, I don’t think he cared. When I declined he would get angry and make me feel guilty. “It’s only fucking sex,” he would say. I remember waking up with him on the weekend and thinking to myself, “just get it over with,” so he’d stop pressuring me. He wouldn’t even care if I was sore. I remember having to say that I was having a week off sex.
Towards the end, a few weeks before I had the locks changed on the flat, The King said to me, “how come you never got pregnant? All my mates girlfriends have gotten pregnant.”
The only time we were close was when we would cuddle on the couch, and there were these moments. These moments were partly what made me stay for so long. But these honeymoon periods didn’t last long. Something would happen and things would go bad. If I then complained about his treatment of me after a “honeymoon period” he would say that I was causing trouble. “Stupid cunt,” he’d say, “everything was fine”. He never seemed to remember the bad times we’d had before, and neither did I for a long time.
After any incident where The King had hurt me and then I’d tried to break it off with him and then we made up, I would always try to talk to him to find a solution to the situation, I would always try to improve things. I thought if I could just explain myself properly, maybe things would improve. He used to say that I wasn’t perfect either, and I never claimed to be. I was always open to self-improvement. He said that I treated him badly as well. I said “but what have I done? I don’t hurt you like you hurt me (this I remember saying a lot and it was one of the thoughts that helped me to realise his treatment of me was wrong). If I have, you haven’t told me. Tell me what I am doing wrong and I will change it.” But he could never tell me what I had done.
He seemed to have a complete lack of empathy for me, and for most other people. I remember trying to see if he had any feelings for anyone. I asked him to try to imagine that it was his 8-year-old niece who was in my shoes, who was living with a man who mistreated her like he did me. When I asked him what he would do, even his answer to this was violent. “I’d murder him,” he said.
I tried so many things to try to work out what was wrong – what was wrong with me, what was wrong with us, what was wrong with The King. I tried to rationalise his behaviour, allowing for the fact that “he had a difficult childhood” and his father was absent and his stepfather was violent and abusive. I tried to cover it up, I felt loyal to him, I felt it was my fault. I read self-help books on relationships and tried to be a better partner. I tried to be more interested in sex, buying lingerie and toys and books, and creating romantic nights for us. He just brought home porn. I remember thinking, if only I can explain myself properly to him, he might understand, I mustn’t be explaining myself clearly, so he doesn’t know what I’m asking for, otherwise he would give it to me, or he would let me go.
If I would complain about the relationship and the way he treated me he would say “What do you mean, I don’t hit you.” For a while this would make me feel guilty, like I was complaining over nothing, but later I realised that I deserved more from a relationship than just not being hit.
The King used to call me a mad bitch, psycho, paranoid, a paranoid wreck.
He criticised my interests and criticised my country and other Australians.
He used to say he didn’t want his children to be Australian.
What I could never understand was how someone could say they loved a person but then treat them so badly. I couldn’t understand how his words and his actions didn’t add up, and I always believed his words. He was so adept at manipulation, he could get out of everything from doing the washing up to keeping a date with me to explaining away incriminating text messages on his phone. He would twist everything around in such a way as I would get confused and doubt myself. Being with The King was like being on a rollercoaster. When things were good it was like you were flying, it was like you were the luckiest woman alive, but when things were bad, which was frequently, it was like you were so low you were nothing.
Each time I had left him over the years he begged me to come back. I tried to break it off countless times but he would say he loved me, that he’d change, that things would be better. I always hoped that he would change and that things would be better, but he never did and they weren’t. I couldn’t understand how he could promise these things and then never deliver, and I couldn’t understand why someone would bother to promise these things if they had no intention of providing them. Why wouldn’t he just let me go? But I know now why, it was so he could control me.
Sometimes when we were cuddling he used to say, “I wish I were the King and you were my slave.” I remember feeling disappointed he didn’t say, “ I wish I were the King and you were my Queen,” which is what I had thought he was going to say the first time he said it. “If I was a King I would have you as my slave,” he would say. Looking back, I realise that for eight years, he actually did.