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Woman speaks out during In Focus: Domestic Violence Week
A woman has spoken out about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband as police across the country take part in the national In Focus: Domestic Violence week.
The 34-year-old, who wants to remain anonymous, is helping North Wales Police promote the ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) In Focus week by speaking out about her story and how she could inspire others who may be in a similar situation.
As part of the national focus on domestic abuse from 4 – 8th March, police forces across the country will be explaining what they do to protect victims of abuse and highlighting the support available from charities, local authorities, social services and probation services. This aim is to encourage more people living with domestic abuse to seek help.
Domestic abuse is happening every day, in every part of the UK. One incident of domestic abuse is reported to police nationally every minute and 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be affected by it at some time in their lives.
Here is one victim’s story:
“I met my husband in 1995 when I was 16. I was whisked off my feet with flowers, gifts, letters, poems and kind words. Within only a few weeks we had moved in together and within a few months we were engaged and expecting a baby. After moving in it was obvious he was heavily into drugs and it was only after I’d moved in that he became violent.
“It began with calling me names and the odd slap or punch, but soon escalated to using various weapons. Looking back now I should have seen the signs, if only I had been made aware of controlling behaviour at a younger age.
“I was only 16, and this was my first serious relationship. I didn’t know that this wasn’t ‘normal – especially when you are told constantly that it’s your fault.
“Once I found out I was pregnant my husband suggested we move away ‘to better our lives’ – I had no reason to believe it was for any other reason as his suggestion of getting away from the drug scene made complete sense. If I was to have known it was to remove me from all of family and friends then I never would have left. This would be the beginning of what was to become a very lengthy and well-travelled journey.
“In the beginning the violent outbursts were sporadic, they could be at times of tension but they would happen regardless and usually for no reason (not that there ever is one). Of course he would be extremely remorseful after any violent episode to begin with, coupled with bouts of tears and reassurance it would never happen again. Young and in love without question he was believed.
“However he would soon make me believe it was my fault, that if I had not acted in a certain way or had done as he had asked then it wouldn’t have happened. For example, after smashing a cup in my face, like he did on many occasions he said ‘look at what you’ve done now.’ This began to be the norm and was therefore never questioned.
“I went on to have other children and my responsibilities would be to do the household duties, look after the children as well as help out with our business. But nothing I did would ever be good enough. I would constantly be ridiculed, called useless and a bad mother and incapable of doing anything. As the children grew older this would be something they would also begin to believe..
“My husband’s sporadic outbursts could be over petulant things, from the housework not being done to his eggs not being cooked properly.
“I have suffered broken wrists, broken forearm and upper arm, broken jaw and a broken knuckle. I’ve had a cup smashed into my face, been stabbed in my arm, not to mention the continuous beating with various weapons such as baseball bats, dog choker chain, iron coal poker, a rolling pin, brush, knives, shoes – anything really to ‘save his hands from hurting’ as he would often say.
“Over the years I looked for excuses for the reasons for the violence, petty and stupid I know. As the arguments happened regardless I looked for any little trigger. I was constantly walking on eggshells, each day waking up just to simply try and survive that day without having a beating. This would become my routine for nearly 18 years.
“We moved numerous times as he would always suggest this was to better our lives – he was very convincing. He made me and the children believe that people couldn’t be trusted so most of our houses were isolated with no neighbours and far from anywhere. Not being allowed to drive this put me in quite a precarious situation, but I tried to use it to my advantage that if I was not to be near anyone I couldn’t be accused of trying to leave or flirt with another man.
“People often ask, why did you stay? I stayed to begin with as it was for the belief it was my fault and that I was the one who needed to change. After years passed it just became a daily struggle of surviving. How could I leave with a man I was with 24/7 with no mobile phone, I couldn’t drive, had no family or friends, with children and living in isolated conditions. My computer was even checked and had a key logger on it, our house phone was itemised and monitored and I was always chaperoned for any doctor appointments.
“I also truly believe that if I was there to take the beatings my children wouldn’t, as long as I was there they wouldn’t be hurt. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, I only saw abuse then as the physical side, I did not see the other forms of abuse whether it be emotional, sexual or mental.
“In the end I did leave and plucked up the courage to get help. I cannot take the credit for this fight – my family being back in my life at the time of my stand certainly helped my fight in breaking the cycle and gave me the hope and strength for the future.”
“I finally gave a 120 page statement to the police. My husband was eventually arrested and charged and placed before the court. Last December he was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.”
“I’ve now got my life back, I’m finding ‘me’ again and I’m now back in touch with most of my old friends. My advice to anybody who is suffering abuse would be to find the inner strength and trust those that are there to help you. I want to give others hope and to tell them that life is for living.”
Speaking on behalf of North Wales Police, Detective Inspector Lisa Surridge said: “We all need to continue to raise awareness in helping reduce and eradicate all forms of abuse and we will continue to work with our partners to break this cycle of destruction.
“We recognize that domestic abuse takes many forms, not just physical assault but can also include emotional, sexual, verbal and psychological abuse.
“Domestic abuse is inexcusable. It is a very serious crime and we are committed to bringing those people responsible to justice.”
She added: “We urge anyone who is a victim of any type of abuse to come forward and report it. Together, with our partners, we will support and help them.”
Abuse and violence in the home is never acceptable under any circumstances. There is help and support available through the 24-hour domestic abuse helpline. There is no need to suffer in silence. The 24-hour Wales Domestic Abuse helpline can be contacted on 0808 80 10 800.
In an emergency always dial 999. If you would like to speak to a member of your local Neighbourhood Policing Team please contact North Wales Police on 101.
Further information and guidance, including links to external agencies across North Wales is available visit our ‘Advice & Support’ section (link to: http://www.north-wales.police.uk/advice__support/personal_safety/domestic_abuse.aspx).