Thrive Women's Aid
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we support
Sophie put up with relentless emotional abuse from her ex-partner for almost two decades, leaving her depressed and feeling completely worthless.
“He completely took control of my life. Most of my friends and family weren’t allowed to come and see me because he saw it as ‘his house’ and ‘his rules’ and I didn’t have a say. At one point I couldn’t even see my daughter who had just had my first grandchild. It was horrendous. About three months after I first met him, he started getting jealous when I went on a night out with my friends.
He wanted to know where I was, who I was with, what time I was coming home. He was just really, really possessive. At first I didn’t think it was abuse. I just thought he was keen to see me. I didn’t really take any notice.”
But when the pair moved in together, the abuse became overwhelming.
“I was really ill for quite a while and needed a spell in hospital. But even when I came out and went back home, I felt like I was fat – even though I weighed about six stone. I wouldn’t want to eat. I’d go to bed at about 6pm because I just didn’t want to sit up and listen to him abusing me all night. He would criticise anything. If you made him food it was horrible but he’d eat it all.
One day I did a bit of washing and there was a little bit of butter left on a knife, and he called me a lazy, fat slag and he threw the knife at me. It went on all night until I went to bed.
I think sometimes the emotional abuse can be worse than a slap. With a slap it’s over and done with, but the emotional side is continuous.”
It wasn’t long into the relationship before her former boyfriend began taking control of her finances.
“He took my wages off me and left me with just £50 for the week which I needed to spend on food shopping. And if I didn’t have enough money left at the end of the week he’d just say ‘tough’.
I worked longer hours because I didn’t have any money. It got to the point where I had to tell my boss in work about what he was doing. So she agreed to put a little bit of money in a separate wage packet for me so he wouldn’t see it.”
After attempting to split up with him on several occasions without success, she finally plucked up the courage to leave their home after having a discussion with a support worker from Thrive Women’s Aid. Sophie has now been in a refuge with her young son for five months and shares the accommodation with five other women who have suffered similar forms of abuse.
“I went the following morning while he was in work. I had an hour before they were picking me up to take me. I just grabbed the cases, threw everything together and I haven’t seen him since.”
“From the moment I went in there I just felt total relief. I think Thrive Women’s Aid are absolutely wonderful. It now feels like our home. They are there if you need support, if you need taking to appointments, if you are struggling with anything the door is always open. They even help with getting on the council list for a house. They just making living easy.”