Chloe’s* Story

*Names changed to protect identities

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My son is only one, but he saw and heard what was happening at home. He would be in my arms and his dad, my ex-partner, would be shouting at me in front of him, hitting things and hitting himself. It scared my son. We lived together in a maisonette, so even when my son was in the room next door, he could hear everything. 

His dad would also hit himself and pulled a knife on himself in front of us on several occasions. I remember him threatening to kill himself and saying to my son: “I’m not going to be here anymore, so you need to be a good boy for mummy. Look after mummy.” 

I stayed for a while. I felt like my son deserved to have his dad around. He was good at manipulating me too; he would promise that he would do better, but after a few days or a week, he would fall back into his old ways. 

My son became very clingy, which he hadn’t been before. He became withdrawn and stopped babbling like he always used to. 

Over time, I became too scared to stay at home. I fled during the night. A friend came and picked me up and dropped me at my mum’s the next morning. From there, I phoned a domestic abuse helpline, and within a few days I was accepted into a refuge. 

I was terrified. It is scary for anyone to experience domestic abuse and move to a refuge, but I’ve only just turned 22. I just kept thinking: What’s going to happen now? Where am I going to end up? What if I end up worse off than I was before I left? 

At Hestia’s refuge, we have been made to feel welcome and comfortable. My son is able to use all the toys in the playroom and play in the massive garden. Recently, we did arts and crafts together. Sometimes, the refuge team organise parties for the children. It’s been really beneficial for him, as he gets to have that social connection that he needs.  

After a while here, my son started to come back out of his shell. Now, I can tell he’s so much more confident. He’s always happy to see the staff at the refuge; he babbles and laughs away with them. 

I can’t wait to have a fresh start, to start our lives again in a new place without my ex-partner, where my son doesn’t have to worry about anything.  

Chloe's* story is taken from our latest report 'Journey to Refuge: A Child's Experience of Domestic Abuse', exploring children's experiences of domestic abuse and living at a refuge.

Read the report now

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