Dear Police Officer…

Just because this is the first time I have called you doesn’t mean it’s the first time I have been abused. 

I’m calling you now because I Can’t take any more, I’m frightened that tomorrow I won’t wake up, that those verbal threats will become reality. 

I’m just so tired I can’t take it anymore, I’m drained physically and psychologically.  I can’t do this anymore, I’m constantly walking on eggshells and every day the goal posts are moved. 

Sorry I can’t talk any louder but if I’m heard there will be consequences for me to pay and this time could be the last. 

I’m not phoning because of a domestic or just a one off, it’s been going on for so long and I’s only just now I’ve managed to admit to myself, let alone you.  I thought it happened in all relationships but I feel so embarrassed to have let this happen.  I feel so guilty for being made to choose between my partner or my friends and family.  I have no-one to talk to, my phone is controlled and my movements monitored, I just can’t take any more. 

Please help me. 

I keep praying that they will change and that I can change them from hurting me but they never do. 

I can’t just leave, I don’t have any safe place to go, I don’t even have any money, it’s all been spent in the pub.  I don’t even have any clothes to wear because when I’ve tried to leave before they’ve been cut up.  My possessions smashed and destroyed.   

I know this is the first time I’ve called you but I’ve been bellowed at, belittled and brainwashed.  I’ve been controlled, beaten and moulded into someone I don’t even recognise.  I’m not calling because of an argument or a temper being lost, I live in fear, if I leave, I’m living in the unknown, constantly looking over my shoulder and wondering what the next step against me will be. 

Even if I do leave, I will be found, harassed, stalked and begged to go back, promises that it will never happen again or threatened to be found and killed. 

You haven’t lived with who I have and you have no idea what they are capable of. 

I’m making this call because I need your help and support.  I’m making this call because I’m saying, enough is enough. 

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When suddenly the mask slips off…

I never spoke out about the abusive relationship I was in because I thought it happened in all relationships. 

In my mind I was constantly telling myself everything was okay and if anyone ever asked me if I was okay I would tell them I was fine.  Not because I was but because I expected them to know I wasn’t. 

I thought the darkness in my eyes would tell them how unhappy I was.  I expected them to know how empty my heart was but I guess my mask was covering everything a little too well. 

When you are in an abusive relationship you exist on autopilot and cope the best way you know how.  You convince yourself that things will change and get better.  That day doesn’t always come. 

It’s not only an abuser who lives with a mask covering their character, a survivor does too.  A survivors’ mask will try and protect them, whilst an abusers’ mask will hide who they really are. 

I think, and understandably, it takes a long time to completely take off their mask because they still want to feel safe. 

An abuser just doesn’t want to reveal what they are, so to the outside world they are seen as the caring partner, not a controlling perpetrator behind closed doors.  

Their mask makes it easier for them to abuse but harder for the survivor to speak out. 

There is no specific type of abuser, domestic abuse knows no boundaries; money, status and profession can all be safely hidden behind the mask too. 

A survivors’ mask will tell everyone they are fine, they don’t want it to slip off and show that they are weak, they just want to stay safe. 

For survivors to feel safe without their mask, domestic abuse needs to be taken seriously for the life changing crime that it is.  The issue needs to be spoken about a lot more than it is and the Justice System must give Justice to those who deserve it. 

A clear message we must send out is, abusers we are going to do all we can to reveal your true identitiy.  

 

Rejection and guilt…

An abuser of domestic abuse will do all they can to gain and maintain power and control over their partner.  They crave the need to constantly be in control of their partners life, it gives them power and puts them in an authoritive state of mind. 

An abuser will also come across as very confident too, again this is a reflection of their character and how they can intimidate their partner. 

They can come across as popular people, very well liked and a person who can’t do wrong.  Everyone else has done them a wrong, their behaviour is always because of someone else, it is never because of something they have done.  To the outside world they can do no wrong, often putting doubt in the survivor mind. 

But what happens when we take away the power and control from an abuser, what are we actually left with, what does it reveal? 

Many survivors will tell you how their abuser was charming, putting them high on a pedestal, making them feel as though they were the only girl in the world.  But this is not the true identity of that person, they wear a mask, masking out who they really are. 

If you sat and actually listen to an abuser they would more than likely tell you a sob story or two to get you “one side” to make you feel sorry for them.  Some might even throw in a few tears too, for extra measure. 

They are very good at acting and the reality is, they pull the wool over everyone’s eye, not just the survivor. 

When we think of domestic abuse we often think of physical aside, not necessarily the hand in hand coercive control that goes with it. 

Judgmental attitude leads society to believe domestic abuse only happens to a specific type of person.  The reality is, it knows no boundaries. 

Looking back at my own abuser I can quite clearly see it was he was insecure, unpopular, lacking in self-worth but because he had wrapped so much power around him during our 3-year relationship, I didn’t see him for who he really was. 

When we first met, and throughout our relationship, he never had a stable job so he was never financially secure.  Whenever he wanted the latest fashion, he would ask his mum to buy it and then tell me how much he was loved and spoiled. 

I, on the other hand, was in full time employment and financially dependent. 

My mobile was always beeping or ringing whether it was friend or my mum. 

His phone hardly ever rang at all, if it did it was his mum. 

No one ever came to visit him at his flat, he had a flat mate living with him when I first moved in but a horrific beating left him crawling on all fours, literally, leaving and never coming back.  So you could say even through my ex abuser seemed popular, he didn’t have any friends. 

Stripping him of power and control, he really wasn’t anyone.  He dragged me down to his level to make him feel better about his own life. 

When I left him and he knew there was no way I was going back, the rejection from me was him losing his power and control over me, therefore making him feel worthless, the way he made me feel. 

He didn’t know how to deal with the rejection, he didn’t know how to let me go or how to make that break. 

He would keep going to my parents’ home as if him crying on the doorstep or him telling them his sob stories would make me go back, I’d seen all his tears and heard all his sob stories so many times before. 

Rejection makes an abuser feel powerless and in turn this can make them angry, not necessarily losing their temper but making them want to hurt you harder and deeper than before. 

The fear of rejection gives abusers a low value opinion of themselves – exactly how they manipulate you into feeling.  You could say our rejection makes them feel the way we feel when they attack us with coercive control. 

To some, rejection can seem like grief, losing a loved one – because a survivor does love their abuser – but an abuser no longer knows how to cope or deal with things because the only stable thing in their life has been power and control, coercive control and domestic abuse is all they know. 

An abuser will feel rejection and a survivor will most probably feel overwhelmed with extreme guilt.  Guilty for leaving, guilty for staying, guilty for not leaving sooner, guilty for falling in love, guilty for everything that they did and didn’t do. 

Maybe reject made him move onto his next partner so quickly so they can start the cycle of abuse all over again to feel the need to be wanted. 

 

I never knew…

He never made me feel like a woman and all I really wanted from him to love me like a woman. 

You could say this was my first real relationshipp in the fact that I left home and moved into his flat with him, two weeks after meeting him. 

He was 9 years older than me and someone who I thought was way out of my league.  I guess it was his “badboy” image that attracted me to him, his scars and tattoos. 

I think him being that little bit older than me made me think that he would care and protect me.  I didn’t realise he saw love in a completely different way to how I did. 

My 8 week counselling sessions revealed how he never made me feel like a woman.  He never complimented me on anything, he didn’t tell me I looked nice and even when we had sex he made me feel worthless. 

I think I really craved his attention and love.  Looking back I was always looking for his approval of everything.  That is still something that is still a part of me today, I need to know what I am doing in my life is okay, it’s right.  He programmed me into not believing in myself anymore, again, this is something that still lives with me today. 

Anxiety is one consequence that I have to deal with, as part of the aftermath of domestic abuse. 

All too often people think you have left the relationship and everything is now perfectly fine.  It really doesn’t work that way. 

Life continues for the abuser but survivors we have to adapt, a lot. 

We don’t always go back to that bubbly person and we might be completely different now too.  This is hard for us and also our families too. 

Once I left the relationship, I didn’t really think too much about what I had been through and I probably pushed everything to the back of my mind, not the best coping mechanism but the one I thought was best for me. 

It wasn’t. 

I didn’t realise this until I had my counselling sessions and things came to light that I had never thought about before.  Maybe I was too scared to think about them before but now felt the right time for me to open up. 

It felt quiet liberating to talk to someone who didn’t judge me, who listened to every word I had to say and who helped me see things differently, which in turn has helped my healing process. 

I found myself talking about how he never made me feel like a real woman and I repeated this over many of my sessions.  My self-esteem, confidence and worth had been shattered probably because of his behaviour toward me and yes, almost 12 years later it is still having an impact. 

We all want compliments from our partner to help us feel good about ourselves but living with an abuser we get the opposite.  Yet they still make us feel as though we are loved. 

I was constantly compared to other women and at the time, like most of what happened during that relationship, I simply accepted it without realising he was grniding me down.   

I never knew there would be a long-lasting impact on me as a survivor. 

 

I will find you and I will kill you

We have all heard that very famous line in the film Taken, but for so many it’s reality, not a storyline. 

The only person, other than the abuser themselves who knows the abuser and what they are actually capable of, is the survivor, the partner of the abuser. 

To the outside world an abuser is very much the “perfect partner” so caring, kind and the one who never loses their temper, kind of person. 

The one thing that struck me about my ex abuser was how popular he was – later on in the relationship, much later I saw this completely different – but at the beginning of our relationship we couldn’t walk down the street together without someone stopping him to say hello or have a quick chat.   

Of course, as someone who thought she was completely out of her league being in a relationship with this guy, I was mesmarized by how many people knew and liked him.  He loved nothing more than to belittle me by his popularity, comments such as, it must annoy, you all these people talking to me and I bet you wished you knew as many people as me. 

I moved into his flat 2 weeks after meeting him and soon all my friends suddenly hated me because they were jealous of us being together.  Friends soon stopped coming round as his obvious flirting and humiliating me became painfully obvious. 

I got used to used to him letting in his ex-partners, two in particular, on a regular basis quickly learning how he reverted and relished in being in control of the whole situation and having her belittle and shred me to pieces as he put me high on a pedestal, I quickly came crashing down to the ground with her cruel words, whilst he just smiled smugly. 

I was often compared to many of his ex-partners, constantly telling me how I wasn’t a real woman because I didn’t do something the way so-and-so did. 

Every day he completely ground me down making me feel less and less like a woman.  I soon stopped taking care in my appearance, some days I wouldn’t even leave the flat, it was just easier to stay at home.  The constant questioning, where you have been and who have you been with were just too much to take, if I dared to go out without him, so it was just easier to stay at home. 

Living with an abuser and trying not to walk on eggshells was tiring and mentally draining.  I just learned how to live on autopilot doing things that wouldn’t make him abrupt or explode. 

Food, he loved his food and as the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, might have been true for me. 

As long as I cooked for him when he was hungry, no matter what the time, than his abuse was the bare minimum – unless it was something that wasn’t cooked to his perfection. 

The only woman that he deeply respected was his mother and looking back now, I think he was trying to find a partner who matched up to her.  I think he liked someone to mothre and look after him rather than a partner who wanted to love him. 

I learned how to survive an extreme change to my life – well existence – pretty quickly.  If he had beer and food, most of the time, things were okay.  Most of the time. 

I learned as long as I was his maid, cook and cleaner, things weren’t too bad and as long as he was fed and he had his beer things were a little easier. 

I was often brainwashed into believing, you’ll never find anyone like me, and you’ll never cope without me. 

Not one day passed by where I didn’t plan my escape but leaving was never just that easy.  I remember one time I left and he knew I was staying with a family member, he would sit outside the door crying and telling me how much he loved me.  I would wake up in the morning to find he had left me a tape with certain love songs he wanted me to listen to along with a few dead flowers. 

I had seen this man physically hurt other people – as well as me – and I had heard his verbal threats toward me and often that became instilled and programmed into me to believe it. 

On one occasion I left him, he attacked someone so bad that they had to learn to walk and talk again.  I knew what he was capable of and I know it could have quite easily have been me.  Sometimes, for me, it just felt easier for me to stay because I could see what would happen next but when I left, it was like living in the unknown. 

 

 

The Great Escape

Night after night I would go to bed praying that I would wake up tomorrow.  Each night I would lie ridged in bed, too frightened to even breathe, let alone move.  I’d already been shouted at for breathing too loudly so I was now too scared to move.

I would often lie on my back staring at the ceiling, trying to plan my escape.  Tears would sting my eyes and the guilt feeling would overwhelm me because I’d left before but always came back.  He always knew the right things to say to me and wherever I sofa surfed to, he would come and find me, begging me to go back to him, promising me that he would change, how he loved me and it would never happen again.

Of course he knew I loved him and that was one of the huge advantages he had over me.  He knew I would melt when he told me he loved me, I would hang on his every word and be so locked into his gaze, that I could quite easily get lost in his deep blue eyes.  He could have told me that the sky was green and the grass blue, I would have believed him.

I was completely isolated, not only from my friends and family but also from myself.  I no longer knew who I was anymore, let alone know where I was going.

It was never easy to leave, I had been moulded and manipulated into a person living on autopilot, feeling pangs of guilt if I did leave; was he eating properly, had he done something stupid and if he had, was it my fault.

I’d lost my job so no longer had that freedom or financial independence, it felt frightening to go out into the unknown.

He was a light sleeper anyway and had resorted to putting things close to the door so if I got out of bed in the night without putting the light on I would knock a glass over or he would have put the lock on – the one that when you tried to open it, it would have woken the whole block.

I couldn’t leave when he would out because I was often locked in the flat.

Being in this relationship had completely friend my brain.

I no longer thought about myself in any way, shape or form.  It was as though everything in my brain had been completely removed and it was completely filled with him.  Just him.

When I first woke up I would automatically clean the flat top to bottom – well actually side to side – because if I was doing something, in his words that women should do, he wouldn’t abuse me.  But also, I think it was because I was very much childlike in the fact that I was waiting for his praise, the need for him to see I was doing good things, the things he wanted me to do.

Over the three years I was with him, I left several times, including going back home – the safest place on earth – but I still went back to the arms of my abuser.

His lover turned into a drug which I felt the need to have every single day and if I didn’t have that drug, then I couldn’t cope with life.  However, on the other hand, taking this drug was frightening me and I knew that one day it would kill me.

Whenever I tried to make that break, I became scared of the unknown.  I knew that this drug was so powerful, I had seen exactly what it was capable of, I had felt the impact of it completely destroying me and my life.

It had taken my independence, my money, my friends, my identity and I couldn’t see a way of coping without it.  It had made me believe I could never cop alone and because I had been so dependent on it, I believed it.

Over the years I had been manipulated by love, his isolation making me feel as though he wanted to spend time with me when in reality he was taking my support network away from me, to make it easier for him to abuse me.

His verbal threats made me live in constant fear, walking on eggshells extra carefully and making it even harder to leave.

I couldn’t see a way out.

When I found out I was pregnant I was so excited.  I thought it would change him but it never did.

Motherhood changed me, it made me stronger and he knew it.  I had someone to protect now, she was my life and I couldn’t let her get hurt.  Of course, I wanted nothing more than my daughter having her mum and dad in her life but it didn’t work out that way.

She was my great escape.  The reason I left my toxic relationship.  But that was never the end of the abuse.

This particular incident happened on a Friday night.  Something inside my brain told me, enough was enough and how I couldn’t put my daughter through what I had been through over the last 3 years.  I knew I had had my wake up call and only I could change things.

I tried to remain calm and normal over the weekend – whatever normal was – extra careful not to walk and crack those eggshells, I couldn’t wait for Monday morning to arrive.  I made some excuse about needing to go to the shop, put Tegan in her pram and headed off to my local police station.  There I made my very last statement against my abuser,  I didn’t withdraw it either.  I felt so much stronger because of my daughter, still scared, but a little stronger all the same.

From the police station, my next stop was the solicitors whereby I asked for an injunction order, which I was granted – and from that moment on you could say, I  never looked back.  I never once contacted him, I quickly changed my mobile number, I had cut all ties.  He had other ideas though, he wasn’t ready to let go just yet.

I was dragged through the Family Court, I was bombarded with calls and texts from him and his mum.  I was made to feel guilty about making the right decision for my daughter.  I was still made to feel it was all my fault.

He tried to intimidate me in Court by bringing his new partner, who stormed out of the Court once his solicitor had a conversation with them both.  He tried to stop her from going, but she didn’t listen.

In time, he got bored and made excuses not to come to Court to fight for contact for his daughter and the case got thrown out of Court.  The outside world would see a Father wanting to do what was right for his daughter but a survivor sees and feels nothing more than fear, power and control.

My great escape was my daughter because I know if I hadn’t have had her, I would have had no other reason to leave.

 

That’s the way to do it….

The traditional popular and usually violent puppet show that is Punch and Judy dates back to the 16th century when Pulcinella – who later became Mr Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on 9th May 1662, which is traditionally reckoned as Mr Punch’s UK birthday. 

 

Prior to the mid 1800s, most legal systems viewed wife beating as a valid expercise of a husband’s authority over his wife. 

 

In 2018, a school cancels Punch and Judy show over fears it glorifies domestic abuse. 

 

Like many other children, over the years, I have sat and marvelled at the wooden characters inside the box, listening to their funny voices as the crocodile, baby or Judy would fall victim to Mr Punch and his antics. 

 

I’m guessing I was probably quite young when I watched the show and in all honesty since my adult life, I have never given it a second though. 

 

I have been a survivor of domestic abuse – physical and psychological – since November 2006 when my ex-partner slapped me splitting my lip as I was holding my 10- month-old daughter.  I recently had 8 weeks counselling which I found useful for me, although I did find it frustrating that I couldn’t remember specific things from my childhood but apparently a traumatic experience can give you something called brain freeze where there’s certain things that are blocked out. 

 

The physical abuse, for me, didn’t start straight away because he was so very charming to being with – like all abusers – and I didn’t know he was already abusing me with coercive controlling before the black eye came.  Like most survivors, you are in complete shock because up until that moment the person you love has never hurt you, well not physically anyway. 

 

The first time they physically hurt you, they are full of so much remorse frantically telling you how sorry they are, how much they love you and promises of how it will never happen again. 

 

Of course, you absolutely believe every word that comes out of their mouth, why wouldn’t you, but it’s all part of doing what they can to gain power and control over us. 

 

There wasn’t too much physical abuse during our on-off 3 year relationship, the majority was psychological. 

 

I was twenty-three years old when I met him, I had no idea what-so-ever what domestic abuse was, I had never even heard the words said before.  I learned about domestic abuse the hard way. 

 

I can honestly say, at no point during that toxic relationship did I ever think back to watching Punch & Judy shows during my childhood and in all honesty I can’t see a link between the two, other than they are both something that have been accepted and tolerated for many years. 

 

I can’t say that if I ever saw a Punch & Judy show now, I would find it funny, I don’t think it glorifies domestic abuse as such but I do think it’s full of violence and the way society is today, it could quiet easily be misinterpreted into people thinking It’s acceptable to go around hitting others.  But are we really living in the 20th century where we have to tell people how to behave and what’s right and what’s not? 

 

I also feel that by saying Punch & Judy glorifies domestic abuse but is it not minimizing the whole cycle and simply focusing on the physical nature? 

 

Domestic abuse is a real-life issue that must be talked about in such a way it educates our young people and makes them aware of it. 

 

2 women are killed each week in England and Wales by a partner or former partner, I don’t think banning Punch and Judy shows will make significant difference. 

 

To make any difference at all we have to admit that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime.  We have to be honest about this.  We need to be teaching society about the early warning signs, the characteristics of abusers and how to safely leave an abusive relationship.  We need to get the conversation started and keep talking about it to give others the confidence to speak out  

 

We have to stand united on this and do something mandatory and as nation.  The best thing we can do for our young people and pupils is to arm them with awareness.  Now that’s the way to do it…. 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want him arrested…

No, I don’t want him arrested, only to be bailed back to the property 

No, I don’t want him arrested, only to go to Court for all charges to be dropped 

No, I don’t want him arrested, only for him to intimidate and bombard me with calls and texts making me feel guilty about having him arrested which could lead him going to prison and how it’s all my fault 

No, I don’t want him arrested because his family will contact me, blaming me for everything and how he won’t be able to cope with prison life 

No, I don’t want him arrested because his verbal threats to kill me, our child or himself will become reality  

No, I don’t want him arrested because when you question him, he will deny everything and blame it all on me 

No, I don’t want him arrested because you can only hold him for up to 24 hours before you have to charge him.  How can you charge him when it’s clearly his word against mine? 

No, I don’t want him arrested when all he will say is, no comment 

No, I don’t want him arrested because he will play the “feeling ill card”  

No, I don’t want him arrested only for him to get free legal advice and for him to play the victim  

No, I don’t want him arrested because I am already awaiting my death sentence for phoning you  

Just Leave

Jealousy isn’t attractive and manipulation but somehow abusers make abuse feel romantic. 

They shower us with the exact words we want to hear, but they treat us in a way that makes us feel like we are the only girl in the world and they put us so high on a pedestal it feels like we are flying high.  but all this is covered in abuse yet we are blinded by the good bits, we really don’t see the bad until it’s too late. 

If I leave him, he has threatened to kill himself, he just cries and tells me how much he loves me and how if I leave he won’t be able to cope without me.  He’s begged me to help him, he says he wants to change but he can only do that with my help. 

He has taken all of my money and told me if there is anything I need to bu I have to ask him for the exact amount and then show him the receipt to prove what I have brought.  I can’t even phone anyone to borrow some money because he has thrown my mobile out of the window and I can’t leave the flat because he has locked the door and hidden the key. 

If I go to the bathroom and he thinks I am in there too long he knocks on the door until I come out and he’s just standing there looking at his watch. 

When I am allowed to go to work he pops in every break time and lunch time and then picks me up when I finish and in between that, he’s constantly ringing my mobile phone and if I don’t answer, he calls the office phone. 

None of my friends visit anymore and he knows where they all live so he would find me anyway.  I can’t go to my family because he’s threatened to torch the house. 

I can’t phone the Police because if I do, he’ll kill me. 

The safe houses are closing and if I do get in one I’ll more than likely be told my 13 year old son and pet dog can’t come with me and if I leave them, he will kill them both. 

I can’t be the one to split our family up it would destroy the kids, he loves those boys so much. I married him for better or worse, I’ve got to stick by those vows otherwise I will bring shame and embarrassment on the family. 

I’m not physically hurt so how can I prove that I am being abused and who will believe me with no scars to show.  He’s already told everyone I’m mad and crazy. 

I’m so embarrassed and ashamed, how can I tell anyone what’s happening, let alone leave.  People will say it’s a rough patch and it will get better. 

He will find me and kill me.  He’s already verbally threatened to do that and I know he’s capable of doing it.  I’ve left several times before, then he bombards me with so many calls and texts telling me he loves me, I feel so guilty and go back.  It’s my fault anyway. I push him and press his buttons.  

Contact takes place and he keeps giving messages to the kids and now they think I’m the bad one. 

Without him my anxiety is so bad.  I have to be with him because I know what his next move will be, when I’m not with him I don’t know what his next tep is, I’m always looking over my shoulder. 

We are married, have children and a house together, how can I just leave with no money or safe place to stay?  What about my children? 

My self-esteem and worth has been completely crushed by my controlling partner.  It has escalated from nasty comments to controlling my money to watching my every move.  Constantly minimizing his behaviour is driving me crazy but everyone is colluding with his excuses taking his side but blaming me.  So who can I talk to if no one believes me? 

People think the abuse will simply stop when I leave but the reality is, it will just be the beginning.  Continuous harassment, turning up full of drink and drugs.  He has brainwashed me yet made me emotionally dependent on him.  I can’t go unaccompanied to ask for help, I know he’s watching me – it feels like he is kidnapping me, holding me hostage just by controlling me. 

How can I be strong when I feel so weak, I’ve felt nothing but numbness for so long I am so scared.  You might think I’ve cheated death but for now it’s time to start my prison sentence. 

It’s a shambles, not support

Services are over-stretched, cuts to vital funding, refuges closing, a society that believes “it doesn’t happen to me” and children growing up accepting domestic abuse as normal.   

It’s hard to believe we are living in the 20th century, changes are needed yet why does it feel we are moving backward rather than forward? 

How can we give reassurance, faith and confidence to those experiencing domestic abuse when they are living in a minefield and everything else around them feels like it is crashing down? 

Just leave, people shout but that in itself is impossible when safe houses are closing.  Waiting lists are getting longer, funding disappearing, contact not being identified as control – how can survivors leave safely when it feels as though there are no safety nets put in place for them? 

Statistics tell us, survivors can’t just leave, 2 women are killed each week by a partner or former partner, acid attacks have increased, porn revenge, stalking and harassment, just a few consequences that happen when leaving an abusive relationship. 

“Why don’t you just move?” I was asked by a professional. 

I had previously lived with my partner in his flat for 3 years – he was in complete control and could have thrown me out at any point.  I vowed to myself that once I had my Tegan I would find us a place in my name. I had to beg and borrow to find a ridiculous amount of rent and a deposit to secure the property because I wasn’t eligible for a council property.  Even though I had been sitting in the housing office in floods of tears, asking for a flat closer to family only to be literally be laughed at and told no. 

My reply to why don’t you just move was, why should I? 

Society pressures survivor to just leave, yet there is no strong support in place. 

I feel that there is a clear lack of understanding of the complex cycle, especially when a survivor has found the strength and courage to leave.  Survivors need to know they have support in place, not shambles. 

We have abusers dragging survivors through the Family Court, using their own children as tools and weapons, whilst still maintaining that power and control.  Solicitors, CAFCASS and Judges thinking all abusers are good mums and dads and how children should see both parents but not taking the time to read through files or even asking the child what they want, it’s more of a case of abusers getting what they want in order to continue to control and abuse. 

Survivors are still being put at risk. 

I was mortified and petrified when a letter from his solicitors landed on my mat.  Since having my daughter he had verbally threatened to take her away from me and now I was reading a ltter instructing me that I must attend Court.  He was actually going to take her away from me. 

The whole Court process was frightening, I felt like I was on trial, like I was the one in the wrong, the one being judged.  His solicitor had been told his version of events, all one sided and not the truth but I was the one who was told I would have to take part in a psychological test and if I didn’t, I would be fined.  Of course, I had nothing to hide whatsoever and I did do the test but oddly enough, he didn’t. 

I’m sorry to say but if a mother or father loved their child and genuinely wanted to see them, would they really treat their partner in such a controlling and abusive way? 

Contact is not always best for the child but in my eyes it is easier for everyone else, less paperwork and it keeps the abuser in control.  This is completely unfair on any child and professionals, in my opinion, are giving the wrong message about domestic abuse. 

Waiting lists for support is endangering survivors further.  Being told to call back or we will call you back is ludicrous, is it safe or is it dangerous?  How do you know that they won’t be dead when you call back? 

Admitting to yourself you are being abused by the person you love is hard enough so asking for support is really screaming out, help me, I can’t take any more.  Yet closures and cuts to funding is making it impossible for survivors to actually survive – how is that fair?  How is that taking domestic abuse seriously?  How is that supporting survivors?  How? 

Awareness and support is paramount in a world where domestic abuse is the norm and without either we are leaving people in extreme danger and that thought scares me. 

We need to accept and acknowledge that domestic abuse is happening but, as a whole, we need to act quickly in how we are going to make changes. 

Far too many lives have been destroyed through words such as “we will learn from this”.  We have heard too many words and too few actions that there is no other alternative than making changes now before it’s too late.