When you are deciding whether to leave you partner, if you are being subjected to domestic abuse of any type, it is a very difficult decision.
Even worse if you have children, who are at risk of witnessing the abuse and also receiving abuse from your partner too.
Remember while you are being abused, your children’s basic needs are not being met. You are not keeping them safe!
By not keeping them safe, they may grow up with high levels of anxiety, suffer panic attacks in certain situations, due to the simple fact, that when ‘Daddy’ was attacking ‘Mummy’ and the children witnessed it, nobody was protecting them, keeping them safe and helping them deal with and how to deal with, the distress they felt by ‘Daddy’ attacking ‘Mummy’!
I remember being berated and physically attacked by my ex partner, when my boys were 3 and 4 years old. My boys were huddled on the bottom of the stairs, while this was going on in the kitchen. When my ex partner left the house, my youngest said to me ‘Mummy are you ok?’ He was 3! I was his carer not the other way around!
We had to leave my ex, using tactics with the help of various agencies, including Women’s Aid. I’d told the Health Visitor and other health professionals, so I already had support.
I had the children’s and my documents stored away in the safe at one of the boy’s primary schools. Documents such as passports and birth certificates. I had been gathering evidence and bank statements etc and had posted them to my sister!
When I took my youngest to Nursery at school, I handed over some of the children’s toys to school, a few at a time.
My ex had created a ‘prison-like’ situation for me at home which was why I needed to make a plan to get away from him safely.
He had the home phone line, diverted to his mobile phone, so that he could monitor anybody who tried to ring me at home. It was very awkward having my friends, health professionals or the schools ringing me and having the calls ‘filtered through’ by my ex partner and me having to talk to the caller on my ex’s mobile phone, with my ex standing next to me, monitoring what I was saying.
He would ‘drive’ me to the Tescos and collect me from Tescos, just to make sure I didn’t run away! It was stifling. I know it’s not unusual for couples to go shopping together, but he wasn’t shopping with me and his reasons for doing so, were to make sure I didn’t disappear!
He was very aware at this point that he was going to lose me.
On one occasion, he had driven away and I had switched my phone on, noticing that I had received a message from a lady at the local Women’s Aid. I called her back, thinking that he had gone, but unbeknown to me, he had walked back up the driveway behind me. He asked who I was talking to and I lied saying it was just a telemarketer, to which he did not believe me and smashed my mobile phone.
I was sick of replacing things in the house he had smashed in his anger and control! The plates, cups, glasses, dining chairs even, home telephone, plus a small tv (which was switched on, when he dragged it out of its socket, with sparks flying and threw it into the garden)!
He replaced my mobile phone with one of his and threw away my sim card, replacing it with one of his sim cards. One reason that people had to call me on the home phone, as my ex had destroyed my mobile phone and I had once again had to change my mobile phone number!
When my ex was in the house, I would keep my mobile phone switched off, in the back pocket of my jeans, together with a house key. So that the same situation could not be repeated and should he try to throw me out or lock me out, I could still get back in the house, to get back to look after my kids.
I would make sure my mobile phone was switched on when he was out of the house, so that I would not be subjected to the confrontation, when he returned , should he need to ring me.
I knew the rules for the ‘prison’ environment, he had created and to ensure that the children would not be subjected to any abuse from him to me. I co-operated mostly, in the weeks leading up to when we finally escaped (in court after we had split up, after my ex had spoken, the judge said ‘You make it sound that she was a prisoner’ and yes, there was never a truer word spoken), I had to make sure my ex had calmed down, so he started talking about going on a family holiday, to which I nodded my head (I was co-operating)!
I had no desire to go on holiday, as my eldest’s autism and his younger brother, were difficult to manage when I was also in this nightmare relationship. I knew going on holiday meant me minding the kids all the time and him disappearing, or simply staying in the hotel room and a high risk of abuse from him all the time when we were actually in the hotel room!
This tactic meant that he started to loosen the psychological ‘grip’ he had on me, as I was co-operating with his plans.
He would go out more and his fishing hobby meant, he would travel away from home and stay overnight which was bliss for the rest of us!
On one such occasion before leaving for his fishing trip, he started verbally abusing me and physically attacked me in front of my young sons.
You may wonder why I didn’t fight back or defend myself at the time. I was aware of the children being there and to be honest I was always unprepared to do anything or simply didn’t know what to do!
My ex went off for his fishing trip and I packed all the children’s clothes, photographs, remaining toys and some of my clothes. I rang Women’s Aid, who searched around for refuge accommodation and found a flat for me and the boys to stay in. A lady arrived at our house and started loading up the car with our possessions. I looked at Charlie’s face and I could see the sadness contained. He knew we were going, but I had watched him cry his way through a Mothers Day Service (sitting up on the stage) at his infant school, just a month earlier and knew, that although he was only nearly 4 and Danny was 5, this would be the best thing for them, for their mental health and safety.
I kept Danny in his Special School he was attending but moved Charlie to a new primary school as his previous primary school was in my ex’s town and disclosure of our location would not make things safe!
We would never have been able to escape had I not already had a ‘plan’ in place. I am forever grateful to the schools my sons attended, Women’s Aid and the Health Professionals involved!
I worked as a volunteer in our local Women’s Refuge and the charity shop, that was used to fund the refuge (as the government decided to remove funding for refuges, some have already closed due to lack of funding) and I felt this was my way of thanking them for giving us a new life.
We moved again when the children were a bit older and now with Danny being 17 and Charlie at 16, I am pleased that I made the decision to go. We live such a different life now, a safer life!
I cannot stress how important it is for women in these isolating imprisoning situations to get help from Women’s Aid or their doctor or Health Visitor or even your child’s headteacher. Dont be frightened of going into the Women’s refuge , if necessary. You tend to find that the women who work there have probably been through abuse themselves, so will not judge you, for what you have experienced.
You don’t have to have children to seek help from Women’s Aid, the service is available for everybody and you don’t necessarily have to leave your home as your violent partner can be removed nowadays.
In the UK you can contact Women’s Aid for help and support
24-hour National Domestic Violence
0808 2000 247
For assistance in other countries, please see the following website
or simply Google Domestic Violence support services in your country.
If you are in immediate danger and can do so safely, please ring the POLICE !