Annmarie loved Christmas. She had organised the whole Christmas party and was looking forward to it. She’d also promised everyone that she’d see them there.
But, her partner told her she couldn’t go. And that was final:
“He warned me I would be punished if I disobeyed him but I didn't want to let anyone down. I waited until he left the house, and then I went. I had a horrible nervous feeling all night but I tried to enjoy myself.
“When I came home, he was standing in the kitchen with this smug smile on his face. I knew he had done something but couldn't imagine what. My son called me upstairs and said:
“Dad's after burning all your things.”
“I couldn't get my head around what he just told me. He told me to go in to my room and see for myself. All my clothes, gone. Any memories that I had of my mum, gone! He had burned everything I had out the back garden. That was my punishment for disobeying him, for doing something as normal as going to a Christmas party. He did it because he didn't have control over me that night.”
Annmarie looked for help. She was given Women’s Aid’s number. When she called, she was listened to and believed. Annmarie got the support she needed to make a vital decision:
“That was the last night he stayed in our house. This photo is from that night and now I'm the one burning the memory of it. I lost all my things but gained control.”
* Name and details has been changed to ensure confidentiality.