Anyone who knows me knows I am a survivor of a long abusive relationship. I don't want your sympathy but I want to share with you my story in the hopes it may help someone or raise awareness. I'm going to share part (the full one is too long) of my story with you because this is something that so many people go through and often it's brushed under the carpet by society or minimised. This does no good for anyone, the victims, the abusers, children, the justice system and these charities.
These charities need all the support they can get and by sharing my story, biking from Norwich to sea palling and back, painting a mural on one of Norwichs legal graffiti wall and I am linking up with a new local business Foie Gras Garments to sell some art print in the hopes of raising some money for Leeway and raise awareness to this issue.
I fled my abuser in July 2019 after 9 years of physical, emotional and financial abuse. I met him in October 2011, when I was 15 years old, he was so charming, cool and funny. He told me he doesn't like women beaters and wouldn't hit a girl, he told me he loved me very quickly, he said he wanted to be with me forever and wanted to always spend time with me. He seemed great but this all changed 6 months later. After 6 months he cheated on me, was telling me what I should wear and who I could talk to or see, trying to turn me on my family and was hitting me. He told me it was because of his childhood and mental health, and that fighting is normal and the cheating was a mistake and would not occur. Fast forward 7 years and this had escalated dramatically and his mother also started to be abusive towards me, physically and verbally. He was cheating on me very frequently, breaking my property, isolating me, spending all my money, threatening to kill himself and beating me badly. In July 2018 I discovered that I was pregnant, I had spoke to my ex about this and we had discussed and decided to keep the baby, because he was going to get the help and be there for me and the baby. Within 2 months he had picked up multiple drug habits, and alcohol addiction and had became worse and worse towards myself. In December 2018 I decided to break it off for mine and the babies safety as the violence, emotional abuse and isolation had escalated even more so since I was pregnant. When I gave birth in February my ex was at the birth but didn't seem interested or supportive at all. He told me he wanted to be a family and he would be better but that didn't happen. He would turn up at my home, beat me whilst I held and breastfed my son, he would have me on the floor over my son like a human shield, strangle me until I dropped my son, steal money and mock me for it, threaten to call social services on me because I was of course the mess, and steal money from me. I stopped unsupervised contact and told him that he couldn't come to my home and he could only see our son supervised with someone that wasn't me. He had our son for 3 hours and couldn't cope, he came to my home with my son, his mum and his brother and he attacked me. He repeatedly punched me in the face, whilst his mother hurled abuse at me. I ran to the bathroom for protection and he followed me grabbed me and strangled me against the bathroom door until I was limp, his brother luckily came in and got him off of me. The next morning I had my ex on the phone demanding money, verbally abusing me, threatening his life and then threatening to destroy or sell my classic car. I called the police, meanwhile I was on the phone to the police my ex threatened to post photos of myself on porn sites.
The police arrived at my address a few hours later and spent the whole day asking me questions and trying to find my ex who had gone on the run since knowing the police were looking for him. I was taken with my son to a safe house where I stayed for two nights until I could organise to flee to my mothers in Norfolk. When I arrived in Norfolk my whole life was turned upside down, I had left my home, my job, my friends, my childhood sweetheart and my home town. It was a very confusing time because of course I cared about my ex but was very aware that what he had done was wrong. I questioned myself, Iwas scared and worried, I had panic attacks and was depressed. The police eventually found my ex andtook him in, he was charged with common assault and given a restraining order to not contact me. At this point despite being very disappointed with the result I carried on and felt relieved that I was finally free and could focus on healing for my son and myself. However this was basically impossible. He didn’t leave me alone, he harassed me a further 12 times over the period of 20 months.
I filed report after report, spent hours on the phone to the police, children’s services and leeway. I had to push and push and got nothing back from the police. He was never arrested or charged for the breaches of restraining order. I was having weekly phone calls with leeway and doing a freedom programme. Because his behaviour was escalating a MAROK meeting was held, this was encouraged by leeway and children’s services as there was threat of homicide. Due to this meeting the police finally listened and charged my ex for one of the breaches. For 20 months the police failed to safeguard myself and my son, they minimised, belittled and did not support me until it looked very bad on them as they had multiple complaints from myself and the agencies that were helping me.
What I am trying to say is that the police didn’t and couldn’t support me because they had lack of knowledge and training in this. Leeway supported me and my son incredibly, they gave me advice, offered me a place on their power to change programme, made phone calls for me, dealt with the police, helped me with my housing situation, my financial situation and put me in touch with amazing people who aided in my recovery. Without them and the other agencies that helped me my case would not be getting looked into, my ex would not have been charged for the breaches and I would not feel as empowered and safe as I do. When I needed someone to just listen to me rant for hours on end they were there. I believe that my son and I are safe and on a road to recovery due to the support that I have had from leeway and children’s services, and for that I am forever grateful.
Leeway are amazing in that they are trying to raise awareness to this issue and help those who are victims of this. Awareness needs to be raised because... 1. so many people I knew, were aware of my abuse but because it was a taboo it wasn’t spoken about or confronted. 2. If I had known warning signs of an abuser sooner I could’ve avoided this situation. 3. If the police and CPS were more knowledgeable on the subject then abuse may be taken more seriously, people may be safeguarded better, justice will be fair and victims will be treated better.4. If society was more aware of these abusive people maybe they can be helped so that they do not continue to abuse.
So if you made it this far please consider helping me in supporting this amazing cause. They not only deserve it but they need it and victims of abuse needit too! Not only are you helping the charity in providing essential services but you are raising awareness and subsequently helping a victim.
If you are a victim of abuse I want to say to you, you cannot help them, you don’t deserve this and it is scary but people like leeway can help you discreetly if you are still in this relationship or can help with your recovery if you have left. You can do this, you are strong, you matter.
Time to stand up to abuse Love Megan xxxx
Do you want to join me in making a difference? I'm raising money in aid of Leeway Domestic Violence and Abuse Services and every donation will help. Thank you in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to me.
More information about Leeway Domestic Violence and Abuse Services: Leeway was established in 1974 with the help of a small grant from Norwich City Council. We now have seven safe houses and help over 9,000 people per year. We help any adult or child experiencing domestic abuse in Norfolk and Waveney. Services include refuges, an abuse helpline, advocacy assistance, education, training and so much more. Our services act as a vital source of safety, hope, empowerment and change to the people we support.
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- Liam Austin