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Melanie

Age at interview: 42
Brief Outline: Melanie described ‘living in abuse’ for many years. She was abused by a family member as a toddler, a teacher when she was age 11 and then from a number of intimate partners. She has recently escaped a coercive controlling relationship and is beginning to speak out about her experiences, to help others.
Background: Melanie is 42 year old, black British (Caribbean) woman, single and living with her daughters aged 22, 20 and seven. She is a support worker for people with learning disabilities, but has taken time out from work, to care for family and to recover from a depressive illness.

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After a lifetime of abusive relationships Melanie came to regard abuse as ‘normal’. Her attempts to speak out as a child led to her being ‘silenced’ and she felt she was not believed. Her only confidante was her sister, who also experienced abuse but preferred to stay quiet and not disclose. Melanie’s family moved to the USA when she was 15 and she stayed for seven years. During this time she had two children in abusive or fleeting relationships and narrowly avoided being lured into prostitution.

After returning to England, she was physically abused by another man. Although the case went to court, there was no conviction since the perpetrator knew how to ‘play the system’. Her most recent relationship lasted seven years and was characterised by psychological abuse and coercive control. This was different from her previous experiences of physical and sexual abuse and she did not recognise his behaviour as abuse. Thinking it was ‘normal’ for her partner to control her life, she ‘walked on eggshells’ for years, in fear of upsetting him. She had no control over her finances, was harassed by telephone calls at work and had to follow her partner’s invisible ‘rules’. She talks about ‘mind games’ whereby the rules changed on a daily basis according to his whim so that she was constantly confused. Her partner plied her with alcohol and cannabis so that her head was ‘all mush’, she abused medication, suffered from agoraphobia and ‘didn’t know what pain was’. She describes not being allowed to have any opinions or feelings. Challenging her partner led to enforced sex and she became fearful for her life and the safety of her children.

The end of Melanie’s ‘living nightmare’ began when she realised that she was seriously unwell, underweight, feeling like she was having a breakdown. Something clicked and she realised she could not continue to live that way. She contacted Shelter, the housing and homelessness organisation, and a worker phoned up the Freedom project for her (a rolling programme of group support and learning for women experiencing domestic violence and abuse). Melanie says that she would never have acted if the phone call had not been made for her. The Freedom project was her ‘saviour’, she met others in similar situations, the ‘fog began to clear’ and she is now working as a co-facilitator. 

She is close to her daughters but aware of the impact on them of witnessing abuse. One has night terrors and one developed a stammer. Melanie has received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She is now receiving individual therapy via the Freedom Project and is taking anti-depressant medication.

Throughout her life, Melanie describes how she has always presented well to the outside world, she dresses well and walks with her ‘head held high’. However she feels this sent the wrong signals to health professionals who remained unaware of her suffering.

Melanie would like to see changes to the way boys are brought up, discouraging dominance and aggression. She feels that women are devalued, particularly within the African Caribbean community where she feels it is a cultural norm for men to have multiple female partners. Melanie’s advice to women is to seek help as soon as possible and she celebrates that there really is ‘life after abuse’.
 

Melanie realised ‘Something was wrong, definitely wrong’ with her relationship as she was scared all the time.

Melanie realised ‘Something was wrong, definitely wrong’ with her relationship as she was scared all the time.

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Could you tell me just a little bit about what happened to you?

Well this relationship [clears throat] I didn’t even realise it was abusive because I didn’t understand that this form of abuse is possible. 

Right.

And it wasn’t physical abuse, it was more psychological abuse. And obviously now I look back, it was a lot of raping as well.

But in this relationship it was more like moving things, breaking things, always with me, very controlling with their wording. 

Silently controlling. Yeah, it’s just more or less all of that really. And I didn’t even think I was in an abusive situation for a long time. I knew something was wrong because I felt on edge and I felt scared a lot of the time.

Hmm. Felt scared?

But I didn’t know, yeah, I didn’t realise that this was a form of abuse. That he had control of my finances and things like that. 

How long were you together?

Since 2005 until 2012. 

Right. 

Yeah. 

And when did it dawn on you, when did you realise this is abuse?

When his father died, I think in 2000… and I think it was 2011 or the beginning of 2012, and I knew that I was scared all the time. I knew I was walking on eggshells.

I knew that when he was downstairs he would, I was scared to come downstairs. I knew that at that point I kind of woke up to catch him doing things to me. And felt like I couldn’t question him because if I questioned him he would always shout me down…

Right.

...and made me feel like a child. So, yeah, I think that’s when I realised when something was wrong, definitely wrong. 
 

Melanie described her experience of psychological abuse and controlling behaviour which led to her having a breakdown.

Melanie described her experience of psychological abuse and controlling behaviour which led to her having a breakdown.

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Could you tell me just a little bit about what happened to you?

Well this relationship [clears throat] I didn’t even realise it was abusive because I didn’t understand that this form of abuse is possible. 

Right.

And it wasn’t physical abuse, it was more psychological abuse. And obviously now I look back, it was a lot of raping as well.

But in this relationship it was more like moving things, breaking things, always with me, very controlling with their wording. 

Silently controlling. Yeah, it’s just more or less all of that really. And I didn’t even think I was in an abusive situation for a long time. I knew something was wrong because I felt on edge and I felt scared a lot of the time.

Hmm. Felt scared?

But I didn’t know, yeah, I didn’t realise that this was a form of abuse. That he had control of my finances and things like that. 

How long were you together?

Since 2005 until 2012. 

Right. 

Yeah. 

And when did it dawn on you, when did you realise this is abuse?

When his father died, I think in 2000… and I think it was 2011 or the beginning of 2012, and I knew that I was scared all the time. I knew I was walking on eggshells. I knew that when he was downstairs he would, I was scared to come downstairs. I knew that at that point I kind of woke up to catch him doing things to me. And felt like I couldn’t question him because if I questioned him he would always shout me down.

Right.

And made me feel like a child. So, yeah, I think that’s when I realised when something was wrong, definitely wrong. 

It had been going on for quite a number of years from …

Oh, it been going on for a number of years. I think toward when his dad died, I think that’s where I was just so tired, so beaten down, so worn out that I, something in me clicked and something made me start thinking about what was going on, what is actually happening here.

And I thought that was it and I couldn’t take it anymore because I was having a breakdown at the stage. I was… 

Oh. 

... having a breakdown and he would understand other people’s point of views but never mine. If I had a, if I had a feeling about anything it was almost like, ‘you’re being silly’. I wasn’t allowed to have any emotion, no feeling, no nothing, but everybody else around me could. 

Could you give me an example of the sort of rules that he used to set for you?

There was never a specific rule. It was changing all the time. If I cooked something that he loved today, next week he didn’t like it. 

If I bought something in the shopping because we would go shopping, it wasn’t just me that’d go shopping, he would come with me. I’d buy it this week and then next week he wouldn’t like it. Or if he was going to the supermarket for example to buy maybe crisps for the kids and he knew the crisps that the kids liked because he’s in the house all the time, he would see the crisps. He would buy the total opposite. So the kids wouldn’t want to eat them then. He would buy things that would sit in the cupboards for ages what I’d never seen him eat before. So it was confusing. I was constantly confused because I didn’t know, I thought I knew this person but then they were changing before me constantly. So there was no rule. I think his rule was whatever he felt like on the day that would be his rule. 

And what would happen if you tried to go against a rule?

His was more sulking, slamming things, not speaking to me for days on end. But then would get in bed and cuddle me, would get in bed and hold my wrist. It almost felt like he was keeping me captive because he would squeeze my wrists and hold me like that while I slept. If I got up out of the bed he would jump up out of the bed. So it was constantly, I didn’t know whether I was going or coming because like he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. If I’d constantly say to him, “What’s the matter, what, have I done something, what the matter?” “Oh nothing”. “But you haven’t spoke to me for days”. 
 

Melanie finally kicked the alcohol habit after leaving her partner, and described how ill she had become when with her partner.

Melanie finally kicked the alcohol habit after leaving her partner, and described how ill she had become when with her partner.

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I’ve been drinking for many years. I’m now not drinking. Because I’m dealing with it now. Psychologically, my head is just a mush a lot of times. One day I’m fine a few days ago I was just a complete mess. I didn’t know whether I was going or coming. I mean, I can do the mum role because that, I do that with my eyes closed. And they are my world.

So I can do the mum role. Sometimes not being able to shower, to eat, to sleep. Feeling numb. Knots in my stomach. Being hypervigilant. Listening to doors going. I’m hearing it and I’m already thinking, “Is there somebody coming in?” There’s just so many things. I had agoraphobia, wasn’t able to leave the house at some stages. I was taking medication, as in medication, I was taking co-codamol tablets but I was given those by my ex- at that point, he was supplying me with them and keeping me numb as well as the drink. I smoked weed as well. But that was him as well. The, you know, these are the things that kind of kept me in my place, kept me quite reserved. Repressed. I financially didn’t know how to pay my bills, so I’m learning how to do that.

I didn’t know what pain was. I’m still understanding what pain is. 
 

Melanie described feeling like she was ‘nothing’ and being powerless to change anything.

Melanie described feeling like she was ‘nothing’ and being powerless to change anything.

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So I was nothing. Nothing. Eventually. So whatever relationship came after that, it was very easy because I was nothing.

So is that how your most recent relationship left you feeling, like you were nothing?

I was nothing. I was absolutely nothing. Shit on the bottom of his shoe. 

That’s how you felt? Hm.

Yeah. I think there was a stage where I thought if the house was on fire I would be left and he would take his child. And I think I remember saying that to him and him almost laughing about it. And me thinking there’s something true within that statement but still not feeling that I had the power to do anything about it. 
 

Melanie’s partner insisted on sex when she was dressed to go out and he left her no time to have a wash afterwards.

Melanie’s partner insisted on sex when she was dressed to go out and he left her no time to have a wash afterwards.

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You mentioned raping.

Yeah, that was.

Do you want to talk a little bit about that or?

I think that was his preference. I think he enjoyed seeing somebody hurt. 

I think for him it wasn’t about having sex with a loving partner, it was about getting what he wanted. 

So a lot of the time it was, if I was dressed to go somewhere for example, he would have to have sex before I left the house. It wasn’t, it was never loving sex. It was almost forceful, aggressive sex.

Hurting me. And then not allowing me to have a wash before I left the house. So that became quite normal, whatever normal is for me. I wasn’t allowed to say no. There was no such thing as no because he would take it. 

So if you did try and say no, what would happen or?

He would take it. He would take it, pinning me down and yeah, just doing what he wanted really. I don’t, I wasn’t really, even though he didn’t say, “You can’t have no expression, it’s not about you pleasing you, it was about you pleasing me”. So I learned to go onto autopilot. I knew what I needed to do. I knew the job that he wanted done, doing. And I was really good at my job [long sigh].

So, yeah, that was my sex life… [tearful] for many years. And I thought that was normal. 
 

Melanie talked about experiences of sexual abuse that her partner convinced her were ‘normal’.

Melanie talked about experiences of sexual abuse that her partner convinced her were ‘normal’.

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I was going out with somebody, yeah, as well, and they were, I thought he was really nice but when it came to us being physical he would spit at me.

Oh.

Spit on me. And I thought that was normal. I thought, this is what normal, whatever nor, I keep doing this normal because I don’t know what normal sex life is. I thought this is what he wants, he wants to do this … urinating on me and things like that and I thought this was normal. So I allowed these people to break me down. So I was nothing. Nothing. Eventually. So whatever relationship came after that, it was very easy because I was nothing.
 

Melanie presented a positive image of herself by ‘putting on a mask’ whilst in an abusive relationship, which may have confused professionals.

Melanie presented a positive image of herself by ‘putting on a mask’ whilst in an abusive relationship, which may have confused professionals.

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I found that I’ve, that, when I did go to the doctor when I was beaten up by my first partner when I came back to England, I went to the doctor’s then, because obviously a had a, my hand got bitten then and I don’t think the doctor knew how to help me. Because I do come across as a woman that’s very well-together, if that makes sense.

Out, if you’re looking at outer appearance it’s hard to explain what going on internally and if I didn’t know how to explain that I don’t think I would be able to get any help.

So despite all the terrible things that you’ve described to me that happened, you always felt able to present in a positive way like you say, you look up - together?

Yeah. Yeah, that’s one thing my mum’s taught me. You, no matter what’s going on behind closed doors, you put your clothes on and you put that mask on and you walk with your head held high. And that’s what I’ve done for most of my life, even when I’m in turmoil internally. I walk with my head held high, even if I’m screaming in, inside. Yeah.

And has that strategy been a good one for you?

I think it’s kept me here. Somehow. It’s kept me here somehow because I know that there’s a fight inside, I know there’s a fight, that I do have this fight [fire alarm]. 

I’m hoping that’s just a test.

OK.

I think if it’s real it’ll go on.

OK.

So we’ll assume it’s just a test [laughs]

OK. But I think if I’d looked a certain way, I think they would have understood it a bit more.

They, being?

Professionals. If I’d came in to the doctor as, while I didn’t feel like combing my hair and I didn’t comb my hair and I didn’t want to change my clothes and I didn’t change my clothes, I think they would understand it. But because I would do these things. Even if I didn’t have a shower I would still present myself in a way that probably was a bit confusing to professionals.
 

Melanie’s partner was very controlling and but his ‘rules’ were always changing and she didn’t know if she was ‘going or coming’.

Melanie’s partner was very controlling and but his ‘rules’ were always changing and she didn’t know if she was ‘going or coming’.

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Could you give me an example of the sort of rules that he used to set for you?

There was never a specific rule. It was changing all the time. If I cooked something that he loved today, next week he didn’t like it. 

If I bought something in the shopping because we would go shopping, it wasn’t just me that’d go shopping, he would come with me. I’d buy it this week and then next week he wouldn’t like it. Or if he was going to the supermarket for example to buy maybe crisps for the kids and he knew the crisps that the kids liked because he’s in the house all the time, he would see the crisps. He would buy the total opposite. So the kids wouldn’t want to eat them then. He would buy things that would sit in the cupboards for ages what I’d never seen him eat before. So it was confusing. I was constantly confused because I didn’t know, I thought I knew this person but then they were changing before me constantly. So there was no rule. I think his rule was whatever he felt like on the day that would be his rule. 

And what would happen if you tried to go against a rule?

His was more sulking, slamming things, not speaking to me for days on end. But then would get in bed and cuddle me, would get in bed and hold my wrist. It almost felt like he was keeping me captive because he would squeeze my wrists and hold me like that while I slept. If I got up out of the bed he would jump up out of the bed. So it was constantly, I didn’t know whether I was going or coming because like he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. If I’d constantly say to him, “What’s the matter, what, have I done something, what the matter?” “Oh nothing”. “But you haven’t spoke to me for days”. 
 

Domestic abuse affected all three of Melanie’s daughters. One still has ‘night terrors’, one had a speech problem and the oldest has experienced abusive partner relationships herself.

Domestic abuse affected all three of Melanie’s daughters. One still has ‘night terrors’, one had a speech problem and the oldest has experienced abusive partner relationships herself.

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So, do you think your own experiences of abuse have impacted on other people around you in your life?

Yes. Yes.

Who, in particular would you say?

I would say my youngest daughter. She’s still having night terrors. She comes running into my room every night. She’s very, she always makes sure that she, that I’m OK.  She’s very, I say to her, “Can I be mum today please?” Because I find that she’s very “Mum, have you got your keys? Mum, have you taken your tablets? Mum, have you eaten today?” And she’s only seven. And that’s not something a seven year old should have to feel like they need to do.

It affects her in school. She went through a stage where she wasn’t talking. Yeah, I think it’s affected her a great deal. My middle daughter as well, I think she’s very like me, I don’t, I think she’s, I think she, her voice a lot of the time, she doesn’t know how to express herself. And I think that’s a part of what’s happened because she developed a stammer when I was in my relationship with …

The latest relationship?

Not the latest one.

No.

No. When she was about, she was about five or six, when I came back to England …

Yeah.

… that was, and I was with the guy that broke, bit my finger down to the bone …

yes,

… she witnessed that, her and my oldest witnessed that and she went through a very bad period of where she couldn’t’ get her words out, she would stutter.

Was this man living in your household?

He was there all the time. He wasn’t living there but he felt he had enough control that he could be there whenever he wanted to. Yeah

Yeah. So yeah, I think it’s affected all of my children. I’m trying to think my oldest one, she’s very feisty. And I think she’s a go-getter. I think there’s something about her. And I don’t know whether it’s because of how she was, she came into this world, I always think that maybe because she was created not in a very nice way she is, she’s got a bit of a fight in her.

So she’s, I think, I can imagine there is, there probably is something, she has had relationships as well that have been abusive actually, now I’m thinking about it. But she does soon get out of them. 

Yeah. So, yeah, it has affected all three of my kids. In some way.
 

Melanie described feeling as if her head was ‘mush’ at times and being hypervigilant in listening out for doors opening in case her ex was trying to come in.

Melanie described feeling as if her head was ‘mush’ at times and being hypervigilant in listening out for doors opening in case her ex was trying to come in.

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I can tell you what the impact it’s had on me.

Yes, yeah.

I’ve been drinking for many years. I’m now not drinking. Because I’m dealing with it now. Psychologically, my head is just a mush a lot of times. One day I’m fine a few days ago I was just a complete mess. I didn’t know whether I was going or coming. I mean, I can do the mum role because that, I do that with my eyes closed. And they are my world. So I can do the mum role. Sometimes not being able to shower, to eat, to sleep. Feeling numb. Knots in my stomach. Being hypervigilant. Listening to doors going. I’m hearing it and I, and I’m already thinking, “Is there somebody coming in?” There’s just so many things. I, I had agoraphobia, wasn’t able to leave the house at some stages. I was taking medication, as in medication, I was taking co-codamol tablets but I was given those by my ex- at that point, he was supplying me with them and keeping me numb as well as the drink. I smoked weed as well. But that was him as well. The, you know, these are the things that kind of kept me in my place, kept me quite reserved. Repressed. I financially didn’t know how to pay my bills, so I’m learning how to do that.
 

Melanie described how much she had learnt from specialist CBT which helped her recover from trauma. She has just started specialist counselling for sexual abuse.

Melanie described how much she had learnt from specialist CBT which helped her recover from trauma. She has just started specialist counselling for sexual abuse.

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Is that CBT specifically for women who’ve experienced abuse, or not? It was just general?

I think it was I was what do you call? I was in panic, a, traumatic …

Yeah.

Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Right.

Yeah.

Right. OK. And, and did you get something from it? So, I mean, you explained that you didn’t really understand it but did you …

I did get something from it.

Hmm.

I think I, for a lot of my time I’d been living in my abuse still for many years, I think, and I took it from one relationship to another relationship, to another relationship, and I would give them all my story and they would use those things to hurt me. And I realised that I’m not living in that …

The men, not the therapists?

No not the, yeah.

Men [laughs]

Not the therapists, yeah, the men. So I realised I was still living in those moments and what the CBT taught me is that you’re no longer there. And it’s taught me to, you know, I, if I get flashbacks, it’s taught me some strategies to use. Some breathing techniques as well. And to write things down. So, yeah, it has taught me, it’s taught me quite a lot. 

And how many sessions did you have of CBT?

I think I had 12 as well, I think I had 12 sessions. Yeah. Yeah.

And then since then you say you’ve also been having a different kind of therapy?

Yes. 

From?

[Name of sexual abuse counselling centre]

I don’t know [name of sexual abuse counselling centre] either.

I don’t know.

OK. It’s an organisation

It is an organisation, yeah. But this is through the Freedom. 

Ahh, OK, so Freedom put you onto them?

Yes. Yeah. And they, they come to the actual programme where I am, so they see me on-site. 

OK.

Yes, they come to see me.

And it’s one-to-one?

It is one-to-one, yeah.

Yeah.

Yeah. I’ve only just started that one.

Do you think it’s going to be helpful?

I think so. What, the session that I had last week was quite powerful.
 

Melanie was ‘too frightened and panicked’ to get help but someone from ‘Shelter’ rang the Freedom Programme for her. She ‘cried and cried and cried and cried… finally it felt like I’m going to get some help’.

Melanie was ‘too frightened and panicked’ to get help but someone from ‘Shelter’ rang the Freedom Programme for her. She ‘cried and cried and cried and cried… finally it felt like I’m going to get some help’.

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And has that come from within you or have you had help from any other agencies or people to get to that point?

The Freedom programme [relief in voice].

Yeah. How did you manage to find out about the Freedom programme?

I was quite distressed and I think I was having a problem with my housing, there was a lot of things going on all at one time and I think I spoke to Shelter as well about that, at this stage and I think I was just, and I went to the police. 

What stage was this? What year are we talking about?

I think in 2012.

Was this after you’d …

Yeah.

… told him to go?

Yes. I think everything just [knocking] I was learning to pay my bills, so I had to go to Shelter to help, for help with finances and putting things in place. I was being taken to court for my water bill. I was being taken to court for my television license. So I was reaching out then at that point.

And I think I just screamed it to anybody that would help me. That I need help, I need help. And I think they pointed me in the right direction. I think somebody, I don’t know if it was somebody from Shelter actually that rang somebody through Freedom and then they rang me.

Right, so someone from Shelter rang them and then, so they actually rang you back on your …

Yes.

Right.

Yes.

Was that helpful, that they did it like that? Would you have followed it up do you think if …

I don’t think I would have followed it up because I was, I would have been too frightened. I think I was, at that moment I was in fight or flight, I was definitely panicked about everything and everybody and every, you know I was quite frantic at that point and I knew I needed help [knocking] but I didn’t know how to get it. 

So the fact that they sort of rang for you …

They rang for me. And I think that finally, I started my, I started to realise that I’m going to get some type of help. I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know if it was going to help me but I was definitely going to run for it. 

And you went to the Freedom?

Yeah. 

Yeah. Was there a space almost immediately for you? 

Yes, there was, yeah. And I sat in that group that day and I listened to a women’s story and I just cried. And cried, and cried and cried and cried. And finally it felt like I’m going to get some help. Yeah. Yeah.

And you, have you continued?

I have. I have continued. I’m doing a mentoring course that, well, I’ve just finished my mentoring course with the Freedom programme as well. 

Meaning? What does that …

Helping other women within the Freedom, I co-facilitate the Freedom programme now, so I sit on the side and I help women if they’re in distress or if they need to talk to somebody. I signpost women as well. Yeah, so yeah, I’ve, I’ve come full circle. Hopefully [laughs].
 

Melanie went on to train as a co-facilitator for the Freedom Programme. Helping other women makes her fell she has ‘come full circle’.

Melanie went on to train as a co-facilitator for the Freedom Programme. Helping other women makes her fell she has ‘come full circle’.

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And you, have you continued?

I have. I have continued. I’m doing a mentoring course that, well, I’ve just finished my mentoring course with the Freedom programme as well. 

Meaning? What does that…

Helping other women within the Freedom, I co-facilitate the Freedom programme now, so I sit on the side and I help women if they’re in distress or if they need to talk to somebody. I signpost women as well. Yeah, so yeah, I’ve, I’ve come full circle. Hopefully [laughs].

And I think you say you’ve been doing the toolkit as well, is that …?

I’ve do, I have. Yeah. I, I finished last week, I finished recovery toolkit I think we’ve got one more, not this week, next week, yeah, one more.

Does that work like in a group, like the Freedom?

It works in a group. I think specific women that are, that understood what recovery is about, because I think, I think for a lot of women you have to be in the right place, understand what recovery what the Freedom programme is about first and actually feel like you get it, because I think a lot of women have gone through abuse and although you’ve gone through it and you’ve gone to the recovery, to the Freedom programme you may not quite understand still what it is that these men do, because they do have a persona, there is a persona with abusive men and if you don’t understand that bit you can’t really move on to the recovery side of it. Because you, you have to understand what abuse is, I think and what, all the tactics that these people use. So there’s only, there was only four of us, three of us actually in the recovery side of it. 

So do you go straight on to the recovery side from the Freedom group? Or do you, is there a time gap? How does it work?

I think there was a two week …

OK.

… gap, in between. And I think she selects who …

Ahh, I see.

… who was ready …

Who was ready, yeah.

… who was ready…

Yeah.

… and I think you can do the recovery, you can do Freedom as many times as you want, I think.

Right. How long does it last?

It’s a 12-week …

Every week?

...rolling course, yeah.

12 week.

12 weeks, yeah. Yeah. 

Yeah, so that’s, sounds like that’s been really important for you.

Oh gosh, yeah. Definitely. 
 

Melanie had a breakdown during her relationship and fears for other women in similar situations unless more awareness and help is available.

Melanie had a breakdown during her relationship and fears for other women in similar situations unless more awareness and help is available.

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You might not always be able to see it externally. 

OK.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Just take a little bit of time to try and get somebody’s story, because I think, I think appointments, sometimes you rush in and you rush out. I think if somebody’s coming in to your room in distress, I think maybe you should take a little bit of time and try to hear what they’re saying. Because they might not tell you the whole story but there might just be a snippet…

Yeah.

… of what their life is like in there.

Yes.

Yeah.

A clue.

A clue.

Yeah. OK. So, thinking about support that you have had what would you say the main thing was that was missing? What, what, what support might have helped you that perhaps wasn’t available to you? Not just medically, I mean generally. 

[Sighs] I genuinely think that [sighs] understanding from med, from all professions whether it be the police and social services doctors, nurses, whether you go to the hospital. I think there should be somebody within those fields that recognises and is able to understand a little bit, what abuse is, because it comes in many, many, many forms. And it doesn’t just have to be physical. You know. And I think for me, psychological abuse is such a horrific thing to have to experience. Because I live it every day still.

Still?

I still live it every day. You know. Today I’m well. But I think that if we can catch that before it gets that, too out of hand, I think, or before it gets too, because I think there are a lot of women that are probably within the, that had breakdowns because of this. And I was definitely one of them that was on the verge, so, I think if you catch people at the right time. Yeah.
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