When my husband started abusing me, I didn’t know where to turn.
I have no relatives or family in this country, and I was faced with a choice: an abusive home, or no home at all.
My husband tried to kill me several times, strangling my neck and attempting to stab me. One time he grabbed me by the hair and banged my head against the radiator plating.
One night, I warned my husband that if he beat me again I would call the police. This scared him a little, but did not stop him- he was just careful not to leave marks or bruises that time. I realised I needed to escape my house, so I called the police, who gave me domestic violence helpline numbers.
However, because there were no marks this time they could not make any charges against my husband- all they could do was hold him in the station for a few hours whilst I packed up and fled to a friend’s flat.
I left my house early in the morning.
My employer allowed me two weeks off to sort out my situation, and I spent the day in my friend’s home trying to find a place in a refuge. This was very difficult, nowhere seemed to have any space, but then I found Housing for Women, who offered me a place in one of their refuges. I moved in that very same day.
Now, I have a lovely flat where I live with my son, who is now 5. My situation is still not as settled as I would like- unfortunately I have recently been dealing with harassment from a neighbour, and I have divorce, property and child matters cases ongoing with my husband. However, I am in a much better place now, far safer and more settled than I was before.
I am currently training to be a Teaching Assistant, and am undertaking a placement in the school where my son has just started. I used to worry about how my son was affected by this- he witnessed the violence when he was young, and as a result he was a little late in learning to speak. Now, he is much happier, well-adjusted and is doing very well at school.
If Housing for Women didn’t exist, I would not be alive any more.
I have no family or anybody to support me in this country, and if I had not been offered a place in the refuge I would have been completely homeless and in danger.
My message to any other woman going through a similar situation is keep faith and confidence in yourself. Also, I do a Discover Me programme locally- take part in programmes like this, because they really motivate you and build your confidence. And instead of thinking of the worst side of life, keep hope.
*Names have been changed and images are staged by actors.