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REAL LIFE: "My wife abused me physically and emotionally for years but I was too scared to leave without my daughter"

Statistics show that the number of women violently assaulting their partners has trebled in the last ten years. Closer speaks to Paul Chivers, 48, from Wiltshire, who was the victim of coercive control and domestic violence for ten years at the hands of his ex-wife Meena

I met my ex-wife Meena in 2001 when we worked at the same school. We were friends for a while, but our relationship developed into more. At first, Meena was charming, helpful and supportive. After a year, we moved in together.

In 2003, we got married and just over a year later our daughter was born. Up until that point, our relationship was totally normal. Meena was charming towards my family and friends and we were happy.

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But after my daughter was born, Meena changed. Systematically, over the course of five months, my life changed completely and I was alienated from my friends and family. Meena began checking my phone calls, controlling the money and refusing to let me see my family.

She would throw pictures and break windows and made it clear that if I disagreed with her then there would be a violent reaction.

Meena often put me down and say to our daughter that she’ll take her away and find her a better daddy. I was overweight and she would use that against me – manipulating me so my self-esteem was at zero.

I was constantly tired and running on empty. I was holding down a job as an IT teacher, looking after our daughter and trying to keep everything perfect at home as to not set off Meena’s temper. I was so brain washed that I’d agree to anything she wanted for an easy life.

Paul bravely opened up to Closer magazine about domestic abuse

After a couple of years, she would be violent towards me. It tended to either happen late at night or at the weekend, but it was always about going for my head or between the legs. One time, she picked up a painting and smashed me over the head with it. I was able to put my hands out, but a pain of glass that shattered over me. I went to A&E to get myself sewn back together and go into work the following Monday.

I missed my family, but I was honest with them. I was too scared to leave Meena as I worried I wouldn’t get custody of my daughter.

She used my daughter as a pawn – often threatening to go abroad with her. She locked me out 60 times and once left me stranded 70 miles from home.

After a few days, she’d calm down and apologise. But one Sunday night in March 2014, she hit me so hard with a hairdryer it looked like I’d been scalped and I drove myself to A&E. It was the last straw and I called the police and social services.

Meena was found guilty of GBH and common assault and spent eight months in jail and another eight on parole. She’s out now and although there’s a restraining order against her, I still worry about bumping into her.

Paul has confessed that his only focus is his daughter

Both my daughter and I still suffer from PTSD and we have counselling, but I’m working to build happy memories for us both – my whole focus is on her. We’ve recently been to Disneyland and we see so much more of my parents and family than ever before; I want her to see what normal relationships look like.

By sharing my story, I hope other men out there in my position will seek help and we can break down the stigma that men can’t be victims of domestic violence – because more and more men are.”

For more information about male victims of domestic violence, visit Man Kind's website.

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