Along with her two children, Melissa moved to BCHA’s women’s refuge in 2014 to piece her life back together. Despite a disability that had left her struggling with mobility and a suffering a history of domestic abuse, Melissa came to believe that she could one day be happy again:

All my life I had been told how to feel, behave, speak and live – but thanks to the refuge I found the courage to decide how the rest of my life would go.

I started counselling. It was hard at first, but the sessions taught me patience and how to open up – traits I had lacked all my life. I settled the kids into school, and started to make friends within the refuge. The staff were always there, giving me a strong and consistent support system from which to build the rest of my life.

I was put forward for a course called Pattern changing, highlighting the impact of abusive relationships. It holds a special place in my heart and I will forever remember the advice they gave me, including: ‘You have the right to be loved.’

I wanted my kids to be proud of their mum, and I wanted to teach them to never give up. After some soul searching, I decided to pursue a career in nails – a career which could work with my disability. I enrolled on a CND shellac course. It was scary, but receiving my certificate was amazing. I continued nail courses, even throughout court proceedings. Having something positive to look forward to helped me through a very negative time.

“The refuge saved me, and I have never looked back.”

 The day I left the refuge was one of the hardest of my life. I just wanted to leave without goodbyes that day, because it would make the fact that I was leaving too real.

Today, I am a self-employed nail technician. I run my own company and I have a strong clientele that has built up over the years. My work has excelled beyond my wildest imagination and I’m grateful beyond belief.

 The refuge saved me, and I have never looked back.”

Melissa’s piece of advice for changemaking:

“Having something positive to look forward to can help you through a very negative time.”

  • £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