In October 20014, on an unsupervised, unsafe access visit with our children, my abusive ex-husband barricaded my former marital home and set fourteen fires alight with petrol that he had bought just two days earlier. He then joined my two precious, beautiful boys in the attic to wait as the fires quickly took hold of the house. His intention was for none of them to leave the house alive. My son Jack, at just twelve years old, pulled his brother to the hatch of the attic in an effort to save him. When he fell through the hatch, into the arms of a firefighter, he said, “My Dad did this and he did it on purpose”. My son Jack’s words were to become his dying testimony.
Despite Cafcass and Social Services being involved in the safeguarding of my sons and concerns being raised about their Father’s behaviour, he was allowed unsupervised contact with our children which led to their deaths. Jack's wishes, feelings and voice were never heard. My son Paul (nine) was interviewed at school by Cafcass, but the day Jack was due to have his interview was the day he fell eternally asleep, wrapped tightly in my arms.
There are many complex aspects to any relationship breakdown but all too often children's voices, wishes and feelings become lost in the process. No parent should have to hold their children in their arms as they die knowing it's at the hands of the other parent, someone who should love and cherish them. No more children should have to say to a firefighter, police officer or anyone else in a position of authority that one of their parents, a perpetrator of domestic abuse, has harmed them on purpose.
Since I lost my children, I campaign for changes to the laws and procedures of Family Courts to ensure that Jack's courage is not forgotten. Every child should have a voice and be kept happy and safe. Children need to be protected within society and the home.
Domestic abuse is a silent killer and it can often continue through children after separation. We live in a democracy that stands against oppression and fear yet that is exactly what victims of domestic abuse live with every day and many of the victims are also children. It must stop, and it must stop now.
Because of this, I am very proud to support IDAS and will do all that I can to raise awareness about their services. IDAS is the largest specialist charity in Yorkshire and support over 5,000 families affected by domestic abuse each year. I would make a plea that if you are worried about your relationship, please don’t be silent, get in touch and get all the support you can.