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Lindsay

Age at interview: 35
Brief Outline: After a short romance, Lindsay married her partner, who then anally raped her on their wedding night. Four weeks later she left him after he physically abused her and her eldest daughter. For Lindsay however, this was only the start of the abuse and she has had to endure over a decade of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, all of which has had a significant and negative impact on her physical and psychological wellbeing. Lindsay has received help and support from various organisations including, Women’s Aid, MIND (a mental health charity) and a local domestic abuse service.
Background: Lindsay is a white British woman who is currently studying and volunteering to provide support to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. She has two children, the eldest has left home and Lindsay lives with the youngest child.

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In 2001 Lindsay was ‘swept off her feet’ during a ‘whirlwind romance’ to a man who she thought was ‘beautiful, lovely’ and a ‘proper little charmer’. However, on their wedding night she was anally raped by her new husband and four weeks later, after experiencing further violence and sexual abuse, Lindsay moved into a women’s refuge after her husband held a hot iron on both her and her eldest daughter. Although the marriage lasted just a few weeks, Lindsay has endured twelve years ‘of hell’ (physical, psychological and sexual abuse) since they separated. Both Lindsay and her family have experienced on-going harassment and violent attacks towards their property (attempted arson and broken windows) and themselves, resulting in considerable injuries, including broken bones. 

Lindsay feels that the on-going abuse has ‘totally changed’ and ‘wrecked’ her life, and left her with physical and psychological health problems, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has attempted suicide and feels the years of abuse have broken her spirit, as well as affecting her relationships Lindsay with her daughters. Her eldest daughter has also been in an abusive relationship and blames her mother for allowing her ex-husband to behave how he did.

Over the years Lindsay has received both helpful and unhelpful reactions and support in response to her disclosure of abuse. She feels that police officers and her GP did not take her rape allegations seriously, although she has recently received ‘brilliant’ long-term support from a GP who specialises in sexual abuse and trauma. She has also had practical help from Women’s Aid, including house alarms and CCTV, and and psychological support from MIND. She has also been supported by a local domestic abuse organisation, who she now volunteers for. Lindsay attended both the Freedom Programme, which helped her to open her eyes and acknowledge her situation, and The Recovery Toolkit, which has helped her to build her self-esteem and trust. 

At the time of interview Lindsay was starting to feel a little stronger. Although she still has bad days when she does not even want to open the curtains, she also has some better days when she refuses to feel like ‘a victim’ any more. Lindsay now has a ‘fantastic’ partner who has helped to put her ‘back on her feet’ and she hopes to study family law at University so she can help others’ like her. She advises women currently in an abusive relationship not to suffer and that there is help out there.
 

Lindsay described her contact with doctors who did not acknowledge domestic abuse after she was raped by her husband.

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Back in 2001 when he first raped me, the police, doctors, appalling, no support, no nothing.

Did you go to them and tell them what was

Yeah.

happening?

I went to me doctor. Got married on Friday, raped me Friday night, went to the doctor’s Monday. The doctor just said, “Everybody goes - it’s a new marriage, everyone goes through a rough patch.” Anyhow, I ended up bleeding from the back passage, had to ring an ambulance. Police escorted me to the hospital and on the way down there the policeman [sighs] he just said to me, “How can you have been raped by, it’s the partner’s, this is the partner’s journey,” or something like that. “How can you be raped by your husband? He’s just had it a little bit too rough.” Until the nurse the nurse’s report came back, the internal came back and there was damage done to, on the inside. Wasn’t offered no support then by the police. No victim support.

What about the hospital when you, just checking it’s coming through here.

No, nothing, like no counselling, no, absolutely no nothing.

So they just sent you away from the hospital?

Yeah.

They just sent you away with a?

Just give me some antibiotics in case I had an infection through the ripping of me back passage.
 

Lindsay was abused for years by her ex-husband who claimed that she was ‘mentally unbalanced’. Eventually, because of his lies and manipulation, she thought she had lost her mind, and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

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Then I finally got put in touch with someone through the rape, somebody, somebody gave me something to do with the rape thing, like a counsellor. And one of the ladies there was a specialist solicitor that could get you unlawful behaviour, cruel behaviour and, you know, get your marriage dissolved.

Yeah.

So I got in touch with that lady and that’s when me divorce proceedings started, four week after I got married. It took me three years to get rid of him. Wouldn’t sign the divorce papers, no. No one seemed to think that he had done anything, that he had done anything wrong to me, because it was all mental and, you know, well, internal physical. Then I got an injunction out against him where he wasn’t allowed to come within so many feet. He, he ran my and my eldest daughter’s car off the road, he wasn’t allowed to come within so many feet of us. So he’d stand across the other side of the road. Ring the police: “He’s not doing nothing.”

So he was just there watching you?

Wasn’t doing, in their eyes he wasn’t doing nothing wrong. Then he started to say that I was mentally unbalanced, I was sort of like stalking him, I was obsessed with him and if I was to ring the police again they’d have me for, I think it was wasting police time, some form of charge.

Yeah.

So my faith in the police and everything, I’d gone right within myself. He was also having an affair with my sister, my youngest sister.

When did you learn about that?

When I got, I ended up getting sectioned under the Mental Health Act, because I really did think that I’d lost my mind. But it wasn’t, it was they were doing things together, leaving things, just making me question everything and anything in my life, everybody, to the point of I even questioned my daughter, like was she in on it? So I got sectioned under the Mental Health Act. And my sister came, my sister came and she had a big scar down her face. He’d started to do it to her. They were having an affair and he’d started to do it to her.
 

Lindsay described how her life had been ‘wrecked’ by her ex-partner. She had constant anxiety, PTSD, and had to monitor her house in case anyone tried to break in.

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He just changed my life, just totally changed my life. Don’t really go out anymore, suffer with postnatal depression. I have panic attacks, don’t trust anybody. Just don’t no, just wrecked my life.

So what’s been the biggest impact?

My child, me eldest daughter had to leave and go and live somewhere else with her dad. And me youngest daughter got taken off me and put into foster care.

As a result of his behaviour?

Yeah, because the police wouldn’t help us, even though we reported him to the police and the local authority. It was too late, they decided to intervene when it was far too late.

Just thinking back, so those few weeks when you were together, just thinking about that time specifically, what impact did that abuse have on you at that time, in that short-term? How did it affect you, who you were, what you were thinking, what you were doing?

Broke my spirit. I had me own business, used to be a holistic therapist, couldn’t do that. He was coming in and harassing my clients so I had to give my business up. I was isolated, didn’t trust anybody. I tried to commit suicide. Just I can’t like a prisoner. It wasn’t, it wasn’t like me, it was like I was a prisoner of war, it really was. It was a strain. There was sexual gratification if and when he chose to come round to me house, ringing the police, the police were saying, “We can’t do anything,” because we was married and he owned the things to the house. No financial support because everything was in his name. Hmm strange it was. Still makes me anxious now, I’m still.

Yeah, so you’ve got post-traumatic stress?

Yeah still have that. 

It’s still with you now?

Yeah still.

And when was that diagnosed?

Don’t really know. Two, 15, I’ve had that for - my eldest daughter’s eleven about a year after my eldest daughter was born, through – my youngest daughter, through rape, continuously raping me, other things as well but. Yeah, still get treated for that. Still have night terrors, still put a string on me doors and hairs on me doors to see if anybody’s been in while I’ve been out. hmm.

So lots of ongoing impacts as a result of

Yeah.

What he did to you and to your family as well?

I don’t walk about much on me own, because I get very, very anxious, very paranoid, because he’s just come out of jail. Hmm he’s, at the moment he’s not long been out of jail so it’s all like stirring it back up, back up for me, even though the police say, “Oh, he can’t come near you, he’s got different orders against him,” he had all them last time. So my house is all CCTV.
 

Lindsay’s six year old daughter was sexually abused by her dad but social workers offered no support. Another survivor of domestic abuse helped Lindsay to get her daughter back.

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To get my daughter off him I had to give up all residence, all parental rights to her. So I signed her over to my sister, put her into foster care, temporary foster care they said it was, and my sister. Took me 14 months to get her back, because local services and the local authority wasn’t being on my side because of the negligence on their side. And it was the lady in the court who was going through the sort of similar thing in [Place] courts. Who given me all these leaflets, told me about all these different solicitors won’t fight the government, solicitors won’t fight the local authorities, solicitors won’t fight the Social Services. And if you haven’t got money for that, you’re knackered. And they introduce you to someone called the guardian of the court who is then your child’s guardian. Who says they’re going to fight for what’s right for your child? No one. No one brought up about from 2009 to 2012 what had happened to all them numerous calls, why was she still put with them, put with him.

Yeah.

[Sighs] And this one lady in, in the court, she was just like, “I’m going to fight for myself,” she went, “I’m going to stand up for myself.” I thought, “Right, if she can do it, I can do it.” 
 

Lindsay formed a support group and also became a volunteer mentor for domestic violence charities.

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So we linked up, and now there’s a group, there’s a group of survivors, there’s a group of us called the Survivors.

So have you created, have you helped to create this group?

I wouldn’t like to say created. Coffee morning, they all come for a brew.

How is that, a weekly coffee morning?

Yeah on a Tuesday, yeah.

That you all meet up?

Yeah, well it’s a coffee night, Tuesday yeah.

Yeah. Is that each other’s houses or do you go to different venues?

No, we don’t go to houses, just the park. MIND, the organisation MIND has a lot to do with it, a lot to do with it. They let us use one of their rooms there.

Right, and have you had specific support from MIND?

Yeah I’m under MIND, yeah.

Yeah, what have they done that’s been useful or not useful?

Helped with my anxiety, the rape, the sexual abuse, the depression, CBT, anger management, self-esteem. And I got put on, after all that with my youngest daughter, when they took my daughter off me, when I thought I’d given her voluntary, they never, Social Services never got back in touch with me and said, “Look, you need to do this, to do that to prove to us, why we do these assessments, to get your daughter back.”

Yeah.

They never, they never did that. And it was so far down the line that I very nearly lost, they only give you so many weeks, and nobody told me that. And it was that lady again, she said to me, “Go to [Name of agency].” And I went there and they work, after Social Services, they do parenting courses and things like that, and they helped me.

So what’s [Removed]?

[Name of agency], where I mentor now. I do mentoring there now, sexual abuse, domestic violence, Women’s Aid.
 

The Freedom Programme completely changed Lindsay’s perspective so that she no longer felt like a victim.

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What about Women’s Aid, how have they supported you?

[Name] got me onto the Freedom Project. Even though I was out of the domestic violence relationship, the, the knock-on effect on me, I knew it had damaged my kids. But then when you sit that course and you, you see it through your children’s eyes. My eldest daughter had a lot of resent, resentment towards me. It ruined our relationship. She seemed to think that I allowed this to happen. So I did the freedom project, which was a13 week course on all predators.

How was that helpful?

You have different ones. You have the bad father who tells you you’re a crap mum. And you have king of the castle, everything’s his way, you know. Then you’ve got the bully. Then you’ve got the jailor who locks you in. And my ex-husband was all of them. Honest to God, the sexual predator, you sit there and you think, “Wow”, or they’ll be other girls there like, “I shouldn’t be here. I don’t need to do this course because my partner wasn’t like that.” And then a couple of weeks down the line they’re like, “Yeah, yeah he used to do that to me.” And that really changed my perspective, the Freedom Project. The lady from the Freedom Project put me in touch with Women’s Aid.

Right.

With [Name]. And after the Freedom Project, there’s the recovery toolkit.

So how did you initially get onto the Freedom Project?

One of the ladies who comes to the survivor’s thing, she was half way through getting her children back, and she said to get her children back she had to sit these courses that was organised by a third party, parenting course, anger management, drug rehabilitation. And I was like, “What are these, why haven’t I been offered?” 
 

Lindsay described horrific harassment from her ex who found her whenever she moved and also targeted his violence towards other family members.

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So you mentioned harassment.

Hmm.

Are you able to give me any details about that?

Everywhere I moved he seemed to have help through the authorities, he seemed to find out everywhere I went. Me houses, if it was council, he’d smash the windows, the council will only replace windows for so long. Then private landlords, you can only replace your windows and pay for them yourself for so long. Harassing me mum, going to the school for me sisters, attacking me brothers. My eldest daughter isn’t his. He just did horrible things to her. He’d he just targeted her mainly, if he couldn’t find me he targeted her.
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