Women’s experiences of Domestic Violence and Abuse

Kate

Age at interview: 44

Brief outline: Kate experienced financial, physical, verbal, sexual and emotional-psychological abuse during her eight year relationship, which ended two years ago. She is now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is engaged in on-going child contact issues and is yet to feel free from the abusive relationship.

Background: Kate is a single, well-educated, white British woman who lives with her two young children in their privately owned home. She is currently unable to work due to anxiety and depression.

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Kate experienced years of financial, physical, verbal, sexual and emotional-psychological abuse during her long-term relationship. She describes having felt ‘constantly on edge’ and ‘scared’ of how her partner may react towards her. Kate felt disempowered, depressed and her self-confidence was badly affected. Her relationships with her mother, and other close family members, suffered as her partner’s behaviour made it increasingly difficult to spend time with them. 

Kate first recognised that she may be in an abusive relationship after reading about domestic abuse on an internet forum. However it was an incident when her partner hit their son that marked the beginning of the end of the relationship. During this period Kate’s health visitor became a ‘crucial’ source of support, and she was the person who Kate turned to when she accepted that she was in an abusive relationship. The good relationship that she had with her health visitor also meant that Social Services were not formally involved in the family unit after Kate told her GP about her partner’s behaviour. Nearly a year after her son was physically abused by his father Kate knew that she had to end the relationship and asked her partner to leave. In the weeks that followed Kate’s ex bombarded her with ‘angry, irrational and frightening’ emails, Facebook posts, phone calls and text messages. She reported this harassment to the police and was subsequently granted an emergency non-molestation order.

Two years after the relationship ended Kate is still dealing with on-going child contact issues, and is struggling to move on. A result of living in a state of fear for so many years is that Kate now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. She also thinks that her children are still suffering as a result of the abusive relationship, which makes her feel like she has ‘failed’ them. Her relationship with her mother is however back on track and the on-going emotional and practical support of friends has helped her cope with life since leaving the relationship.

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