Trigger Warning: This blog post contains information about domestic violence and abuse. Look after yourself and remember, we’re here 24-hours, 365 days a year. Call us on 0808 800 0340 or visit our website for information on the available support. https://junowomensaid.org.uk/
So, from then to now I have climbed an emotional mountain, some days falling straight to the bottom. I have fought for myself and my daughter seven times over in family court. With the help and support of my family and friends, and amazing Fiancé, I have dragged myself back up to freedom — I have a voice, I can say no, I can laugh, I can cry, I can enjoy my life being a mummy and being my own person with my own opinion, without fear.
Before now, I had programmed myself to hide my tears and the life I was living, but I stand tall now and I am not ashamed of openly telling people I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I am not afraid of saying I have been at the bottom, on my knees, or walked around in the clothes I have slept in with unwashed hair, not knowing how I am going to put one foot in front of the other or stand in the playground feeling downtrodden and worthless. I am proud to be me.
Learning to live
I wake up in the morning, sometimes after a terrible night’s sleep with flashbacks due to my Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), forever grateful for my inner strength and determination. Further thankful that I never did take myself to that river with my beautiful baby.
It took a lot to let someone into my life again. It’s not been easy for him to witness some of the terrible times I have had during court hearings, my personal trauma and ongoing meetings with agencies, but he has stood by me and watched me grow and become the strong person I now am. He loves me for me.
I am becoming more confident in myself and my journey has made me so passionate about helping other women — this is why I am telling my story today. Never did I think I would be brave enough to do this due to fear, embarrassment and uncertainty. It’s not been easy, but knowing I can help just one woman makes it all worth it.
Helping survivors of abuse
After recovering from being very ill last July 2019 (mental exhaustion and stress surrounding the sixth court case), I started collecting donations for women fleeing domestic abuse, many of them fled with only the clothes they were wearing. I collected everything from household goods to baby’s nappies; my garage was constantly full, it was brilliant!
A month later, I took part in a 5k run for NIDAS with my eldest daughter, Court IDVA and my family cheering me on. Tears streaming down my face I told myself to keep running, keep going nothing will beat you! It was then that I decided to hold a fundraiser for Juno Women’s Aid. This was a wonderful, emotional day raising awareness in the community. We raised around £800 for Juno and it felt amazing to be giving something back, turning the negatives into positives.
That day, I didn’t realise that I was going to meet a lifelong friend, a lovely woman, who had been invited by my Support Worker to come along to the event. This woman has now become one of my close friends. Together, we support each other. Sharing our experiences was sometimes mirrored, but they are also very different. Our outcome was a positive change to our lives, getting there was the hard part.
The final court hearing
How I did it, I do not know, but I will never forget the words said that day: “no contact and a section 91(14) bar for three years.” For me, this meant freedom. When the judge said the verdict, I turned to the court usher and said, “it feels like I’ve been released, like I’ve just come out of prison.” I felt I had been set free; my voice and my reasons were heard.
Within the proceedings of my final hearing to freedom, I included the practice 12J. The purpose of this law is to protect parents and children from further harm relating to domestic abuse. This practice is what saved us from getting no-contact. I can’t tell you how important this was for me and my family, I urge everyone to read about it.
Following on from the last hearing, I still suffer with CPTSD but this is being treated with Eye Movement Therapy (EMT), which is amazing for me. I’ve also had hypnotherapy and hours of counselling, sometimes twice a week — steps like these and making time for yourself is so important for your healing process and your future.
In her words: domestic abuse
Life has just got better and better. I have spoken at events for Juno Women’s Aid about my journey and the help myself and my children have received, which has been amazing. My daughter had the most wonderful Children’s Worker and she still talks of her now.
After the final court hearing, I sat down with my daughter and explained what the future looks like for us. Up until then, I had kept her completely removed from the court proceedings, phone calls etc. She had no idea what we were going through. Every court hearing I had to attend I had said was a job interview. When I had finished explaining, she said, “you’ve done all this mummy? Without me knowing? You’ve been so brave.” She then rushed upstairs and I could hear her tapping away on the computer.
The next day, my daughter stood up in front of two classes, with two sheets of laminated paper, and gave a presentation about domestic abuse. She encouraged her classmates to ask questions and repeated word for word what her Children’s Worker had said to her, “domestic abuse is wrong and is not acceptable.” The worker was wonderful and made a lasting impact. My daughter has an amazing understanding of what domestic abuse is; she says she’s proud to call me her mummy.
But we haven’t stopped there. Me and my partner in crime (as I like to call her) looked at what we could do together that would signpost support for women in one centralised place. This has led us to creating a website which will be going live on the 13th February, ‘Empower Nottinghamshire.’ It will include information we feel we, as victims and survivors, have needed throughout our journeys. The website will a quick exit button, which is vital for safety.
As a woman who has survived abuse, I am left with emotional scars. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the women and families suffering in silence. Let’s break this silence together.
I can’t thank my Support Worker and Juno enough for helping and supporting me through this journey. Allowing me to share my story with others has empowered me as a person in so many ways.
“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and raging courage.”
– Alex Elle
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and share my blog, and remember, there are no limits when the only way you can go is up. xxxx
The survivors in these stories wanted to share their experiences of abuse to help other women realise abusive behaviours and explore routes to support. They also wanted to tell readers that although they are in much better places now, the impact of the abuse does not end with a court sentence.
“The police often say things like, “you’re not in that now, why do you keep bringing it up?” Well, because of the triggers, the memories, the fact that you still have to work through issues daily. I still have some weeks where I don’t sleep for four or five nights, but sometimes I sleep soundly for weeks. The ongoing mental health impacts of domestic abuse are so understated. Being in a constant state of flight or fight is hell.” Author of Fairytale Foe
“There are still ups and downs, it’s not perfect, but it’s much better than it was. It’s about getting the right balance. My personal ongoing issues are around mental health, repairing and healing. Everyone has different tolerance levels and we all still have our everyday battles.” Author of The Look of Love
Below is a list of resources based on topics discussed in this blog post. Further resources are also available here.
This blog post is Part Three of a three-part series documenting the journeys of two survivors of domestic abuse. Part One, The Look of Love and Fairytale Foe, explores the first incidents and realization of abuse and routes to support. The Look of Love Part Two and Fairytale Foe Part Two describes support for survivors, the process of leaving and continued abuse. The Look of Love Part Three and Fairytale Foe Part Three describes the after-effects of abuse and the support received by survivors and their families.
Juno Women’s Aid runs the 24-hour domestic and sexual violence Helpline in Nottingham. We provide specialist domestic abuse services and programmes for women, children and teenagers living in Nottingham City and south of the county. For more information and support, call our freephone Helpline 0808 800 0340 or visit our website.