I am a domestic abuse survivor. If I hadn’t escaped, my story could have been very different. It all started a few years ago after the birth of our first child. I had a very difficult time in labour, it was a very traumatic birth. I have scars on my body as a result of the birth that have hit my self-confidence.
The man who was supposed to love, protect and take care of me, started abusing me, physically, emotionally, financially and sexually. “He decided to rape me whenever he felt like it”. Saying NO! STOP! didn’t make the slightest difference. He was too powerful for me, I had no option but to lay there, shut up and let him just get on with it. Afterwards he just rolled over and went to sleep, no sorry, no apologies. Feeling dirty, distrusted and broken-hearted I went into the shower and tried to clean myself unsuccessfully. I sat on the shower floor, crying and banging my head against the wall, contemplating suicide.
The only thing that stopped me taking my life was my child. I finally got dressed in pyjamas, got into bed, faced the curtains and tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I pretended I was asleep so he didn’t try again. In the morning I woke to the smell of bacon cooking and Paul Weller was on the radio. To this day, I still can’t listen to Paul Weller. In my husband’s mind it was just another day and no wrong had been committed the night before.
Three weeks later I wasn’t feeling well, and I realized I was very sick so I sat and thought, oh my God, I must be pregnant. I did a test – it confirmed what I thought. I cried. It wasn’t because I didn’t want a baby, I love children. It was because of the way my child was conceived, through rape not love. I felt terrible. I felt sick. I struggled to come to terms with what had happened.
I thought being pregnant would stop him, but no, this was the tip of the iceberg. I was being gaslighted. Mind games played against me. Turning the heater off in the middle of winter. Turning the boiler off so we had no hot water. Moving things. Breaking things. You name it, he did it. I was pushed down the stairs and started bleeding. I needed to go to hospital but I couldn’t tell them what was happening. I couldn’t tell anyone, I was too scared of him, he’s a big lad, taller, heavier and stronger than me. I was so scared I had no choice but to keep my mouth shut and carry on. I was admitted to hospital because of the bleeding.
Twice I was told sorry, there is no heartbeat, the baby is dead, only for the heartbeat to be found later on when more checks were made. I was allowed home after a few weeks once the bleeding had stopped. Once home, things became worse. I was made to sleep in the car in the middle of winter while pregnant; chased around the house, had objects thrown at me, left with no food or drink. I was rushed back to hospital bleeding again… I was safe for a while and luckily the baby survived. Eventually my second child was born, but my baby was ill and rushed to intensive care for a short time.
I was safe in hospital away from him as was my baby, but I still couldn’t tell anybody I was scared. I thought, what might happen to me if I speak up, he could kill me, so I kept my mouth shut. After a month or so we were allowed home. All the time in hospital was a nightmare wondering if my other child was safe. Luckily my family helped out. I was scared to go home – will he do the same again, what will he do to punish me.
Within two days the abuse started again, being called fat, lazy, why is the housework not being done. I had had major surgery but I was still expected to keep the house spotless and cook his meals for him. I had some post-natal depression, two young children, recovering from surgery, exhausted from lack of sleep plus his constant abuse. The abuse became worse and he again raped me, this time holding my wrists together tightly. His eyes had glazed over, he looked like a monster. He wouldn’t stop or get off. I didn’t have the strength to push him off. I couldn’t take anymore.
I started to talk to the Health Visitor who then mentioned talking to the Domestic Abuse Team. I felt, this can’t be abuse, it didn’t feel right, he is supposed to be my loving partner. I was in denial, I found it hard to accept that it was coercive controlling behaviour. It was sexual and mental abuse but I didn’t want to think like that. I felt sick. I felt dirty, useless, pathetic. I was blaming myself for his behaviour. Then one day the abuse became so bad I called the Police. I locked the doors and would not let him in. When the Police arrived, he was so polite. He said, he didn’t know what had happened just arrived home to find the doors locked. I was in a state because he had threatened me saying all kinds of things and I couldn’t do anything because he had made me mentally unstable. The Police had a word with us then left. However, they handed me a piece of paper about leaving an abusive relationship, telling me to keep it hidden and safe.
As soon as the Police left, he threatened me again, saying if I ever tell anyone that would be the last f***ing thing I would ever do. I was scared. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to die. He threatened to kill me. I had things thrown at me, pushed and kicked down the stairs. I had chemicals put in my food and drink.
I started calling the Domestic Abuse Association regularly in the evenings when he wasn’t around. They kept begging me to leave, but I was too scared. Too scared to let anyone know what was going on behind closed doors, too scared of what might happen, too scared that he would kill me or my children. Then, one day, I’d had enough. After another year of abuse, he tried pushing tablets into my mouth trying to make me swallow them. I spat them out, made myself sick and called my family.
The Health Visitor helped me plan to leave, this was a few days ahead, but one evening he went for me and wouldn’t stop. I managed to get away. I locked the door. I just about managed to save myself. He flipped. His eyes had changed. After a few hours, it all went quiet. He had left for work. I put the children in the car and we left. I drove and drove, scared, feeling sick, shaking, thinking he will follow me, run me off the road, kill me. Eventually we reached our relatives. Thank god. I was crying, breaking down. He couldn’t hurt us now. It was all over, we were safe. Oh boy, if only I’d known what was to come.
We got help from the council and a local refuge took us in. Things started to change. But what I had thought were the worst days of my life, were nothing compared to what I was about to discover.
My two young children, my beautiful children under 5 years old had been sexually abused by their own father. He would abuse me, knowing I would lock myself away so he could abuse his children. This came out when I was ill in hospital. My children had been playing at my relatives’ home, displaying sexualised behaviour. When questioned by my relatives, the children replied, it’s ok Daddy does it.
My family were in shock. They felt sick and couldn’t believe what was happening. The Police and Social Workers were called in. We were in a refuge and thought we were safe but we weren’t. I refused to tell people what refuge we were in or to disclose the address to the judge, which he didn’t like. I was advised by the Police, the refuge and Social Workers, not to have any contact with my husband and not to disclose where we were, to safeguard us.
I did what I thought was for the best but I have been penalised for this. I was now being punished for leaving an abusive husband without telling anyone, without telling him I was going. The male judge didn’t like this. According to him, apparently there are often arguments in a relationship, I needed to suck it up and get on with it. My children disclosed to the Police and Social Workers exactly what their father had done to them.
The Police and Social Workers felt there had been sexual abuse and would investigate. My children were too young to do the recorded interviews, but they have disclosed the abuse more than once to professionals and it has been documented. The male judge wouldn’t accept any of this even though my children have spoke verbally to Police and Social workers, showing them on dolls what Daddy did to them. The judge still wouldn’t accept this. No more investigations are being done, they seemingly don’t want to do the hard work or paperwork. My children have been let down, failed by the system. My children’s abuser has been allowed to see them, allowed contact, allowed to be left alone with them.
He has managed to continue the abuse and controlling behaviour by saying that I am mentally unwell and that I have made all of this up and the judge has believed him. My solicitor and barrister asked for a Forensic Psychiatrist to do a full evaluation. It came back giving me a clean bill of health. Some depression, some anxiety from the abuse I suffered but nothing else. I did not meet any criteria and I did not display any symptoms of any mental problems. I have also been to see my GP and begged for mental health assessments. I have had three separate assessment. I do not meet the criteria for any secondary input.
They have suggested that I have some rape crisis counselling and that I have no contact with my perpetrator. I have no choice. I had to face him in court and hand my children over. He won’t let this drop. He is still controlling me and my children. He has lied to the judge and managed to get him on his side to the extent that my children have been removed from my care. When my children were with me, they were safe. The Social Worker said I was a great mum and doing a fantastic job. They were well looked after, cared for, doing well at school. Their attendance was excellent and were expected to come in leaps and bounds. The Section 37 report states the children are to stay living with me but to have some contact with their father.
Since he got the children removed from me, they are doing less well at school. They keep crying. They have told Social Workers they don’t want to live with Daddy. They have said Daddy has touched them in certain areas. The Social Workers say don’t worry, he won’t do it again and my children have been told if you cry you won’t ever see Mummy again by a male Social Worker. This same Social Worker has been very unkind to me and has accused me of things I haven’t done. A couple of months ago, I had the children over the weekend.
The children didn’t want to go back to their Dad. They were being sick. They were shaking and crying. We took them to the Police Station to ask for advice. They saw my daughter was in such a state that they said not to send them back to their father and to start safeguarding them. We took them back home, informed their father, the Police and Social Services. We asked for several meetings with Social Services but they didn’t get back to us. Eventually they sent five Police Officers to physically remove the children. My children were so scared, screaming and shouting. They were so scared to go back to their father they disclosed his sexual abuse of them on camera to the Police.
The Police didn’t help me or my children. I feel they failed my children and sent them back to their pedophile father. Due to my not returning my children to their father voluntarily, I have now been banned from having any contact with them. No telephone calls, no visits, nothing. He is now accusing me of abusing him. There is no evidence for this. He has not been to the doctor. He has not told anyone. He hasn’t had three years of counselling like I have. There is no evidence I abused him.
I can’t get legal aid and I can’t work now due to the stress. His situation has caused me to suffer with several medical conditions, all stress induced. I also have been diagnosed with a serious health condition since all of this started.
I don’t care about my abuse. I am concerned for my children and the abuse they have suffered and continue to suffer. Social Workers and CAFCASS do not appear to be here for children. They don’t seem to care about children. The Family Court are letting families and children down. This is where we need to fight and to stop this happening to a child ever again.
I have not seen my babies for nearly a year and half I can’t call them see them nothing. Their father is punishing me for leaving him and continuing his abuse his cohersive and controlling behavior. I have no help or support from anyone no help finding my babies nothing. I have paid over £60.000 I struggle every day every night and life is one huge struggle.