Women’s experiences of Domestic Violence and Abuse

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.

Audio & video

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.

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