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Fiona – a true story

I met him in a club when I was 24. Looking back, there were behaviour patterns that I didn’t notice then that would have given me a clue about his personality. We started dating and went on holiday a few months later. The first time he was violent was on that holiday – we had a silly argument and he tried to strangle me. I had bruises all round my neck.

He was violent again and again. Anything would set him off. He would drag me by the hair, punch me and not tell me why. He always had an excuse – he didn’t know his own strength, he was always really sorry. There was no pattern to the violence, sometimes he would leave me alone for months, which he did before I got pregnant. After that he changed, and the abuse started again. He pushed me over in the kitchen and I had to go into hospital for stitches above my eye. He punched me between the legs. He smashed a saucepan in my face and I was so bruised I couldn’t leave the house. I didn’t tell anyone because he said he’d kill me if I did. He tried to keep me away from my family because he told me they were no good. I didn’t speak to my parents for 5 years. My mind wasn’t my own any more.

It was when I got pregnant with my second that I realised I had to get out. He was furious, he smashed the windows. I lived in fear from then on and used to wish he would die. I couldn’t see a way out and was scared to call the police in case they didn’t believe me. My neighbours could hear me screaming when he hit me, but they did nothing.

I saw a poster for JWA and memorised the number – I knew I’d need it. When I called them, it was the best thing I ever did. I came to the refuge and my keyworker gave me the strength to get through it. JWA gave me the strength not to go back to him. Without JWA, I’d be dead.

*Names and some details have been changed to protect anonymity