“I feel like the person I used to be.”
I had been married for 20 years and we decided to separate. It was a good enough marriage but we simply grew apart. At 48 I met a man whom I thought was great and I fell in love again.
Looking back he was controlling but nothing that really worried me at the time – I thought it romantic he wanted to be with me all the time and turning up at work to take me out. He would come and get me if I had nights out, I thought he was caring. I see now it was control and jealousy. He asked me to marry him very quickly and I did. But good god, once we started living together he changed. It was like I was his property. He used to hurt me and continually told me he would kill me if I ever left him. I swear I was in shock for a year.
I had never experienced anything like this in my life before. I didn’t tell anyone, I was ashamed that I had got myself into this situation. I was 52 by this point. We’d bought a house together and all my money was in it. I felt so trapped. Outwardly we looked like the perfect couple but all the time I was terrified.
The waiting for the violence was one of the worst things. Once I smashed a can of lager into my own face. It was to get it over with. I couldn’t stand the waiting. I said to him ‘there it is done’. He replied he wasn’t going to do that and that I was mad and I should get myself ‘seen to’. Most of the time I did feel as if I was mad. I had a good job in the NHS but I took a redundancy package that was offered as by this point as I couldn’t face it.
I hadn’t told my family what was happening but my daughter and son had watched the dramatic change in me. They took me out for lunch one day and they told me how worried they were. My daughter told me that she had got some of her clients to go to the Saje Programme and that she saw a big difference in them and maybe I should go. What a relief it was for it to be out in the open. We talked for hours about what I could do.
I decided to go the Saje Programme. My husband worked so I could go to the group. I was terrified that my husband would find out. But it was was worth it.
I got strength and courage from all the wonderful, amazing women in my group. Knowing I was not the only woman who had lived with something similar was so incredible. Each session was an eye opener. You just don’t notice all the tactics they use to get you to change – to mould you, to get you to behave how they want. The course was so powerful, so empowering. I got confidence back, I started feeling like I could do something about my situation.
With my children’s help I left, it wasn’t easy. Life has changed and there are still many challenges for me personal and financially. But I feel like the person I used to be.
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The 12 week course is for any woman interested in learning more about the effects of domestic abuse and, in particular for women who experience/ have experienced domestic abuse.
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