31st March 2016 at 11:26 pm #12628
I wont say when I went into a refuge nor when I came out of it. Obvious safety reasons.
I will try to write about my experience soon.
I don’t know what is going to happen in the short term, my problems are not solved yet. I came back because I needed to be with my children. One of them gave me the impression the abuse is directed at that child.
I was offered a referral back to my local outreach worker, I am glad about that.
So much went on in my mind during my stay at the refuge, so many emotions, I exhausted them all. All the survivors had common experiences, I was shocked at the degree of violence, shocked also to see the similarities (albeit more subtle) with my own experience. It wasn’t enough to stop me coming back.
I hope some people on this forum will recognise me from previous posts. I am going to let time show me the way forward. I find it really hard to be back. He is already piling on the pressure…
I stay silent.
1st April 2016 at 12:18 am #12631lover of no contactParticipant
So good to hear from you. I often thought of you. It is good you had time away from him. That space away from living directly with the abuse was at least a bit of breathing space.
I can understand as a mother how hard it is when the abuser starts or ups the abuse on one of our children (their main victim) when we are no longer there to be used as the abuser’s emotional punching bag.
My abuser has done the same. I managed to get away from him but my just adult daughter is his new primary victim. She was always his secondary victim since birth, she was in her own mini-abuse cycle with him, but now she is in a full-blown cycle of abuse with him in the family home as I am no longer there for him to control and bully.
It is very hard for me to watch her life unravel due to the abuse and her confidence and self-esteem is shot to pieces. At least she has one week living with me, so that is one week away from direct abuse although the indirect abuse continues as he can still make contact with him when he fancies putting someone down to puff himself up.
I wish he’d found another victim (poor girl though) and leave our daughter alone. I fear for her mental health (her mind and emotions are a mess) and I fear she won’t survive the abuse in one way or another, as she’s still in the denial phase and blaming herself for his moods, hostility and abuse towards her.
She has a chance to go away to study for a year, so that looks like it will happen which is an answer to my prayers. However I know my darling (detail removed by moderator)son will be his next victim and that will be so painful to watch.
But my only hope is they see I went removed myself from my relationship with him and my mother (an abuser as well) and how I’m recovering from the ‘abused’, downtrodden, person I was to a calm, happy, ‘living life to the full’ person. So I’ve modelled the behaviour of how to break free from an abusive relationship. But I cannot make them end the cycle of abuse they are in with him. That is their journey and their choice.
My father tried to leave the abusive relationship he had with my mother but was cajoled back into the relationship with her, even after being apart many months. My abuser mum was abusing him and me. I know if he had left her when I was a teenager I would have had the permission leave my relationship with her. He never did but 6 months after he died following a huge abusive incident (red phase of the abuse cycle), I finally left the mother/daughter relationship for good and never went back and thus preserved my mental health and quality of life by my decision.
Stay safe Bridget, keep posting and reading the posts. So glad you’re not going to try and survive on our own. I still need this forum a lot and I’m out a while.
2nd April 2016 at 2:26 pm #12757AyannaParticipant
Reading this breaks my heart. Why is it that in the year 2016 women cannot take their children out of an abusive relationship and stay away from the abuser for good? F… patriarchy, really.
This system has to answer for a lot. Who helps all the damaged adults that were forced to live with abusers during their childhood?
2nd April 2016 at 8:58 pm #12797
(detail removed by moderator)
I am sorry for writing this but I felt I had to. The system fails us indeed Ayanna, it is patriarchal, and it forces people like me and many others to go back. My own decision on going back was because I knew one of my children was really down and needed mum to be there. Other factors played in my decision, but the main one was to be around at home to protect that particular child against his constant messages and remarks, and indirectly the others too. Social Services also failed me. I totally block them out of my mind.
I am feeling down right now. However, on my return, I managed in just a few minutes to get another child of mine to love me again the way that child used to before I left. I get cuddles, loving gestures, great chats, I can see in that child’s eyes the love that could not be expressed during my absence. Another child of mine who witnessed an assault on me is willing to keep an eye on me to protect me (how awful is this level of responsibility on a young adult????) and there is more to describe.
Right now I am silent, I say very little. I am watching. I am thinking. But I see the same person I left behind temporarily. One of the refugees said to me that over 90% of women go back…I DON’T wonder why, I KNOW why…
All I can say is that if you are offered a place in a refuge, take it if you can. I couldn’t at first because I thought about my children, they are not children any more but they are children to me. I never left till it became too unbearable and I could not appreciate the reality of the danger any more. I found the staff absolutely great, friendly and helpful, but I felt alone, left to think too much all by myself. I saw my dv support worker only once a week and for an hour, which was not enough. I was never asked about what I had experienced, I thought they would eventually ask, but a few months later, that still had not happened. I felt towards the end that I was the only one to be able to put a perspective on my life and it is the wrong one because I am hugely resilient and have not lived the horrific things the other refugees have lived. Wrong! But…
My own personality, my potentials, my education, my strength, my intelligence, led me to come back to face the challenge. I felt let down in the end by the system. Most dv support workers in the refuge were overwhelmed and too busy. I almost felt like I was amusing mine at times because I am different, educated and well spoken, I ”stood out”. I also stood up to abuse for over (detail removed by moderator) decades with absolute gusto! It actually upset me to hear my own dv support worker describe me one day as I collapsed in tears that what she could see was a person who had lost all her identity but that she could also see a huge amount of strength…That made me feel angry and lost, disappointed and as if it was a typical scenario answer…I hate obvious answers…My own fault for reacting that way.
My dv support worker was going to make me do a Recovery Tool Kit program, the first session was missed as she was off sick and then on holiday the week after. I lost patience also because she took 3 weeks to start it, despite my request to tell me what it was about exactly. I felt it wasn’t going to help me much. She talked about confidence and self esteem. I brushed all that with a slight disinterested gesture. Then things at home, things I was hearing from my child, took over and I left out of the blue. I remember one dv support worker (not mine, she was on holiday) say to me with a stern look ”you were half way there…” as I asked her to come and check my room was clean before I left. Part of the divorce was done. I am still half way there, I am just not at the refuge any more, and it takes a long time to decide what you want when an abuser manipulates you financially, emotionally, uses the children against you and makes you feel scared of the future.
If anything, being back was going to teach me my lesson. That is what I ended up thinking in the end. Either it would work or it wouldn’t. We are now playing cat and mouse…He is brewing with anger.
One main thing to say, and it is not going to sound good, is that the other ladies at the refuge felt let down, they felt no one was really helping them, from housing benefits to rehousing, to court cases, to general information and general support. I didn’t feel the same as I am quite independent and self reliant, but I know what they meant. However sometimes you have to help yourself first rather than rely on other people. One dv support lady asked me if they had failed me…my smile said it all. But my reasons are different to other people’s. I think the help we get can’t always be tailored to suit everyone, and the resources are stretched. I think nevertheless that we are lucky to have places of safety, and some of us need them because of horrific circumstances. I learned that at my refuge.
I will try and find the time to write a bit more soon. I will write about practical things next time.
2nd April 2016 at 9:52 pm #12801AyannaParticipant
I know all of this but reading it infuriates me again. Patriarchy sucks. We are right back in the dark ages again, now that all the services are reduced that were there to save lives.
I have no children. For this reason I was treated like an outcast. I was doomed to die in the street.
I know other women who live in refuges and the situation is less than acceptable.
How far is your divorce progressed? Is there an end in sight yet or does he extend it?
Record him if you can. Log every incident. Make your children report him too, at school, to the school nurse, teachers,..
Call police whenever he has an outburst.
Tell everyone how scared you are.
Let the neighbourhood know what you go through and that nobody helps you.
Stay safe. You deserve so much better! I am really lost for words.
3rd April 2016 at 7:32 am #12806InneedofsomepeaceParticipant
Reading this made me so sad for you, i don’t know what advise i can offer. I just wanted to show my support, and say keep strong, safe and keep fighting. I guess i was lucky maybe It’s there ages but i have been able to bring my children with me to refuge, and they haven’t seen there dad since. I totally see where you are coming from though if i had, had to leave them behind i would never have been able to leave. Stay strong x
6th April 2016 at 10:52 pm #13140
I don’t smoke, I don’t drink much, I take no medicine…
In the refuge, I met for the first time in my life women who were drug addicts, who smoke w**d and who drink. Alcohol was allowed in our refuge but the staff kept an eye from a distance. One of the girls belonged to AA and NA. I had to ask what NA was, how dumb am I?
I met women who had children, of course. I won’t give too many details but I was shocked by the effects left on one child who had witnessed at a very young age what happened to mum. You could tell but the way the child’s sleep was disturbed if we happened to let the kids sleep on the living room sofas while we had a chat on a friday night. I have never seen a child sleep with so many twitches, due to nightmares.
I met a child who at a reasonably young age still, could tell me like an adult that dad was abusive and how.
I met children who were amazingly friendly.
I met women who had suffered enormous physical violence, rape, emotional abuse. Some were frightened their perpetrators were going to be released from prison very soon. I heard descriptions of physical violence I thought only existed in films. I heard the stories of women who had gone into hospital pretending their injuries were caused by falls etc.
I heard women describe how ”normal” things they suffered were at home. They were used to it all.
I compared my life to theirs and felt like a fraud. The staff kept saying to me don’t minimise what you have lived. Different social backgrounds, different stories but so similar, mine much more sophisticated because of our background I suppose. I am the one who stayed the longest with my partner. The staff spoke to me about different levels of resilience.
I met a lovely woman who was my age but looked 20 years older than me.
I met one who was 40 and looked like she was well into her 50’s.
I met a lady who could have been my daughter and who had already suffered in the hands of a mad man.
I met a lady who prayed for me and took me to her church. She said to me, when you suffer abuse, you are a victim. When you choose to stay, you are a volunteer.
Though they all described worse scenarios than mine, we all shared the same stories.
We had really nice rooms, the refuge was composed of different buildings but ours was probably the best, en suite bathrooms and beautiful kitchens fully equipped and large living rooms with tv and wifi. We had a computer room too. I actually liked it straight away. It was clean and tidy, we had a cleaning rota and I didn’t mind doing more than my share. I cooked meals for us all at times. We did have nice times. We did cry. We did help each other. We did support one another. We had moments when tension built up, but nothing bad. I witnessed eviction notices, room inspections, house meetings, organised events for kids and mums etc. The staff were there if you needed them most of the time, we all had a dv worker for personal support.We had donations from well known retailers, food and supplies, from time to time. There was a playground for the kids, bikes and toys.
I met women I will never forget. I find it hard not to keep in touch with them now that I have left.
When I first arrived, I was met by two dv workers, I had to let one of them get in my car as the car park was not easy to find due to indirect access which meant driving a long way round the back. I would never have found the refuge unless they had met me on the main road. I was asked to follow my dv worker to show me the house and then to go into the playroom to fill in paperwork. A police officer rang me to make sure I was safe, following a visit at my police station for a particular reason I can’t explain. I had to interrupt my conversation with the dv worker who patiently waited. Then I burst in tears telling her I already missed my children. I was just in shock at what I had managed to find the courage to do, call to go into a refuge. I felt utter shame more than feeling courageous. I was asked if I smoked, drank, took medication etc. I remember the dv worker saying we won’t have a problem with you. How silly to remember that. I had started wondering who I would be living with, what sad stories I would start hearing, what physical damage I would see on women in the refuge. It frightened me.
That night I was glad to meet one of the children I described above, that child helped me to settle. We talked about all sorts and I found that child so clever. Sorry for saying ”that child” but I don’t want to give details about gender etc. Amazing personality, truly amazing. I didn’t meet the other women till the day after.
I found out how to report problems to do with maintenance, I found out about the solidarity between women and the ”rules” of behaviour, how gossip spread or didn’t, what ”grassing” was, how friendships were built or broken, how personalities clashed or didn’t. I experienced loneliness and group fun, painful emotions and support from listening to women’s stories, words of warning, my own despair and how to support other people to make it through, I tried to stimulate and inspire, I tried to help and I tried to live normally. I listened to stories unfolding, I helped with emergencies (can’t say what) till the early hours of the morning, I saw an ambulance come for a suicide attempt. I saw the police come for statements, I was horrified by one story in particular involving a child, I saw women interviewed regularly in one of the rooms as part of the outreach work I think. I asked how many referrals were made on a monthly basis, it totalled over 160.
I don’t know if what I write will be deleted in part. I am only writing hopefully in general terms. I will try and explain a bit more another day. I hope what I write is useful and helpful. There is so much I could say…
7th April 2016 at 11:00 am #13161SilkyHalideParticipant
This was useful
You’ve helped me massively this morning.
Hope you all get free together soon.
12th April 2016 at 8:14 pm #13616LittleBritishPhoenixParticipant
Bridget Jones, this made me cry. It reminds me alot of my own experiences in refuge…so much happens in those places. Good and bad.
It makes me so sad for you that you had to go back…but as Ayanna said, it’s the d****d patriarchy that forces women to do it, that allows men to abuse with seemingly little repercussion.
Stay strong love, I think you’re amazing.
17th April 2016 at 7:33 pm #14270Twisted SisterParticipant
Also sending you strength BridgetJonesisfree.
I remember you from the old forum.
I am out of refuge now and can relate to a lot of what you have written here. There are so many different women with so many different experiences arriving in refuge, all greeted with a smile and sanctuary, in the most awful of circumstances.
Keep up your strength and devotion to yourself to have better for you all xx ks
17th April 2016 at 7:40 pm #14272
Thank you so much Karmasister! Same to you!
18th April 2016 at 11:40 pm #14442bertietrueParticipant
Just wanted to share my experience of refuge. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I also truly believe it has saved our lives. being in a small room with three children, and I was also pregnant was difficult but we all really needed that too. It made everyone feel safer, and also opened up the lines of communication again. It definitely bought us closer together.
The support we had in refuge was amazing, the staff work so hard!! Anything from emotional to financial support.
I would say that you need to be a bit weary of becoming too friendly with other women straight away, living in such close quarters can bring difficulties in itself, but in saying that I have also made some very good friends that I am still close to now a year down the line.
My best advice would be to embrace what is being offered to help your situation. It is a safe place and also somewhere you can be really honest with yourself. I found one of the main benefits was having everything stripped away- we had minimal belongings. You then have the time and possibility to go back to basics- cooking for your children, washing and ironing using the facilities, without all the other pressures running a household brings (and the situation that you have left behind).
It really taught us how to become a family again, how to start to address the issues we were experiencing, and when we did finally move on we appreciated having our own space again so much.
Without going into refuge there is no way we would be where we are today, I thank my lucky stars these places exist and are ran by the amazing people that work there.
If you are thinking of trying to get away, please go to refuge- It will be hard but it could save your life x
11th July 2016 at 12:21 am #21487brokendreamsParticipant
You went back,
I feel the same, I want to go back to him, but keep getting told life is better without him, but he wasn’t always bad, and he does feel regret and loves me, and I. Feel the same, I should of kept quiet, but so many emotions and feeling right now, I don’t know what’s up or down anymore x*x
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