When I posted about my domestic abuse story I was sent so many messages of support and sadly messages from many who had been in a similar situation. It was a bit mind blowing just how many woman were also survivors just like me. I posted and to be honest I didn’t revisit that post until I started speaking to the amazing Danni from Godiva.
On reading my post back I realised in my haze of writing it I didn’t really finish the story. I didn’t really explain to people how I moved on. The more practical aspects and how hard it was but despite being hard it was possible and so worth it.
Being a victim of abuse makes you lose a part of yourself and at the time it feels like you’ve lost all sense of identity bit I promise you it comes back. Probably fiercer than ever. I used to think I could never break free from my abuser. I thought he’d kill me first and to be honest it got to the point I only stood up to him as I felt so low him killing me seemed like the better option.
That changed. I don’t know where it came from but I rose up. I decided enough was enough and I was no longer protecting him. My late Nan was happily married and still always advised me to have a ‘running away fund’. It turned out to be the best advice I’d ever received. Money can be used to control us and he was always the main earner. Looking back he tried to buy me and buy his way out of a shitty situation. Nothing says I’m sorry I smashed your face in like some flowers right?
I took my Nan’s advice thankfully and when I did leave I had exactly £200 stashed away. it fed me and my unborn baby and bought me some very cheap essentials as I’d left with nothing. I adore my husband and we’re a team but even now I have my own money. It’s so important for me to have that. We share money but I have my own account and I know if I needed to leave I could. I know some people may think that’s extremely cynical but I promise if you’d been through what I had you’d feel exactly the same. Please know too that if you’re reading this and you feel trapped that you aren’t. Even if you walk away with the clothes on your back and nothing else I promise there is always a way. ALWAYS. shelter, gingerbread, woman’s aid, Godiva, family, friends and so many more. They all have your back on this. I’m not special or a one off. Anyone can leave. It’s not easy but you deserve freedom.
As soon as I left I knew I wasn’t going back. Admittedly I had the odd wobble but my heart knew it was Lewis and I from now on. What surprised me more than anything was the amount of people who told me I should have given it another chance for the sake of Lewis. I’ll never really understand that but I knew the right thing for my son was me. Just me. Call it mothers instinct, call it selfishness. I didn’t care. Lewis saw his biological dad in the beginning sporadically but for safety reasons now has no contact at all.
The fear you have when you leave turns to anger. There is no timeline but it does. When it did I realised the strength I had. People tell me I’m strong for my past. We all have that strength but for some it’s just in temporary hiding. Once the chipping away from an abuser goes your inner strength comes back and it’s almost frightening. Womans aid helped reminded me how strong I was. I cannot sing the praises of women’s aid enough. I wasn’t even sure I fitted their ‘criteria’ for support but I soon learned there is no such thing. It’s not black and white at all but the more I got told about abuser traits the more clearly I could see. The woman who work for women’s aid don’t judge. They’ve seen it all and they will hold your hand and point you in all the right directions. Woman’s aid saved my life.
I worked so I didn’t realise I could get any financial support. My dream nursery sat untouched at my old house while I slept on my aunt’s floor. I didn’t care. I felt free. Babies don’t thank you for overpriced nurseries but they will thank you in the long run for giving them a safe environment to grow in.
I made an appointment with the council right away on the off chance they could help. Within about 3 weeks I had a flat. A very modest flat with blood up the curtains. I could tell people were horrified when they seen it. I loved it! For me it symbolised freedom, a fresh start and a decent chance for my son. My family and friends painted it for me and within a week it was a modest flat I was extremely proud of. I loved that bloody flat. I have so many fond memories. It’s where I took my baby home. I sometimes drive past it just to remember.
One massive mistake I made in hindsight was putting my ex’s name on Lewis’ birth certificate. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do but sadly it meant a messy legal battle. It was never about seeing his son and my heart hurts as I type that. It was control. As soon as he realised he’d lost me forever it was game over for seeing my precious boy. I think that’s what hurts the most. It’s his loss, it really is. I would go through all the shit again for that beautiful boy. He was most definitely worth it. One massive piece of advice I’m so glad I took was getting a lawyer. I was surprised I qualified for legal aid and from the word go everything was documented by a lawyer. At the time it seemed slightly dramatic but it’s still saving me now. I sleep better knowing everything has been properly recorded.
The anger leaves eventually too. Again it follows it’s own timeline but when it does it’s the nicest feeling. I’ve had counselling which helped with that massively but I’ve made peace with the situation. I don’t hate him. I feel almost indifferent. I realise my past is part of me but it doesn’t define me. I’ve moved on and I’m extremely grateful I have a very stable life now. I have the sort of marriage where we bicker about who takes the bins out and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted. I’m happy. In an abusive relationship there may be happy times but you’re never really happy. You’re living on eggshells. It’s not worth it. Everyone deserves happiness.
You deserve a life built on your own choices. The chances are if you’ve been in an abusive relationship you’ll have lost a lot of friends. That can be the hardest part as often you’ve cut people off or they’ve got frustrated and backed off. Remember they haven’t given up on you it’s just really hard to watch someone you love slowly fade away. I isolated myself in many ways but all of my friend were so understanding once I left. Never once did I hear ‘I told you so’. That meant so much.
The running theme in this post is support and I hope that conveys. The support is there and I’d recommend you take as much as you can get. There is real strength in being able to ask for help. Even if you’re a fellow survivor and you just need to talk about what happened then please do. It’s important to use your voice. You just never know how your story could help someone else. I’ve posted some links below of support I found helpful. Don’t ever doubt yourself. You just need to find your inner strength but you’ve totally got this!
Yvonne @champagneandsnottynoses x
P.S please check Danni out @godiva. She’s set up all up on her own to help other woman out and she’s bloody amazing! I’ve linked the donate link at the bottom too. You’ve no idea how much you could impact someone’s life.
to donate to Danni’s fantastic cause: