“We started dating and it was fine to begin with. We eventually moved in together and it was a fantastic couple of years. We had our first daughter and it was a really loving relationship. Things began to change following the birth of our fifth child.
“It started with minor things. He would sit in front of us eating food but wouldn’t allow me or the children to eat. I was quite poorly after the birth of our last child but I was still expected to do everything he asked – while he was out drinking with his mates. If tea wasn’t on the table by the time he got back, he would batter me.
“He would throw things at me when I had the baby in my hands. I was forced to sleep on the sofa for months with a new born baby. He broke me down physically and mentally.
“Eventually, I couldn’t take anymore. With the help of my kids school, I was able to escape to a women’s refuge. It was scary – there wasn’t much support and all we had was the clothes on our backs. I was determined to get us all back to the house – why should we have to move because of him?
“I had all my locks changed and it was the best thing I could have done. It’s now three years on and to this day I haven’t seen him.
“All of this has had a devastating impact on my children. Social services have been involved, I have had so many people in and out of my life and I have been painted as a bad mother.
“I now see them six-times a year – most of them are in foster care and one has been adopted. I’ve been trying so hard to get them back it is impossible – I feel like the whole system is against me. I miss them so much.
“Everyday I look over my shoulder just in case he turns up. I’ve had some serious dark thoughts – I have talked about suicide and I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of some key people, including Lyn and Ivan from Weaver Vale.
“They haven’t’ judged me and I know they will always be here if I need them. They have helped me through some really tough times.
“They have helped me build my confidence enough to get back into work. It’s the best thing I could have done, my ex wouldn’t let me work so this is another sign that I’m breaking free.”
If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, there is support available. Click here for a list of services that can help.