When my child was a few months old I left her biological Father. I was married and very unhappy. When I first met Sylvia’s dad he was charming and sweet and our first year of marriage was really great. We lived in the Island of Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. We had little money, I was isolated from family and friends but was more than happy to do what my husband suggested. I loved the simple life and there really was no room or need for me to go anywhere on my own. We did everything together including working in our shop selling jandals, Tongan donuts and other items to locals.
When we moved back to New Zealand life changed. I was back to reality, back to the world I knew and living the way I knew best. I finally graduated as a teacher and began earning a good income. Being married to a Tongan with poor family members overseas placed pressure on the family. We often sent my earnings overseas to my mother in law to help her get by and would collect clothes and items to send to the family. I really didn’t mind helping but at the end of the day we needed to put our family first. After undergoing fertility treatment to have a child I became pregnant and things in my marriage began to change. I was the provider, my husband was needy and somewhat co-dependent and he could not cope with the fact I was unwell during pregnancy. This placed undue pressure on us. My husband began to act out. He would go play rugby and not return until early hours of the morning, instead choosing to drink Kava, a Tongan stimulant made from a native plant.
Whilst I was growing a child inside me, my husband was escaping any responsibility. He could not deal with the fact I loved someone or something more or equal to him. He needed my full attention and when I was too unwell to give it, he acted out in violence. The first time this happened was a shock to me. I was home feeling sick, eating ginger biscuits and watching TV. The next thing I know my husband came home. He was not happy with me and my choices. He did not think I should eat a biscuit during pregnancy. He picked up the tv and smashed it on the ground. He punched a hole in the wall and when I tried to charge my phone he grabbed the scissors and cut my charger in half. My husband began intimidating me in order to regain the power and control he had lost when I became pregnant.
At 20 Weeks of pregnancy, we were in a car crash. Someone without a license, registration or wing mirrors crashed into our car. We had a pigeon in the car at the time which died instantly. We had been taking it to my dad. The crash caused me to bleed and I ended up in hospital pleading that I would not lose my child. I stayed in hospital for some time and over the months I developed gestational diabetes and cholostasis of the liver. I was told there was a high chance of still birth. I then spent the remainder of my pregnancy in and out of hospital being monitored until they decided to induce me early. In May 2008, after a 3 day labour my beautiful baby girl was born. I knew what I wanted to call my child but my husband said no. Eventually I agreed upon a name he wanted. However Sylvia was the name of my grandmother and I kept that quiet allowing him to think he had full control of her name.
After my daughter was born things were tough. I was physically unwell, had no support or help and was living far away from my own family. My Mother in law wanted to come to New Zealand to help with the baby. I thought it would be a good idea. I’d get support and we would not have to send money to Tonga any more. When my now X-mother in law arrived in the country she took over the care of my baby. It was suggested I return to work to support the family and baby Sylvia stay home with grandma. I really didn’t want to go back to work so soon but I really did not have much choice.
After a few weeks I decided enough was enough. I wanted to be a stay at home mother. I wanted to care for my baby myself and I told my husband he needed to be the one to provide. My mother in law was not happy. My husband was not pleased and the abuse that had started during my pregnancy returned. My husband began to control everything I did. He decided when I showered, what I wore, where I went and what I did. This happened gradually and the more I fought it, the tougher things became. Things got difficult and physical abuse slowly began to enter the marriage. It really was a game of power and control, when I conformed to my husband’s demands, he treated me great. When I tried to do my own thing I was punished, intimidated and abused.
The physical abuse did not take place in front of my baby but she could feel something was not right. Sylvia was only 5 months old but my mother in law would take her away from me all the time. It was as if she was the child’s mother and I was nobody. I remember having an argument over caring for Sylvia. My husband spat on me and when I asked him why, he said baby Sylvia wanted daddy to spit on mummy. The next day, he began swinging Sylvia at my head. He was doing it in a way that her legs would kick my face. Again he said, baby Sylvia wants to kick mummy in the face. I was broken and needed to escape with my child. I needed to get out and get out fast. I had taken the abuse for a few months but I would not allow anyone to use my child in that way. Things got really nasty and I planned my escape. I could not just walk out. I needed to pack, to contact my family and ask for help but I was not allowed to use the phone. It took planning and preparation to get myself ready to leave.
I waited until the weekend when my now X-husband and his mother used my car to go to a rugby game. I called my parents, packed all the essentials and my baby’s things and left. I left a lot behind and eventually underwent legal proceedings to get full custody of my child and a protection order. I won’t go into all the details and the story does not end there, but, I was free for sometime and able to begin raising my baby on my own in the right way, in a safe and secure environment and in a happy home.
When Sylvia was a baby I moved to the UK to give her a safer and better life. After she turned five I married John. John has never once been abusive or mean to me or my child. He is a diamond in the rough, a gem and the best thing to happen to us. Life is not perfect. I developed a chronic illness, Adrenal Insufficiency four years ago but we are happy. My daughter now has the most amazing father. John and Sylvia are inseparable. They love one another and he is the only father she has ever known. I’m glad Sylvia has the opportunity to grow up with a loving dad who can care for her and protect her and demonstrate the way a daughter and mother should be treated. John is one in a million and a great find.