Women’s experiences of Domestic Violence and Abuse


Age at interview: 42

Brief outline: Victoria met her ex-partner in 2011, and during the 15 month relationship, she experienced on-going and subtle emotional - psychological abuse which affected her self-esteem and confidence. Since leaving in 2012, Victoria is trying to move on and to once again find her ‘inner peace’. (Video clips read by a professional.)

Background: Victoria is a white British woman who lives in a privately rented home with her son, aged three. She works part-time as a support worker and at the time of interview had recently started a new relationship.

Audio & video

The subtle, ‘psychological and ‘mental’ abuse, that Victoria experienced during her 15-month relationship began shortly after she met her ex-partner. After ten weeks together Victoria became pregnant, and the abuse only escalated when she moved into his house soon after. She then endured his ‘cutting ... cruel … hurtful’ remarks on a daily basis, remarks about her intelligence, figure and domestic efforts around the home. Victoria describes her ex-partner as being ‘very controlling’, monitoring what she ate and her weight and not allowing her to open the windows in the house in summer.

Victoria felt like she was living in a prison. Her sister and mum were reluctant to visit her because her ex-partner would be unwelcoming and rude. Experiencing low self-esteem and confidence, she hit ‘rock bottom’ and began taking anti-depressants. A friend tried to encourage Victoria to leave the relationship, telling her that her ‘light’ was ‘going out’. 

One night, when her son was eight months old, her partner attempted to ‘kick’ Victoria out of the house. The next day, desperate to leave, she ‘begged’ the local council to rehouse her. She was shocked that they were unable to help because her life was not deemed to be at immediate risk. Instead she and her son moved into her brother’s empty home, and even though she had to sleep on a roll mat on the floor, she felt relief that she was now free. 

After leaving, Victoria experienced financial abuse from her ex as he refused to pay child maintenance. She also endured what she describes as the worst form of abuse, when he withheld their two year old son from her for six days and six nights, subjecting her to a ‘living hell’ and leaving her son suffering from anxiety.

Since this incident, Victoria has received the ‘amazing’ support of Women’s Aid and the local specialist domestic abuse service. The help that they have provided has been important in helping her to navigate a stressful and expensive court battle that has resulted in her now legally being the primary carer to her son. 

However, Victoria feels like she is starting to live another life now. She is in a new relationship with a ‘good’ man, who she has known as a friend for several years. Although there are still wounds and scars, for Victoria, the support and love of family and friends are helping to heal the damage. 

Victoria feels strongly that the local council need to take action to re-house women in abusive situations, not just at the point when their life is in danger. She also suggests that GPs need to ensure that they have one – to – one appointments with women if domestic abuse is suspected. If their partner is present women will not be able to talk about abuse, for fear of his retaliation. Because her doctors at the time of abuse didn't signpost her to appropriate support, or offer support in any way, Victoria has had to make a formal complaint about them. She has since transferred to another GP practice where they are informed about supporting women in abusive relationships. 

In contrast, Victoria’s health visitor was extremely helpful and wrote a letter of support which was submitted as evidence in court. She understood that Victoria’s son needed legal stability as soon as possible.

Victoria feels that laws around child contact need to be amended in cases of abuse because as the law stands if anything happened to her, her son would live with her ex-partner full time, cut him off from her family and friends. (Video clips read by a professional.)


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