I’m so very grateful for North Derbyshire Women’s Aid as if it wasn’t for my worker referring me and them accepting me, I would have still been in a hazardous environment full of abuse. But being here is wonderful, not only have I been removed from that dangerous environment but it’s like I’ve become a member of a new family. We do activities together, go our together and cook. It’s like the simple things in life like friendship and care that I never had before but thanks to the other people in here I have been benefitting from this love as I’ve been here 6 weeks now. I can’t wait to get rehoused and have my son come to live with me but I will never forget this wonderful experience and there will be a place in my heart for this place. It has been a nearly perfect stage in my life.
Came into the refuge not knowing anyone or where we were. I thought oh no what I have brought my children into. Staff greeted us and were very helpful and friendly. Being 8 months pregnant and with 2 children in tow I was very nervous but got put at ease by staff and one of the residents. We were shown the ropes and given a tour of the building and what was in the area. We soon settled in and made good friends with the residents. The children found it hard to settle for a couple of weeks, but once things were in place for them then they fell into a routine and felt a lot happier. I’ve sorted out a lot of issues within 2 weeks so we can start to look towards a better future.
Since being in refuge it has allowed me to gain more confidence and self belief. Having support from the staff and other residents has helped me develop a better understanding of domestic violence and has also made me realise it affects women from various backgrounds.
Without refuge I do not think I would have gained the strength to move forward in my life. Being here has given me the opportunity to get head space and time to sort myself out and move on without looking back. Just looking forward to the future.
Everything was fine, he was nice, kind and caring. He made me feel safe.
It’s now a month until the wedding and it’s stressful. He was getting angry a lot. I put it down to wedding stress.
I moved into our new house first as we weren’t allowed to live together till married.
Once we got married he quit his job, so I worked all hours. He would call constantly, he pulled/pushed me about usually if I said ‘no’ to something. Once he took the mattress off the bed so I had nothing to sleep on. All because I didn’t shut the bedroom door. He would count to 3 and if I didn’t say sorry or go and do what he asked then he would either pull me or shout how selfish I am. I was constantly saying sorry. Everything was my fault, not his. Whenever he did anything to me he would say sorry, buy me clothes or chocolates. He controlled all the money, he bought my clothes for me. I felt like I had no control over my life.
So, things just got worse. We got a dog which he beat daily. I tried stopping him. I kept the dog away from him as much as possible. It made me feel so guilty, I constantly thought, ‘what if we had a baby’, how would he cope. Family and friends were banned from the house, I was allowed to be with my family once a month if he said I could. It came to a point where I was ill mentally. I just couldn’t cope anymore. I took an overdose and was under mental health team, but he had more control now. He refused to let me seek help when I hurt myself until it got infected. I finally told someone about what was going on and with the help from family and women’s aid I was able to leave him and come to a refuge.
A place I could finally feel safe. The refuge is nice, considering the circumstances people come here for, it’s homely and lots of support. The staff are always available for help throughout the day. On my first day here, one of the staff offered to find details on my church which helps me to make new friends and not feel so isolated. Being in refuge is scary and you can feel isolated, but in my first week her the staff helped me to access courses and the mental health tea. I was helped with sorting out debts I had, I felt relieved when I didn’t have to go through it all on my own. I had a weekly meeting with my key worker which was really good because it gave me a chance to ask questions. Also any appointments I had, staff were available to support and came along,. It’s a really good feeling to be in control of my own life and to know that there are people around giving me that extra support and guidance. It’s not always easy and some nights I still cry and question myself. Have I done the right thing? Should I give him one more chance? But I am worth so much more and I don’t need him anymore. I’m free and every day is a second chance for me. Every day I can grow stronger and move forward. I now have a chance to find the ‘real me’ and that’s down to being able to find a safe place and the staff at women’s aid. I couldn’t imagine what things would have been like if places such as Women’s Aid were not around. I’m grateful for all that they do to help women find themselves. They do an amazing job.
I started my journey with Women’s Aid when I went to Chesterfield with my crisis team worker Karen. Karen took me to see a Women’s Aid worker to talk about going on the Freedom Programme. At first I hated the thought that I have been a victim of domestic abuse. It took me a long time to accept it. I hadn’t fully realised how bad my situation had been until I started the Freedom Programme in September this year.
When I first started the Freedom Programme, on the very first day it took me about 10 minutes just to get in the room. I was very quiet to start with but I felt accepted and in turn this made me feel free to speak and speak I do. I have met some wonderful people, those who run the programme but most of all the other women that come. I have definitely made some life-long friends. Each week I have witnessed the change in all of them, they are all strong, intelligent, beautiful women with positive futures thanks in part to the programme. Long may it continue to empower and inspire women to aim for a better future.
I have noticed a massive difference in myself, I have grown in confidence and have a greater understanding of who I am. I now know why it is called the Freedom Programme, it’s because it empowers you, it makes you feel free. I am free to be myself, free to stand here tonight and talk, knowing that my opinion means something. I no longer have to sit in the shadows, I can flower in the sun. Thank you, Women’s Aid your organisation has changed my life.
Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) response …
Referral from Domestic Violence agency to IDVA service. Donna is a mother of 8 children. Her husband of 12 years would drink alcohol at the weekends and then become abusive to Donna demanding that she owes him as his wife. He became physically abusive on one occasion when an argument occurred. Donna was frightened to involve police or social care because of how her husband would respond.
IDVA contacted Donna and spoke on the phone. IDVA assessed the situation and the risk to Donna and her children. Donna was encouraged to speak to the police and a referral to the Multi Agency Team (MAT) for support of the family. MAT put a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) together immediately to look at how to support the family. Advice was given to Donna to seek legal advice from a solicitor regarding court orders to try and move husband away from the property and to protect the children, to go to housing and see what support they could offer. Donna was encouraged again to report the incident of violence to the police.
After the 2nd incident of violence Donna decided to move out of the marital home with her 8 children and stay at her mother’s address. There were already 2 teenagers at the address which made the condition very cramped. Donna made a statement to the police which the police took very seriously. They arrested the husband and bailed him away from the property. Donna moved back into the marital home with her 8 children. IDVA arranged all safety and security measures to be put in place within the home. Including a home fire safety check as Donna and her mum felt that the husband would go off drinking and whilst drunk would feel resentful and maybe try and set the front door alight just to frighten Donna further.
CAF and Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) meetings have been in place to look at safety, security and support for the family.
The case went to court and the husband has put in a not guilty plea. A trial will be held at the court in January 2014. IDVA has made referrals to appropriate agencies to support with the court case. Donna is stronger, more positive and determined she can continue to get through the next couple of months with the support in place. Donna is in a better place and her children are settled and happy. IDVA support is coming to an end risk assessment have been completed through out the time of working with Donna the risk has reduced.
Donna is grateful of IDVA intervention and is happy to continue to receive the support from other agencies who are still working with her.
Name has been changed to protect client.