#21 Strike whilst the iron’s hot

This phrase derives from a blacksmith striking a horse shoe when the temperature of the metal was exactly right. If the blacksmith would wait too long then the metal would cool and would become more difficult to shape. 

Taking action at the right time is something targets of domestic abuse wrestle with throughout the time they are subjected to abuse & harm.

Whether it’s months, years or decades. 

Balancing their safety, being believed & fearing this is likely to end very badly is a source of constant trauma. 

“If it was that bad, she’d leave”

”I’d never put up with that”

”She loves  the drama”

”She presses his buttons” 

As you read Sarah & Stu’s story consider the following.

Was sex always consensual here? 

How did Stu pathologise his ex? 

Why might Sarah struggle to feel able to seek help & escape? 

What impact might Stu’s behaviour have on Sarah’s daughter? 

Stu & Sarah are in their early 50’s & have been together 17 years, they both have children from previous relationships.

A ‘blended’ family.

Stu describes the mother of his children as his ‘psycho ex’ who’s alienated him from his kids. 

Sarah has a daughter in her late teens, a good job & is a few years older than Stu. 

Stu is a personal trainer, he’s successful & works long hours. He’s fastidious about his diet, routines & building his business, he has big plans.

Sarah is deeply unhappy with Stu, he belittles her, comments on her weight & berates her daughter for normal teenage misdemeanors. 

Early on in their relationship Sarah would wake up to find Stu having sex with her, she would freeze & feel numb. Occasionally, he would have his hands wrapped around her neck, it was aggressive & frightening. It became a joke to Stu, and amongst their friends saying it was the only way he could ‘get his leg over’. 

Nobody seemed to bother, in fact they would all laugh about it on nights out. It left Sarah feeling ashamed & confused, was this normal? Was she being a prude? 

Stu would pressure her into watching pornography as a means to justify & normalise his behaviour.

Over the years Sarah daydreamed about leaving him, deep down she knew this wasn’t healthy.

She longed for a life just her & her daughter. A peaceful happy home, no tension, soft furnishings, comforting food, no rules. But the idea of broaching the subject with Stu overwhelmed her.

Stu had a habit of sulking for days or raging, over the smallest disagreements. He never hit her, but his presence during these outbursts scared her, the veins in his forehead bulging, like he was about to explode. Sarah never really knew which Stu she would come home to. 

She knew how Stu had behaved towards his ex, how he’d publicly shared her intimate secrets, told her friends, family & colleagues she was a ‘psycho’ with lots of mental health issues. He’d even shared her psychological report (with anyone that would read it) which was meant for the family court’s eyes only. 

Sarah knew she would be the victim of a  similar hate campaign, if she left & she didn’t have the energy for another acrimonious split. 

So she stayed.

Years passed & she felt trapped. 

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