Domestic abuse: Louise's story
PUBLISHED: 13:00 12 November 2010
LOSING control of your life, feeling like you are to blame for what's happening and living in denial are all effects of being a victim of domestic abuse.
Weston woman Louise, who underwent years of psychological torture at the hands of her partner, is only too aware of those feelings.
Louise, who wishes to keep her real identity hidden, was 24 and a mum-of-two when she met a charming and sympathetic 32-year-old man in the 1980s.
She had just ended a ‘disastrous’ marriage, in which her husband had abused her, and was young, single and vulnerable.
Louise said: “I had no confidence and this charming man came along.
“He built up my confidence and protected me only to then systematically knock me back down again.”
The couple moved in together after a year of dating and then the tell-tale signs started to show.
She added: “It was very subtle, little things at the beginning – alienating you from friends, work colleagues, criticising family members and trying to turn you against them.
“He was quite aggressive and had a drink problem. I wouldn’t say he was violent but he was threatening and used to smash things up.
“I was even more in denial, I couldn’t believe this was happening again.”
As time went on her partner’s aggression turned into violence and Louise even considered suicide at her lowest ebb.
“He only ever hit me once in the face but there was lots of pushing, shoving and hands round the neck,” said Louise.
“Because he wasn’t hitting me on a regular basis I didn’t believe I was a victim.
“Women out there were suffering far worse than I was and I felt I shouldn’t make a big thing of it.”
Louise said the turning point was when she noticed her partner was becoming aggressive towards her two sons, and constantly picked on them.
She found the courage to see a solicitor and filed an injunction but the case was thrown out by a judge who told her: ‘He accepts that he has got a problem and I think you should give him another chance.’
Louise continued to live with her partner but only two days after the hearing he snapped again.
“He lost his temper, got me up against the wall with his hands round my neck and said he was going to kill me,” she said.
It was then she made the decision to leave him once and for all, and with the help of friends and family, she fled their home.
Her eldest son nicknamed the move ‘operation freedom’, and when Louise’s partner left for work as normal one day at 8.30am, she and her helpers, managed to clear all her belongings out in seven hours.
Louise and her children had to move three times, and change their phone number on countless occasions, because her partner stalked and harrassed them.
But after 18 months he finally gave up and she hasn’t set eyes on him for the past 10 years.
Louise, now aged 46, is a member of North Somerset charity Women’s Project, which promotes awareness of domestic abuse and helps to create services for victims in North Somerset.
She hopes that by highlighting her story other victims will find the courage to admit there is a problem and seek help.
“The only help available back then was going to court for an injunction but now there is so much more support available – emotionally and financially.
“There is no need for this to happen to anyone and we are trying to eradicate domestic abuse.”
• If you would like to speak to someone at Womens Project in confidence, ring 01934 429811or email email@example.com