For many women and children, leaving the home they live in where domestic abuse is taking place is not always easy; in fact in many cases it is something they can only imagine because they are too scared. When they do finally make the decision to leave, many women arrive at our refuges with only the clothes on their back. Sometimes they have children who are traumatised and frightened, and wonder if they will ever recover from the crisis they are going through. It is at this point that our skilled support workers provide advice and support around staying safe, but also the reassurance and hope they need to begin rebuilding their lives.
Elizabeth’s story is just one example of such a case:
I had to run away from my husband with my children Georgina, who is 4, and Marcus, who is 2. Things at home had not been right for a long time. We lived in Liverpool and for over 6 years I lived a life with domestic abuse. It was Hestia’s domestic abuse services that helped save our lives.
My husband would often get home from work angry and upset and sometimes he would lose his temper and would threaten me with physical abuse.
One time he hurt me so badly, I ended up in A&E. It was on this visit that I found out I was pregnant with Marcus. I knew things had to change, but what could I do?
I just knew I had to keep the children out of the house most of the time, to allow them to play and to be safe from my husband’s punishments and anger.
I finally got help when my husband said he wanted me to leave so he could look after the children on his own. He said if I didn’t leave by the next day then he would beat me harder than ever.
My English wasn’t very good then and I didn’t have any money of my own, so I called an Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation after doing a desperate Internet search while my husband was at work that night. They helped me escape to London to one of the refuges run by Hestia.
Thanks to Hestia, I’m now in a place where the children can be free and feel safe. Georgina is able to play and be a child and not have to worry about protecting Marcus and me from her father. They have both learnt to play and socialise with other children; you can just see how happy they are.
During the first few months in the refuge the children received some money from a local children’s centre so that they could go to nursery two days a week, this gave me a bit of a break. My support worker helped me get counselling to deal with everything that had happened to use, and supported me when I had to go to court.
The children have clearly been affected by the abuse. At the refuge they each have time on their own with a play therapist that works with us. Marcus’ speech is delayed for his age and speech therapists are helping him to develop his conversation skills, however Georgina is still wetting her bed and she is getting special help of her own to deal with her fears.
As a single mother, I’ve been working on my parenting skills so that I can be a better mother to my children. I’m also getting out and about and recently joined up with a Turkish community group. Hestia has really helped transform our lives for the better – I don’t know where we would be now or how my children would have coped without their help