My Story

Lucy's Story

Recognising the signs that someone close to you is suffering from domestic abuse is not always as easy as it sounds. Lucy's parents thought that something might be wrong but were always told by her partner that everything was fine. This is their story.

"Three years ago our daughter Lucy was living in Cambridge. She had a good job and she was settled and very happy. Then she met this man who was living in his car and within a short time she had lost her job and was contacting us and asking us for money."

"When we saw her we did notice she had some bruises and a black eye but her partner told us that they had been putting some boxes in the loft and one had fallen on her. We couldn't really argue the point and she didn't come forward with any other explanation."

"We could never get to speak to our daughter on her own because her partner was always there-he never left her side. If there was a problem he would take her off for a coffee and when they came back it was all fine."

"He took charge of their finances and even signed on on her behalf so that he could claim her benefits. We would send money all the time and replace her mobile phone because he would constantly smash them up."

"At one point Lucy had a broken arm and her partner said she had fallen down the stairs. We now know that she didn't fall and it took eight months for the break to heal. We didn't tell anyone else about our suspicions until a year ago when the violence started to escalate. We could hear the way he was speaking to her when she was on the phone and the language that he was using. My daughter was telling him not to hit her."

"My wife witnessed him put his hand around Lucy's throat and that's when we decided to get in touch with the Domestic Abuse Advisory Service. They told us that the reason Lucy would not discuss what was happening to her was because she was scared that he would beat her up."

"We had abusive phone calls from Lucy's partner and he threatened to break my jaw. He also threatened my wife and Lucy's siblings. Lucy was too scared to report what was happening to her and her two-and-a-half year old child is also deeply affected by what has happened. When Lucy tried to leave he told her that if she did she would be abandoning her baby and that he would get custody, but he used to make her come and stay with us so that he could claim single parent benefit. Lucy would be expected to return home first thing in the morning to see to the baby."

"He tried to convince doctors that Lucy had mental health problems so that he could claim even more benefits and it was the health visitor who spotted that something was wrong. However, whenever she tried to make appointments to see a doctor he would find out and cancel it."

"Lucy is now living in a refuge with her baby and her partner still continues to make threats. We are all scared. I would urge anybody who is involved in a situation like this to report it as soon as possible because the longer you leave it the worse it will get. Get help as soon as possible. Contact the Domestic Abuse Advisory Service helpline."

Penny's story, told by her mother

On  25 November 2001 Penny was brutally murdered. The victim of domestic violence, she was punched, kicked and stamped on by her partner. She received 123 injuries including 18 broken ribs, her liver, spleen and lungs were pierced. Penny was 31 years old.

Penny's story was not unique, it followed a pattern that is repeated daily worldwide. This is her story, told by her mother, and the subsequent action her mother is taking to advise victims of domestic violence about the choices open to them.

"Domestic violence statistics are about real people -you, me and the woman next door. On November 25th 2001 - International Domestic Violence Awareness Day - my daughter, Penny, was brutally murdered by her boyfriend here in Hastings, England. In the 18 months prior to her death the number of times Penny "fell down the stairs" and "bumped into the bathroom door" increased at an alarming rate. She was treated in hospital for various injuries including a cut to her head, requiring 8 stitches, which was caused by a blade.

On one occasion she told the ambulance crew how she had sustained her injuries and I hoped that at last she was going to take some action to prevent further pain. I had contacted various agencies for help and advice including the police. Penny was too frightened to make a statement to the police herself.

Finally Penny repeatedly asked her boyfriend to leave, but he always returned. I had requested that she be put on the Domestic Violence At Risk Register. I later learnt that the police had done the same when called to an incident at her home in February 2001. I also complained to the hospital after Penny was discharged in her boyfriend's company when she was due to be sectioned after a suicide attempt.

I felt as though I was regarded as a neurotic parent making a fuss over very little. I know now that domestic violence is so widespread the police and other agencies need the victim to take the first step. I stated to various agencies that my greatest fear was to be called to the morgue to identify the body. Sadly this was exactly what I was forced to do.

Josh - a perpetrator's story

I started attending the Making Changes Programme when I realised that the problems I was having in my relationship were at least partly my fault. The relationship had been on rocky ground for a number of months and up until that point I had placed the blame for this firmly on my partner. Once I had taken responsibility for the problems I had helped create I was in a position to do something about them.

The Making Changes Programme has enabled me to look at my actions and behaviour in a non-threatening atmosphere and has given me the tools which I need to change my behaviour and to improve my relationship. While I cannot claim to be perfect, I do believe I have made improvements and I feel my relationship is now in a much better position than it was before I started coming to Making Changes.

The course looks at many aspects of behaviour and relationships and allows people to talk through their issues and problems in a non-judgemental environment. The facilitators have all been very helpful in getting me to see my mistakes and how I should do things differently. While it has been challenging at times, I feel the course is worthwhile, and I do not believe that my relationship would have survived without the tools gained from attending the Making Changes Programme.

Brian - a perpetrator's story

Domestic abuse is not always physical, it can be emotional and psychological as well. Brian, 35 from Oxfordshire, noticed changes in his behaviour after his first child was born. Sleep deprivation and the stress of a new baby left him tired and unable to communicate properly with his wife. This is his story.

"My behaviour started changing at the beginning of 2011, just after our first child was born. We wanted to start a family but having a new baby is an incredibly difficult period and I learned that lack of sleep is one of the triggers that changes my behaviour. We had no time to be able to talk or communicate and I became very aggressive, shouting at my wife and child and this became a downward spiral."

"Our relationship deteriorated and my partner lost trust and respect for me and felt she couldn't communicate with me. This bred lots of negativity but I denied there was a problem. I was so tired that I couldn't see what was going on in front of me."

"My partner was frightened and hid a lot of her feelings and emotions. The situation continued like this for about three months. After that we agreed that we could not live like that any more and my wife went to live with her parents. I started to delve a bit deeper into what was happening and couldn't understand why my partner was reluctant to talk about stuff."

"Six months later we were still separated and a member of staff at our local Children's Centre said to my wife that she thought what was happening was domestic abuse. My wife started looking into it in more detail and it was at that point that she was able to say for the first time some of the effects that the shouting had had on her. When I realised how it made her feel it was like an express train hitting me. She felt scared, vulnerable and frightened and she lost all respect for me because I had never acknowledged that it had been a problem. I had never said sorry. That's when it hit me and that's when I went to Respect for help."

"I was very reluctant to do anything at first but my wife was adamant that she was going to do The Freedom Programme so I spoke to them and had an assessment. Recognising that I had a problem was the game changer and after that the process followed naturally. I am almost at the end of the course now and things are never going to be perfect. There is some lingering stuff that I still have to deal with but things are safe and healthy and it's the start of a healing process."

"I think you need to get to a point where you recognise that it's a problem. I always thought that abuse was about hitting someone or sexual abuse but shouting and being aggressive can be very intimidating and they are a form of abuse. It's tough to accept that you need help but it's the only way to deal with it."