You Are Not Alone

Annie’ (not her real name) was subjected to two years of abuse at the hands of a violent partner.  Here she tells how she sought help and how she emerged from the ordeal.

Promises are easily given, but seldom kept.

It’s a sad fact about the nature of human existence. 

Despite what might be pledged, wars rage, taxes rise and the disparity between those who hold power and those who have none continues to grow ever larger. 

When Annie found herself slowly regaining consciousness after a sudden and particularly brutal attack from her partner, she heard the words:

“I promise it will never happen again,” as she picked herself up from the floor. 

It was a promise that was soon to be broken. 

Annie is a no-nonsense Scouser – small in stature – but big in heart. 

A devoted mother, she is independent, educated and runs her own business.

Anyone who has been in her company will know she is not afraid to stand up for what she knows is right. 

Even with this sense of self-worth, Annie found herself suffering for two years at the hands of a partner who she’d allowed into her life. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is, where you are from, or how much money you have – domestic abuse can affect anyone.

The ordeal left her teetering on the edge of a complete breakdown, self-confidence shattered and her body’s fight or flight response constantly flicked on.

As with many new relationships, it was a friendship that grew into something more and before long they felt strongly enough about each other to move in together. 

“He was the nicest, kindest person you could ever hope to meet,” said Annie. “I have children from a previous relationship and he became like a father to them. 

“He couldn’t do enough to help and had lots of time for us. It’s fair to say I was in love with him.”

Like any other couple, the pair had differences of opinion but Annie became alarmed at how quickly her partner’s mood changed when they disagreed. 

“He would get really angry and start to shout,” she said. “He would come right up to me and get right in my face. It was really intimidating, he was a lot bigger than me. Afterwards, when things had calmed down he would apologise but it still kept happening.”

Then in the middle of one particularly turbulent exchange of opinions, Annie’s partner took his abuse to the next level.

We can’t actually go into the details of the attack other than to say it was sudden in nature and savage in execution.

It left Annie physically injured for sure, but also confused and frightened.

“I should have ended it there and then,” she said. “But he promised it would never happen again, he promised he would change and seek help for his temper. Ultimately, I loved him and just wanted things to go back to how they used to be.”

Of course, things didn’t go back to how they used to be, the situation became worse. 

Annie’s partner became more controlling about her movements, suspicious of everything she did, the emotional control increased and the violent attacks continued.

“I felt trapped and alone,” she said. “I had no confidence and felt really insecure, my mental health was beginning to suffer.”

It took Annie coming round from the most severe attack to wake her up to what had to be done. 

She called the police for help and with the support of a host of Liverpool-based agencies, she was taken out of her home and moved to a place of safety with her children. 

It was only then that she discovered that her partner had a history of violence. 

Today Annie says life is so much better, she is coming out the other side and sees a better future ahead. 

Now she wants to help others in the same situation.

“I want people to learn from my story and take action,” she said. “I was surprised at how much support was available once I asked for help. It really made all the difference. I would hate to think of anyone else going through what I went through. You don’t have to suffer in silence.”

Last year more than 14,000 cases of domestic abuse in Liverpool were reported to Merseyside Police.  Since the start of the lockdown period, the number of incidents being reported to the police and support agencies has increased. 

Cllr Liz Parsons is Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships. 

She says the true number of people who are suffering domestic abuse is likely to be even higher because they feel even more isolated due to coronavirus. 

“With a limited amount of contact with the outside world, perpetrators of abuse may take advantage of the situation to increase their control over victims, there is a real chance victims and potential victims feel like they have no-one to turn to” said Liz. “However, it is important that everyone knows that support services are continuing to offer practical and emotional support and if you are experiencing domestic abuse, you don’t have to stay.”

“There are many victims of domestic abuse: partners, children, family members even carers and those they care for. In every instance the end result is the same, someone is physically or mentally dominating another person, exerting control over them and making them suffer.”

“Annie’s case is typical of this and we were pleased that she took action and sought help.”

“The council and its partners are working through the coronavirus outbreak to make sure that support is available to anyone who needs it and even though we are in lockdown we can get you out and to a place of safety. No-one has to suffer domestic abuse, there is always help available.”

That’s one promise that won’t be broken. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse and you feel your safety is immediately threatened, the advice is clear – dial 999. 

In other cases, the best starting point is to call the National Domestic Abuse helpline in confidence on 0808 2000 247. 

You can also find support services online at: gov.uk/domestic-abuse