Women’s experiences of Domestic Violence and Abuse


Age at interview: 46

Brief outline: Jane left her abusive relationship of twenty years three years ago after her eldest daughter reported to her school that she had witnessed abuse towards her mother. The support offered to Jane from different agencies (including Social Services, the Police, her children’s school and a local Domestic Violence and Abuse Agency) helped her to leave the relationship and to move on.

Background: Jane is a single, white British, unemployed woman. She is a mother of two and lives with her youngest daughter in a privately rented home.

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Jane met her partner in when she was in her early 20s. The psychological abuse started early on in the relationship and infiltrated many aspects of her life. For instance, her partner imposed restrictions on her clothing, controlled who she spoke to, and would time her when she left the house for essential errands (such as fetching groceries). Despite Jane working long hours in their joint business her partner had full control over their finances and any requests for money were scrutinised. Jane also experienced years of physical abuse: punches to the chest and smacks around the face. Although recognising that things were not right in the relationship, it was painful for Jane to accept that someone who was supposed to love her, was abusing her. She recalls rationalising his behaviour and hoping that things would get better. She hid what was going on from people in her social network as she did not want to worry them. Living with a health condition exacerbated by stress, meant Jane experienced considerable pain during this period and became reliant on regular painkillers. 

In 2011 Jane’s husband brutally assaulted her in front of the children. Later that day her eldest daughter reported the incident to her school and this triggered the immediate involvement of the police and Social Services. These agencies supported Jane to leave her partner that evening, and she and the children moved into a friend’s home for a while before going into a women’s refuge for three months before moving into their own home. 

After the day of the attack Jane continued to receive multi-agency support whilst adapting to life out of the abusive relationship. The police put in place measures to help her feel safe, allocating her a police domestic abuse worker and checking the security of her new home. The local specialist domestic abuse service helped with the practicalities of moving on, such as helping her to claim benefits, and also provided emotional support through counselling. Her daughters’ schools also offered emotional and practical support. 

Three years after leaving her ex, Jane is now witnessing long-term health effects of the abuse on her eldest daughter, who is suffering from an eating disorder. For Jane, the regular use of long-term pain relief has led to a dependency on tablets to sometimes help her to ‘get through the day’, despite experiencing a ‘bad stomach’ as a result of their long-term use. 

However, Jane now feels that she ‘has her life back’. She enjoys going out when and where she wants to and is free from the feelings of inadequacy and low confidence that she felt for so long as a result of the abuse she endured. She suggests that women living in an abusive relationship need to ‘be strong’ and that once they have made the decision to leave then that will be the start of their future.


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