I was born on Friday 18th April 1980 to two wonderful parents. I had a fantastic childhood. I left school in 1996 and went to full time education in 1996 and passing a Business Studies course in 1999, then successfully becoming a Legal Secretary in 1999. At this point, life for me was fantastic. It was amazing. By the time I was 23 I was still living at home, I had a wonderful social life with amazing friends, I was always dressed immacualty for work and socializing, I work hard and had plenty of savings in the bank. However, In 2003 I lost everything in the blink of an eye.
One Friday night, in 2003, I met my now ex partner in my local pub; little did I realise that from this point on, my life would change forever.
Looking back now, things moved far too quickly something I no know to be a warning sign for victims of domestic abuse. At the time I moved into his flat two weeks after meeting, back then I didn't even know the abuse had began. He had already isolated me from my friends and family, something I have now learned that is one of the early warning signs for victims to look out for. Knowing what I know now, he controlled every part of my life from who I saw to what I wore. I thought this was love. I confused control with care. I quickly learned that these two things are very, very different.
I moved into his flat with him within two weeks after meeting him; leaving home was something I had never thought of before. He was an alcoholic and never had a job whilst I was with him. I quickly became a housemaid, a cleaner, a housewife, a skivvy whilst his life stayed the same, he came and went as he pleased. Even if he had been out all day and night, no matter what time he came back I had to make sure something was cooked for him when he got back, even if that meant him waking me up to cook it. Him bringing ex partners home wasn't a unusual either, it was like he had to be centre of attention all the time, and he wasn't bothered who he hurt along the way as long as he had that power and control over me.
He slapped me causing black eyes
He knocked me out
He strangled me with a kettle cord
He severley kicked me resulting in a miscarriage
He called me fat and ugly
Told me I was useless
Said my friends and family didn't love me
Said no one would love me like he did
Accused me of having affairs
I wanted to end it all so bad, I took and overdose
He took away all of my freedom, he stopped me living; I was just in existence yet I still wanted to be with this "man" because I loved him and thought I would be the one who could change him, thinking my pregnancy would be his turning point; I was wrong. I believed him when he told me he was sorry, said he loved me and when he promised me it wouldn't happen again. He had drained me of everything, I was so weak yet still in love with him that I believed him, little knowing that this was just the green light for him to carry on abusing me. He didn't to change and he wasn't going to change, he was just telling me the things I wanted to hear.
In November 2006 my perpetrator slapped me for the very last time. He slapped me across the face, splitting my lip open as I held my 10 month old baby. This was my wake up call; if he had missed me and hit her ~ it just doesn't bear thinking about, but I knew at that point I had to end this relationship I was in, not for my sake but for hers. I went to a local firm of solicitors and took out an injunction order against him and never looked back. At that point I didn't feel a survivor, I didn't feel anything at that time during my journey, I was just happy to be alive and I had saved Little Miss from becoming a victim too; I didn't want her to witness domestic abuse. Don't just assume that my life got back to how it was when I left him because it didn't, his power and control had a huge impact on me.
The Impact That Domestic Abuse Had On Me
If ever I saw him when I was out and about, I would shake uncontrolably and wee myself, often going to my parents house in floods of tears. Me and Little Miss stayed with my parents and I would jump at the slightest noise, even though I was perfectly safe. I couldn't sleep or eat, I was constantly living on edge, wondering when he would come back, wondering what would happen when I bumped into him. In time, I moved from the house we lived together in, and thankfully to this day (2013) he has never found where we live. Hopwever, he has dragged me through the Family Courts. I say dragged me through, because now I know, he only did this to still have that control and power over me, even though we were no longer in a relationship together. Words that I remember him saying to me, I'll take you to Court so you are told what to do.
When I got the first letter from his Solicitor instructing me that he was taking me to Court, I was scared, frightened, petrified because I believed that he was so powerful that yes, he would get my daughter and take her away from me, not because he loved her but because of what he knew it would do to me ~ he would still have his power and control over me. When I arrived at Court, I was still under the illusion that he was in control but I very quickly learned that he wasn't in control this time, I was.
When I ended the relationship in 2006 I still wanted him to see Little Miss because I still wanted her to be from a two parent family, I agreed, reluctantly but I still agreed for one particular Friday for him to come to the house and see her and take her out. That day came, but he never did, so to me it's one strike and you are out. I gave him the opportunity of seeing his daughter without the courts, but he chose not to take the offer.
I still felt like a rabbit caught in headlights, but as my Solicitor kept trying to persuade me to say yes to contact "because the Courts like it", I still kept saying no contact - something I said from day one, no matter how tough I felt the pressure got. Why on earth would I let this "man" who scared the sh*t out of me alone with my daughter and why would I say yes when he had already turned down the offer of seeing her without going through the Court. In the end, he took me to court on 3 seperate occassion when eventually it was thrown out of Court, because he never did any of the things he was requested too. Now this, to me, shows me that he did not have his daughter's best interests at heart here because I'm damned sure if it was me, I would have walked heaven and earth to see her.
I can't believe that I let this him pummel and drain every ounce of confidence out of me, everything I worked for, everything I had in life, gone simply because I thought he loved me. I didn't understand anything about domestic abuse, I didn't even know what it was until I left. Even though I had support from various organisations; such as Sure Start, I felt there was not enough aftercare; I was still vulunerable and needed support. For anyone leaving an abusive relationship it is hard and difficult.
Life As A Survivor Of Domestic Abuse
It will be 6 years in November 2013 since I have been a survivor and I have achieved so much!
I had ended the relationship and to become a survivor. A family support worker from my local Children's Centre visited me and encouraged me to go the groups they had available. I took Little Miss to every group they had on offer. In time she I saw her grow, she gained conifdence, met friends and became a happy bubbly toddler who has now grown into a beautiful confident little girl; my life saver. I truely believe that she saved my life. If had never had my daughter I would have stayed in that relationship with my ex perpetrator even though I knew he was capable of killing me.
In time I got my self-esteem and confidence back and Survivors of Domestic Abuse Club was born! In 2009 I used a local venue as a drop in where people could come along, have a cup of tea and a chat; itdidn't really take off but I still wanted too offer support so I set up an online FaceBook support page; it has over 800 members worldwide I offer support via Twitter, email, texts and meeting on a one to one basis for those that need the support.
I am a huge Twitter addict and not only do I get lots of support for what I do, I raise awareness and help others learn and understand that there is life after domestic abuse. Twitter also allows me to get involved with media awareness as well as other amazing opportunities
I have completed a part time college course, I became a volunteer, I won a Bostin Hero Award hosted by Beacon radio, I have received awards for the volunteering work I do, I went on The Politics Show, I won Take A Break Voices For Women Campaign, I have done radio interviews in relation to Survivors of Domestic Abuse Club, been in various magazines and most recently I have started my Level 3 Life Coaching course.
I am thankful to my ex perpetrator for what he did to me because if he hadn't I wouldn't be the independant woman I am today, I wouldn't be able to run my own support group or raise domestic abuse awareness to help others.