"I experienced 14 years of domestic abuse until I finally took my children and fled.
On this particular night my ex-husband was drunk, he rang me to tell me that he wanted me to come and pick him and his friend up as he had decided that he wanted to have a ‘party’ with his friend and myself. This would have meant rape from my point of view. He then told me that he was going to send our two sons to live abroad with his mother, that I wouldn’t see them again and that he was going to move his new girlfriend into the house to live with us and that I was going to work to maintain everyone. I was terrified and knew that if I didn’t get out then I probably wouldn’t ever get out alive, and maybe my sons wouldn’t either. This night was very unusual because he had left me in the house with house keys, car keys and both of my sons; usually we were locked in with no access to keys or money."
"I told him I would come to get him but I lied, it was at this point I fled with my sons to the local Police Station. The next day I moved into a refuge with my sons. This was the first of three refuges that we had to go into in order to finally escape him."
"We spent the most time in the final refuge that we were in and we were successfully re-housed from there. Whilst we were there we did all the necessary things like changing our names, getting my National Insurance number made nationally sensitive, and enrolling the children in school in their new names. We got the legal issues such as divorce and child residency sorted out. Financially the staff helped to apply for benefits and arrange debt management plans as my ex-husband had run up hundreds of pounds worth of telephone bills after I left, which I had to pay for as the bill was in my name. The staff arranged counselling for me and the boys, and they spent hours and hours listening to us individually, answering questions and gradually building our confidence back up. When I first moved into the refuge I was totally alone in the area, but by the time I left I had made new friends, both in the refuge and in the local community, as had my sons and we had a support network around us."
A new life
"We had a great time in the refuge, we went out on trips and had some fun as a family that we had never had before. My children found out that they were not the only children in the world who this happened to and that was incredibly healing for them. They were allowed to be children for the first time in their lives. In a nutshell going into a refuge was the best thing that ever happened to us. We moved into our own home after 18 months of refuge life, which was split between three refuges, and have been in our home now for the past 10 years. During this time I have seen my sons grow into two lovely young men who are both continuing with their education and I have been lucky enough to volunteer and work in refuge myself ."
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