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My story… by Helena

I first met my ex partner in my late twenties through a friend of mine, we have three wonderful children together. I got pregnant with our first child at the beginning of the relationship and things seemed fine, he was charming, kind and helpful a real gentleman. I have always thought of myself as a strong person so what was to happen I didn’t see coming.

As time went by he was making more decisions, telling me what to wear, how to do my make up and how to do my hair. He told me my family were no good and they had a negative effect on our lives so by the time I was pregnant with our second child I was alone and had no social life. He kept telling me I have put weight on, let myself go and that we should stick together away from others.

We just argued at first as I did challenge him but he would convince me that he was right and that I needed to change the way that I was thinking to come round to his way. When I was pregnant with our third child he wasn’t happy and that’s when things began to change.

Whilst I was pregnant I was late home one day due to traffic stopping him from going to another appointment, he calmly called me upstairs and closed the door. He started strangling and punching me (whilst the kids were downstairs) and I was so shocked as he acted like it hadn’t happened. He said he was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again, but this was just the beginning, it never stopped until I left. For everything no matter how small I was strangled, punched, stabbed, slapped, spat on, suffocated, raped and called vile names, he locked me in rooms and threatened to kill me. He would say he would kill himself, hurt himself and turn the blame onto me manipulating the situation until finally I had no confidence, self esteem and no energy to deal with anything.

My revelation came when I was ill. The time in hospital gave me time to think and breathe. When I decided to leave I couldn’t write anything down incase he found it, I had secret meetings with the school and finally told the kids only on the day that we left as I couldn’t risk anything. I finally left and when I found safety I was referred to Action Housing.

Having a support worker really helped me to focus and find my strength again, she helped direct me and helped focus my though as everything is just a blur. She referred me to group work sessions for both me and my children, she helped my gain a home. In fact I was allocated two really bad properties that she helped me refuse and get the right one for me an my children for which I am every thankful for, I had no furniture or belongings, she helped me with this and guide me in the direction I wanted to go rather than someone else telling me. We now have a peaceful family home. . The courses that I have attended have helped me see that there are others with commonalities as mine and we have supported one another. I am now helping to give something back to the project as I know that support is vital to help you gain that strength and confidence that you have lost and gives you space and time to breathe.

Things are on going and they always will be, we have children but we have proved that we can survive without him, our lives are full of potential and we have a positive future together.