Page 1

The Survivor Project - A Publication

IN THE NAME OF LOVE

THE SURVIVOR BOOK FOR BUTTERFLIES INSPIRED BY ANGELS

1


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 Domestic Abuse - Facts & Myths 2 Types of Abuse 3 Victims of Abuse 4 Through the Eyes of a Child 5 Those Left Behind

6 I’m A Survivor 7 How to Survive

2


PREFACE This E-book has been produced and edited by Jane Gregory, a 3rd year student of Creative Writing at the University of Bolton. The Survivor Book is written as part of a project to raise awareness of Domestic Abuse. This book is to give the hope to survivors of abuse that they are not alone and to highlight services available both locally and nationally for those who may need further help. Written with the help of survivors of Domestic abuse, the stories are gathered through interviews with victims or are written by the victims themselves for inclusion in this book. I must warn the reader that the stories herein, are at times harrowing. They include stories from victims of abuse, children of victims and family or friends of victims and may be upsetting. I would like to thank all the people and agencies who have helped contribute to this book especially the University of Bolton and my mentor and tutor Dr Ben Wilkinson for his guidance. Finally, I would like to thank my mum and eldest daughter, both survivors of Domestic Abuse, who have inspired me to give hope to victims by showing them you can Survive. This book is dedicated to Leanne Mcnuff murdered on the 11th March 2012 and Child G, age 2, who sustained life threatening injuries due to abuse whilst this book was being produced. 3


Note to the reader Please note all statistics, findings and research information presented throughout this book are referenced in order of appearance on page 148 of this E-book. The stories were told to myself by the victims or written by the victims themselves. The stories are all first hand accounts of events, however to protect the identity of some of the victims, names, places, ages and dates have been changed. Finally please be aware that some of the stories in this E-book are particularly upsetting and the author takes no responsibility for any emotional upset this may cause the reader. Please share and raise awareness.

4


CHAPTER ONE

Domestic Abuse Facts

5


Statistics about Domestic Abuse Unfortunately statistics do not show the real level and impact of domestic abuse. Many incidents are not reported, and many victims do not even know they are victims of abuse, as they do not understand what Domestic Abuse is. • 2.1 million people in 2015 suffered domestic abuse. • In the year ending March 2015, the police recorded 943,628 domestic abuse incidents. • On average a victim will be assaulted 35 times before she rings the police.

6


Percentage of adults age 16 to 59 experiencing violence since age 16. Year ending March 2015.

7


Health Issues and Domestic Abuse • The medical impact of domestic violence, other than physical injury, can worsen, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, digestive issues, epilepsy, kidney problems, damage to nervous system and other illnesses. • The abuse may cause mental suffering, the development of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and self-harm. • Mental illness can be used to control the victim. Examples include not allowing you to go out on your own, or threatening to inform children’s services about your illness.

8


Alcohol and abuse. • When the victim uses alcohol, it can be used against the victim as a defence by the abuser as to why the abuse occurred. In other cases alcohol is used as a coping strategy when being abused. • Alcohol studies have shown a high prevalence of alcohol, in relationships where both partners abuse each other. • Alcohol should not be an excuse for perpetrator behaviour but should not be ignored. Findings show, between 25% and 50% of offenders have been drinking at the time of assault. 9


Drugs and abuse • Again drug use should not be used as an excuse for abusive behaviour. Drug use is often used as a weapon against the victim. • Research has shown that many agencies who deal with drugs or alcohol will not engage with a client involved with domestic abuse. Leaving the victim vulnerable. • Substance misuse is a factor in more than half of high risk domestic abuse cases. • A higher than average proportion of drug users were perpetrators of parent abuse.

10


Children and Domestic Abuse • The government defines Domestic Abuse as between adults. It does not include Child Abuse. • Between April 2014 and March 2015 • 54 children were killed in England and Wales. • 35 were killed by a family member or friend. • Out of the 54 killed, only 3 were killed by a stranger. • 16 cases are unsolved – Could they be family members? We will never know. • Staggering statistics show that 363 children were victims of homicide between April 2008 and March 2015 and of the cases solved only 8.5% were killed by a stranger. 11


Children and Domestic Abuse • 1 in 3 children, in high risk domestic abuse families, are not known to Social Services. • 25% of children in high risk domestic abuse homes, are under 3. On average the abuse has been going on for 2.6 years. Most of their lives. • 1 in 3 women suffering domestic abuse admit the first incident of abuse, was whilst they were Pregnant. • 62% of children living with domestic abuse are directly harmed by the perpetrator. This does not include emotional harm suffered by witnessing abuse against others. 12


Children and Domestic Abuse According to the NSPCC Children who witness domestic abuse may: • become aggressive • display anti-social behaviour • suffer from depression or anxiety • not do as well at school - due to difficulties at home or disruption of moving to and from refuges. Several studies have revealed children from homes where domestic abuse was present, are more likely to be affected by violence as adults – either as victims or perpetrators.

The effects of growing up in a home with abuse, has severe and long term effects. Findings show children, who are not direct victims of abuse, have the same psychological and behavioural problems as a child who has been physically abused. 13


Female Victims of Domestic Abuse 1. In the year 2014 – 2015 there were 186 female homicides. Over 60% of these women were killed by a family member. 2. Of the 186 only 12 % were by a stranger. The remaining percentage the police do not know who killed them. 3. Two women a week are killed at the hands of someone in their family. 4. In high risk domestic abuse cases 95% are Male perpetrators and Female Victims 5. 28% of the female population have experienced domestic abuse at some point. 6. A Ÿ of 13-18 year old girls experience physical abuse in their own partner relationship. 7. In 50% of these cases it is sexual abuse. 14


Female Victims of Domestic Abuse •

• • • •

Suicide and Self Abuse On average 30 women a day attempt suicide directly as a result of Domestic Abuse. Every week 3 women commit suicide due to domestic abuse. 16% have contemplated suicide 13% have actually self-harmed Female victims are 15 times more likely to be alcohol dependent and 9 times more likely to have a drug problem. These figures directly correlate with an increase in use after the first violent incident. 15


Women and Sexual Abuse • 54% of serious sexual assaults on women over 16, are committed by a partner or expartner. • 19% of Women surveyed who have suffered domestic abuse have been sexually assaulted by their partner/ex-partner. • Women sexually abused by their partner, suffer the same physical and mental health issues, as a woman subjected to it by a stranger. In fact, they are more likely to suffer anxiety and depression than a woman raped by a stranger. • 18% of women raped by their husband were raped in front of their children.

16


Male Victims of Domestic Abuse • Apr 2014 – Mar 2015 just under 20% of men were killed by a family member. • 64 men compared to 112 women, killed by a family member? What’s so staggering is that little attention is paid to Male victims of Domestic Abuse. • Men are just as likely to report abuse by a family member as women. • 1 in 3 Victims of Domestic abuse will be men.

17


Male Victims of Domestic Abuse • In 12/13 men suffered more physical injuries then women, including severe bruising, internal bleeding, teeth damage and broken bones. • Men are 3 times more likely than women not to tell anyone about being abused. • Gay/Bisexual victim reporting of abuse, is double that of heterosexual victims. • 20% of forced marriages include a male victim. • 18% of boys are victims of violence by their girlfriend or boyfriend. 18


Teen Dating Abuse Statistics show that 40% of teenagers are subjected to relationship abuse. 1 in 5 teenage girls have been assaulted by a boyfriend. A study taken by all year 9 females, in 3 Wigan Secondary schools, revealed from over 400 female participants, only 3 females believed it was never acceptable to use violence. An NSPCC research project in 2009, revealed teenage partner violence, is a significant child welfare issue. The report revealed types of abuse by their partner: 75% of females had suffered emotional abuse 33% sexual abuse 25% physically abused 50% of males had suffered emotional abuse 18% had been physically abused 16% had been sexually abused 19


CHAPTER TWO

Types of Abuse

20


Government Definition of Domestic Abuse Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: • psychological • physical • sexual • financial • emotional Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.‘ The Government definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called 'honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group. 21


Physical • Physical abuse is any type of physical action, that causes an effect on the victim. This can include hitting, biting, pinching, choking, pulling hair, kicking, holding you down or pushing you. • In addition, it could be stopping you from doing something that can have a physical effect on your body. So for example, stopping you from seeking medical attention, withholding medication, refusing to help you when you are injured, sick or pregnant, stopping you from eating, drinking or sleeping. Holding you prisoner or locking you out of the house. This would also be the case if the abuser encourages you to hurt yourself. • Abusers may also leave the victim in fear of physical abuse with threats of violence towards yourself or someone else, or a pet, threatening you with an object, driving unsafely or abandoning you some where unsafe.

22


Sexual • This is any kind of unwanted sexual pressure or sexual activity, including touching. This may be, demanding or forcing sex with the abuser or someone else, forcing you to prostitute or engage in pornography. • Abusers may also hurt you whilst having sex, refuse to use contraception or not allow the partner to use birth control or contraception or insist on you becoming pregnant or having an abortion. • Other forms of sexual abuse are calling you sexual names, exposing or lying about sexual activity to control or hurt you, and posting sexual pictures or videos without permission. • In 90% of rapes committed, the rapist is known to the victim. • Just because you are in a relationship does not give your partner the right to touch you or have sex with you, if you do not want to. This is Sexual Assault and Rape. 23


Emotional • Intimidating or threatening you. Being aggressive towards you, threatening to hurt you, shouting. Bullying you and making you feel helpless. • Criticising you, name calling, accusing or blaming you. Insulting or humiliating you. • Telling lies about you or making things up about you. Telling lies up about friends or family. • Making you feel to blame, to feel guilty, blackmailing you to do something or they will harm themselves or someone else. • Making you feel undervalued, by dismissing your opinion, making others be abusive to you. Telling you it’s in your head, your overreacting or sensitive. Being abusive one minute then overly affectionate the next. • Controlling you, telling what to wear, where to go, how to act.

24


Financial • • • • • • • • • •

Withholding money or finances. Stealing money from you. Gambling money that’s needed for essentials. Using money for alcohol or drugs. Controlling what you spend your money on. Withholding basic needs. Not paying bills. Stealing your identity. Stopping you from working, studying. Financial abuse can continue after the relationship is over by refusing to pay maintenance, taking you through family court unnecessarily • Many victims cannot afford to leave their abuser and finances are sometimes one of the reasons why they stay.

25


Female Genital Mutilation • Female genital mutilation (FGM) is female circumcision. It is a cultural ritual in some countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In the UK some communities that originate from those countries practice these type of genital cutting, which can be partial or full removal of the female genitals. • The World Health Organisation estimate more than 200 million females worldwide have suffered this mutilation. • This is for non medical reasons and can cause severe bleeding, infection, problems urinating, in childbirth and death. • The procedure is carried out between infancy and 15 years of age. • There are an estimated 137000 females affected by this in the UK • Since July 2015 FGM Protection Orders have been issued 79 times to ensure the safety of girls at imminent risk of the procedure. 26


Honour Based Violence • Honour based violence is an incident of abuse or violence, instigated to supposedly protect family or community honour. • The police recorded 11,744 honour crimes between 2010 and 2014. • In 2016 the Forced Marriage Unit supported or advised in 1428 cases. • On average there are 12-15 honour based killings in the UK per year. • This type of abuse affects both males and females • Reasons for the abuse may be – Not following religious beliefs/traditions of the family/community – Dating/talking to someone without permission of the family or from outside the culture. – Refusing a forced marriage or wanting to leave a marriage. 27


Stalking • Stalking behaviour is present in 94% of murders. • Stalking includes repeatedly, phoning, texting or emailing you, spying on you in person or on the internet. • Following you, turning up at your home or work. • Sending unwanted letters or gifts • Ordering things in your name. • Contacting friends, family, work or other places • Threatening to hurt you, someone else or themselves. • Sending explicit messages or photos. • According to the ONS 1209 victims were stalked last year by a partner or ex-partner. 450 Men and 759 Women. • Statistics show you are more likely to be stalked by an partner/ex-partner if you are aged 16-24 and female. 28


CHAPTER THREE

Victims of Abuse Their Stories

29


You are not alone. Victims of Domestic Abuse are all around us.

These pictures were taken two weeks after this victim was attacked. The victim lost everything including custody of her children. She allowed us to use these pictures to show the extent of her injuries, so to discourage any other victims from staying with their abuser. 30


Far from home all alone These are the words of a young woman who escaped the abuse of her tormentor. Before I fled to my parents home in Bolton, I had left and gone back to my ex boyfriend so many times, but never once came back to Bolton. I wouldn’t tell my family the truth about what he was like. I lived in Cornwall miles from family and friends. I had a daughter from a previous relationship and a new baby to him. I felt I needed to make a real go of this relationship. I have been in hospital and a refuge, but still went back to him. Eventually in August 2016 I escaped by telling him I was going to visit my parents in Bolton, saying my mum was ill. At first he wouldn’t let me take the baby in case I didn’t come back but I convinced him I would. I lost count of the times he attacked me. Throughout my relationship with him, he was controlling, locking me in the house, taking my phone and money. On one occasion he snapped my bank card up just before Christmas. He scraped a key down my face making it bleed and then dragged me through the house by my hair, punching, kicking and spitting in my face. Then, he strangled me 3 times, to the point I struggled to breathe. I had marks and bruises on my neck. One night I had enough of him taking my money and phone and I went to a friends for an hour. When I went to get my keys

31


Far from home all alone. he held a knife to my throat, asking me where I had been and who with. He left a big scratch along my neck. I was so scared. There was no one I could turn to, no one stopped him and no one stood up to him and told him he was wrong. He abused me in front of my two daughters and his eldest daughter. His family and friends all saw the bruises, black eyes and cuts. When I asked his mum why he did this to me, she said he was like his dad and would grow out of it. He was always worse when he wanted a weed and couldn’t get one. If we had no money or the local drug dealer didn’t have any, he would take it out on me and the girls. I always knew when he hadn’t had any because he would smack the children and then we would argue because I disagreed with it. He would send them to their room and I wasn’t allowed to go in and see to them or give them food or even look after them if they were poorly. He never did any activities with them and never took them to stay with him overnight, even when he went off for weeks. It got worse. Not only did he bully me, he began to bully my eldest daughter, calling her stupid, ugly and a retard because she wasn’t his. Making me spend less money on her all the time. He controlled my money constantly and if I didn’t give him money, there was always a slap, punch, or an argument that would follow. He would not leave my house and wanted to stay over all the time. When I told him to leave he would demand sex. If I refused, he would make me suffer or say I was giving the children too much attention and then punish them. 32


Far from home all alone. He would never allow me to go out with friends and I was only allowed to go down and see my family once a year. His excuse was I couldn’t be trusted. I lost count of the number of times he accused me of talking to other men, which I never did, he was paranoid. If I wore make up he said I was doing it for the dads at school or nursery. Straightening my hair would cause an argument or the clothes I wore. If I was a little too late after picking the kids up from school, he would smash up my phone or tablet. He has smashed up my laptop, my straighteners and the children's’ toys. Always threatening me with things and controlling me. In September 2014 I was admitted to hospital. He had picked me up and threw me at my daughter’s pram. I hit my back off the wheel. He made sure he came with me, so he knew what I said to them. I told the Doctors I caught my sock on the stairs and had tripped. I had an x-ray and was given painkillers. When I came home he battered me again. so I took the two girls and went into a hostel. After a week the police came and said it was safe for me to go back home. It wasn’t long before he had got back in and begged forgiveness saying it wouldn’t happen again. Of course it did. It got worse and worse and there was nowhere to go.

33


Far from home all alone. On Saturday 20th July 2016 at approximately 3pm he attacked me for the last time. Grabbing me by my hair and throat, he threw me through a table breaking both my arms. I had lumps the size of golf balls on both arms in between my wrists and elbows. I still have scars on one arm and had bruising to my left leg from him punching me repeatedly on the same day. From that day, I had to plan my escape for good, I couldn’t stay there any more, I knew he would kill me. I talked him into letting me visit my parents for a week and I never went back. I left everything, and my children lost everything, their dad’s family and their friends. I arrived home last August. I am living in a two bed house with my parents and sister and the girls, but it’s better than living in fear everyday. I met a lady from Bolton Survivor Project who put me in touch with Fort Alice to give me counselling and advice and hopefully help me find somewhere to live. For me, my journey is just beginning, and I don’t know what the future holds. I am hoping to go back to college when my youngest is in school full time, and then I can get a good job. The most important thing for me though is that I took my girls away from it all. They never deserved to live like that and be treated like that. Please leave don’t stay, the children are more important than anything else. 34


Don’t Waste Precious Time It took years for this victim to have the confidence to leave. Here she tells her own story. I met him on Christmas Eve 2008, he was out with my best friend’s dad on his Christmas work’s party. I noticed him looking at me and we got talking. We exchanged numbers and the next morning I woke up with a smile, remembering the previous night. When I went around to my best friend’s house, her dad warned me he was a bad drinker and told me to be careful. I had never been in a proper relationship before, I was 19 and Mark was 33. This was all new to me. We began dating and had so much in common. It felt like we had known each other all our lives. I had been through a lot growing up and was happy to be part of something. Two weeks later, I started to have strong feelings towards him. I tried to keep it to myself but one night while watching a film he said, ‘I love you’. My heart stopped. Nobody had ever said that to me before. Quickly I said it back, but deep down I felt embarrassed, we had only been together two week. The more we talked the more we learnt about each other. He had joined the army age 16 and had a son he no longer saw. His girlfriend of twelve years had run off with his best friend. I was heartbroken for him. Trusting him. I told him about being abused as a child and aged eighteen I had been date raped. I had only ever told one person before him. Giving me a cuddle, he told me he would protect me now, making me feel loved and wanted, 35 so I thought…


Don’t Waste Precious Time Months later we were inseparable, madly in love and although a heavy drinker he was never an angry drinker. Then we went on a break away for a week and all we did was argue, but being 19, young and naive I didn’t want to lose him. We agreed to put the holiday behind us and make a fresh start. A year later I wanted my own place, he was having difficulty with his landlord, who had threatened to evict him. It made sense to move in together, we loved each other and wanted to be together. I worked full time and although he was on benefits, we shared all our money. I would go work and he would run the household bills, cook and clean. After the first month things changed, it wasn’t great anymore. One morning I left some money in an envelope with a note for him to pay the bills, and council tax, with a little extra for him to get whatever he needed. I went off to work. That night I came home and the flat was untidy. He was passed out on the couch and had been drinking all day. I left him asleep, cleaned up and made tea. When he woke up he apologised saying he wasn’t feeling well. It kept happening every few days, then days turned into months. Feeling used we began to argue, but it always ended up with me feeling sorry for him. 2-3 years down the line, things had grown progressively worse. I couldn’t understand why I loved him so much and began suffering from depression. 36


Don’t Waste Precious Time One night when he went to the pub, I noticed a piece of paper stuffed down the couch, it was a letter from the Magistrates Courts about unpaid council tax. Bailiffs were going to attend. I felt sick, I was crying and panicking thinking I would go to jail. All the bills were in my name. He had persuaded me he couldn’t have things in his name because of his ex-partner. When he came home he just laughed. I was in shock that he was finding this funny. He said, just calm down and don’t answer the door when the bailiffs come. I was so worried I rang them to arrange to pay £10.00 per month, explaining there had been a problem. He had changed so much, he was big headed and cocky and eventually I lost most of my friends. He kept saying that I didn’t need them in my life. It got that bad I had to speak to my best friend in secret. If I was on the phone, he would shout things like, what does that fat cow want? My family didn’t speak to me because they didn’t agree with our relationship. So, when I lost my grandma I felt I was alone and he was the only one there for me, he was my rock. Then I developed epilepsy. I started having blackouts and was unfairly dismissed from my job. I was awarded £4000 compensation and we paid a few bills off. He decided to take me Blackpool for the weekend to cheer me up and take my mind off things. It was perfect, we were back on track and so in love. 37


Don’t Waste Precious Time We stayed for two weeks, buying new clothes and really let our hair down. But deep down I was dreading going home, I knew once the money had gone we would go back to living like strangers. Once home, he began spending my money in the pub without even asking me. He would turn his phone off, even though my seizures were not controlled and he was being paid as my carer. Every penny went on beer and that’s when the abuse really started, hitting, name calling and spitting at me. He would come home drunk waking me at 4am demanding I make him something to eat. One night I said no, he grabbed my hair, slamming my head into the pillow and calling me a lazy fat bitch. Heartbroken and scared I went to make him some food. The next day he woke up in a mood, slamming things around and saying I’m no good to anybody and he only got with me because he felt sorry for me. I walked out and went to see my mum. My family gave me two options, choose them or him. I did the most unforgivable thing and chose Mark. I was so angry that my own family would make me choose. On my own, his words stung. Nobody loved or wanted me. He continued to stay up all night and all I wanted was the old us back. Gradually I realised things would never change, but still I tried to help him. His drinking got worse, drinking 15 to 20 cans of beer a day. When he ran out of money he would smash the flat up and sell everything we owned. I had to sell my jewellery just for food, but he took that too and we 38 lived off toast.


Don’t Waste Precious Time Without money, he couldn’t drink and he would take it out on me. Pinning me down, spitting in my face, demoralising me, saying he slept downstairs because he didn’t want to be near me. I was now staying out of his way in the bedroom, watching TV, whilst he played darts downstairs talking to himself. If I went to make a cup of tea, he would drag me by my hair back to the bedroom locking me in. I had to text him to go the toilet or for food and drink, he kept me as a prisoner. If I was in the bath he would throw freezing cold water over me, even though he knew the shock could send me into a seizure. Then one night he raped me. Afterwards, I got in the bath to wash all the badness away. I saw the bruises, old and new, that covered my body. I just didn’t want to be their anymore, I had no one and nowhere to go. I didn’t even have any money, since developing epilepsy he had taken over the money completely. Paying the bills because I had memory loss sometimes. He would use my insecurities and all the things I had confided in him, as weapons against me. He knew I couldn’t have children and would say I wasn’t a real woman all the time. He knew I had self-harmed as a teenager and he would taunt me, giving me scissors, telling me I was worthless, do it, you psychopath. I couldn’t take the anger and hurt any more and one day I cut myself again. At first he was shocked, but then he told me if I left him he would kill me and my family and then rape my nieces. 39


Don’t Waste Precious Time Frightened and in despair, I slipped deeper into depression, taking stronger painkillers to numb the pain and my mind. I was scared to leave the house, my room or answer the phone. Then one day I took an overdose, wishing I could be at peace. Next thing I was in hospital and they had pumped my stomach. Mark called me a stupid bitch. He insisted I had to go home and made me sign a release form. On the way home I asked to ring my mum, he said it was our business and no one else’s. That one night he was nice to me, bringing me a drink and food. Within days he was abusing me again. One night he came home drunk, waking me and demanding me to make something to eat. This time when I refused and he began hitting me, I fought back. He twisted my hand right around. I was in agony and took some painkillers but by early morning I couldn’t move my fingers. I left and ended up at my parents, lying to them saying I had fallen. My dad took me to hospital. It was broken in five places and they said it might need pinning. When I went home he said I was lying because it wasn’t in plaster, making me take the bandage off. When I went back to the hospital the pain was horrendous and they asked lots of questions, I panicked and lied. They explained the little finger bone had been pulled out of its socket and twisted all the way round. After I was discharged, I stayed at my mum’s house for 2 weeks but Mark wasn’t happy, ringing and texting me to go home. Still I covered up for him. 40


Don’t Waste Precious Time He begged forgiveness and said he loved me so much and eventually giving in I went home. He said he would change and even cried. I went to the bedroom and he had cut all my clothes up. I had no strength left to argue. It took two months for my cast to come off and I was still trapped. I no longer loved him, we were strangers, sleeping separately and he was addicted to porn. But he still controlled who I spoke to. Then in December 2014 I suspected he was with another woman, we argued and he again beat me. Speaking to people, I found out he had been cheating on me and that was my final push to leave. Everything happened so quickly. I decided to leave and move in with my cousin into a new house. The landlord said we could move in straight away but with no money I needed my parents help getting the deposit, they helped knowing I was leaving him. I don’t know where my strength and confidence came from but that night I told him I was leaving him. He began pushing me, but I told him I wasn’t afraid anymore, he couldn’t hurt me anymore or stop me. I packed everything. Finally, I felt hopeful, scared, but hopeful. When he saw the boxes, he started throwing them but I just repacked. The next morning he went to work, threatening to stab me when he returned. Terrified but determined, I left. I felt good, but I also felt guilty leaving him alone. I even bought him bread and milk and settled all the bills and cleaned the flat before leaving. At last I was free. 41


Don’t Waste Precious Time Life was hard starting afresh on my own after 6 years, he had taken a massive part of my life and it felt more like 40. I was sad and grieved for the good times but happy I was free. I received threatening messages and death threats, but slowly he realised I wasn’t scared of him anymore. It was hard living near him and although he didn’t have my address, I saw him walk past my house a number of times looking into different windows. He never found out were I lived. Writing this I question why I didn’t see all the signs before he began abusing me, but the changes were gradual, they didn’t happen all at once and I became lost in it. I really am a Survivor.

42


Mother’s Day by Cas Fletcher Everyone loves Mother’s Day, right? My favourite part is getting up in the morning to pick fresh daffodils. I put them in our best glass vase and begin cooking breakfast. Marmite on toast, two fried eggs, three rashers of bacon and one dollop of ketchup. I dither between orange juice and coffee, but choose coffee. It’s earlier than I expected, so the coffee will be appreciated. I arrange it all on the special tray I save for birthdays and Mother’s Day, and carry it carefully up the stairs. I open her bedroom door with my biggest smile. ‘Good morning, Mum,’ I say brightly. She stirs and glares at me. ‘What do you want?’ she grumbles. ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’ I say, beaming at her. ‘Aren’t I supposed to get a lie-in on Mother’s Day?’ she says, shoving her face back into her pillow. ‘It’s too early.’ ‘It’s early eleven,’ I say, checking my watch. She doesn’t move. ‘I made coffee. It’ll get cold.’ She groans and flips over so I can see her duckling pyjamas. ‘Give it here, then.’ I hand her the coffee and hover by the bed uncertainly. 43


Mother’s Day She takes a sip and spits it back out. ‘Eurgh, what did you do to this? Seriously, how do you mess up coffee? That’s gross.’ She sets it down on the cluttered bedside table. ‘Put that down, then.’ I set the tray gently in her lap and sit eagerly on the end of the bed. ‘You don’t have to stare at me,’ she says, picking up the knife and fork. I obligingly pick up my phone and pretend to be playing on it, but watch her out of the corner of my eye. She starts with the toast. She takes a bite and says, ‘Not enough Marmite,’ and puts it down. Next up are the eggs. ‘Did you even season these?’ She didn’t touch the bacon. ‘These aren’t done properly.’ She looks at the plate in disgust. ‘Why do you even bother cooking? You just shouldn’t.’ She picks the whole plate up and puts it on the floor for the dog to eat. ‘Okay, where’s my present?’ she says expectantly. I blink a few times. ‘Um, I didn’t get- I mean, I didn’t have any money-‘ ‘You didn’t get me a present? What the hell? Everyone’s supposed to get a present on Mother’s Day? What’s wrong with you?’ My jaw clamps shut and I don’t dare even take a breath. ‘You just don’t care about me at all, do you? You just hate 44 me, don’t you?’


Mother’s Day I shake my head. She throws off the blanket and stands up, stepping in the plate on the floor and getting ketchup on her bare foot. ‘For God’s sake!’ she shouts. She marches round the side of the bed and grabs my arm, pulling me up. ‘Just get out.’ She shoves me roughly out of the door. ‘Why do you have to ruin everything?’ she says, right as she slams the door in my face. I hop, one foot to the other, then shake it off. It’s fine. I can do it again, I can make it better. There’s always next year and I will do better.

45


This doesn’t happen to people like me. A story from a woman, who on the outside was independent, strong, and successful, but behind closed doors her life was in tatters. It’s been three years since we split. When it finally happened, it came suddenly. I couldn’t cope with what was going on any longer. At the time my daughter had been saying for a year, please leave him, I can’t cope with my dad anymore, please let’s go and get our own house. I always made excuses for him. Looking back, I never should have got married. I went through Fort Alice and when we did the Freedom Programme we did an exercise, “When was the first time he ... lifted a finger at you, swore at you?” Mine was when we were dating. He was my second boyfriend and he had a large capacity for drink. All his antics and bad behaviour, swearing, hitting, I used to blame on the drink. I used to cry and cry but I thought all men behaved like this, it was just part of life. I didn’t have the experience of anyone to talk to. I was with him for 21 years, married for 18 of them. He got up one morning and punched me in the face because I hadn’t made him his breakfast. He did it in front of the children, it wasn’t the first time and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. I remember putting my hands over my face and saying “you can’t do that to me. You’ve just hit me in the face.” He put his fist 46


This doesn’t happen to people like me. under my chin and said, “you fucking bitch, there’s plenty more where that came from.” Then, almost like a switch he turned, calmly sat down and took out his computer like nothing had happened. I was left in floods of tears, trying to get two kids ready for school. Unbeknown to me, my daughter had phoned the police. It was the first time the police had been involved. We had a nice life, nice house, big house, nice part of town, the children went to private school and we ran our own business, so I hid it. Everything was very much behind closed doors with a lot at stake. I did not want to be identified as one of those types of families. Not that there is a type. It took so much courage, and I commend my daughter because if she hadn’t have phoned the police, I would probably have just continued as we had for the past 21 years. Recently there had been a lot of abuse aimed towards her too. Lots of emotional abuse, name calling “you fucking bitch, you’re a stupid cunt, you’re a whore, a trollop, you’re fucking thick, stupid, your fucking mother doesn’t know anything, she’s so dumb don’t listen to her.” All towards a young girl, from the man who is supposed to protect her. My daughter tried to defend herself, she tried explaining her mistakes but he would cut her down with nasty words. I am ashamed to say he gave her a nosebleed, and a black eye, which she reported to the police when she rang them that final day, but because it was a year before and we hadn’t any 47


This doesn’t happen to people like me. medical proof and hadn’t told the police before, it was dropped. If you are wondering why I hadn’t rang them before myself, all I can say is, I was extremely frightened I would lose the children. My little boy would sit on the stairs, refusing to get ready for school, telling me I couldn’t fucking tell him what to do. That was the role model he had. I would say you can’t swear at me and he would say, why not? Dad does. It’s amazing how you forget things, and memories, when it’s happening to you. I boxed it up in a part of my brain, and thought I’m not doing any of that. Then, when I looked back through my diaries, I realised the abuse was every day. I ran all the business and looked after the staff, then just a few months before the split, he said I had to work from home with him. I wasn’t allowed to do anything or go out. I would go to do a family shop and he would ring me and say, I know where you are. I would say I’m at Asda, and he would say yes, I know, I can see you. He had put a tracker on the phone. He was extremely abusive to me in front of the children. He would throw plates of dinner at the side of my head or above it, so that when it shattered, food would go all over me and I would have to get down and pick it all up as it was dangerous. He would say your fucking mother is answering me back, the stupid cunt. Once he smacked my daughter round the face with a plate and kicked my son between the legs. Then he would get up one morning and say, I’m sick of all this arguing let’s go for a spa day. 48I


This doesn’t happen to people like me. was so confused. All day he would lecture me about my behaviour, what a terrible wife and mother I was, how I did everything wrong, how bad at everything and useless I was. The next minute he would be telling me how brilliant at this and that I was. He would torture me with mental manipulation and I never knew where I was. It was a feeling of walking on egg shells all the time. When my parents came to visit, he would be the cook and washer upper. He would say things like, she can’t do this or that, she can’t cook, I will have to make you a meal. The last time my mum came to visit I made Spaghetti Bolognese. He always wanted extra chilli, so I would take some out and do it separately for him. On this occasion, he accused me of putting rat poison in it, saying it tasted different. I said he was being ridiculous, I always divide the sauce and do it differently for you. That night he went in the bathroom and stuck his fingers down his throat, made a right loud palaver, saying I had made him sick, I was useless and couldn’t cook. My mum was gobsmacked. My dad was always polite to his face, but I’m sure he knew. Just before he died he said to me “I don’t know what bed you’ve made and why you think you have to lie in it, but let me just tell you, you don’t.” I wish he was here now so I could tell him that I got away. The last 7 years together he stopped drinking and I thought it was going to be over. I thought it was the drink that was to blame. For a couple of years, he was fantastic. We had hit rock bottom 49


This doesn’t happen to people like me. financially, so he set up his own business and we started to make money. I thought everything would be good again but the badness returned and I realised there was no drink to blame it on. I didn’t know where the anger was coming from and I became a shadow of my former self, I used to be happy and joyous. I was always independent but then he said I couldn’t have a job and had to work for him because I had these skills, and talents that were so important, and the business couldn’t survive without me and of course if the business collapsed it would be my fault. I believed him and when we split, he ran the business down until it collapsed. It was all my fault because I had dared to leave him. The first 6 months after that last night, he was on bail, eventually they charged him with common assault. He was given a restraining order, which he broke on several occasions. I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder, but 10 months later he moved abroad to Germany. He came back for a week here and there and saw the children, who didn’t really want to see him. The first 15 months I signed on sick, six months was stress and then I had three operations, plus counselling and the Freedom Programme. Both the children had art therapy and counselling. I imagined Fort Alice to be a block of flats where battered women went. I had no idea how many people they support in their own homes and those still in abusive relationships, they can’t get out of. But it was only funded for 6 50


This doesn’t happen to people like me months and they had long waiting lists. They need more money and more counsellors for children. In the Freedom programme, they talk about different abusers, he was king of the castle and the manipulator, it really gave me an insight into abusers. The most difficult part for me was how silly I felt. I am well educated and strongminded, I never thought someone like me would allow anyone to treat me like this. I always thought I would be the type of person who would be out the door. Now when I read stories of abuse, and people commenting saying, she should have left him ages ago, I side with the woman because I know how it feels in that situation. “I need to try harder, be a better wife, he’s the father of my children we can make it work”. Maybe that strength made me not want to fail. The children went to a local authority school, the pastoral care was great. The children felt angry and utterly rejected because he moved away. He came back for the court hearings, but disappeared straight after. Where do I see myself after the divorce? Free! The financial costs are hanging over me, touching nearly £20k. There is no legal aid, only for some parts of domestic violence and he is fighting me tooth and nail. He is taking me to trial costing £8000 each. I don’t understand why he would do this to us and his children, but it’s about manipulation, 51


This doesn’t happen to people like me. control, scoring points, how sad. I think he’s a narcissist, I heard of gas lighting which is psychological abuse where they distort everything you are saying and your realities. You think, did I say that, did I do that? That was the point I was at. I read about gas lighting in a book on the subject. I opened the first page and it was him, I read it all day. I stayed out of misguided loyalty, because I had a belief that things would improve, it was the drink, then the stress of running our own business. I think it was my daughter that changed it all. She said mum it doesn’t have to be like this. Why are you letting him talk to you like this, treat you like this? I sat crying and I began to question myself. Just before the split he left us for 3 months, saying we were all fucking annoying and he wanted room to think. He had gone abroad and insisted we went to visit for two weeks. It was constant abuse, smacking, punching and that’s when he hit my daughter round the face with a plate. We had to get back for school, and I had to get down on my knees and beg for our passports so we could leave. I remember stepping on that plane and thinking thank God I don’t have to see him. Whilst abroad he would ring me 60 or 70 times a day asking what I was doing, who was I with. I remember I had a friend for dinner and after the 18th text, she looked at me and said I don’t know what’s going on but that is not normal. 52


This doesn’t happen to people like me. His family have never spoken to me since the day he was arrested, they don’t send the children cards anymore, so very sad. It’s the loss of those moments Christmas and birthdays. They never wanted to listen to what happened, I am a liar, the dragon, a witch, because their son was perfect. I have been on my own 3 years, I can’t be bothered with men, I don’t trust or need them. Most dating is online and its full of weirdos and I can’t jump from one relationship to another, that’s not for me. The one support I had, throughout his beatings and abuse, and everything I have been through after we split up, has been my faith in God, my children and five good friends who were there for me. One friend turned up, when she found out, with one month worth of shopping. She knew I had no money. My daughter is a teenager now and she’s now in the realm of boyfriends. She worries they will turn abusive, so it’s really knocked her confidence, but there is no education in school. As soon as I get my divorce finalised, we are going to have a party. Not to celebrate the end of the marriage, because you grieve the end of a marriage, it’s a sad time, but this will be a celebration of the next part of my life and journey. It doesn’t include him anymore. 53


Crying for my babies The experiences and devastation abuse leaves behind. My father was abusive, physical sometimes but mostly emotionally abusive. He was American and the threat of violence was enough to stop us from doing anything wrong. We loved him very much and he was very intense and in your face, there was a real love and hatred at the same time. I used to wish him dead sometimes. I don’t like calling him but it was a walking on egg shells, type of life growing up. Always threats and silences, that was the mood of the house, I couldn’t be myself. When I met my abusive partner, I was happily married with my son’s dad. I fell in love at work, I wasn’t getting much attention at home. My new boyfriend was very intense like my dad, who had passed away the year before, ours was a very intense love, but It progressively got worse as I knew no different. That was how I had grown up, someone being very protective of you and I didn’t see it as controlling. Looking back now it was horrific. He was very paranoid, I took it as love. I had been with a man who was laid back for 10 years, I had been fighting for his attention, and now I was with this new man and it was like, wow, electric, and fast. I felt like a million dollars. Violence usually came with alcohol, 95% of the time. He is 13 years older than me, and he had been married before , I think he picked up with me where he had left off with her. 54


Crying for my babies I used to think you don’t speak to someone like that, but that’s how he it used to be with her. He would say, go on then ring the police, that’s what she used to do, and I thought I better not do that then, cos he used to slag her off. I didn’t want to be like her. They came out sometimes though, it was a joke. My son from my ex-husband lived with his dad. When my son came to visit, he rarely made him feel welcome. Sometimes, when I picked him up from school, we’d hang around town so as not to go home. I used to say how guilty I felt by not seeing my son as much as I could or should, but he would always talk me into thinking it was enough, saying “at least he has a mum”. He would always throw in his own childhood, and I would always let myself get talked into thinking the amount of times I was seeing him was enough. Eventually, after all the incidents against me, my ex-husband would, quite rightly, not allow our son to be anywhere near my partner. I got to see him even less. Now my bond is nowhere near as strong as it used to be. I’m still having to work at building a bond back up with him and it hurts. I fully trusted my partner when we first got together because of the way he was. I had no reason to doubt anything. Then, because of constant accusations I started to mistrust him. My exhusband helped me through a lot in our 10 years of marriage, my life hadn’t been perfect before, but as soon as I got with my abuser all the hard work he had achieved very quickly became unpicked. I eventually over time, became suspicious and untrusting, It’s like mistrust opened my mind. 55


Crying for my babies I look back now and remember how he used to go on and on about certain things, wearing me down and getting me to think his way. By the time I got to thinking or acting the same way, he’d change and turn things back on me. He was constantly paranoid and jealous, accusing and assuming, making things up in his head, making me on edge. I had to look on the ground when walking in the streets or in shops. Eventually I wouldn’t look at anyone when I was with him, even ignoring people I recognised. They must have thought I was really rude. He had a real thing about black men. Always accusing me of fancying them. It was like an obsession. My heart used to sink and I’d get extremely nervous, even if a black man came on TV or passed us in the street. He would be watching my eyes. It was horrible. He used to go on about “brown skin and brown eyes,” constant digs. There was always digs about how “you women” are. It would hurt and upset me because all the things he went on and on about were nothing to do with me and him. I never gave him any reason to distrust me. He would call me a bisexual bitch and I never understood why, then one day I was reading the paper and a female celebrity was on the page and he looked at it and said “what are you perving at?” There was constant pressure whenever we were out, like picking a seat on the bus. He would accuse me of sitting where I “knew the bus driver would be able to see me”. Even in takeaways and restaurants, I was accused of sitting in front of someone on 56


Crying for my babies purpose. There was one incident, where I had to find a place to sit and I remember being anxious about it, eventually I picked an area with the least people in and I still got accused of sitting somewhere, so someone could “look at me” and accused me of “posing”. It was always easier to not go anywhere. I can see now, how manipulative and controlling he was. One minute he would be so nasty and paranoid, making me feel so ill and sick, the next he was full of compliments ... almost making me seem like the most irresistible woman in the world! He was always trying to pressure me not to do things. Even trying his best to get me not to go to the gym or even swimming with my son at one point. At first, I mistook this for him really loving me, but it wasn’t love. He was apparently like this with another girlfriend too. He obviously didn’t think that much of me, he was like that with everyone. I thought I was special. It seems I was just taken in by words, promises, and charm. Someone else said he was a smooth talker, so he obviously knew what to say to “vulnerable women”. Then the violence got worse. I had two children within 17 months of each other. When our first baby was 4 months old, we were sat on the bed having a drink and he was playing his computer game. She was in the middle of the bed and began to cry, he wouldn’t let me see to her. When I tried to, he ripped my clothes off and my underwear, pinning me against a cupboard. I ran in the bathroom and tried 57


Crying for my babies to ring the police, but he smashed the door down and flushed the phone down the toilet. I managed to run outside, but then thought ‘my baby’. When I ran back to the door, he had a kitchen knife, so I went to hospital and they rang social services. While I was at hospital my brother showed up at the house and he was still very threatening. He was arrested and I took the baby to my mums. That is when the social services first got involved. Eventually I went home and used an old spare phone, but my sister was frustrated that I had gone back to him. She texted me that night saying, “well good luck with that then”. He would not cooperate with Social Services, and insisted I should take no notice of them. Eventually I was closed off to them. Incidents kept happening, so they stayed involved, and I got pregnant again. I went in a refuge, but I hid my relationship with him. Then something happened again and I couldn’t hide it. They didn’t trust me and rightly so. Even so, they got me a house after the baby was born. I went on the Freedom program and had to travel to Bolton from Wigan. It helped me put some things into perspective. But, he was still there pulling my strings and I am a very strong minded person and didn’t realise. The children were on a plan for a while, when another incident happened. A support worker came but I didn’t engage. He said it was just threats, they can’t do anything to us. I am so mad at myself for not listening to them and doing what they said. 58 He accused me of mollycoddling or smothering the children,


Crying for my babies when I was just using my maternal instincts. I had to suppress these feelings and it was mental torture. He’d make me feel guilty if I ever went to them and tried his very best to discourage me from breast feeding the baby. Even now I feel much of my maternal instincts have been trodden on and lost forever, it’s horrible and indescribable. I feel stone hearted and emotionless at times, whereas I never used to be. He’d usually want them in bed very soon after him coming to my home, if he’d been to work and I always felt pressured to “get rid, I don’t do brats”. Once, when the eldest baby was in her swinging chair, making a noise, he put her in the other room on her own, she cried and cried. It was like a child wasn’t even allowed to cry without being called a brat or being called an “attention seeker”. I began self-medicating with alcohol. My parenting was never in question, it was just me I didn’t look after. I let the health visitor in and I just told her everything. Eventually I signed a section 20. I thought it wouldn’t be for ever. But now I realise it could have just been a couple of weeks. They were never neglected, but I wasn’t stable. I wasn’t looking after me. They took the children and I was happy they were in a safe place. I just drank and drank and some weeks I didn’t see them. He was in the background pulling my strings. They were adopted by a lovely couple. It wasn’t a long enough time to sort me out. They wouldn’t let my family take them, making excuses why they couldn’t have them. At least then I could have seen them. 59


Crying for my babies I moved back to Salford and have support now, but after the babies went, I tried to drink myself to death. I used to drink at a safe level, then it got horrifically worse and I drank at every opportunity I could. I have done well the past year but I still struggle. The hardest thing is there is no point of life without my children, and I need a reason to carry on. I binge eat or look to things for comfort. I am waiting to see a counsellor at the eating disorder clinic. I was in love. I do try and analyse it. Was I extremely selfish? Maybe I was. He was giving me what I wanted. Maybe love shown by my dad, taught me about love. He was my first male role model, but my dad would not have wanted me to be like this. Only being away from my ex’s influence, have I been able to start agreeing with the professionals, that it is was NOT a safe environment for the babies and they could easily have been hurt in any crossfire. For me and my children it’s too late, I can’t turn back the clock. That’s why I agreed to tell my story, so that any one reading this, feeling like I was, can see the consequences. Anyone involved with social services, please do what they say. They are looking out for your children and if you can’t protect them, then they will step in and do your job for you. I would not wish my life, alone crying for my babies, on anyone.

60


A Lucky Escape A victim who shows how anyone can become a victim. When we met, I wasn’t attracted to him straightaway. He kind of just grew on me. He was my brother’s friend and they had met at work. It was just a gradual type of thing, talking and having a laugh and a joke. Then one day, he just texted me out of the blue, asked me did I want to go for a drink. He said best not tell my brother. So I went for a drink and we really got on. From then on I started seeing him regularly. After a few weeks I dropped a hint to my brother, his reaction shocked me. “He’s not boyfriend material” he said, “I saw him smack his girlfriend once when we were out. He’s a nut job when he’s had a drink.” I decided to call it off there and then. Whenever he texted me I just ignored the messages. Then after about a week, I was coming out of the hair salon where I worked and he was waiting outside for me. I could tell he was nervous, I was to, I was shaking inside. I didn’t know what to say to him, I really liked him but knowing what my brother had said, I knew he was dangerous. He begged me to let him explain, said he had found out she had been texting another lad, and he had found nude pictures on her phone she had been sending someone else. When he confronted her, she had laughed at him and told her friends that he was no good in bed, and she thought he was gay. “I just flipped, I don’t know why, I shouldn’t have done it. But she knew I had been abused by my Step-dad when I was a

61


A Lucky Escape kid. I loved her and she was trying to say I was gay like that bastard.” I felt so sorry for him, I thought she must be some kind of right bitch. We sat for hours in McDonalds, drinking coffee and holding hands. I told him about being bullied at school and about a previous boyfriend who had cheated on me. I also told him about my mum’s ex, who was really abusive to my mum and horrible to me and my brother. We had a connection, a real bonding after that night. We carried on seeing each other, sometimes he would become a little paranoid about what I was doing and who I was with, but I got that. I could be the same, although I never voiced it. I worried he might cheat on me, purely because I had been cheated on before. He never hit me though or anything like that. As time went on his paranoia become worse, and I could see he was trying to control me. He would tell me my friends weren’t good enough for me or that my clothes didn’t suit me. It hurt, but it hurt me the most because I knew he was lying about my friends, I had begun to not like him. Finally after 6 months of being together, 3 months of happiness and 3 months of gradually growing to dislike him, I decided to finish it. 62


A Lucky Escape He had arranged to take me to the cinema, to watch a new film. When he arrived to collect me, I was still in my works uniform. I asked him to come in. My mum knew I was going to finish it, so she had gone to my auntie’s house, to gives us some privacy. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got from him. I tried to be nice about it. I cared about him and didn’t want to hurt him or let him down, so I just blamed myself. I said I had loads of work on and was trying to gain more qualifications. I felt he deserved better. He began to cry and begged me not to finish with him. I was mortified. He told me he had so many plans for us. He wanted to marry me and he had booked us a surprise holiday and … I stopped him. “Dean it’s no good, I just need some space on my own.” I don’t know if those words had been said to him before, but it triggered something. He just grabbed me by my throat, slamming me down on the sofa. He began grabbing at my jeans and I was fighting him, really fighting him, I thought he was going to rape me. He threw me over and yanked my phone out of my back pocket. Then he let me go. I tried to run for the door but he was so much bigger than me. He dragged me back by my arm, practically throwing me down and whacking my head on the arm of the sofa. 63


A Lucky Escape He just kept screaming, “give me your password, you slut, give it me now.” I was absolutely hysterical and couldn’t get the words out through the tears. He was just standing over me barking, literally seething at the mouth, demanding to know who I was cheating on him with. Of course I wasn’t cheating on him, but no matter how many times I told him, he didn’t believe me. He smashed my phone against the wall and left. I was shaking, petrified. When mum came in she rang my brother and said she was calling the police. My brother told her not to, he was going to deal with it. He went in work the next day and threatened him, telling him to never come near me again. Two days later I received a delivery of flowers and a note saying how sorry he was. I just dumped them in the bin in the front garden. Then I received a letter in the post off him, telling me he was so sorry and ashamed of his behaviour. After a week of not hearing anything, I started getting messages off one of his friends. He said he was worried about him, he wasn’t acting himself. Would I give him another chance, he adored me? My brother said he had quit his job. I felt bad, but I didn’t want to be with him. I continued to get long text messages off him and Facebook messages, so, I changed my phone and blocked him. 64


A Lucky Escape Months later he turned up at my works, just out of the blue. I was quite unnerved by it all. He looked really pale and thin and just not himself. I actually felt sorry for him. I agreed to go for a coffee with him. He told me, he had had to quit his job, he was ill and had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the more aggressive form. He had asked the doctors, if that could have caused his violent outbursts and they said it could. I felt so bad for him and although I didn’t want to be in a relationship with him, I agreed to unblock him on Facebook so we could talk if he needed me. My brother wasn’t as kind, he told me he didn’t care what was wrong with him, he was a ‘not right.’ Soon he was texting me constantly, then ringing. If I didn’t answer he would turn up at my works, till eventually I told him enough was enough. I then began getting texts saying he was going to kill himself. I would become really worried and go round to his flat. I begged him to tell his family, he only had a sister, but he said they didn’t speak, and he didn’t want her to know. I became that worried I decided to contact her myself. I found her on Facebook and messaged her my number telling her to call me. When she rang, I was so shocked by what she told me. She told me, he had a wife and four children. He was not allowed to see them anymore, and that was why they didn’t speak. 65


A Lucky Escape After him and his wife had split, because of his cheating and drinking, he had beaten her up, breaking her nose and collar bone. She had him arrested, but dropped the charges when he told her he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Everyone, family and friends, including his parents, who he had told me had died, all of them raised money to send him on a holiday with the children. He had told them it was terminal. His sister told me, his father had suffered a heart attack with the shock of it all. It turned out that after the money kept going missing, people started asking questions and someone rang the police. He didn’t have cancer at all and he spent 2 years in prison for fraud and the assault on his wife. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Obviously I never spoke to him again. I blocked him and changed all my social media profiles and phone number. I even changed my job to a different branch. My brother went round with a couple of friends and had a quiet word with him. He moved out of the flat to a different area. I had a lucky escape, he was an abuser and I can see how easily I could have been sucked in by his lies. My mum always says liars and cheats will do anything to cover up the truth. I hope no one else has fallen for his lies. 66


CHAPTER FOUR

Through the Eyes of a Child

67


Through the eyes of a child. Children who grow up in a household or family, where domestic abuse happens, are affected by what they see, hear and observe. It is inevitable that they will be damaged by this. It is now seen as emotional abuse by Children’s Services, as well as potentially dangerous, for a child to live in a home, where Domestic Abuse occurs. 1 IN 5 children have seen, heard or observed domestic abuse.

In more than half of serious case reviews, domestic abuse has been a contributing factor. In these cases, emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse are usually present. A child may witness both physical and/or sexual abuse. Even if this is not in front of them, they can hear fights, threats and name calling, when they are not in the room. Many parents think that because there is no physical violence, this does not affect the children, but this is not true. If a child hears someone being abusive towards another person or aimed at themselves, they are more likely to be abusive or accept similar abuse towards themselves, whether physical or emotional. If a child is not present in the home at the time of the abuse, the after effects of the abuse can still affect them. They may observe bruising, blood, torn clothes, broken furniture, broken

68


Through the eyes of a child. toys. They see and feel the emotional effects it has had on the victim. Usually the victim is a parent, which leaves the child feeling even more vulnerable, as the parent is there to be strong, and protective and is now a victim. Children can feel the tension within the home, and the victims fear. Many victims describe this as ‘walking on egg shells’ or ‘tiptoeing around’. Children feel anxious and afraid, confused as to when the next episode will occur. The abuser is as predictable as they are unpredictable, leaving the child on the edge, not knowing what will happen, therefore never feeling safe. In addition they feel worthless and powerless to protect their parent and or siblings. They are trained to keep secrets, leaving them open to grooming by other abusers. In addition, many will feel guilty and blame themselves for being the cause of the abuse, not knowing what triggered the event. They may feel guilty for not stopping the abuse or be angry towards the victim or other family members, blaming them for the abuse. For a child these emotions are overwhelming, confusing, frustrating and life changing, leaving them angry, vulnerable, isolated and ashamed. Physically children may develop bedwetting or aches and pain. They may become withdrawn and they too may become the victim of the abuser, either primarily or whilst protecting others. Some self-harm or become violent to others. 69


Through the eyes of a child Growing up in a home where one parent dominates another or uses violence, shows the child that it is acceptable to get what they want, by using the same methods in intimate relationships. They also learn that violence is a way of resolving conflict. Some children naturally identify with the stronger parent, the abuser, and may join in with the abuse, showing little respect for the victim, who is usually the mother, removing the authority from the parent and allowing poor behaviour. In addition, in the case of boys, their views of women being weak, and it being acceptable to disrespect them is reinforced. Girls are more likely to accept abuse, verbally or physically as they see it as normal.

We all love our children and most people would not intentional harm them, but Domestic Abuse does harm your child whether they see it or not. The following stories show the damage witnessing abuse or being a victim of abuse can have on future generations. OUR FIRST STORY HIGHLIGHTS THAT THE LONGTERM AFFECTS OF ABUSE IN THE HOME.

70


If Only I Knew We received this story from a mother who felt she was to blame for her son’s suicide. For 17 years I was abused. It was back in the early eighties and there was no support back in those days. Every day was a living nightmare, never knowing what was going to happen with each day that came. It became a daily thing and I had permanent black eyes. I would be walking about with my eyes black and blood shot. It seemed I had so many bones broke that I lost count of the number of times I was beaten. I had my jaw broke, my elbow, my toes and even my feet were broken by the monster. I have scars on my head where I was hit with bottles. He tortured me with kidney punches, breaking my ribs, the pain of those were the worst. He raped me and sodomised me so many times that I still today don’t know how I survived. Some of the beatings were so bad I should be dead. I began drinking to numb the pain. This time when he attacked me, it did not hurt as much. But the drinking became worse and I ended up an alcoholic. With no support from anyone and the police doing nothing to help me, eventually social services took my children. Looking back now, I know this was a blessing in disguise. I decided I did not want to live like this, I wanted to survive and I wanted my children back, the love for them kept me going. 71


If Only I Knew Slowly I got on my feet and built a new life. I got my boys home again. Then I met a wonderful, kind, loving man and we had a beautiful daughter. My family was complete. Then 3 years ago my son Chrissy took his own life. It nearly killed me. I sit and wonder if I had only had the strength to leave his father sooner, would he still be here today. Did my staying damage him? It’s been a long road. The scars from the abuse have healed, but mentally they will never leave me and will always stay with me. Losing my son means I will never be whole again. I talk to Chrissy every day and I know he has never left us, but I can’t shake the guilt. When I look at young girls and women today, what really upsets me are how many of them think it's normal for their partners to abuse them. They think it is a normal way of life. I hope my story will inspire any young person reading this to leave their abusive partner. You may think your life is not as bad as mine was, but mine wasn’t to begin with. I hope this book does some good and reaches out to those people going through this, hopefully helping them realise it's not ok and they will survive if they leave. Just be strong xx

72


Childhood The following poem was written by a women who witnessed her mother abused by her father.

Childhood Muffled screams wake me, from dreams of Prince Charming, fists, thudding, pounding, broken clashes of glasses, begging, choking, strangled, gurgling Racing downstairs, a brave lion cub pounces with claws. Thrown aside like a ragdoll, So weak. A lifetime of leaving, all the time he’s still breathing, me hating my being. Tip-toeing round mood swings, try my hardest to please him, so the monster within him, stays asleep for a while. Teenage years, booming music, drowns out the screeching. I sit staring at matches, suck in the sulphur flame, creep to his room and scream the fire of my soul’s explosion of hatred, engulfing him, sending him straight back to hell. But nothing comes out of my spineless mouth. I am weak. 73


A Hard Life by Gill Whiteley This story is about Gill’s life at the hands of an abusive mother. She has since lived with two abusive partners, one of whom beat her, raped her and locked her in a cellar for two weeks. Both of Gill’s daughters have been in abusive relationships, themselves beaten by partners. Gill hopes she may break the cycle for her grandchildren by trying to understand why she accepted the abuse so freely at the hands of someone she thought loved her. Gill believes her childhood shaped her belief of what love was. The cold winter storm has left ice on the inside of the scullery windows. The curtain’s stuck with it's intricate strands of lace glistening with ice, like twinkling stars still in the sky. The child sits in the hearth of the fire trying to warm her hands as she folds newspaper into rounds and places them on the few embers she can find in the grate. Placing some slack around the embers, she blows gently in the hope that it lights first time, as she can hear the mother coming down the stairs. The mother looks sternly at the length of time the child is taking. Impatiently the mother plonks the kettle on the hearth and slaps the child across the head. “Hurry up will ya, I got work in an hour” she scolds and scowls at the child. Turning she walks out of the room cursing the child under her breath. The child squirms in the hearth trying not to cry or make a sound for fear of another slap or a spell on the cellar steps.

74


A Hard Life The coals begin to glow, as she blows she build up the slack enough so she can place the kettle on it, hoping it will boil quickly for the mother. At 5-30, on goes the radio for the morning news, she pours the tea out and places it on the table which is still cluttered with last nights pots, unwashed, dripping stuck to one plate, brown sauce on hers. She takes them over to the sink as the mother comes in. Mother drinks her tea, smooths her pinny at the front, turning to the mirror the checks her hair, stroking the curls, a small smile appears. She sees the child's reflection behind her and as she turns the child moves out of arms distance. She picks up mother’s bag and hands it out to her, closing her eyes she waits..............she feels the bag taken from her, again she waits........... 'Bang' goes the front door and silence falls upon the room. Opening one eye, she checks she is alone. She moves closer to the door and peers round and down the hallway. ‘She's gone' she sighs, her breathing more shallow and steady. Her cheeks begin to flush, not much, just a slight hint of pink. The child gently nudges the parlour door and peering round gingerly as the mother often hides – she says she is checking the child is doing her jobs! 75


A Hard Life The room is empty. She passes the little brown leather sofa that's all crinkly and cracked but oh so comfy, when she is allowed to sit on it, which was normally on a Sunday. A worn woollen blanket draped over it. In the corner is a small table where the radio sits. She turns it up so she can listen while she washes the pots. While the water was boils she rolls the mats up and takes them out in the yard, she will brush them later she thinks to herself, it was far too frosty just yet. She pours out the last of the tea her mother left and goes in the front room, sitting defiantly on the sofa listening to Moon River her favourite song. Suddenly the letterbox clatters, her head snaps round to look at the door, the panic setting in, her breathing becomes laboured. She realises it was just the post man, it was 7am, it must be another letter for mother. Another letter, another night of tears, maybe another night of terror and pain. She takes the big letter and places it on the table in the middle of the parlour, nothing else was allowed on the table apart from the mother’s letters. After washing the pots and boiling more water, she goes into the yard and beats the rugs with all her might. She drags the bath in and begins to fill it, kettle after kettle. The morning sun begins to filter through – she must remember to put towels on the window ledges to soak up the water when the ice melts. Diligently she fills the bath with enough water for the few clothes from the night before, she swishes the bar of carbolic soap about and leaves the clothes to soak for a while. 76


A Hard Life The news at 8am says its going to be cold but sunny. ‘That's good' she tells herself, she will be able to put the clothes out on the line for a bit. Running up the stairs she bounds along the landing and throws the door to her mother’s room open. She can still smell the perfume in the air, Lily of the Valley. Lifting her nose up to smell it, she smiles as she lifts the edges of her shift, twirling as if in a garden dancing through flowers. She twirls so fast she stumbles and catches her shoulder on the corner of the dresser – another bruise to match the others she hides from the world, it soon brings her back to the task in hand. She sets the fire going, wipes round the hearth and places the guard in front of it. She turns back the bedding taking time to make sure the sheets are straight, fluffing the pillows swapping top for bottom. Opening the large heavy wardrobe door, she gets out a clean skirt and blouse, carefully placing them on the back of the wicker chair, hoping they don’t slide off the rounded back. She places her slippers under the chair making sure the toes were on the line of the carpet, its brown and cream squares fading with the years. Taking a small piece of pink embroidery thread she found, she places it in front of the fold up clock on her mothers bedside table, she uses it to mark the exact spot on the table so she can take it down stairs for a while. 77


A Hard Life Checking the room is all correct she leaves the door slightly open and heads down the landing to her room. Her bed fits snugly in the far corner of the room in the alcove, far away from the window. She sets a small fire in her room with what little slack she has left. Cleaning the hearth and placing a guard round it, she pulls her little chair into the middle of the room and puts her nightie over the back of it. Her bedding is already turned back and her single pillow fluffed up. With her room done she makes her way down the stairs, brushing each one making sure the carpet is clean and the painted sides are wiped over. Taking the little fold up clock from her shift pocket, she places it on top of mothers letter, it now said 10.15. Hanging out the washing she can hear people passing in the entry. Women chattering, men laughing, slip slopping on the cobbles. Her belly rumbles, reminding her she hasn’t eaten yet. After the washing is all hung out she puts the kettle on to make herself some tea and puts some bread on the toasting fork. Grabbing a small cushion off mother’s chair, she sits by the hearth and listens to the man on the radio saying some important man, a Mr Churchill has died. ‘Wonder who will get the blame for that? Wonder if mother will blame me like everything else?' she mutters, secretly hoping someone else will be blamed. At 11.25 she goes and gets the ordered bread from the corner shop, as it will be fresh on the counter, its paid for in the 78


A Hard Life book at the end of the week. She places the little red book in her shift pocket, she must not forget to take it, then off round to the butchers for today’s meat order, liver and kidney was the order, again paid at the end of the week in the book. Skipping down the cobbles to the back door, she picks up some loose tar and flicks it at the cat on next door’s toilet roof. It snarls and shifts position, but doesn't move. Back home she puts the string bag on the table, runs upstairs checking on the fires, and makes sure the towels are soaking up the damp. She runs down again. At 1pm she puts the spuds on a low light on the cooker, so they only need warming up later – the cooker was only ever used to cook on. Placing the liver on a large plate, she covers both sides with the flour and covers them with another plate. The kidney already sliced is placed in a dish and covered. The onions are the worst, her eyes ever so red cry tears that stain her cheeks by the time she has finished. She splashes water on her face and wets a cloth. Sitting on the back step she bathes her eyes. The sun, trying to break through clouds that look heavy and full of snow, like they were about to burst. Next door’s cat now sits on the wall, waiting to pounce on any passing mouse in the entry, its tail swishing to and fro. Suddenly the tail stops, its bum wiggles and jiggles, its seen something, and as quick as a flash its off. 79


A Hard Life Her attention is brought back as she hears the spitting of water from the boiling spuds on the cooker. Gently putting the tip of the knife into one, so it doesn't break up, she tests it. It’s done. Putting a plate over them she turns the gas off, they will be just right when the liver is done. Going into the front room she looks at the clock, 3pm. She turns the radio off, lights the fire and puts the guard round it. Making sure the towel is on the window ledge, she takes the clock and folds it up, places it in her shift pocket, as she is 'clumsy by all accounts' and takes it back upstairs to the mother’s room. She places it exactly where the pink thread is on the table, making sure it is the right way up. She turns the lamp on and places more slack on the fire, careful not to spill any. She checks her room and places a little more slack on and on the way down the stairs she gives the brass carpet plates a quick rub over and heads back to the kitchen. Reaching up for the large pan, she fills it with water and places it on the fire ready for mother who is home at 4.15 and will want a wash. Under the Belfast sink is a faded yellow bowl, Palmolive soap, a once white towel now greying and a little threadbare, but it was 'hers', the only one she used when she got in. She brings the washing in and puts it all on the ceiling rack above the fire. 80


A Hard Life Time is ticking on, panic in her stomach rises, thinking and checking everything is done, ever fearful of the mother being in a bad mood, the sickness rising in her throat as it does every day. Everything seems in order, all she has to do now is pour the tea when she hears the key in the door. She tries to take a deep breath but it catches in her throat. The key turns in the lock, a footstep or two, the slam of the front door, she feel so sick, her throat gagging as she pours the tea, she moves to the kitchen and puts a low light to the spuds – the mother cooks the meals if nothing else. Not realising, she turns to see her mother already sat in her chair looking drained. Passing her some tea, she awaits the first slap. She waits and it doesn’t come. The panic rises further, to stop herself being sick, she goes to collect the big letter from the front room. Handing it to her mother the child sits in the hearth, waiting, waiting for some kid of reaction, but all there is silence. Her mother breathes heavily, reading the letter, cursing she throws it on the fire. She rises and the child squirms in anticipation of a slap. In total silence the mother walks to the kitchen and has her wash and proceeds to cook the evening meal. They both sit at the table and the silence is broken. “You done all ya jobs girl”. “Yes mother and all the fires are done”, smiling feeling proud of herself, she looks up at the mother and a resounding slap landed firmly on her cheek. 81


A Hard Life “Don't get cocky with me girl, you don't do much as it is, sulking in the hearth all day. I bet your head is full of daftness, now shut ya cakehole and eat. You may watch some TV in the parlour, I have to go out. When it says 9pm you get yourself up them stairs and get to sleep”. With that the mother goes upstairs to change. The child puts the pots in the sink to soak and to save her some time in the morning. Stoking the fire she puts the kettle on. The mother never even says bye or night on her way out, just the rattle of the house as the front door slams shut. 7pm the TV voice says. Not liking the TV she turns the radio on, sitting there on the sofa, with a brew and feeling grand, but her cheek was still smarting a little. She knows if she sits there any longer she will fall asleep and then there would be trouble. She dampens the fire down, closes the curtains, finishes the pots in the sink and places them neatly on the drainer with the pots towel over them. The house is quiet now, 9pm, the radio says. Carefully she turns the radio off and shuts the parlour door. She dampens the kitchen fire, closes the curtains and makes sure all is neat and tidy. Upstairs she places her mother’s clothes and her shift into the basket on the landing. Checking mother’s fire she places her nightwear on the wicker chair.

82


A Hard Life Her room is nice and warm. Quickly she puts her nightie on and climbs into bed. Lying there, looking through her open curtains at the stars in the sky, she watches them twinkling and dancing between the first falling snow flakes. She snuggles up on her pillow, her breathing light and calm, her aching and bruised body relaxed. “It's a hard life being 8, Mr snow flake, I cannot wait to be a grown up�. Slowly her eyes close and she drifts into a comforting sleep, her face pale and worn the pink flush long gone, her hair like a golden blanket on her pillow, her body not making a ripple under the eiderdown. Her breathing now shallow, she sleeps soundly with a small wry smile on her cherub face. The dawn will be upon her soon and her day is repeated.

83


A Small Mind by Cas Fletcher

I freeze in the top bunk as I suddenly hear raised voices. Usually I have a bit of warning or lead up, but I’d forgotten to take my headphones out when I saw my mum and her boyfriend go into their room. I’d wanted to finish the song I was listening to, but I got so absorbed in the book I was reading that I hadn’t even realised when it ended. I heard Dave first. His voice has that vibrating quality people sometimes have when they shout, making the walls and my headphones useless against his tirade. I feel the familiar thrill I my chest and my hand shoots under my pillow, gripping my little silver flip phone. I take out my headphones, listening carefully, and going through the events of the evening to see if I could figure out what started it. My brothers, Ray and Caleb, and I had come home from school. Caleb immediately began fighting with our sister Jade over who got to choose what to watch on TV. Ray sat on the sofa to watch them, always amused by their antics. I hung up all their bags and shoes, but before I could stop them playing tug-of-war with the remote, Mum came thundering down the stairs. They stopped when they heard her, but it was too late. 84


A Small Mind ‘What’s the matter with you lot?’ she demanded. ‘Can’t I get five minutes peace? It’s the same every day and I’m sick of it, so pack it in.’ She snatches the remote from Caleb’s hand and shoves it into mine. She leaves again and I put on a program I know they both like, but the tense atmosphere soon drives my brothers outside to play. I was left to entertain Jade, so I let her watch whatever she wanted until Dave came home. The door banged open and the steel toe-caps slapped against the lino in the hallway. ‘You want to control them little shits,’ he shouted up to my mum. ‘They shouldn’t be out in the road like that.’ I knew he was making a big deal of nothing. We lived on a cul-de-sac in a sleepy village, population 400. But my mum reacted anyway. I heard the window upstairs open and Mum’s voice floated outside. ‘Boys, get out the road!’ After the usual, ‘That’s disgusting, why do you let her do that?’ directed at me about my sister being in her pyjamas all day, Mum came downstairs and changed the channel. Jade slunk away to our room to play games not long after. I was kept busy for the next hour or so, making them both coffee and feeding the dog, then turning on the oven. My siblings and I were having chicken nuggets and chips for dinner, but this wasn’t good enough for dear, old Dave. 85


A Small Mind He demanded steaks, which my mum was more than happy to provide. We sat at the kitchen table, knowing by now that only silence was permitted, while they watched TV in the living room with their dinner. Dave worked as a delivery driver for a brewery, and always got crates of free or discounted beer. My heart sank when he came in to grab a couple of bottles from the fridge. ‘Nice to see you lot behaving for once,’ he muttered on his way out, the whiff of the bright blue work trousers he was still wearing filling the room. I caught Ray’s eye once he was gone. Neither of us were very hungry anymore, but we would be in trouble if we didn’t finish. I’d lost count of the amount of times Dave had made Jade cry, not letting her leave the table until she’d finished, sometimes for hours. We weren’t allowed to leave the kitchen until Mum and Dave were finished, we just had to sit and wait. Dave came back for beers two more times, telling me off for being out of my seat while I was loading the dishwasher. They were finally done and the rest of the evening was uneventful. So, as I sit in my bed, I realise that anything could have set him off this time. Was it my fault? Had I done something wrong? Or had something been said when I couldn’t hear it? 86


A Small Mind The voices are escalating in volume and I can feel my heart pounding faster. This sounded worse than the usual shouting match, so I pull the phone out from under my pillow and climb down the ladder of my bunk bed. Jade is awake. Again. She’s only six, she shouldn’t be awake so late at night. Mum starts screeching next door. She wonders why Jade still wets the bed. Usually Ray and Caleb sleep right through the arguments, but this one is much louder than usual. I see them across the hall, eyes wide, too scared to go past Mum’s bedroom door to my room, as was their instinct. They’ve always felt safe with me, ever since they were little and would huddle in my bed with during thunder storms. I’m used to this. I’m always prepared. I have a spare set of bedclothes for Jade in case of an accident, and I’m really good at judging when a good moment to run across the hall is, because, of course, this isn’t the first time. This isn’t even the first bad boyfriend. I count four so far. I think they call it revictimisation. I call it poor decision making and impulsiveness. I wait, ears pricked, until the argument ramps up in volume again, and beckon the boys across the hallway. Mum’s door is closed, so they won’t be seen. We all cuddle together on Jade’s thankfully still dry bed, my phone still clutched in my hand. We sit together for what seems like hours, listening, rigid. 87


A Small Mind Until I hear Dave roar. No words, just a primal scream, and then a loud thump. My mum makes a sound that I’ve never heard her make before. An odd squeal that tells me all I need to know. I dial 999 on my phone and stand up so they can hear me over my sister’s terrified sobbing. ‘Hello, which emergency service do you need?’ ‘Hi, can I have the police, please?’ ‘Connecting you now.’ I wait, barely breathing. ‘Hello, what is your emergency?’ the police responder says. ‘I need the police,’ I say again, my trembling voice betraying my twelve years. I then make the effort to sound more grown-up, so they take me seriously. ‘There’s a man here, and I think he’s hurting my mum.’ The responder’s voice softens. ‘Okay, darling, can you tell me where you live? Then I can send someone to sort it out.’ I tell her my full address, even the postcode, but I have to spell out my street name since I don’t know how to say it. ‘Okay, they’re on their way, sweetheart, I just need you to stay on the phone with me, okay? Just until they get there.’ ‘Okay.’ ‘Can you tell me who the man is? Do you know him, or is he a stranger?’ 88


A Small Mind ‘I know him. He’s my mum’s boyfriend.’ ‘Okay, and is there anyone else in the house, or is it just you?’ ‘My brothers and my sister are here.’ Just then, my mum comes out of her bedroom. ‘Who are you talking to?’ she asks. Clearly she heard me through the wall. ‘It’s the police,’ I say, backing away from her. I don’t want her to take the phone, but she does anyway. She speaks to the nice lady on the phone for a minute, then hangs up and takes my phone away. Dave is out of the house within minutes to walk around the village. The police come even though my mum told them everything was fine. They say they have to check it out anyway. My mum says, ‘Oh, we were just having a bit of a shout and she got scared, that’s all.’ Then tells them that Dave has driven off somewhere. They don’t believe her, especially when Ray says, ‘But his car is over there.’ With Mum saying nothing, all they could do was leave with an apologetic grimace in my direction. Mum pulls me towards her and starts to cry and say she’s sorry. I push her away, though, disgusted by her lies and her determination to protect Dave, to choose him over us. He’ll be back. He always is. 89


A Child of Abuse I would wake up every day feeling like shit. The same problems running through my head and unable to focus on the things I needed to deal with. I have weird thoughts and have done for as long as I can remember. It happens constantly and sometimes I have night tremors. My anxiety gets worse when I feel down. I try everything not to let it get the better of me, but sometimes it does, and it makes me so ill, I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. Everything stops, I don’t clean up or even wash. Then I don’t know how, even though I am agitated, and stressed, I manage to keep going for my little boy, I am all he has. The pain really gets to me because even though I am part of a big family, no one seems to bother with me or my son. It has always been like this, even when I was growing up. I developed behaviour problems from an early age and my mum gave up on me. I never got the right help, although Social services tried to help me, I never knew what it was really like until I was old enough to cope on my own. Growing up things seemed fine until I was about 7 or 8. My mum and dad would argue and fight all the time. Mum would leave me and my sisters with my dad, and he would get stressed with all us kids, and take it out on us. I was the eldest and it seemed like it was always me he punished the most. My mum started taking drugs and my dad was always in and out of our lives. 90


A Child of Abuse I found out about this time he wasn’t my real dad. I soon realised that was why he hated me, I wasn’t his real child. As I got older, it seemed as if he would go out of his way to be nasty to me. It was worse when mum went out, he would hit me and scream at me. When I was about 8, I remember swearing at him. He rammed a bar of soap in my mouth, through my teeth making my mouth bleed. Age 12 I got caught smoking and he held me down and literally poured a full ashtray into my mouth. There were so many nasty, little things. He always had it in for me. I hated him for what he did to my mum, but knowing he wasn’t my real dad made me hate him even more. When I was 13, social services came and took my sisters. Mum was bad on drugs, her and dad were always fighting. Dad got a new house and took the girls out of care. I was left, forgotten by social services, it was like I didn’t matter. Mum and dad secretly got back together and I was left in a four, bedroom house on my own, fending for myself. I lived at all the neighbours’ houses in the street. Strangers would feed me. I was 16 when I fell pregnant. My son’s father was nearly 60. I was just looking for love, someone to protect me and take care of me. He would call me names like slag, and hit me. He wouldn’t let me go anywhere or talk to my friends. Eventually with the help of a friend’s mum I was put in a hostel for young mums. They helped me get on my feet and sorted out benefits for me. 91


AChild ChildofofAbuse Abuse I met a few other girls in there in similar situations, young mums who had got pregnant, to escape living at home with abusive fathers. After living all over the place for 5 years, I finally got my own flat. I was 18 and with a 2 year old, I settled in to being a mum. As my son grows, I constantly worry if I am doing the right thing. When dealing with his behaviour or his emotions, as a mother, I have no one to turn to and ask how to do it. There are times when I sit and worry about him, what if someone hurts him or takes him. I am sure other mum’s must feel this way sometimes, but I have no one to ask. The worst time is Christmas. Me and my son are alone. My mum and dad don’t live far from me. Sometimes I see them and my sisters, but they don’t even speak to me or ask how my little boy is. I want to cry because I don’t know what I did to deserve this. Most of all I don’t understand how anyone could treat their own child like this. I avoid men completely because every man I have ever met is violent and abusive and I don’t want that for my son. I will carry on doing my best for my son, he deserves the best. I love him very much.

92


Fairytales by Jane Gregory My little sister whines animal-like noises on the landing. Sitting on the top stair. I hold her tiny hand and wrap my other arm round her trembling shoulders. They jerk up and down, as she whimpers. Her nose pours like a tap, snot mixes with tears, covering her tiny, red, quivering lips. She won’t stop crying and I’m trying to listen. I need to hear, but she won’t stop crying, and crying, and crying and I want to put my hand over her mouth to shut her up, cos if he hears us, it will make him beat mam worse. Putting Tracey on my knee, rocking her back and forth, I tightly press her ear to my chest, covering her other one with my hand. Her crying slows, but her little shoulders still shake in time to the gulping tremor in her throat. I so wish I could cover my ears so I don’t have to hear. A loud bang makes me jump. Stupidly I scream out, setting the baby off again. A warm wetness seeps into my new nightie. I realise she’s wet herself. Taking her in the bedroom, I beg her to stop crying, stay there, be a good girl, stop crying, please. Mam’s begging and choking, I can hear him strangling her in the living room. Racing downstairs I am a lion cub, Elsa from Born Free, free as the wind blows. Bravely I pounce with claws in his back. He just throws me to the side like a ragdoll. Spitting in my mams face as he slams the front door. 93


Fairytales Wiping her cut eye with my nightie, I find a cardigan to shroud her shoulders and ripped blouse. I bring her my Sindy mirror so she can see how bad her face looks. Standing behind her on the sofa I watch her reflection as her pretty green eyes fill with tears. Don't cry mam it's ok. Go to bed, she finally says. I know there’s no point asking her to leave. She never does. Upstairs stroking my baby sister’s hair and face, I tell her it’s going to be ok and give her my Rupert the bear to cuddle, the one dad bought me for my eighth birthday two weeks ago. As I watch her sleep, I kiss her chubby cheeks, red and tear stained. I close my eyes and imagine being far away, carried away by Prince Charming on his white horse, with my mam and my sister and we will live happily ever after. Far away from the big bad wolf, I call my dad.

94


CHAPTER FIVE

Those Left Behind

95


Katie My story is a little bit different to everyone else’s. I want to tell my story, to raise awareness of domestic abuse, from a different perspective. I am a victim, but I refuse to spend my life hating. I am a victim because my sister was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. After she was killed, I lost not only her, but the one thing she loved more than anything in the world, her precious children. For legal reasons, I cannot go into too many details about my nephews and nieces, but I want them to know, that I am writing this story for them and for their mum. I want them to know, that where ever they are, whatever they are doing right now, and in the future, I will always be here for them. I think about them every day of their lives and I love them with all my heart. My sister is a couple of years older than me, but I was always her protector. She was bullied, right through her childhood and this continued through her adult life. She didn’t have a great relationship with our family either, and I was the one always supporting her, picking up the pieces of her sadness, making sure she was ok. She left home at 15 and went to Blackpool living on the streets, she had a real mixed up and sad childhood. My sister was called Katie Summers. She had four children to Brian Taylor, who killed her when she was 24, in her home, while their two youngest children were there. Katie met Brian on a bus in Farnworth. We had noticed him on the bus and when we got 96


Katie off, he jumped off and followed us. He asked her for her number, and that was that. They started dating, and soon they had a little girl. The first time I learnt about the abuse, my niece was taken into care. Brian had locked Katie and my niece in his flat. He had beaten Katie. She caught the attention of a passer-by by shouting out the window, and when Brian told him to ignore her, she was crazy, she had escaped out the front door, using the man’s phone to ring the police. Afterwards she kept going back to him, so they took my niece. She was pregnant at the time and when her little boy was born he was taken too. Katie had never really been loved and those that did love her, showed their love in the wrong way. She didn’t know what love was, he was all she knew. She really believed he loved her. She decided to move to Preston and he soon followed. Luckily for Katie, the Social Services in Preston were fantastic and supportive. They guided her, gave her confidence to be herself and be strong. She had two more children and they helped her with parenting and budgeting. They opened her eyes, to the fact Brian was the problem. He was taking her money and abusing her, yet she was still managing to get on her feet. She would give me her post office card and asked me to get the shopping and pay the bills, making a choice, knowing it was the only way of getting 97


Katie food for the children. The social worker and myself, helped her build up the courage to leave. He was never going to change. He was drinking and taking drugs and spending any money they had. She moved about after leaving him, but he always followed. The first place was back in Bolton, it was supported accommodation. He soon turned up and she sneaked him in under a false name. She told me at the time she thought she loved him. She was already beginning to realise though, it was because he was the father to her children, and not because she loved him for him. She didn’t want to break the bond the children had with him, because of her own childhood. Eventually she moved to other homeless accommodation and he moved back in. Within weeks, he was asked to leave for being violent to staff and other residents. He wouldn’t stop coming around, so she was asked to leave too. For a while they moved in with his mum, until she was given a home right around the corner from myself. It was great having my sister back, living right around the corner. I was so close to her children. I had been there when they were born. I passed her house every day when I went out. I would call for a chat and a brew and supported her. I was there for her, no matter what she chose to do. It wasn’t long before Brian and her were back together, and splitting up. Numerous times the police would ring me to go to her house to calm the 98


Katie situation down. I was the peacemaker, the calming influence, the level headed younger sister. I would speak to Brian normally, not angrily and try and get him to see reason. Deep down I should have hated him. I do hate him, really hate him, but I won’t give him that influence over my feelings. Just a few days before he killed her, I had to go round and get him to leave. He came back again and she rang the police on him. She had him arrested. He was getting worse and more aggressive. She was very worried he was going to harm her. She told me he was going to kill her, because she had rang the police. I didn’t think for one minute he would, and told her he wouldn’t do anything with the children there. She was petrified. She begged me to promise her one thing, ‘If anything ever happens to me. If he kills me. Please Sarah, promise me you will always look after my children.’ Of course I promised her. I would fight my last breath for them. I never for one moment thought he would kill her. The morning of the 9th October 2008, I was speaking to Katie on the phone, she was in the back garden hanging out washing. She seemed fine. Sometime after that. Within the next hour, he came to her house and killed her. He made a joint, then took both the boys to his mum’s house, they had blood on them. Brian told his mum what he had done, than he walked off. His mum waited 99


Katie an hour to ring the police. An hour she lay there on her own. When I found out about her being killed, I went into auto pilot. I had to tell my family, my sister, and mine and Katie’s dad. I knew the children were safe, with their grandma. Unfortunately by the time I got to her house, she had rang social services and given the children to them. It took me two whole days to even find out where they were. My sister had been brutally murdered and no one would tell me how my nephews were. Eventually the police family liaison officer, after a lot of phone calls, found out for me. I just wanted to hug them and hold them, but I wasn’t allowed. I had always been the peacemaker, never the child. I was the person who fixed everything. She got bullied and I would stick up for her, and now here I was breaking the last promise I made to her. They wouldn’t let me have the children. The courts and the social services, thought it was in the best interest of the children, that they had a fresh start, and the help they needed to overcome, the traumatic life they had had. Of course, I wanted what was best for them. When they said they need specialist help, I agreed to let them go, as long as I could still see them or have contact with them. The court said I could. The reports said they needed to know about their background, to deal with any psychological scars they may have developed from what they had 100


Katie witnessed. They were adopted. I wrote to them over and over again, but their new parents just sent them back. Nothing. No word of how they were, if they were safe, nothing. Here’s me a young woman, buried her sister, sitting through two court cases, her murder trial and the child protection case for their care, holding on to my sanity, by keeping focussed on making sure Katie’s kids were kept safe. My feelings were worth nothing. In fact, all the way through the case, the courts talked about how the children’s feelings, were more important than anyone else’s and they would need answers as they grew. Then after they were adopted, it was I felt, only the feelings of the adopted parents that counted. I wrote to the court, begging them to keep their promise of allowing me to have some form of contact. Even if it was just a letter to them. The court said it was out of their hands now they were adopted. I threw myself into campaigning. I couldn’t handle losing those children. I worked with police forces and charities who dealt with domestic abuse. I learnt so much about my sister’s case, the abuse and stalking was extreme. Her story was used for case studies, to help the police and other agencies, learn from their mistakes. I learnt that the police want to do their best, but the laws are not tough enough. Their hands are tied. In cases like my sister’s the police get bad press but it needs to be said, that 101


Katie they attend so many homes, and the women wont press charges. One officer I spoke to said, he had been to 3 incidents of domestic abuse that day. He was very frustrated. His words were, ‘all we are doing is putting a plaster on the situation and walking out, nothing is changing’. One police force had to answer 70 questions, on the system, to define if that person was suffering domestic abuse. 70 questions is unacceptable. It is a waste of police resources, it takes too long and unfortunately because of that, many cases are missed. The IPCC investigation of Katie’s case, found that each incident the police had been called out to, over a period of 8 years, had been dealt with individually. It had not been cross referenced and seen for the risk it was. Chances had been missed. Either way nothing was bringing my sister back. I worked with a charity called Network for Surviving Stalking. They had developed a 12 step checklist to recognise stalking. I spoke to numerous victims of abuse, both women and men. One woman had been tied up with dogs and made to eat with them, it was unimaginable. That’s why this story and this book needs to be read. Domestic violence affects everyone in society. From the families of the victims, the children, the employers, the health service, social services, the courts, the schools, the volunteers, the charities, the police officer, who has to attend a home and see the dead and mutilated body of a 102


Katie victim, sometimes murdered alongside their children. We are all affected. Domestic abuse is not just behind closed doors. We need to get involved. Don’t leave them to it, it’s not just their business. People need to step forward, show them it’s wrong, show the victim it’s wrong. Support them. Let them know you don’t judge them and they are not on their own. Whether they choose to stay or they choose to step out of the situation. Victims don’t need family members, saying they won’t speak to them, because they have chosen to stay. They don’t need social services saying the same thing. If you are doing this to a victim, you are being a bully and controlling, just like the perpetrator. You can’t just tell someone to drop everything. They don’t have the resources, they haven’t had the same logical, and emotional education to just leave. Support them. Build their confidence. Let them know you are there for them. Educate them. If you are a victim yourself and you are reading this my advice to you is:- Find one person that you can talk to. A person you can trust and confide in. Someone that won’t judge you, whether you stay or leave. You will only make the next step when you are ready. Stop beating yourself up. 103


Christine A niece’s story of how her aunty only had one way to escape. I was 12 years of age and my mum had taken us to Blackpool for the weekend. We had had a brilliant time, just me, my mum and my sister. Dad was working away and we had got the train there. Our bed and breakfast was on the same road the station was on. When we got back we waited at the top of Oldham Street to get the bus home. I can’t even remember the time, it must have been early afternoon. As we went to get on the bus, our old next door neighbour Mrs Wynne was getting off. She looked at my mum with such sadness and said ‘I’m sorry about Chris’. Mam looked puzzled, then her face just dropped. I could see the panic in her eyes. Chris was my mum’s cousin, she was one of her best friends. She was my aunty and I loved her very much. She was very kind to me, always buying me girlie things, painting my nails, dressing me up, putting lipstick on me. One summer, I was about seven, she spent hours putting my hair in tiny little braids. Literally took her all night, stood up doing it. I loved it, especially when I took it out and it looked crimped which was the all the style. Aunty Chris was married to a Welsh man, bit of a hard nut. Everyone called him Taffy. He had a scar down his face from a knife fight when he was younger. They had two children a boy and a girl. Steven was my age and Laura was the same age as my sister. Taff used to batter her all the time. 104


Christine She was very beautiful and only tiny, very attractive. She was the life and soul of the party, always singing and dancing. He beat that out of her too. Eventually, after 10 years of being kicked all over and losing 3 babies, because he still battered her when she was pregnant, she left him. She moved right away to the other side of Manchester and started a new life. But he found out where she was living and wouldn’t leave her alone, he terrorised her. The week before she killed herself, she came to see us. I was in and out, playing tennis against the side of the house. If I had known I would never see her again, I would have stayed with her. I remember she looked ill, pale, and drained, not her normal happy self. We learnt later she had gone to see all my aunties and uncles that past week. They reckon she was saying goodbye. She got drunk with her best friend and after a night out, went into the toilet of her friend’s house. She slit her wrists downwards, drank bleach and then hung herself. She made sure she didn’t survive. We were numb afterwards. her best friend was traumatised, she couldn’t handle living there any more, but the council wouldn’t move her. Nothing happened to him of course, he just carried on with 105


Christine his life. Remarried, had a little boy. Steven and Laura went to live with aunty Paula. Him, that animal that did this to her, the bully who picked at, kicked, slapped, punched and tortured my beautiful aunty, he died last year. We had a party to celebrate that the evil animal was finally dead. I look at my own daughter now, she has long brown, thick hair, she’s small and pretty, got a good singing voice too, just like aunty Chris. So like her in so many ways, the only difference is, I have given her the tools not to end up with an animal like she did. Love you Aunty Chris xxxxx

106


An Angel saved my life. When I was 17, I was in relationship with someone I had known since I was small. He was 3 years older than me. We started going out when I was 14 and still at school. He was quite controlling, telling me what to do, who to speak to, what to wear. I never told my parents. On the night of my school prom, I wasn’t allowed to go off with my school friends, I had to go to his house and be with him. At 17 I fell pregnant and he tried to force me to have an abortion. When I refused he threatened and bullied me, so I finished with him. The abuse continued throughout my pregnancy and it made me very anxious and ill. I spent a lot of time in hospital. He rang me one day and told me that if I had the baby, no one else could be it’s dad and if I got a new boyfriend, he would slit my throat. In the end I told my parents and my mum went to see him. He hit her and she retaliated. He rang the police and she was arrested. She had never been in trouble with the police before and was charged. 107


An Angel saved my life. I still went back out with him, even after all he had done. He would have me running about after him and make me leave the baby at home with my mum. He wanted my full attention and wasn’t interested in anyone but himself. It didn’t last and I finished with him for good. A couple of years later I met someone new. He was older than me and was really good with my daughter. I got my own place and before I knew it, he had moved in. My dad didn’t like him straight away, but my mum always likes to give people a chance. Within a couple of weeks I could see he was very paranoid and he had a real problem with cannabis. I ended up paying off all his debts, and running out of money, to the point I couldn’t go in any local shops, because I owed them money for food, which they had allowed me to owe, till I got paid. I never went out, but one night it was my best friend’s sister’s, Hen party.

108


An Angel saved my life. My mum insisted I went, and me, Stacey my best friend, and Leanne her other best friend, met up with all the older girls. We had a really great night. I really liked Leanne, we had met a couple of years before at College. She was doing Travel and Tourism with Stacey, and I was studying for my A 'levels. We had gone on a few nights out and always had a really good laugh. Two years after my daughter was born, Leanne had a son, on the same day. We had a lot in common and really got on. The night of the Hen night we all got dressed up in fancy dress. She was so funny that night. She was a top dancer and could do these crazy moves with her hips. We called her snake hips. She was so bubbly and nice. Absolutely stunning. Gorgeous looks and a great figure. She wasn’t big headed or anything, but we used to say she could have picked any boy she wanted. Just a couple of weeks after the hen night, I went on a charity fundraiser with my mum and when I got 109


An Angel saved my life. home my boyfriend Kev was asleep. I quietly crept into bed next to him, and fell asleep too. Suddenly, I woke up to find him over me, screaming in my face. He demanded to know, who I had been having sex with earlier that night. I was terrified. He put his hands round my neck and squeezed until I passed out. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t know what to do. The following day, mum came round to take me shopping. She wouldn’t lend me money anymore, because she suspected he took it. He answered the door and I left with my little girl. When we arrived at the supermarket, I burst into tears. I said ‘I can’t go back there mum, look, look at my baby.’ My daughter was only 2, she had blood down her face. He had gagged me, tied my hands, barricaded the front door and tried to pull the gas cooker off the wall. He said he wanted to kill us all. When he couldn’t break the gas pipe, he took a knife and slit his arm, in front of me and my daughter. The blood had gone on her face. 110


An Angel saved my life. Mum was scared I would go back, so the following week, she took me and my sisters to visit my greataunty in Leicester. One morning, mum was straightening my hair, she was looking at me in the mirror, when she suddenly said my face was drooping. I was only 19, we thought it was Bell’s Palsy. When I got home, I stupidly ignored mum’s begging not to go back to him. By the following week, I was suffering from really bad headaches. Mum didn’t think it was anything, but said to go the hospital. I went with my sister and Kev and they told me, I had had a TIA, a mini-stroke. The following day I was dragging my leg and the left side of my body was paralysed. Kev was abusive with the staff and eventually my mum questioned me. I told her about him strangling me. She was very angry, but I begged her not to tell the police. She insisted I move back home. While I was in the hospital she moved all my things and told him to stay away. He kept coming to my parent’s house when 111


An Angel saved my life. they weren’t in, trying to persuade me to get back with him. Eventually after numerous threats to burn our house down, stalking me and threats he would hurt my parents, I rang the police and reported him. He went to prison for over a year. While he was in prison though, my parents were convinced I would still get back with him. Of course they were right, and even though they moved me miles away, near to family and people I knew, when he got out of prison, I secretly met up with him. He said he had changed, he loved me and wanted a fresh start. My dad was raging and he never came to my house again for about 3 years. My younger brother didn’t speak to me for 3 years either. My mum was heartbroken, but tried her best to get some help for Kev’s mental health problems. Unbeknown to my family, the abuse started again and a cycle of another 3 years, and another 3 prison sentences, for him abusing me, did not stop us from getting back together, every time he came out. 112


An Angel saved my life. I was headbutted, punched, thrown across a room, thrown threw doors. Screamed at, kicked, hair pulled, bitten and called every name you could call someone. He controlled everything I did. I left and started afresh, my parents would help me set up a new home and then I would have him back. And then one day out of the blue everything changed. Leanne my friend from the Hen night had recently split with her boyfriend. They were always on and off. I had only met him a couple of times and I really didn’t like him. He was the father to her son and I hadn’t seen her for ages. Me and Stacey had bumped into her in Manchester Town Centre, I was shocked at how she looked. She just didn’t look herself, she looked drained and tired and had lost a lot of weight. She told us, Ian had been giving her loads of abuse and he wouldn’t leave her alone. On the 11th of March 2012, I had got up and gone on Facebook. My newsfeed was full of statuses from 113


An Angel saved my life. Leanne. Someone had obviously been on her Facebook and written abusive and personal things about her. Really nasty and horrible things, that I won’t say because I will not dishonour her memory with his evilness. I messaged her and a few of our other friends did, to let her know someone had hacked her account, but she was already gone. Stacey rang me hysterical, she couldn’t get the words out. Ian, her little boy’s dad, had murdered her. He had broken into her house and killed her in front of her beautiful little boy. She adored him the whole world, she loved him, as much as I loved my daughter. Her brother and mother had ran inside to help her, but it was too late and the coward had ran away. I was in shock. Hysterically I rang my mum, who was petrified Kev had hurt me because I couldn’t get the words out. She came home to comfort me. I couldn’t believe it. I had spoken to her two days before, arranging to visit her for a party, and now she

114


An Angel saved my life. was gone. Stacey my best friend, her best friend, had been ringing her the same night, she had spoken to her just before he killed her. Reeling from shock and hatred for her boyfriend, the next few months became a daze. My life carried on the way it had before, and my mum kept telling me, it could have been you. She could be the one burying her daughter, I still didn’t leave. The trial into the murder of, a loving mum, amazing daughter and beautiful friend, began in the September 2012. Ian Lowe sat in the defendant box with his back to me. I couldn’t help notice, how much he looked like Kev from behind. I listened to the evidence, it sounded like my life. I saw the pictures of my beautiful friend, after he had finished destroying her and I will never, ever forget those images. I looked at her family, her parents, her brother and her friends and saw the pain etched in their faces. Then I thought about her precious son and couldn’t imagine my little girl 115


An Angel saved my life. growing up without me. One day me and Stacey went with Margaret, Leanne’s mum, for a brew at court. I told her about my boyfriend and her eyes said it all, she begged me to leave him. She begged me not to end up like Leanne. Two weeks after the trial, for the final time, I asked Kev to leave. It wasn’t easy. The threats continued for months, until one night my mum recorded him threatening to rape me and my two sisters, age 15, and 16. The next day she took it to the police and he went on the run. 2 weeks later, he was caught living in his friend’s flat, 200 yards from my house. My mum had moved in with me and we had lived like hostages, not daring to go out, until he was caught. I have not seen Kev since that day. Well I have when I’ve been driving past, but he’s never saw me. Even now the thought of him makes me shudder. I am free though and that’s all that matters. I am a survivor and a butterfly who got her wings. 116


CHAPTER SIX

I’m a Survivor

117


You Can Survive Updates from some of the stories you have read DON’T WASTE PRECIOUS TIME A few months after leaving my abuser, I started dating David, a guy I had known for years. I felt so bad and guilty because me and my ex both knew him. He totally changed my life around. I didn’t mean to fall in love with him but he treated me like a queen, helping me get through so much in my life. Sometimes, if we bumped into my ex, there were a few arguments. Once he tried to punch me in the face in front of Dave, they ended up fighting. Then something changed, the ex became aware I wasn’t scared anymore, he couldn’t control me any longer. He just backed off. Almost 3 years later me and David are happily married and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My family adore him, my friends adore him, he is my rock. My confidence is slowly returning. The physical injuries heal, but I won’t ever get over the mental abuse. David is so loving and tells me we were made for each other. My one regret is not leaving him sooner and finding happiness. Wasting time, when time is precious. I have recently been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It’s taking over my life each day, but my amazing husband is by my side, building my strength, to fight each day. I really would be lost without him. Before this all happened to me, I would shout at women on the television who were abused by their partners. I have learnt now

118


You Can Survive from experience, that when you are in that situation, when you have invested time, energy and love, when you have nobody to turn to, when you are broken with no strength or confidence, and the mental abuse takes over, you start to believe what they say to you. Nobody understands this until they have been through it. There were many times I wanted to call the police and have him arrested, but once he was released who would face the real punishment? Me….. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I really do hope this helps people. It may not feel like it, but if you are going through something similar I want you to know you are better then what they say, you are worth more, you can do it on your own, you have to for your own sanity. Xxx ************************************* FAR FROM HOME AND ALL ALONE After fleeing Cornwall with nothing I was so ashamed about everything that I had allowed to happen. Now almost a year on I am finally getting on my feet. With the help of Fort Alice and the Council I have just been offered a new home for my and my girls. I have nothing, no furniture but I am happy and free and safe and my girls are smiling. I still have to block messages from people in his family but I know they don’t know where I live and can’t hurt us anymore. For the first time in a long time I am looking forward to my future. 119


You Can Survive THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN TO PEOPLE LIKE ME I can’t say the last 3 years haven’t been hard, but I’ve been so blessed by so many people, so many close friends and so many things I’ve done. When I finally went back to work I was working 50 miles away. It turned out my boss had 3 sons at my daughter’s school, the first thing she said was, don’t worry about your hours as long as you are doing your core hours its fine. If there’s an emergency just make the hours up. I couldn’t believe it. That was a fixed term contract, and then I got another one, with another flexible boss. Where I work now they are very understanding and open to my past situation, they value your experiences and what it can bring to the organisation I am working for. The key thing for me is, being a survivor is a very long term thing. When the services stop and everybody disappears, all you are left with is your friends. If you have children to bring up, you are pretty much left on your own. Get out there to your local centres and support groups, where you can dip in and out. If you are reading this and recognise your partner may be abusive, remember, when what you are going through, you don’t always recognise as domestic violence. I thought domestic violence was repeated hitting and beating up, I didn’t recognise the abuse side of it. This is domestic abuse, the mental abuse can be just as bad or worse. Sometimes hitting is the very last thing that happens. 120 Leave, start a new journey. There is life after abuse.


You Can Survive A CHILD OF ABUSE My son is nearly 10. I have just got my first ever job. Going for the interview I was a nervous wreck. I had never had the confidence to apply for a job before. I always thought no one would ever give me a job. I have been there three months and I am so proud of myself. This year I can’t wait until Christmas. Me and my boy are going to have the best Christmas ever. As for men I don’t date, I am not interested in love I have all the love I need here. I wouldn’t want anyone treating my son badly because he is not their son. I am just fine on my own, I don’t need a man to be happy. ***************************************************** Katie’s sister Sarah is adamant, services, education and awareness, needs to change for domestic abuse to be recognised for what it is. She has put her campaigning on the back burner, for the time being. She felt it was taking over her life and she hadn’t had time to grieve the loss of her beautiful sister. She is currently running her own business and happily married with children. She is waiting for the day she is reunited with Katie’s children. Her finally message is to them. I love you and will always be here for you, when you are ready. 121


You Can Survive – A Hard Life Gill is only 56, she has early onset dementia. Her doctor believes it may have been brought on by head trauma she suffered as a child and adult. An active member of her local community, she runs a Dementia Café and campaigns for greater understanding of her condition. In her spare time she loves to write and is currently writing her life story, before she forgets it, she said. She has a message for the readers of this book. After all these years of domestic violence, I can finally breathe. No more waiting for the next bruise off my daughter to be explained. No more running up streets, trying to get kids to school. No more thinking 'what next'. Almost 60 and I feel, I must make the best of what years I have left. I have both my daughters back as sisters, after so many years. I feel my family are now as one, united in our own saying, we got out, we are staying out, and hope others can take strength and do the same. It’s like the old fire safety saying, get out, stay out call 999....that is a good interpretation for DV. Stick to your guns, stay safe, stay strong, protect your kids, even if it means taking a hit for them. When you achieve this, then breathe and know your breath won’t be choked out of you. Remember - you are not to blame, you are the victim be you male or female, be strong to live your life for your family, your kids, but foremost for YOURSELF 122


You can Survive – Crying for my babies After losing my children I was on my own drinking too much and in and out of hospital. I moved back to my mums. Been back since 2011. The first few years were hard and up until a year ago I was on a death wish. I was prescribed a drug called Naltrexone which really helps me it’s for alcohol addiction. I have had a year off drinking so I’m signed off services but can still go. I go Achieve that helps and I joined a women’s group but its stopped now. I love meeting people. Over the past year I became involved with different groups did some activities and I want to work towards trying not to be depressed but think what’s the point sometimes. I find it hard to muster up mental energy to make a life. I’ve lost my heart but I want to do something to make them proud. Its hard to prove the lies that there father will say about me. I have been on antidepressants since 15. But I’m leaving that behind. I have no plans for the future and have become very passive. My social life is a computer at the minute, I’ve joined a gym and lost 3 stones in the past year. I’m scared of moving forward as I’m not very reliable and because of my past my son who is 13 doesn’t want to see me. I miss him. If there are any people who live with someone controlling, get out, get help. Don’t lose your children, fight for them. Surviving for me is just that, without my children I’m not living. 123


You Can Survive – An Angel saved my life. 6 years on, after having the strength to leave my abuser. I have another beautiful little girl and I am proud to announce I have another little bundle on the way. I have a loving, caring and patient boyfriend, who puts me first, always. Leanne was my angel, she helped me become a butterfly, giving me wings to fly away. Leanne was the reason that Salford Survivor began. My mum set it up because she was so desperate to get me support and help, when there was no real help at that time if I stayed with my abuser. Leanne is the real reason this book has been written. If there is just one message I could give to anyone who is going through abuse, it is the same message Leanne’s mum Margaret gave me - Leave, I beg you leave, don’t suffer like Leanne. So if this book can save just one life, can help one more person to survive, then in memory of her, we have achieved something. 124


An Angel Saved my Life – In memory of Leanne Mcnuff the Angel.

125


CHAPTER SEVEN

How to Survive

126


Surviving Abuse If you are currently in a abusive relationship or living in an abusive home, it can be very difficult to admit to others and yourself, that the abuse needs to end and you are not happy. There are a multitude of agencies locally and nationally that can support you to leave your abuser. Some agencies will work with you to cope with the situation, if you choose to stay. Some programs work with the perpetrator too. You may be embarrassed, scared for your own or other peoples’ safety. You may feel obliged to stay for other reasons. Whatever your choice, it is YOUR CHOICE. Please get some support, you have more chance of resolving issues or keeping your promise to yourself, with the support of others, than on your own. You are not alone. You are a survivor of abuse no matter where you are in your life. Once you leave you become a BUTTERFLY or an ANGEL. The choice is always yours, take back control. 127


Safety Tips Leaving list of essentials Have a bag with money, important papers, such as Identification, a cheap mobile phone, contact list of emergency numbers and a change of clothing for you and other family members who are leaving with you. Keep this bag packed and hidden, preferably with a friend or family member you trust. Buy a cheap mobile phone. Keep it hidden somewhere in the house that you can retrieve if needed. It does not need credit to ring 999. Make an escape plan, like you would a fire escape plan. This is important so the children know how to escape safely. How will you get out of the house? Avoid enclosed rooms- bathrooms or cupboard where you cannot escape or areas where there are potential weapons such as a kitchen (knives) or the garage (tools). For further help on safety plans visit https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivorshandbook/making-a-safety-plan/#14479269652958f67f8a6-62c7 128


Safety Plan for living without the abuser. Keep doors and windows locked at all times. Let neighbours and any person living with you know if they see anything suspicious or hear shouting to ring the police immediately. Make sure the front and back areas of your home are well lit. There are government schemes to provide safety measures such as this. On returning home or to your vehicle ensure you have your keys in your hand. An attacker can catch you unaware, whilst you are looking for your keys in your pockets or bags. Alter your routines, leave at different times, go to different places that you would not normally go. The most dangerous time for an escaping victim is after they have left the perpetrator. The abuser has run out of ways to control you, they may become angry and desperate, therefore it is important you are aware of your own safety at all times. GET SUPPORT. JOIN GROUPS. YOU ARE NOT ALONE 129


National Services for Domestic Abuse Domestic Violence UK Helpline 08082000247 www.domesticviolenceuk.org Safe Lives Helpline 0117 403 3220 - Good website www.safelives.org.uk/ Victim Support 08081689111 Mon - Fri 8pm-8am 24 hours weekend www.victimsupport.org.uk National Centre for Domestic Violence 02071868270 or 080097020 www.ncdv.org.uk/ National LGBT Domestic Abuse 0800 999 5428 www.galop.org.uk 130


National Help Child Victims of Abuse If you feel that the child is in immediate danger call 999. NSPCC – Helpline 24 hours a day 08088005000 For adults https://www.nspcc.org.uk/services-andresources/nspcc-helpline/ CHILDLINE- Helpline for Callers 18 and Under call 08001111 https://www.childline.org.uk/ Barnardos http://www.barnardos.org.uk/ Children’s Society https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/ SAMARITANS – Helpline 24 hours a day 116 123 http://www.samaritans.org SupportLine 131 Helpline 01708765200 http://www.supportline.org.uk/


National Help Children Coram Voice Advocacy for young people Helpline Monday – Friday 9.30am – 6pm 0808 800 5792. http://www.coramvoice.org.uk Scotland Only – Children First Helpline 08000 28 22 33 https://www.children1st.org.uk The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) Helpline 0808 801 0331 Mon-Thurs 10am-9pm, Fri 10am-6pm www.napac.org.uk MOSAC (Mothers of Sexually Abused Children) Helpline 0800 980 1958 or 020 82939990 Weekdays http://www.mosac.org.uk/ SurvivorScotland – National Strategy for Survivors of Childhood Abuse www.survivorscotland.org.uk 132


National Male Victim Support Services Mankind Initiative – Helping Men escaping Domestic Abuse Helpline 01823 334244 Weekdays 10am-4pm http://new.mankind.org.uk/ Men’s Advice Line Helpline 08088010327 Tues & Thurs 10am – 4pm http://mensadviceline.org.uk/ SurvivorsUK Helpline Web Chat For adult male survivors of rape or sexual assault. Mon-Fri 10.30am – 9pm, Sat – Sun 10am – 6pm https://www.survivorsuk.org Survivors Manchester - Supporting Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Rape Helpline 08088005005 http://www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk/ DV Men – Making sense of DV against men website http://www.dvmen.co.uk/ 133


National Male Victim Support Services Refuge - for Men Helpline 08082000247 http://www.refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/help-formen/ http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/male_victims_of_dome stic_violence.html Male Survivor Trust – website of information around abuse against men. http://malesurvivorstrust.org.uk/ Victim Support's Male Helpline 0800 328 3623 – Mon to Fri 12 noon to 2pm Rape and Sexual Violence Project Helpline 0121 233 3818 for both males and females http://www.rsvporg.co.uk/ Men's Aid Helpline 0871 223 9986 = 7 days a week 9am -9pm http://www.mensaid.co.uk/ 134


National Female Victim Support Services National Domestic Violence helpline runs in partnership with Womens Aid and Refuge 0800 2000 247 open 24 hours Womens Aid www.womensaid.org.uk Refuge www.refuge.org.uk/ End the Fear http://www.endthefear.co.uk/ CISters for survivors of family sexual abuse. Helpline 02380338080 www.cisters.org.uk/ Rape Crisis England and Wales Helpline 08088029999 www.rapecrisis.org.uk/ Hidden Hurt – an invaluable website about Domestic Abuse 135 www.hiddenhurt.co.uk


Specialist Helplines ADFAM – Family Drug Support and work with Domestic abuse. Website has a find help section with local support groups. www.adfam.org.uk FRANK Helpline 0300 123 6600 http://www.talktofrank.com/ UK National Drugs Helpline 0800 77 66 00 http://www.urban75.com/Drugs/helpline.html Supportline UK Helpline 01708 765200 http://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/drugs.php Action on Addiction Helpline 0300 330 0659 www.actiononaddiction.org.uk Families Anonymous Helpline 0845 120 0660 136 www.famanon.org.uk


Specialist Helplines City Roads Crisis Intervention Helpline 020 7278 8671 24hr Emergency residential care for drug users in crisis. Please note the service is for drug users in crisis only DAN 24/7 Drugs and Alcohol Helpline 0808 808 2234 For people in Wales www.dan247.org.uk Know the Score – Drug information Helpline 0800 587 5879 - Scotland www.knowthescore.info Phoenix Futures – Drugs & Alcohol Telephone 020 7234 9740 UK Narcotics Anonymous Helpline 0300 999 1212 www.ukna.org Release – Drugs & Alcohol Service Helpline 020 7324 2989 www.release.org.uk 137


Specialist Helplines Re-Solv Enquiries: Drugs Helpline: 01785 810762 www.re-solv.org Turning Point: Drugs, alcohol, mental health. Helpline 020 7481 7600 www.turning-point.co.uk Luke and Marcus Trust Fighting the devastation of drugs. http://www.lukeandmarcustrust.org.uk/contact-us/ Drinkline 0300 123 1110 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm Al-Anon Helpline 0207 4030888 10am -10pm http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/ Alcoholics Anonymous Helpline 0800 9177 650 http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/ 138


Specialist Helplines Samaritans Helpline 116 123 http://www.samaritans.org/ Turn2me Free online counselling Mental Health https://turn2me.org Ben Support for life – Mental Health help http://ben.org.uk SANEline Helpline 0300 304 7000 – 6pm – 11pm http://www.sane.org.uk Mind Telephone 0800 123 3393 www.mind.org

139


Helplines for Honour Based Violence KarmaNirvana Helpline 08005999247 www.karmanirvana.org.uk National Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline 08000271234 for Scotland www.natdomesticabuseforcedmarriagehelpline.org.uk Against Forced Marriages Helpline 0800 141 2994 http://againstforcedmarriages.org/helpline Forced Marriage Unit – Government Unit Helpline 0800 141 2994 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm www.gov.uk/stop-forced-marriage Halo Project 01642 683 045 www.haloproject.org.uk/ Freedom Charity 0845 607 0133 140 www.freedomcharity.org.uk/


Bolton Services Fort Alice Helpline Refuge 01204 701846 (24 hour) Support services 01204 365677 (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) www.fortalice.org.uk Endeavour Project Offering a pet fostering service. 01204394842 www.pawsforkids.org.uk Also run a SAFE HAVEN project but referral only. Bolton at Home Domestic Abuse Scheme tenants only Contact 01204328143 www.boltonathome.org.uk/domestic-abuse Bolton Integrated Drug and Alcohol Service (BiDAS) 01204557977 www.boltondrinkanddrugs.org/ Fresh as a Daisy – Charity providing sanitary products to vulnerable females. www.twitter.com/bolton_daisy Bolton Survivor Project – listening ear and signposting https://www.facebook.com/boltonsurvivorproject/

141


Salford Services Salford Women’s Centre 0161 7363844 www.salfordwomenscentre.co.uk Salford Women’s Aid & SIDASS Salford Independent Domestic Abuse Support Services – for all genders 0161 7933232 www.salfordwomensaid.org Achieve Salford Recovery Service 0161 745 7227 https://www.gmmh.nhs.uk/achieve Together Women’s Project 0161 787 8500 http://www.togetherwomen.org/ Domestic Violence Unit GMP 0161 856 5171 or 0161 856 0288 Salford Survivor Project – listening ears & signposting https://www.facebook.com/Salford-Survivor-Project142 381961205263127/


Local Services Domestic Violence Helpline – for all the Northwest 01925 220 541 Abusive Partners Programme – for male victims and male perpetrators 01744 454 438 St Mary’s Sexual Assault Centre 0161 276 6515 42nd Street – Mental Health advice for age 15 to 25 year olds. 0161 228 1888

143


References for statistics Page 6 • ONS (2015), Crime Survey England and Wales 2013-14. London: Office for National Statistics • ONS (2015), Crime Survey England and Wales 2013-14. London: Office for National Statistics • Burris, C. A., and Jaffe, P. (1983). Wife abuse as a crime: The impact of police laying charges.Canad. J. Criminal. 25: 309– 318. Page 8 • Popa, Mirela Simona. "Domestic Violence And Its Consequences On Health". Management in Health XIII, no. 3 (2009): 11-14. • Black, M, C et al (2011) The National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report Atlanta Georgia Page 9 • Alcohol, Domestic Abuse And Sexual Assault. Ebook. 1st ed. Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2017. http://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/pdf/IAS%20report%20Alcohol %20domestic%20abuse%20and%20sexual%20assault%20sum mary%20briefing.pdf. 144


References for statistics Page 10 • Galvani, Sarah. "Safety First? The Impact Of Domestic Abuse On Women's Treatment Experience". Journal of Substance Use 11, no. 6 (2006): 395-407. Page 11 • "Focus On Violent Crime And Sexual Offences- Office For National Statistics". Ons.Gov.Uk. Last modified 2015. 6https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/cri meandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoff ences/yearendingmarch2015. Page 12 • 1,2, &3 - "Signs, Symptoms And Effects". NSPCC. Last modified 2017. https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/childabuse-and-neglect/domestic-abuse/signs-symptoms-effects/. • 4 - In Plain Sight Effective Help For Children Exposed To Domestic Abuse. CAADA’S 2Nd National Policy Report. Ebook. 1st ed. Bristol: Caada, 2017. http://www.safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Fina l%20policy%20report%20In%20plain%20sight%20%20effective%20help%20for%20children%20exposed%20to% 20domestic%20abuse.pdf. 145


References for statistics Page 14 • 1,2 & 3 Statistic - "Focus On Violent Crime And Sexual Offences- Office For National Statistics". Ons.Gov.Uk. Last modified 2015. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/cri meandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoff ences/yearendingmarch2015. • 4 - Insights Idva National Dataset. Ebook. 1st ed., 2017. • 5, 6 & 7 - "Intimate Personal Violence And Partner AbuseOffice For National Statistics". Ons.Gov.Uk. Last modified 2016. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/cri meandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoff ences/yearendingmarch2015/chapter4intimatepersonalviolen ceandpartnerabuse. Page 15 • Walby, S and Allen, J, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault & Stalking. Findings from the British Crime Survey. Home Office, 2004. 144 p. • Alcohol, Domestic Abuse And Sexual Assault. Ebook. 1st ed. Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2017. http://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/pdf/IAS%20report%20Alcohol %20domestic%20abuse%20and%20sexual%20assault%20sum mary%20briefing.pdf. 146


References for statistics Page 16 • 1,2, & 4 - "Focus On Violent Crime And Sexual Offences- Office For National Statistics". Ons.Gov.Uk. Last modified 2015. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/cri meandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoff ences/yearendingmarch2015. • 3 - "Sexual Assault And Abuse | Womenshealth.Gov". Womenshealth.Gov. Last modified 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/violence-againstwomen/types-of-violence/sexual-assault-and-abuse.html. Page 17 • 1 & 2 Statistic - "Focus On Violent Crime And Sexual OffencesOffice For National Statistics". Ons.Gov.Uk. Last modified 2015. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/cri meandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoff ences/yearendingmarch2015. • 3 - "Intimate Personal Violence And Partner Abuse- Office For National Statistics". Ons.Gov.Uk. Last modified 2016. • https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/cri meandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoff ences/yearendingmarch2015/chapter4intimatepersonalviolen ceandpartnerabuse. 147


References for statistics Page 18 • 1,2, 3 & 5- "Intimate Personal Violence And Partner AbuseOffice For National Statistics". Ons.Gov.Uk. Last modified 2016. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/cri meandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoff ences/yearendingmarch2015/chapter4intimatepersonalviolen ceandpartnerabuse. • The Government Reply To The Sixth Report From The Home Affairs Committee Session 2007-08 HC 263 Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage And "Honour"-Based Violence. 1st ed. London: TSO, 2008. Page 19 • "What Is Domestic Violence? Teen Dating Abuse". Domesticviolencelondon.Nhs.Uk. Last modified 2017. Accessed May 6, 2017. http://www.domesticviolencelondon.nhs.uk/1what-is-domestic-violence-/22-teen-dating-abuse.html.

148


FOR BUTTERFLIES INSPIRED BY ANGELS

The Survivor Project - A Publication. The Survivor Book for Butterflies Inspired by Angels  

A book about Domestic abuse with lots of information about local services and types of abuse, alongside real life stories of survival. Stori...

The Survivor Project - A Publication. The Survivor Book for Butterflies Inspired by Angels  

A book about Domestic abuse with lots of information about local services and types of abuse, alongside real life stories of survival. Stori...

Advertisement