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Tina

Age at interview: 50
Brief Outline: Tina met her long-term partner when she was 16 and the relationship lasted for 30 years. They separated recently after years of emotional, sexual and financial abuse. She is still subject to harassment and financial abuse from her ex, and emotional abuse from her children. She is getting help from a domestic abuse support worker.
Background: Tina is a 50 year old single white British woman, living with her dog and her son’s tortoise in a Housing Association house. She is unable to work owing to health problems, including COPD and migraines. She has close contact with her daughter and grand-children who live locally, but poor contact with her other five adult children and her younger son who is away at University.

More about me...

For many years, Tina regarded the ups and downs of life with her partner as ‘normal’. From the age of 17, Tina had a baby ‘every single year’ for many years, experiencing a total of nine pregnancies. With the first two children her partner was ‘brilliant ... golden’ but after the third child he stopped helping at home. Tina began to feel depressed and compensated by over-eating. Her sixth pregnancy ended in a late miscarriage and her seventh child was still-born. Tina was unable to grieve properly since her partner, encouraged by their GP, spent years pursuing unsuccessful court cases for medical negligence, a period she describes as ‘just hell’, with him becoming increasingly verbally abusive to her. She went on to have two more children.

Following the stillbirth Tina’s partner began to aggressively control her daily activities, like stopping her from watching TV, locking his office door so that she had no access to their shared business, controlling the finances so that Tina had no access to her own money. The abuse was wide-ranging. He got her ‘hooked’ on online gambling, as a way of keeping her in the home while he pursued an affair with another woman. He threatened her with a gun if she did not comply or questioned him.

Tina discovered that her activities were being monitored by cameras and trackers on her car, which she discovered by chance when the car was at the garage. She was subjected to ‘mental torture’ such as her partner taunting her with hiring a contract killer to ‘get rid’ of her, and calling her a ‘whore’. He manipulated the children to take his side and join in the taunting. Threats to kill her made her very anxious in the car when her partner drove recklessly.

Tina eventually threatened to call the police if he did not leave. This led to a violent argument in which Tina broke her arm after smashing the TV. When she returned from hospital, she made the first of seven attempts to end her life by overdosing on a mixture of tablets, encouraged by her son who gave her a pack containing the tablets telling her to ‘do us all a favour ...just kill yourself’. She was taken to hospital by ambulance, a psychiatrist diagnosed depression and then returned home. 

Despite ‘disappearing’ that night, her partner remained a frequent visitor to the house over the next few years. Tina had no money and he regularly forced her to have sex before he gave her any money to buy food or electricity. This was recognised as sexual assault by a policeman who she called to the house one night to investigate ‘noises in the attic’ and to whom she disclosed some of the abuse. The police are helping her to prosecute him for the offence.

Tina now has her own home, is trying to rebuild her relationships with her children and learn how to be independent, manage money and so on, for the first time in her life, supported by her domestic abuse worker who she describes as ‘mint’ and her sister.
 

When she took her car into the garage, Tina discovered it had trackers and cameras.

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Yeah, but he left me £180,000 worth of debt. All together I’m in a £180,000 of debt. Where he was taking things out in my name, mobile phones, catalogues, everything. And I’m in so much debt now, yeah, so.

And when he was still living with you and he used to make you do gambling online? 

Yeah, online...

But he would just sort of stand over you and tell you what to do?

No, no, no. He’d put money on there.

Right. 

And he’d go off…

Right.

…for hours on end. So say working, he’d go and see his girlfriend, whatever who he was going out with.

Right.

And he was running the business. He told me it was going downhill. Yet, all the same it was boosting back up. He had cameras in my car. He had trackers in my car. 

He had cameras in your car?

Cameras in my car. Yeah. So that he could watch me when I was out, who I had in the car, who I didn’t have in the car. Trackers. He could track me wherever I was in the car.

Did you find out about these things at the time or later?

I didn’t know until one day I was messing around in the car and it sort of like to know when you got like the navigation thing built in. It sort of like clicked and I thought, that shouldn’t have clicked. 

And then I thought, no, that ain’t right, so I took it into Volkswagen. And he said, “I ain’t meant to tell you this,” he said, “but there’s cameras in the car, he’s watching you”, he said, “and trackers”. 
 

Swearing and telling Tina she would regret having challenged him, he threatened her with a gun.

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And then he come in one night and went, had a cup of coffee, went to bed. And I went up to watch TV and he turned around and, I turned the TV on and he said, he started swearing and …or don’t you want me to … 

Do you want me to say what he said? 

You can that’s fine.

All right. Turn the f-ing tele off. And I turned round and said, “No. I want to watch TV”. And he said, “You’ll f-ing regret this”. And he pulled out a gun from underneath the bed and put it on the side there and I sort of like crapped myself…

[Gasps]

…and turned the TV of, rolled over and went to sleep and that’s when he…

With a gun?

…started, yeah he had a gun under the bed. He had two. I found two under there. 

Were they loaded? 

I don’t know [laughs]. I didn’t hang around to find out. I didn’t know woo woo woo. Yeah, so. 

Gosh.

And but the police knows all about that and then I woke up in the morning and he was gone, gone to work and then he just used to ring me, make sure this is done, make sure that’s done as though I was a piece of shit do you know what I mean? And all that lot. There and I used to just take it from him and I used to think ah, well, I’m with him because of the kids and that’s that. 
 

During a family meal out, Tina ‘had a go’ back at her partner who was being verbally abusive, which led to him driving home dangerously with Tina in fear for her life.

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Just had to keep going. And then in the end we went out, it was his birthday on the 12th of February and we went out one night, on, on his birthday, me, him, one of our daughters and her boyfriend and we went to an Indian restaurant and he knows I can’t stand Indian and he insisted that we had to go there. So I had to sit there and watch him eat because I wouldn’t eat it and he said, “You’ve f-ing wrecked my birthday, I’ve had enough of this. I ain’t taking no more crap and all this lot”. Started really showing me up in front of them and that and all. 

So I went, I had a go back and he said, “Shut your mouth”, he said, “because you know” he said, “I can have you killed for five hundred grand”. And I thought, and he used to say to me “I’m driving mind” and I used to think is he going to try to kill me or something because we used to have fast cars and that. 

Hm. Right.

And I used think God, he’s going to try to kill me sort of thing and it was late on the night and it was just me and him and I’d be, none of the kids were there and I thought oh I’ll just be nice to him and so I used to just be nice. 
 

Tina described gathering evidence for the police but she was ‘terrified’ of the repercussions of her partner finding out.

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Because I want to get out of [city] because when he finds out he’s going to absolutely go schizo. 

When he finds out?

About the police and that lot and when they go to arrest him that’s it he’s going to go crazy.

So he’s going to be arrested?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re going to arrest him. Yeah, they’ve hoping to take him to court over it. Yeah. So because he’s what is it they’re saying it is, it’s sexual, oh god, sexual assault. Even though I was with him he’s still making me have sex with him for money.

Right.

And because he didn’t seem to realise I used to write it in my diary when he used to come and how much he used to give me. 

Ahhh.

See I wasn’t stupid I wrote everything in the diary…

Yeah, yeah.

…how much he used to give me to get food and how much… 

Yeah.

…and then when he stopped and he wanted sex and that.

Yeah.

I could even tell you what he used to wear everything. I d’ye know what I mean.

Right, yeah.

Yeah, I was very quick.

Yeah. 

And there’s no way he could do me over.
 

After years of abuse and numerous suicide attempts Tina now feels ‘brilliant’ and has not attempted suicide for over a year.

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And is there anything you feel you’ve learnt from this whole experience? 

Oh I’ve learned a lot.

Yeah.

A helluva lot, believe me I’ve learned a lot. 

Yeah.

I’ve learnt a helluva lot. You never ever trust anyone. And that, that’s it. Even if the right one comes along you still won’t trust them.

No. 

And I’m being honest with you, you rather be on your own.

Hmm, yeah, sure.

And like I said to you I lived with my sister when I was sixteen. I met him when I was sixteen, I was with him the whole of the time then. For thirty years. 

Oh.

Didn’t know what it was like to live on my own.

No.

And now, I’ve done it. 

And what’s it like? 

Brilliant. 

Good.

Brilliant, I wouldn’t go back on it. I wouldn’t go back. Honestly. I would never ever, ever, ever go back. I’ve got my own little car - got no tracker on it. I’ve got my own little front door I can walk in. I can do what I want, I can have who I want in my house. If I want my friends in there I can have them in there. I can go out if I want to go out, I can go out. 

Yeah.

There’s nobody telling me that I can’t do what I want.

Yeah.

And I love it. Go bed when I want. I can watch TV when I want. It’s lovely. I love it and it just seems really weird because you go and you put the TV on and you think oh my God, sometimes, like, isn’t this lovely? You don’t have to answer to anyone or, do you want to watch this channel? You just sit there and watch it. You don’t, you don’t worry about things. Or, getting up to like make yourself a coffee and, and you’ve got no problems…

Yeah, yeah. 

…with it and it’s lovely. It is lovely. It is.

Yeah.

It’s like no rowing. Nobody looking at you funny and because your friends is in there, it’s just you do what you want.

Yeah.

And it’s brilliant. I love it. 

Yeah.

Now…

Good. 

…I really do.
 

Tina described her son passing on a supply of tablets from her partner and being told to ‘just kill yourself’.

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So, my son come in he said, “Do us all a favour”. And I said, “What”? He said, “Just kill yourself.” Put the tablets on the bed, he said, “My dad give me them to give to you, there you go”. Chucked them on the bed. 

Gave him what to give you?

Tablets, paracetamol and steroids. And, yeah, it was paracetamol and steroids and Neurofen I think and so I just took the lot.

You did take them? 

150 paracetamols, eighty something steroids and I think it was forty-two Neurofen, yeah so I took them.

How long ago was this?

That was, I don’t know how long has been gone, he’s been gone since 2012. 

Right, a few years.

Yeah, yeah.

So what happened? You’ve taken all those drugs, what happened? 

I took them all and then they got me an ambulance. 

Who got it?

My daughter. Got an ambulance. And I got out there and they let me back home, I seen a psychiatrist and she said, “No, you’re just badly depressed. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just depressed”. So they let me come home, I was let out on Saturday in the morning, he come in and said, “You can’t drive the car down to the field, but you can come now with me to take the kids”. And then he kept saying, “I need a cup of coffee”. Saying, “We’ll drop the kids and go by the lakes and we’ll try to sort it out right”. So I thought, sort it out…

Yeah.

…he’s going to say I’ll leave you alone blah, blah, blah and all that lot. So then and I’m not thinking straight. So I said, yeah, all right, go down to the lakes, he said, “Don’t jump out try and drown yourself mind”. 

Hm. [laughs]

And I made a comment, I was laughing and said, “Hahahaha. I can swim, all right”. Straight away do you know what I mean? So how am I going to drown? You can’t. And that was my comment. Then, he just, oh he was going on and on and on I can’t be with you. I hates you, you’re just trash oh blah, blah, blah trying to drag me back down again. And then we went to the garage up by the lakes and there’s some gas canisters and he said to me, “Don’t go by them and light up a fire”, he said, “And blow yourself up mind”. Just basically trying to tell me, go on do it. Sort of thing. But he wasn’t the way he was saying it. And then, I said, just “I’m going to get out of the car”. He said, “Don’t”. “Just take me back down to the kids”. Well we got down to pick the kids up and he was as nice as pie to me, “Oh do you want a fag”, in front of the kids like and when I got home I got out of the car and I said, “Just, please don’t come near this house again”, I said, “I mean, I don’t want you near it”. He said, “You can’t stop me”. And I walked in the house and I said to, told my daughters “Go to Tesco’s for me and get some, some food” and they went to Tesco’s. I tried to kill myself again. Took a load of tablets again. I took, this time I took a 152 paracetamols. It was, what was it … 152 paracetamols and 89 antibiotics and 92 steroid tablets. 

So, again someone got an ambulance for you did they?

They come home and caught me is when they come back from the shops, they found me. 

Ah.

And got me an ambulance again and he just phoned up and said, “She needs sectioning”, he did, he phoned up and said, “She needs sectioning … she’s mental you just … why can’t you see that she’s crazy. She keeps trying to kill herself and all that lot. She doing it in front of my kids, my kids shouldn’t be in there” and oh it just escalated from there. And the psychiatrist I’m seeing said, “No, she’s not. She’s just badly depressed. Leave her alone and she’ll be fine”.
 

Tina would like to see ‘more people out there’ who have survived domestic violence and abuse to support others, as volunteers.

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Where should the help come from?

I do think, not being nasty, there should be people like, how should I put it, like myself who’s been through it. 

Yes.

Who they can open up and talk to because they’ve been through it themselves.

Oh right. 

And then they, they would chat quite easy then, I think.

Yeah.

I think. 

Yes.

Because if, not being nasty, [first support worker] from [Domestic Violence and Abuse agency], she sat there and she said to me, “Don’t worry I’ve been through it myself”. And she knew and then I started becoming really close to her. 

Right.

Because when I was telling her things she was going like this is good to say yeah, this happened, do you know what I mean?

Yeah.

To her…

Yes.

…so she knew and I think that was easier because you knew…

Yes.

…if somebodies going through the same as…

Yeah.

…what you are.

Yeah.

And there’s easier. But I think there should be somebody out there, not the Samaritans because not being nasty they deal with everything, don’t they. Do you know what I mean? 

Yeah, it’s true.

But if somebody’s actually gone through…

Gone through it.

…exactly…

Yeah.

…what they’ve gone through…

Yeah.

…yeah, and that’s why I think they should have somebody, outsiders, doing it, voluntary

Yeah, yeah.

…who would do it.

That sounds really good

And to be quite honest with you after all this if they had somewhere I’d do it myself.  

Would you?

Yeah, I would, yeah I would and I’d do it voluntary for them.

Yeah.

Because I know that much. I went through it. 

Yes.

But I mean, seeing the people and talking to them on the phone and then like it if me and a cup of get a coffee or whatever and chatting to them. They’d feel a little better.
 

Tina’s message is clear: don’t even think about staying there, just get out straight away.

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So, is there one piece of advice that you’d give to a woman who’s in an abusive relationship? 

Get out of there.

Right.

Just get straight out of it. Don’t even think about staying there, just get out straight away. And that’s it because it gets worse and worse and worse.

Yeah.

And then it just plays mind games with your head. And then you just destroy yourself. And that is the way they do it, they just, they just sits there then and waits for you to destroy yourself. Which you will. 
 

Tina eventually opened up to a doctor who was ‘lovely … you can tell her anything’. She listened, rather than prescribing more pills that made Tina like a ‘zombie’.

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If you had a message to give to the doctors out there, what, what would it be?

Just please listen to what people saying. D’ye know what I mean, just because they walk into the practice and think that, yeah, everything’s fine. No, it’s not. Do you know what I mean?

Sure, yeah.

They ain’t going to get trust in you, patients, ain’t going to trust you until you be nice to them do you know what I mean? And because not being funny because I trusted, I put my, well my daughter’s life into a consultant’s hand and that happened I wouldn’t even open up to anyone, do you know what I mean? 

I just wouldn’t open up to anyone, but now the doctor I got she is lovely, she just. She is brilliant. You can tell her anything d’ye know what I mean, she is lovely. 

You did have some bad experiences with doctors from what you’re saying?

Yeah, yeah. No, I did, but they need to just listen to people and…

Yeah.

…get it. Obviously the people, they knows best, they know what’s going on. 

Yeah.

And it’s no good oh well, yeah this has happened, oh here’s some tablets. That didn’t just cure it la, la. 

No.

Keep trying to zombie you. 
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