How I changed – Anon

I am a woman of 63 years of age, now sat in my final few weeks in a refuge for women that have experienced some form of domestic abuse.

When I first arrived here, I was at the end of my life with ill health physically and feeling that had nothing left in my life and nothing more to give, so just wanted to stop living.

From the first night of arriving, I truly believed that I did not belong here, that I had not suffered from domestic abuse and would not believe anyone who tried to re-assure me that I had. I blamed myself for what had happened over the last six years and where I was in my life.

The first thing I noticed on my first night was that it felt strange to have a normal general conversation with another person, I found, in a funny sort of way, a sense of relief but could not understand why.

As time went on, the staff and fellow residents commented on how much different I was, to how I was when I first came in, I did not recognise it myself.

I realised, although not at first, that I had been a victim of domestic abuse, that it had been a very gradual process of conditioning, both on my behalf and my partner’s behalf.  I had lost my individuality, by keeping quite to save the rows and arguments, doing things to please and not doing for myself, allowing the decision making to be solely my partners decision again to stop any conflict, allowing and relying on my partner for the most simplest of tasks, frightened of voicing my own thoughts and feelings, which left me in a completely controlled situation that I could not get out of, the feeling of being trapped had overwhelmed me, causing depression, suicidal thoughts, feeling that I had nothing left to contribute and desperate loneliness.

During my stay, every member of staff has supported and contributed to my recovery, as has my fellow residents, gaining confidence and believing in myself again.

I am discovering all sorts of bits of me that I had lost and not realised they were missing, I am talking about the simple things like enjoying music again, laughing, going shopping, eating out and eating food that I like, buying a bunch of flowers for just me, feeling self-worth again and most of all finding me again.

Finding the will and strength to make this move forward, took a lot of pushing and courage, I would find myself holding my breath and saying to myself, “come on you can do it” and with the support and encouragement of the staff and my support worker, I have done it, at my own pace and in tiny steps, which has amounted into huge steps.

I have managed to move forward with my life and feel very nervous and apprehensive about moving on into my own home with my own life, with the freedom of my own thoughts for the first time since I became a young mother.

I know that I will have to cross hurdles in the future but do you know what, I know that with the courage, memories and lessons I have learned and gained in this refuge, I can and will do it.

To close, I would like to say that I could never have been me again without the support I have been given and would like to thank each and everyone that I have met over the months I have been in the refuge for giving me a second chance in my life.

Forward and upward, do not be afraid to take the first step, you don’t know where it will take you, but from my experience, it is to a free and better life.

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