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.