The women below have generously agreed to share things that they have written about their experiences. (Names have been changed).
“I knew what happened wasn’t right. But I was made to feel like it wasn’t wrong. Was it my fault for being there in the first place? I didn’t want to have sex with him. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want it (him) to turn nasty so I tried to say no, but he said I wanted it.”
“I just needed someone to talk to. Once I got the courage to speak to someone to talk to about my problems, it was a real help. It was great to find someone who got me, someone to talk to and an action plan of what I could do next. Without their help, I just don’t know how I would be feeling now. I’m not quite there yet, but I know I’m on the right track.”
“When I first arrived here the refuge, I was very anxious, scared and felt lonely. I felt as though I was a million miles away from home and especially from all my close family, friends and loved ones (although in reality –it’s only about 40-45 minutes away!). I finally met one of the staff members from the refuge, who came and collected me from the station, as she was very calming and comforting, which really did help me ease up a little.”
“When we arrived at the refuge, I got to meet staff who was a very lovely person. They really knew how to make me feel welcome and helped me settle in, then showed me my room. Once I was left alone, I once again began to feel very anxious and little scared, but even more so worried and confused, as it was all beginning to hit me and sink in that I’d finally taken that huge step, a step which I’ve been anticipating for the last almost 13 years now! But now I’d finally taken it, but I was really scared.”
“The next few days were a blur, but I remember bumping into a few residents and realising that I wasn’t alone in this, as I was fleeing from an abusive relationship, as well as trying to become “drug-free”, which was more or less exactly the same reason why all the other girls were there too. I finally found some hope and believed that maybe I still can do this, stop using drugs. This made me a lot stronger and slightly a little bit more confident within myself, as I really did have low self-esteem. My keyworker has helped me work through this and feel like a completely new person, compared to the person who had first walked in here just over 3 months ago.”
“I did have plans to go to a rehab and get treatment for my addiction, however due to unfortunate personal family matters I’ve now decided to actually try and continue my recovery and try to become complete “drug-free “of any and all form of substances (including prescribed drugs). I am hoping to discuss my other options with my keyworker as I definitely am not really ready to go back to my old area to live again. I strongly believe this will take me back to where I’d just come from. I would eventually like to start employment, but only once I’m a lot better and stronger person, as I’m still working on this. Overall I am extremely grateful for the refuge and the staff, especially my key-worker as they have helped change my life over immensely for the better, I really don’t know where I would have been now, had I not taken this step and moved into the refuge. So thank you so much to all the staff and for the support, love, care and even the new skills I’ve achieved here at the refuge in a very short space of time.”
“Me and Aleesha were proper tight. That’s why when she said she knew this guy and that we would go there and have some jokes- a laugh- at his yard (house)- it sounded alright. Just a few people would be there- have a little party atmosphere, be cool. So the first time I went there she introduced me to him- his name was P. It was alright he let us drink, which I thought was alright and said that we could spoke some weed, but I didn’t want to.”
“The next time we went, Aleesha kept on going into locked rooms with P. I guessed that P was her man now. But then I noticed she was with his friend as well. She had said that P’s friend had said he liked her too, but that P knew all about it and I was kinda confused ‘cos I thought P was her man? But I just acted cool about it. Then one time I was in the room with P and all the others got out of the room. He was trying things with me, but I didn’t want things to happen. Wasn’t he Leesha’s (Aleesha’s) man? I didn’t get it. Why did all his friends get out?”
“P told me I wanted it (sex) and I said no, I didn’t. He didn’t get what I was saying. I kept on trying to run over to the other end of the room where the door was. But it was locked. P kept pulling me back, just before I could get to the lock.”
“P thought it was a game. I wasn’t finding it funny. I don’t know why I didn’t scream. I wanted to shout more, but I was worried what everyone would think and worried what P would do.”
“It was a horrible time and I can still see the smile on his face. But I wasn’t laughing then and I’m not laughing now. I was scared what people would think. This didn’t feel like a party. It was only through accessing the service that I could realise that other people’s behaviour wasn’t alright- that made me feel a little bit stronger.”
“I was 15 when this happened.”
“Believing that I was in love was the biggest mistake I have ever made. After the love and affection he gave me in the first year I believed this was the man for me, then suddenly without noticing, things changed for the worst. Things would go missing in the house and I blamed the kids, things would get broken and I blamed the kids, he would go missing when this was happening and I would call him and he’d come running and everything would be ok for the entire time he was there so I began to feel that if he was around all the time things would be better, not realizing that he had cut my keys and was coming in when I was out, not realizing that he was stalking me and following me everywhere I went.”
“When I made the decision that he could live with me, I could have been sentencing myself to death. Within a short time I realized that he was over obsessed with me, I couldn’t speak to any family or friends when he was in and I couldn’t have anyone in my house if he was in or out, I began to convince myself that this was normal and started going to visit family and friends myself, eventually this became a problem, he’d argue saying that my friends and family are trying to put doubt into my head so that we would split up, this was not true but I still stuck by him.”
“When I cut everyone off because I couldn’t run from the fights and arguments anymore things got worse, he started drinking more and more and got more and more abusive, depriving me of sleep and forcing me to have sex as and when he wanted to, I eventually started drinking as much as him to knock myself out so I didn’t have to deal with what he was doing to me. After seven years he got so drunk that he confessed to me that he had been putting crack cocaine in my roll-ups and that he used to get up to leave the house in the morning and hide in the cupboard and listen to what I got up to, and because I hated him by then I really was getting up to things, (I often wondered how he always knew who I was seeing behind his back) and when I asked him, he used to have me believe that he had people watching me.”
“10 years on I’d called the police around 30 times, ranging from threats to kill, harassment, common assault etc. I been in a few refuges and always went back but all I really did was waste my time, precious time. 15 years on when my 14 year old wanted to live with her sister , I agreed to her going as what was happening at home was no life for a child, he used to come in around 7pm and tell me that I’ve had all day with my child and when he comes in its his turn for my attention.”
“My daughter leaving made me realize that I only stayed at home for them to avoid moving them around and to give them some stability in their lives, but being alone I decided that I didn’t have nothing keeping in the house anymore, so I left and went into a refuge. This was the best thing I have done in the last 16 years.”
“I have had help with my drug addiction by telling the truth to my key worker at the refuge, she helped me to go to the right people and get the help and guidance I’ve longed for. I feel much better about life and my future now that I’m not lying to anyone or myself and most of all my children, although our relationship is strained they’re willing me to stay positive and keep going.”
“I have found a new partner who respects me and treats me how a women is supposed to be treated, it is not just a physical relationship, he takes me out every weekend to his high street, he offers to take me to clubs but I haven’t been as yet, so he wines and dines me and makes me feel safe and comfortable in his home which I am welcome by him and his children anytime. Things couldn’t be better right now that I am on the mend, there’s no going back, just a good future to look forward to.”
“I felt so dirty, like no-one would want me. I had the names and the horrible comments. Talking to someone made me realise it wasn’t my fault; that I wasn’t to blame. Now I don’t need to use things to numb the pain: I can talk to someone instead and choose a better path for myself.”
“I am Samina; I came from Azerbaijan in 2006 because of my marriage but I had violence in my marriage and I was very unhappy. That’s why I left my husband in 2009.”
He’s so cruel and so angry
The detestation in his eyes is so clear
And even if one was blind to see, one would feel it, prodding like a pole in ones side
But both know the truth
Dig deep yet no love inside
You are depraved
You are horrid
You are not mine
You are lost
You contradict to suit you
And always cause pain
You are not happy till a tear falls
But never your own
One will wither no longer at your expense
I was loved once too
Just not now
But one will be loved again
Not by you
One detests your love
I don’t want it
No thanks you can keep it
Go For What You Believe In
“I am a 47 years old, married and mother of 2 children. Last April I ended up at nia after realising that I am a better person than I thought.”
“I left my two children and husband, because of mental and verbal abuse, to the point where I thought I was going mad. The moment I decided I was leaving, I felt free.”
“After arriving at nia, the first couple of weeks were hard for me, but I still believed that I had done the right thing.”
“I started to draw, which was something I didn’t do since I was 14 years old and then I started back doing digital art.”
“With the encouragement of the girls in the house and my support worker. I organised an exhibition, it was an achievement for me because if I was at home I wouldn’t have been able to do an exhibition.”
“Being at nia has opened my eyes to look into myself and reassured myself that I can do more with my life and not allow others to put me down. It is a journey that we all have to take. It will be hard but with my counselling, my support worker and my determination I will get to my rainbow.”
STORY OF WOMAN IN THE REFUGE
I don’t remember how many days ago I came to refuge. I am staying in the room which was given to me by the worker. Here is my story….
She stayed in that room 5 or 6 months. In the meantime she kept asking herself questions and having a heavy depression.
She was afraid that her husband might find her on the street and become violent again. She had a few friends and her GP as well as her solicitor who were helping her. Today she doesn’t want to see anybody, she just wants to go out and walk around by herself. She likes sea and water and one of her friends told her that the river and park is a hundred metres away. She walked towards the park and couldn’t believe her eyes. She felt that she is in heaven, on her right side there is a pond and ducks are swimming, around the pond there are benches and big trees surround the pond.
She walked down the road and came across a very nice river. She stood up there and looked at the view. The weather was very cold and steam was coming from her mouth. One side of the river is very green which shows that there is some work done on this side. The other side it hasn’t been done, there is cactus some greens …. This scene reminds her of her village. She walked by the river and on her left side she saw a cafe called ‘river side cafe’. She went inside got herself a coffee and sat outside. In the meantime she was listening to ‘Farid Farjad’s ‘4 sessions.
She looked around, it was a different world around the river. By the river looked like a story of a city, some people are fishing, fathers are telling their children how to save environment, dogs are running around and people are saying hello to each other. She thought to herself, she had suffered all those years at the hands of her husband and she felt tired and she was always crying.
But in this scenery she felt something inside her awakening. She wanted to shout ‘yes, yes I am going to change this and I will be achieving my goal.’
She put her back to the chair, took a big breath and had a sip from her coffee, suddenly a smile appears on her face and she feels hope….!