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Tasha

Age at interview: 40
Brief Outline: Tasha met her abusive ex-partner in 2001. During their nine years together, for six of which they were married, Tasha experienced emotional, sexual and financial abuse. Since the relationship ended in 2010, Tasha has been assaulted physically on two occasions by her ex. At the time of the interview he was continuing to exert control over her through their children, causing her on-going emotional distress.
Background: Tasha, a white British woman, lives with her husband and four of her five children (ages 9 months – 21 years) in a privately owned home. She is unemployed, living with condition affecting her joints, and is registered disabled.

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Tasha encountered frequent emotional and financial abuse throughout her nine year relationship, and experienced her partner’s controlling behaviour. At first, Tasha didn’t perceive his behaviour as abusive. For example, when he stopped her talking to family and friends because ‘they were no good for her’, she was made to feel that it was in her best interest. Tasha recalls how her partner would focus on her disability, making her feel that she had to rely on him to do things for her; something which led her to increasingly doubt her own abilities. Tasha felt low and lacked self-confidence. Four years into the relationship the sexual abuse began. Fuelled by excess alcohol, her husband now ‘wouldn’t take no for an answer’.

Tasha attempted to end the relationship on several occasions. However, each time, her husband would say that he was sorry and would change. The relationship finally ended in 2011, but subsequently Tasha has been physically assaulted on two occasions by her ex. After the second attack she no longer felt safe and went to stay in a refuge for four months with her two youngest children. Four years on, Tasha finds it difficult to ‘get him out of her head’. He continues to exert control over her through their children, causing her stress and upset. 

Since the end of her abusive marriage, Tasha has been able to re-establish relationships with her friends and family. With their help and support, and also that of her new husband, her confidence has started to return. Her experiences do however still ‘haunt’ and adversely affect her current relationship. For instance, she feels like she has to ask her husband’s permission for things, for example to buy something, and he won’t instigate sex because he knows what she went through. Tasha feel that her two youngest children are still experiencing the emotional impact of the abuse and they are both currently attending counselling. 

Tasha has been helped by the local specialist domestic abuse service. In particular she found the counselling and support she received when staying in the refuge to be ‘brilliant’. Tasha praises the police, feeling that they are now clued up on domestic violence and are aware of what to look out for. 

Tasha wants to encourage other women currently in an abusive relationship to use Women’s Aid or services such as the police for help, and would like them to know that ‘there is a way out’.
 

Tasha’s partner manipulated her to make it appear that he was being helpful, as he took increasing control of Tasha’s life and behaviour.

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No he didn’t actually hit me when we were together, it was more emotional but I think I used to appease I used to know what sort of mood he was in so I would just try not to upset him really. He was quite physical towards the children He used to over-chastise them. Even when I used to say to him not, you know, not to he would always undermine me with the children and stuff, but he did mark one of the boys once and I recorded it, well I took a photo of it when he wasn’t looking … but I didn’t realise that he was stood behind me and he told me to delete that now So, yeah, I think I tried not to upset him on purpose, you know, but it was mainly, as I had nobody to talk, talk to because well he basically stopped me from talking to my family by causing problems within the family, so we’d all sort of fallen out. He made out that it was in my best interest because they were no good for me and stuff. But like I said I had nobody to turn to so …

Yeah.

… I was basically, we were in our own little bubble and I thought that was how it should be. 

And the, the emotional abuse that occurred throughout the relationship, are you able to give me any specific examples of things that he would do or say?

He would, he would make it feel as though everything was for me He would sort of manipulate me into making me feel as though he was, he was doing the right thing. I [sighs] it’s hard to explain I had no self-confidence at all I got my disability and I was actually made to be worse because he said, he would tell me that I couldn’t do it so he would take charge of things and stuff. He used to, you know, take the children to school in the mornings and tell me to stay in bed because I couldn’t get up In, yeah, I mean, at the time I didn’t, didn’t see it, I thought he was helping me. But he wasn’t, he was actually, you know, I, he’d made out that I couldn’t live without him.

Yeah.

Or had children, with children nobody would want me with children and you know, and a disability. So, yeah, I had to sort of rely on him.
 

Tasha’s ex ignored his court undertaking and assaulted her near her home. She entered a refuge to keep herself and her children safe.

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And we did finally split up. I sort of made it feel as though it was his decision that he’d left. And not me telling him to go. But he still kept saying that, you know, he wanted me back and stuff and he, wouldn’t he kept coming back I found it hard just to keep the peace basically, I would sort of, you know, agree to him coming back and stuff. And then he attacked me when I went out one night for his son’s birthday and he didn’t like it obviously because I was with a lot of people having a good time and he attacked me in one pub and then we went to another pub and then he attacked me in that pub. So I went to court and got a non-molestation order against him. And he said he didn’t want that in court so he signed an undertaking. And then he breached that undertaking was when he attacked me and my new partner in the street. 

And were you together in a relationship when he attacked you in the pub? 

No. 

So that was after the end of the relationship?

Yeah.

Was that a physical attack? Or …

Yeah, he tried grabbing me in one pub when I was like, I could see he was angry so I went to the toilet and he tried dragging me out of the, the toilets. And then, when I went to the other one, he he hit me to the floor and luckily some people saw and they came and got me and sorted him out. So. 

After the assault took place, because obviously I didn’t feel safe then because even though he had signed an undertaking to say that he wouldn’t come down my street, that’s where the assault took place…

When you were in the pub, to, or with the …

No, No.

… assault with your husband?

Yeah, the assault with my husband.

Right, OK.

And it was outside my house.

Right.

So, and he wasn’t supposed to be there so, yeah, I didn’t feel safe so that’s when I went to the refuge and then we were there for about three or four months I think.
 

Tasha gradually realised that, although her partner never hit her, he abused her sexually, emotionally and financially.

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So your ex- used to have, like you say, have control over …

Over the money.

… over the money. Did, I mean, did you ever have any money of your own? Or did he have …

No we had a joint account but I mean he used to pay the bills We would go shopping together like the food shop and like I did use to go to like bingo and stuff so I, you know, I had sort of money for that but I always had to sort of ask for it. Give reasons why I wanted it and even though it was our money he was the one in control and I just thought that was fine, it’s like, you know, can we afford to do this? Because obviously I didn’t know what bills were going out and how much we were paying on what or anything like that, that was just, and it was act.., after he left that I thought, “Well, where’s all my money been going?” Because, you know, actually by the time all the bills are paid we’re not that bad off. And I managed to save money within like a few weeks of him leaving. And we could never save before.

So, as I said, until I left I sort of realised what had been going on with the money. Didn’t click that he was having all the brand new games that were going out and, you know, he had subscribed to all these different things and stuff. That obviously he had to pay for but, you know, it was quite an eye opener. 

And at the time, how did it feel for him to have control of all the, all of the money, how did you feel about that?

I just thought he was taking care of, you know, of the household bills and stuff …

Yeah.

… and he was, yeah, I didn’t think anything of it really. I just thought he was doing everything, as I say, everything he did was for my benefit. 

Yeah.

You know? 

Yeah.

And he to well, so I didn’t have to help me, like, you know.

For you?

Yeah.
 

Despite her partner’s controlling behaviour, Tasha clung to the belief that he could be trusted and really was acting in her best interests.

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So, as I said, until I left I sort of realised what had been going on with the money. Didn’t click that he was having all the brand new games that were going out and, you know, he had subscribed to all these different things and stuff. That obviously he had to pay for but, you know, it was quite an eye opener. 

And at the time, how did it feel for him to have control of all the, all of the money, how did you feel about that?

I just thought he was taking care of, you know, of the household bills and stuff …

Yeah.

…and he was, yeah, I didn’t, didn’t think anything of it really. I just thought he was doing everything, as I say, everything he did was for my benefit. 

Yeah.

You know? 

Yeah.

And he to well, so I didn’t have to help me, like, you know.

For you?

Yeah.

And just thinking as well the way you kind of, during the relationship you kind of lost your, some of your friendships and …

Yeah.

… your relationships with family members as well, I mean, when you were together, how did that feel kind of losing those relationships?

At the time, I mean, it, well I must admit at the time it didn’t feel bad because I did actually believe him that it was for the good, you know [strange noises] that they were a negative part of my life and they shouldn’t be in my life. Because that’s how they made me feel. So, yeah, at, at the time it was fine, you know. I sort of became reliant on what he told me. And trusted everything he said like.
 

The refuge helped Tasha with counselling, with the children and finding a council house, all of which she described as a ‘big weight off her mind’.

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So, but this is, at the end of it, you, that relationship, the relationship …

Yeah.

… had finished, because then he assaulted …

Yeah, because we had been split up for a year …

Right, OK.

… So it was like, no, you know, he’s not, he’s not going to win.

Yeah.

But then when the assault took place I just couldn’t, I didn’t feel safe, so I actually phoned Woman’s Aid, and then they got me in touch with [Local Domestic Violence Service], to go into the refuge. So, yeah, I stayed there and obviously the counselling that you get when you’re in there, and the help and support with like the children was just, just brilliant, finding a new place to live. They just took care of everything. Like, service-wise. It was just like a big weight off your mind because obviously you got that to contend with and looking after the children plus you’ve got to inform all different people in as I say, fill out forms …

Yeah. 

… and stuff, and …

Yeah.

... just stuff like that they helped with, which is a big help. So yeah, as I said, they helped me get the, my council house. Yeah.
 

Tasha felt that police are ‘a lot more clued up now about domestic violence’ but she was frustrated by their limited ability to prevent unwanted contact from her ex.

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How have they been helpful or not helpful? Do want to grab something?

No [laughs]

[Laughs]

No, they, they, they’ve been good. And the one that’s been around recently, he’s been excellent and he has said that they are a lot more clued up now on domestic violence and they obviously have more courses and stuff and they know what to look out for and they …

Right.

… the first time that they had emailed him to say ‘Do not send anything, it is deemed as harassment. If you send anything else you’ll be prosecuted.” He replied, “It’s not harassment, I can do it”. So, so they’ve got the measure of him already, they know that, you know, he is that sort of person a controlling person, and, so they know now what to look out for which, which is good. I think, that’ they’re more, more aware of it. But like I said, at the end of the day I’ve got to wait for him to do something before I can report it.

Yeah.

And then if he’s good for like a few months they take it off and it all starts again. And, you know, you, it’s, instead of sort of saying that this person’s given me x amount of trouble over the years which has, it’s all been logged  you know, can you just sort of put, say, you know, he’s not to contact me, you know, at all…

Yeah.

… unless it’s through a third person. You know …

Yeah.

… why, why can’t they do that? It, it’s my life, I should be able to say who can speak to me and who can’t.
 

Tasha said the school was ‘fantastic’ and found a clause that said they did not have to give any information, such as their address, to the father.

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They can only work to the court order though. So again they’re sort of tied But, I mean, the first school was, was absolutely fantastic because he was trying to find where we were living and obviously the children went to school before I got my house and he was very friendly with the head teacher from the old school, so even the head teacher from the old school was trying to find where the boys were for him, but luckily the school was very clued up and there was a clause that they managed to find at the last minute to say that they do not have to give any information to, if they can, if it needs like to protect the children and the parent as well.

Yeah. 

And they found that right at the last minute because they were nearly went out of a deadline to let him know they were too. So they were very good, they, you know, it was it wasn’t actually a school, it was admissions.

Right.

So they, they did that and had a big meeting on it and stuff. But, yeah, the schools have been, been fantastic, but as I said, at the end of the day they’re tied as well, if it doesn’t say in the court order that he cannot do it, then he sees that as he can do it. 

Yeah.

Because it’s not stipulated that he can’t. 

Yeah.

And the school have to go by the same really.

Yeah.

So, yeah, it’s just the courts I think need to be more aware on how they word stuff, and not only protect the children but protect, you know, the parent as well.

Yeah.

I think they need to, you know, look at that and specifically word things that they can only do this, or they can only do that …

Yeah.

… and not leave it open.
 

Tasha is now in a new healthy relationship. She hoped her children would learn that her relationship with their Dad was ‘not normal’.

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How do you feel that, that abusive relationship, you know, impacted on your children?

Well the two eldest, I mean, they were, used to stay in their bedroom a lot so, and they weren’t like with me weekends. They would be with their dad, so they missed out a lot of it. But they knew it wasn’t right but they thought I was happy because obviously they were young at the time. The two youngest ones, they’re more caught up in it now …

Yeah.

… and it, you know, it’s not fair on them I don’t want them to feel as though they’re being sort of torn apart through it all, but I mean their dad’s upset them so much anyway with, through what he’s written, letters and stuff I’ve never said they can’t see him, you know, I just want them to be safe and …

Yeah.

.. you know …

Yeah.

… it’s, it was taken out of my hands, it’s the courts that said that they can’t see him. You know, they, they’re still having sort of counselling at school and stuff now you know, and I want them to know that, you know, the relationship I’m in now is a normal relationship, you know, what I was in with their dad wasn’t …

Yeah.

… a normal relationship. And I would hate for them to sort of follow on through that, through their experiences. So I’m just trying to get as much sort of help for them now while they’re still young as I can, but unfortunately there’s not a lot really in terms of children and domestic violence for, help for them. So yeah, emotionally the youngest he really does cling to anybody that he gets trust with. He’s going up to secondary school this year and he’s going to find it hard with the new teachers and that because he’s got a trust going with a couple of teachers and, you know, and to take him away from that is going to be hard for him.

Yeah.

He’s still got a friend from where we lived before who he’s close with and they are still very close and even though they’re quite young you know he still goes and sees him, because he, because he seems to just attach himself to just certain people he gets a trust in. And I think that sort of has impacted. My other son likes to keep stuff closed in, you know, and he just blows up now and again and I think that as well is, you know, a lot to do with it. So, it’s just trying to get them help now, the, this, you know, they have got problems you know.
 

Tasha described her ex-partner’s refusal to ‘let go’ and how he would send letters in which he was nasty about her to their children

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Trying to get him out of my head is, is hard like, you know. Yeah, it is still upsetting. It is still stressful because I just want him to leave me alone. 

Yeah.

You know, that’s all I want. You know, if he wants to carry on speaking to the boys, that’s fine. You know, sending the boys letters, I’ve not got a problem with that, I’ve never had a problem with that. But don’t bring them into it. I, you know, be nasty to me in the letters, because that’s not for the boys to see.

Yeah.

You know, stop using them basically. And you get on with your life and I’ll get on with mine.

Yeah.

But, he just, he just won’t let go. Hm. That is the main, that is the thing, knowing that he’s always going to be there. But then I can’t let him get to me because that’s what he wants to do, so you know, that’s the whole point, he still wants to control me. 
 

Tasha has enjoyed returning to a ‘normal life’ and renewing contact with family again which had been very limited in her previous, abusive relationship.

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Because that does take a while to sort of get back. As I said, friends and family have been really good and like my husband and stuff, getting my confidence back, but there’s still always feel a little bit I don’t know what the word is, you never get it back totally. You know, it’s always, it’s always hard.

And how have they been helping you to rebuild your confidence? Is there anything specific that they do to help with that? Or …

My husband’s very complimentary, he’s got me on this big pedestal that I’m always afraid I’m going to fall off of.

[laughs]

But, no, just sort of taking me out bit by bit you know, just getting my family back I think and getting that sort of side of my life back that I was out of for so long. I mean, my children have got aunties and uncles they didn’t really know. 

Yeah.

And, yeah, it’s just sort of getting back into the family again I think. 

I think you mentioned you’ve got quite a large …

Yeah,..

…, family and …

.. I mean, I was lucky because my mum was diagnosed with cancer so I’ve managed to get a relationship back with her before she passed away You know, I was thankful for that because otherwise I could have missed out on that and … 

Yeah.

… it would have been, yeah, So, yeah, and like my dad and stuff, you know, I’m really close with my dad again. That’s nice. 
 

Tasha moved to a new city with orders to prevent her ex entering the hospital, but he found her, as the hospital was not checking IDs.

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To basically to look out for signs for people that are in it. And like I said, just keeping people safe who are, because it seems that they always, they’re always there and they always try to find a way in no matter how. I mean, at the hospital it, it was said that he wasn’t allowed to come in the hospital if I was in there. Well what stops him from giving a false name? You know, they weren’t checking IDs as people come in.

And they were just asking who, who they were and who they’d come to see. So he wouldn’t give his own name if he did, so, you know, just, you know, really sort of looking out for people to keep them safe I think. Thinking beyond, you know, if somebody says, you know, they can’t come in hospital, give names and perhaps a photo of people who can come in.

Yeah.

You know, just …

Yeah.

… to keep people, people safe, because you know, they will find a way if they really want to. I mean, my address was all kept secret but he managed to hack my email account then, because he knew when I first moved up here, obviously he knew my first pet’s name, he knew where I was born, he knew my primary school…

Yeah.

… my mother’s maiden name …

Yeah.

… so he got into that and I had a delivery coming from Tesco’s to this address, because it was a new house what I was moving into, so obviously I needed stuff, so he got my address because it said it would be delivered to this address on such and such, so that’s how he found it. So, you know, if they, they want to, people really need to be vigilant and stuff.
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