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Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid Hands are not for Hurting project

21 November 2011

Three women a week are murdered from domestic abuse. The police receive a phone call every minute about domestic abuse.

750,000 children witness domestic abuse every year. The majority of 999 calls about domestic abuse are made by children.

I was married for 14 years and the first six years he was fantastic, I couldn’t fault him. But little by little things changed. He got involved with drink and drugs and started to resent the time I spent with the children. Any time with them – even things like bathing them, cooking for them, going to the park – was time I wasn’t devoting to him.

People don’t realise how much impact this has on the children. I used to think I was hiding it, I was covering up but I wasn’t. They knew. They saw.

The girls have seen him throw chairs at me, or push me up against a wall threatening to kill me. Until you’ve been in a situation where someone’s degrading you in all ways you just don’t know what it’s like. You’re not weak, you’re lost. You’ve lost control.

The impact of leaving your home and going into a refuge is huge – you’ve suddenly lost your family, house, finances, school and friends. My family are two hours travel away so I can’t go to them easily.

The Hands are not for Hurting project has really helped us.

The children can see that other children have been through the same thing. They can say how they feel and not be wrong. No-one judges them. My eldest had very low self esteem but she’s starting to believe in herself and get her zest for life back. My seven-year old is still angry. All she saw was anger and violence, so thinks that’s the right way to act. Since coming here I’ve learnt to put boundaries down for them in a way that’s positive, not negative.

An understanding of what the children have been through has helped. Other mums can understand; you’re in a room of people who know where you’ve been.

It’s been nearly five months since we came to the refuge. The oldest has come to forgive her dad and wants to give him a chance. She’s still angry but her maturity amazes me. She sees that forgiveness is the way forward. She’s made me feel like I’m important again.

The project helps you put your life back in order and go where you want. I’ve got great plans for the future now. He had got me down, but not anymore. My girls have given me my fight back. If they can do it, so can I.

Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid received £113,892 from Reaching Communities in January 2011

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