At first, my husband was my ‘perfect partner’. He treated me so well. It was a whirlwind. Seven months after meeting, we were engaged. Married four months later. Then our twins, Daniel and Hannah, came. It was bliss.
Then we moved away from my family’s neighbourhood. He wouldn’t hear of me going back to work after my maternity leave.
I woke up one day and realised I was completely isolated from friends and family. I was totally dependent on him financially. He knew all my passwords. He controlled the family schedule and calendar.
He made it all seem so normal.
Now I know – that’s what abusers do. They lock you in as soon as they can and then the claustrophobic and terrifying control and violence starts.
A number of times, I did manage to secretly call the Women’s Aid Helpline. And even though at first, I was too scared and confused to leave, just hearing that caring voice, knowing someone believed me, was a light of hope.
And even more importantly, the idea began to slowly take hold in my head that I had options.
Someday, I could escape.
Eventually things came to a point of no-return. His rage was spiralling. He was controlling my every move. And alongside that, it was almost like he was building a case against me to destroy me.
So, one night, I rang the Helpline again, in the dead of night, while he slept. But this time, I knew I had to make the most of the support on offer.
I knew right away my next move had to be to meet a Support Worker.
Over the weeks I met the in a café, she gradually built up my confidence and gave me all the time I needed to tell my story. She also told me about the legal aid I was entitled to. How Women’s Aid would stay by my side every step of the way. About the other great services they offered.
Hand on heart, I truly believe the help and support I got from her saved my life. If I hadn’t met her that November, he would have killed me or I may have taken my own life.
On a cold Saturday in early December, when I knew he’d be out with his mates, I packed up a few basic things for me and Daniel and Hannah, and headed to my brother’s. That was the first happy Christmas me and the kids had in years.
I got a protection order with Women’s Aid’s help. I took back control – slowly but surely.
I managed to rent a small flat for me and the twins, and mentally, physically and financially I’m in a much better place today – thanks to Women’s Aid.
*Name and some details have been changed to protect identity.