October is Domestic Abuse Awareness month and throughout the month, the Council has been highlighting the range of support that is available to victims / survivors, to children and what to do if a child discloses domestic abuse to you, support to perpetrators who want to change their behaviour and it is now sharing the experience of a domestic abuse survivor.
‘Maggie’ (not her real name) has taken the time to reflect on a relationship she was in some years ago and the measures she took to deal with the risk that her ex-partner posed after they separated.
‘Adam’ was a funny, care-free, jack the lad when I met him. Loved by everyone, always up for a party – he was like an excitable puppy – sweet, endearing, harmless….or so I thought. He was just really good fun to be around. Until you had to live with him.
When we first met, I hadn’t realised the full extent of his drug use. His cocaine habit was out of control, but he’d hidden it for so long. I was shocked when I realised how bad it had got, and we’d been together a year at that point, and he’d been living with me for 8 weeks.
Far from the carefree, happy-go-lucky man I thought I had been dating and now living with, he was selfish, moody, demanding and entitled. From the get-go we argued about money, but the thing was, it wasn’t me going to him for money, it was the other way around. Twenty pounds here and there adds up, and as ‘Adam’ only worked part time, things weren’t as easy as I expected with him moving in. We seemed to have less money, not more. More importantly, we weren’t the team I had hoped we would be.
He kept the public persona going through – he was careful about that, and I didn’t know how to tell people that the person they thought he was, was a completely different version of the man I knew.
Our first Christmas together was an absolute disaster and I decided that there was no way I could continue with the relationship, the lies, late nights, cheating, arguments, and the stealing and demanding money from me. ‘Adam’ moved back to his mum’s.
I thought that was it, but it was only the beginning. ‘Adam’ started to ring me throughout the day, every day and every night. When he didn’t get an answer, his messages became threatening. Then he would come to the house without warning. When I wouldn’t let him in “to talk” a pattern of damage to my home started and nothing was off limits. The windows, the car, my sons’ toys if on the path, the letterbox, my security light – all broken/ damaged/smashed. Of course, I called the police, but I was not in a position to prove it was him. I think he found out about me contacting the police for help, because after this, I enjoyed a period of 2 peaceful months.
Then he started to turn up at my work. I was so embarrassed – I don’t like to think what my colleagues must have thought. ‘Adam’ would shout about how much he loved me, how he wanted us to get back together, and when I told him no, he tried everything from crying to screaming and shouting and on the odd occasion, threats to burn my house down. In the beginning I might have been persuaded, but after months of knowing what he was doing and the frustration (and fear) of not being able to prove it, I was so angry.
Because of the sheer volume of (seemingly) small things that were happening, I started to record everything that was happening and eventually the police were able to look at charges relating to malicious communications and harassment. I have been so relieved that there is something I can do to respond in my own way. The police were encouraging around this process to me. Not only am I believed, but there is something on paper that proves what he was doing. I do feel more informed, and I do feel more in control. I think what I’ve learned most is the importance of keeping a record of what’s happening so that if you need to use that information to make a formal report, you can. Although it’s not the thing that you think about at the time, it really does help to send the message that you can stick up for yourself and you won’t just take it.
Where can I turn for help?
If you, your child, or anyone in the family are at immediate risk of harm, you should contact the police urgently, call 999. If you are not at immediate risk but are concerned, please contact one of the services listed below:
Knowsley Council Safer Communities Service (Specialist Domestic Abuse Service)
Tel: 0151 443 2610
Knowsley Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
Tel: 0151 443 2600
The First Step (Specialist Domestic Abuse Service)
Tel: 0151 548 3333