Home Safer communities Knowsley women share their experiences of surviving domestic abuse
women sits on sofa hugging young girl

Knowsley women share their experiences of surviving domestic abuse

by Alison Cornmell

Following the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (also known as ‘White Ribbon Day’) Knowsley Council is continuing to raise awareness of this important global issue and the support available to Knowsley residents who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

Here, two anonymous women, ‘Jenny’ and ‘Fiona’, share their experiences in their own voice.

Jenny’s story

women sits in office looks worried

I work somewhere where domestic abuse constantly gets spoken about.  Didn’t mean to put myself in that category though.

I thought women experiencing abuse had to deal with it constantly, and it was always straight up violence….you know like it was every day, six times a day without a break, with someone who was so much cleverer than them the way you see on TV.  I’m sure for some people it is, but it’s funny because  I never considered that – it only took me one time, one incident, one assault, for me to automatically change how I thought about my husband before I started to adapt my own behaviour to avoid another ‘fight’.

I say ‘fight’ because that’s what I thought it was…….but that sort of implies that it was two equals.  In reality we weren’t equals and somewhere deep down, where I didn’t have to admit it to myself, I knew that he could kill me at any time after that first time.  That first time was when we were on holiday and he strangled me in our hotel room, and I passed out.  It sounds so silly now, but we both concentrated on the fact that I wasn’t dead.  He was relived and went out for a drink afterwards and I was alive!

Fast forward 12 years later, 2 beautiful kids, and somewhere along the way I seemed to lose sight of the fact that I wasn’t happy; in fact I was constantly berated, swore at, belittled, criticised…..and yet to me because that wasn’t the worst I knew it could be, and I didn’t want to leave my children without a mother, I accepted it.  After all I lived in a nice house, I had a car, a job, my kids…..that’s the trade-off isn’t it?

Even though he would only assault me ‘when things got out of hand’  it was better than the alternative and having to leave everything I knew and everything I worked for.

And I never told anyone.

I made sure I was the most together, most sociable, professional, most pleasing person you could ever hope to meet.  And to the outside world it probably looked like I had it all.

Meanwhile my dinners weren’t good enough, I was ‘fat’, I was ‘old’, I was ‘stupid’, I ‘didn’t earn enough money’ and although ‘no one would ever want to look’[at me] I wasn’t allowed to socialise if he didn’t give permission.  We never had a conversation, he was never a real parent, and he never took responsibility for any of his behaviour,  but he would take the money of the house funds, he would allow our children to go without because he’d spent my wages on drugs and partying at the weekend, and he would find a way to blame me for anything he couldn’t get that he wanted.

I threw myself into being a mum, but I lost sight of the fact that even my children were scared of him and didn’t want a relationship with their father.  How blind could I be?! But they never saw him physically attack me. I never took into account that they heard it though.  How frightened they must have been will haunt me till my dying day.

I would like to say that I finally stood up to him, that I kicked him out, and that I took an ad out in the local paper that told everyone what he’d put me through for the 14 years we were together, but I didn’t.  The truth is, that he cheated on me again.  This time it was with someone too close to home, and with someone I couldn’t ignore.  And there were a number of times that he ‘came home’ and tried to exert pressure on me in order to continue to have his affair but keep his family.  When he didn’t do that, he would sit in his car in my road to keep tabs on me.  There were even a couple more ‘fights’.  One ended up with me having a broken nose and not being able to go to work, another ended up with my son wetting himself in fear, but what I want to say is:  the day I chose for it to be over, I got help.  I took action and I called the police.  It wasn’t easy, not even a little bit.  I made a statement, I went to court, and I stood my ground.

It was an emotional roller coaster, and during those months waiting to go to court, I tortured myself with all of the possible outcomes, but I have never – not for one second – regretted it.

Legally now he cannot come near me and the children; there is a restraining order in place.  I have a new relationship that is so healthy, and so nurturing that I couldn’t ever have dreamt my new partner up.

I don’t want people to know every sordid detail of what happened to me, I couldn’t bare it.  I want them to know that there is hope.  Please don’t put up with a situation because you think there is absolutely no way out or because you feel threatened about losing your home etc – there is always, always a way out and an alternative life. So always ask for the help, protect yourself, protect your kids if you have them, and know that you do not have to accept your situation.

Fiona’s story

women sits on sofa hugging young girl

During a rare night out with friends my ex-partner started to text me. At first it started out innocent, asking questions about our young daughter but it soon became abusive, calling me names, accusing me of being with someone, threatening me. He’d found out I was out after calling our daughter to check up on me. Then the phone calls started. Nothing I could say could calm him down. We’d been split up for 12 months. He’d already told me he was seeing other people, so God knows why I thought I needed to justify myself, it was just the routine we’d gotten into. That night I stayed at my friend’s in case he turned up at my house. But when I got home the next morning he was sat outside anyway and assaulted me. I called the Police and reported the incident and that’s when I started my journey towards finding justice for me and my daughter.

With the support of Knowsley Council’s Domestic Abuse Service, I applied for an injunction against him. Thanks to the team I was able to compile all the things he’d put me through over the last year. It was only when it was written on paper that I actually questioned how I’d got through the previous year! I’d wake up most mornings to threatening and abusive voicemails and text messages, he’d tracked my phone, hacked my social media, turned up at work shouting and screaming, threatened my family, used our daughter as a way to control and monitor me. I’d obviously just gone into survival mode and did whatever I could to keep the peace and protect my daughter.

Although it took time to go through the court system, I was determined to bring him to justice and keep myself and my daughter safe while trying to make sure I was heard. I won’t lie it was a difficult process to go through, but I’m glad I did – now I’m in a really good place and I will be eternally grateful for the support I received at that time of my life – knowing that there are people who just ‘get it’ makes me feel stronger.

If you’re a Knowsley resident experiencing domestic abuse or you know someone who is, you are not alone, and help is available.

In an emergency please call 999, otherwise please contact:

Knowsley Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub

Tel: 0151 443 2600

Or

Knowsley Early Help Hub

Freephone helpline on 0800 073 0043 and ask for your information to be passed onto the Early Help Hub and one of our staff will call you back. Or you could complete the online form by clicking the ask for help and support on this link.

Or

The First Step (Specialist Domestic Abuse Service)

Tel: 0151 548 3333

Website: www.thefirststep.org.uk