Women’s experiences of Domestic Violence and Abuse

Lindsay

Age at interview: 35

Brief outline: After a short romance, Lindsay married her partner, who then anally raped her on their wedding night. Four weeks later she left him after he physically abused her and her eldest daughter. For Lindsay however, this was only the start of the abuse and she has had to endure over a decade of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, all of which has had a significant and negative impact on her physical and psychological wellbeing. Lindsay has received help and support from various organisations including, Women’s Aid, MIND (a mental health charity) and a local domestic abuse service.

Background: Lindsay is a white British woman who is currently studying and volunteering to provide support to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. She has two children, the eldest has left home and Lindsay lives with the youngest child.

Audio & video

In 2001 Lindsay was ‘swept off her feet’ during a ‘whirlwind romance’ to a man who she thought was ‘beautiful, lovely’ and a ‘proper little charmer’. However, on their wedding night she was anally raped by her new husband and four weeks later, after experiencing further violence and sexual abuse, Lindsay moved into a women’s refuge after her husband held a hot iron on both her and her eldest daughter. Although the marriage lasted just a few weeks, Lindsay has endured twelve years ‘of hell’ (physical, psychological and sexual abuse) since they separated. Both Lindsay and her family have experienced on-going harassment and violent attacks towards their property (attempted arson and broken windows) and themselves, resulting in considerable injuries, including broken bones. 

Lindsay feels that the on-going abuse has ‘totally changed’ and ‘wrecked’ her life, and left her with physical and psychological health problems, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has attempted suicide and feels the years of abuse have broken her spirit, as well as affecting her relationships Lindsay with her daughters. Her eldest daughter has also been in an abusive relationship and blames her mother for allowing her ex-husband to behave how he did.

Over the years Lindsay has received both helpful and unhelpful reactions and support in response to her disclosure of abuse. She feels that police officers and her GP did not take her rape allegations seriously, although she has recently received ‘brilliant’ long-term support from a GP who specialises in sexual abuse and trauma. She has also had practical help from Women’s Aid, including house alarms and CCTV, and and psychological support from MIND. She has also been supported by a local domestic abuse organisation, who she now volunteers for. Lindsay attended both the Freedom Programme, which helped her to open her eyes and acknowledge her situation, and The Recovery Toolkit, which has helped her to build her self-esteem and trust. 

At the time of interview Lindsay was starting to feel a little stronger. Although she still has bad days when she does not even want to open the curtains, she also has some better days when she refuses to feel like ‘a victim’ any more. Lindsay now has a ‘fantastic’ partner who has helped to put her ‘back on her feet’ and she hopes to study family law at University so she can help others’ like her. She advises women currently in an abusive relationship not to suffer and that there is help out there.

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