Janet was 51 and had suffered abuse for 25 years when she managed to build up the courage to escape one New Year’s Eve. Thanks to life-saving support from the Poole Domestic Abuse Project which has allowed her to start healing, she has been helping others as a volunteer.
“I arrived at the refuge strangely with no fear, just an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. Having come from a life of such constant pain, it was if I had been drained of all feeling.
It was only when I was behind the locked door of my new, safe home, where nobody knew where I was, that the enormity of it all finally sunk in. I realised that I was freezing cold. The doctor had told me I was severely malnourished which probably had something to do with it, because the central heating was on. I collapsed in tears.
My first step was to have a coffee and cigarette and go downstairs. This was huge for me as I hadn’t been allowed out of the house in the last five years except for very occasional shopping trips and to the doctors – for women’s problems only, though, never for the bruises. On my way down, I hoped to find someone who could tell me where to go to smoke: I was only used to being told what to do and not capable of decision making at all.
“I was 51 when I escaped from 25 years of violence and control. Don’t leave it as long as I did...”
At this moment there was a part of me that yearned to be back home surrounded by familiar things. I tried to focus on the pain from the last beating, hoping that it would stop the yearning for familiarity, for control. Because that is what I had been for so many years: controlled.
The peaceful people who worked there were a strange concept for me at first. I had been accustomed to violence, fear and inequality. When I was taking those first baby steps, I didn’t realise that these people were holding my hand. Years later there I was whole again, thanks to them.
The time and unending patience of those who took me in at the Poole Domestic Abuse Project was indescribable. The journey was in no way easy, but thanks to the support that I received from the team, I am now healed, and have returned to volunteer, ready to heal others.
Mental strength is always within us, even if at times we are too weak to realise it is still there. I was 51 when I escaped from 25 years of violence and control. Don’t leave it as long as I did…GO.
Janet’s piece of advice for changemaking:
“Mental strength is always within us, even if at times we are too weak to realise it is still there.”
- £5 would pay for a toiletry start up pack
- £20 would pay for school uniform for a child
- £50 would pay for a kitchen start up pack for Move On
- £1,000 would create a donation those that have fled abuse with very little belongings
- £5,000 can convert an office into a sensory room for the children in refuge