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18 September, 2017

Survivor story

I never thought that I fitted the criteria of a victim of domestic abuse. I had a fabulous home, fabulous car, fabulous kids, a steady and reasonable income, three holidays abroad a year. I am well-spoken, well-heeled and whatever ‘well’ you would attribute to a lifestyle that includes a privileged education in private boarding school overseas and here.

So then how did I suddenly find myself in a situation where I was in a pub car park, with my daughter, three van loads of my worldly possessions, two dogs, a cat and nowhere to go.

I had been widowed for 12 years when I met this man, my perpetrator, and what should have been a beautiful love story befitting such a background, ended with him being convicted of domestic abuse.

He emptied our joint back account not only of the £1500 in it but also to the max of the credit built up in my name.

And so, with £10,000 debt I was left with three children, two were his who didn’t want to live with him, so the family court became involved as I then fought for them to stay with me rather than go into care.

Because I was earning, I could not get legal aid. He knew this and continued his abuse through court. It came to a stage where I had to sell my lovely car, my precious jewellery, even furniture to pay bills, and the debt that he had incurred, the interest was horrendous, I began proceedings to sell the house, my dream house and eventually went with bowed head to the foodbank. Everything I had worked so hard for was going…..

I was told that if I gave up my job, I would be eligible for legal aid. But not benefits, as I had voluntarily given up work. I said no, because I was desperately trying to hang on to what dignity I had left. My work also gave me time out of the horrors, and I felt that I had been humiliated enough, I could not go on to benefits. I am also glad that I didn’t give up my job, because as it turns out, my house would have put me above the threshold for legal aid.

I was deeply humiliated. Not only was my dirty laundry out there for everyone to see, but I had to go cap in hand to the foodbank, I was stressed to the hilt, and then, I almost lost my job as I had my first major panic attack. To cap it all I was also referred to as a diminutive Asian woman by a police man.

I could not give up my job, it involved my faith, he had not taken that from me.

When the money ran out for legal fees. I represented myself, and I’m sorry but a diminutive Asian woman fighting against top lawyers was never going to work, yet I fought for a year.

In a twisted corrupt blackmail, he walked away with two thirds of the house, and left me with an increasing debt. In an absurd way, I thank his solicitors who, in an amazing show of compassion, prevented him from taking it all.

So there I was in a pub car park, with my young daughter, three van loads of my worldly possessions, two dogs, a cat, nowhere to go, and debt up to my ears. I had support waiting, in the form of a refuge. He, however was celebrating his victory in his holiday apartment.

I am not a diminutive Asian woman, seven years later I have my faith, a lovely little home, a decent car, food on my table, bills paid, my job, and I am £600 off paying this debt. I find the time to volunteer as a team leader for a foodbank, and I volunteer with SEEDS.

I have learned to live with the pain and horror of what he put me through, but there are huge deep scars. Scars that would not have been so deep if I had had some financial help.

I am lucky, many, many others are not……I am a survivor.

Our Children and Young People Policy Officer is attending this workshop on family focused domestic abuse interventions today to contribute to the development of core outcomes that safeguard children and young people #VAWDASV pic.twitter.com/2eBzIkZPY1

About 13 hours ago from WelshWomensAid's Twitter