A Survivor's Story: Case Study of a Domestic Abuse Survivor within the TPA

This blog is written by a survivor of Domestic Abuse, who was supported through a Keyworker at the The Prevention Alliance, which is a Stockport service led by a consortium of organisations, including TLC: Talk, Listen, Change. It has been published with the consent of the writer. We’re proud to be part of this network and share the stories of the people we work with.

Content Advisory: This article contains descriptions of domestic violence.

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He said he hated conflict, this was the perfect person for me, I loved laughing and putting the radio on and dancing around, little did I know that was soon to stop.

We started our journey, the hours of laughter quickly turned to days of interrogation, shouting, smashing things, name calling, and he would loom over me his eyes reflecting sheer venom. The intimidation was gripping, I couldn't breathe properly or focus, my heart would race so fast, yet the questions kept coming. This was to become my normality and the weeks spiralled into months and then years.

Everything about me was suddenly so wrong, there wasn't any aspect of me he didn't criticise, even how I sat. He renamed me 'slag or skank', I had become so accustomed to it and desensitised I didn't even complain. He was controlling every part of my life, from what time I went to bed, to if my hair should be up or down.

The rules for me were beginning to form and they went on and on. The one that had my senses heightened was the 60 second rule to answer the phone or the next message would be **** this was not to be ignored. Every time I thought I understood the rules he created more, life with him was becoming draining and I was so tired, I was existing in a constant heightened state of anxiety.

I was living in a dark world, but he kept telling me he did these things because he loved me so much. The irony was I didn't feel loved, valued or safe, I felt vulnerable and violated. Who was I anymore, I had no voice and was losing my identity, I was becoming his ultimate creation.

All his insecurities were all my fault. While I had to accommodate all his needs and change everything about me, he changed nothing. His words ring out, "if you married me things would be better", "if you got a tattoo, I would feel secure". I married him and even allowed him to brand me, it still wasn't enough to stop his explosive temper. 

I offered him unconditional love while he offered me emotional, verbal and financial abuse and yet things were to become even darker. I could do no more, I was exhausted and at my wits end with his endless demands and constant rages. The music didn't play anymore and hadn't for a while, laughter was scarce.

Was this to be the rest of my life and I couldn't describe the things he done to me as anything else but cruel. I can't do this, I'm contemplating leaving him, I needed to speak to someone, find out my options but how could I discuss this, I felt humiliated and embarrassed and was this abuse or was my husband just being the man like he told me he should be. It felt disloyal, to share how he treated me, while he readily treated me in any way he deemed fit.  I was so confused.

"I was living in a dark world, but he kept telling me he did these things because he loved me so much. The irony was I didn't feel loved, valued or safe."
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I approached the TPA and a referral was made for a domestic abuse caseworker. The three-year silence was about to be broken, I had never spoken to anyone about what was happening to me. Within the next couple of days, it was our first wedding anniversary and I paid for a hotel and a meal for two, his gift to me was to me was to assault me because I pointed out he gave the wrong directions.

A couple of days later my phone shrilled and it was a soft voice asking if it was safe to talk. I rambled for an hour and a half, there was nothing more than encouragement and support, I had a voice. There was nothing critical or judgemental about the way my caseworker, spoke to me. I offered her nothing and she asked for nothing more, than to hear what I wanted and that I was safe. This stranger posed no threat, I was living with the real threat. My caseworker used my real name and I began to remember I was a person with an identity. 

My caseworker gave me so many options, help-lines I could ring even through the night to talk through how I was feeling and safety planning. She offered me access to emergency temporary accommodation, this I declined. she didn't shout or call me names, instead she liaised with the housing on my behalf to establish the process for submitting a re-housing application from a different address, she found I didn't have to give my current address a massive barrier to me leaving had been removed. Most importantly she maintained regular contact and updated me on anything immediately.

The one thing my caseworker couldn't or didn't do was to tell me I had to leave, I had to make that choice. After the assault, he showed no remorse or regard for what he done. He actually had the audacity to ask me if I had spiked his drink. I had no dignity left, this is it I am leaving him. I felt a mixture of emotions fear, apprehension but also relieve. I did think how am I going to manage without him, in reality how was I coping living with him, that took some strength. 

I left and the barrage of manipulative and abusive messages started instantly, I decided, I was taking some control back and stopped answering his calls, texts and e-mails.  I had never had the courage to ignore him before, but it actually felt good that I didn't have to listen to his screaming and endless questioning, especially about his unhealthy obsession with cheating. 

On a Sunday morning, I had reached the biggest crossroads in my life... The messages were coming fast and furious and he told me he was coming to find me. I was a nervous wreck, I hadn't slept or eaten properly since leaving, I realised this wasn't going to stop so I had two choices, either I returned and accepted what consequences he deemed appropriate or I made a complaint to the police and sought some form of protection, as the situation was becoming clearly unmanageable.

"My caseworker sourced some volunteering opportunities and made a referral for counselling. In addition, she celebrated my achievements, with a big smile that reflected genuine pleasure."
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He left me no choice, as I walked into the police station, I was so apprehensive, I was physically shaking. The police listened to my concerns with empathy, they explained the procedures available to provide me with protection. They kept reassuring me this wasn't my fault as my caseworker had been doing. They asked would I support a prosecution, I agreed, and they offered me 'special measures' where, if I have to go to court I don't have to see him. They also put a 'marker' on the property I was staying at, so if I called 999 the response would be immediate.

He was arrested and bailed and the police liaised with me at every stage, . They seized his phone and the threats stopped immediately. At last silence fell and I no longer had to endure his vile comments or threats.

It didn't stop me feeling guilty, while this man had never shown me an ounce of compassion even when he could see he had broken me, and my face etched with pain and sadness. 

With the encouragement of my caseworker, I began the process of re-building my life... At this point I was a shell of the person I have become today. She readily and selflessly shared the burden of what I endured.

Her support was phenomenal and holistic, it covered every aspect of my life, from my emotional well-being to practical matters such as housing and I am now on the brink of being re-housed.  My caseworker sourced some volunteering opportunities and made a referral for counselling. In addition, she celebrated my achievements, with a big smile that reflected genuine pleasure.  

My caseworker introduced me to the 'Freedom Programme' and this gave me the confirmation and affirmation, I was living with the 'Dominator'.  He was a liar, bully, jailer, headworker. and he would have won an Oscar for playing 'king of the castle'. This man didn't want a healthy balanced relationship he wanted to exert ultimate control for his sole gratification and needs, he had absolutely no regard for me, a failure I didn't feel anymore. 

I won't deny, I still have a mountain to climb with a forth coming court case and it does feel scary, but I lived that fear every day, when he was judge, jury and executioner. While I wait for that to happen, I am living my life to the fullest, I do all the things I wasn't allowed to and I am going from strength to strength each and every day. 

Most importantly, I realised I deserved to life a life without abuse, I didn't need him, he needed me. Now its light and bright and the music plays.

Thank you TPA, the service is outstanding.
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If you have been affected by any issues within this blog post, please visit our Useful Links page which provides more information that may be useful.

If you live within Stockport, have been affected by these issues and would like to speak to somebody, please contact the The Prevention Alliance.

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