“My advice to victims of domestic abuse: You are stronger than you believe”

“My advice to victims of domestic abuse: You are stronger than you believe”
15th March 2019 Amanda Bhavnani
Girl looking at domestic abuse leaflet

After eight years with a violent and controlling ex, Rachel* is looking forward to moving with her young son to their “beautiful new home” following support from her Greenfields Neighbourhood Co-ordinator.

“When I first met Dave* a few years before we got together, he seemed like the perfect man. I was really mentally ill when we began a relationship and struggling with self-harm and a strange relationship with my parents.

The relationship very quickly became violent. “It started with pushing and shoving and pinning me against the wall. It escalated into him hitting me and pulling knives on me. He could pick me up and throw me across the room.”

Dave displayed other controlling behaviour, as Rachel recalls: “I wasn’t allowed to see my friends. He said they were all using me. He also made me sleep on the floor and took my shoes and phone so I wouldn’t leave.”

Following a violent attack and a lengthy recovery period, Rachel finally summoned up the courage to leave and went to stay with a friend. During this time, Dave was arrested for breaking into Rachel’s home and causing criminal damage.

Soon, his friends and family began contacting Rachel, saying he had learnt the error of his ways and was distressed and broken. Rachel resisted, but eventually agreed to meet him again just a few months after she had left him.

“He put on a good show; begging and crying. I saw the potential for him to be a good person and we ended up getting back together. The following year our son was born.”

When Dave heard news of the pregnancy, he immediately became very angry. It was only when Rachel threatened to leave that he decided to stay. She said: “He treated me like a princess throughout the whole pregnancy.”

Once their son was born, Dave switched back to his old ways. But it wasn’t until he was violent with their son last year that Rachel knew she had to leave.

She told him to get out: “I said I would fight him. It was the first time I had stood up for myself. He took it very badly and kicked my door down, but did eventually leave. I immediately called the police who were there five minutes later. They traced him and he was prosecuted.”

It was at this point that Rachel met Gary Brown, her Neighbourhood Co-ordinator at Greenfields. “I can’t thank Greenfields and the Police enough. They changed my locks when they knew Dave had been breaking in when I was asleep. I didn’t feel safe and Gary fought tooth and nail for us to get a new home. He didn’t give up on us when I’d given up; I can’t fault him.”

This month, Rachel and her son are moving to a “perfect” house. She also plans to go to college and would like to “become a Support Worker for people who have gone through something like me”.

She says: “One of my friends has contacted Safer Places because of what I did and is in the process of leaving her violent partner. My advice to anyone in the same situation to mine is to know your worth. You are stronger than you believe and more loved than you know.”

For more information about support available, visit this page: Domestic Abuse

You can report domestic abuse in confidence by calling Essex Police on the emergency number: 999, non-emergencies number: 101, or by calling 01376 535400 if you are a Greenfields resident.

Greenfield is a member of the Make a Stand campaign, a national movement tackling Domestic Abuse. Find out by clicking on this link: Greenfields joins national movement against domestic abuse

*names have been changed