Brave Me, Vickie’s Story

Vickie Robertson tells the story that led her to petition to make it mandatory that all Judiciary, Family Court and Cafcass workers be fully trained in all areas of domestic abuse and its effect on the family.

In her #BraveMe story Vickie particularly wants to show how one can go through domestic abuse many times over before the light-bulb moment when one realises it is a destructive cycle that goes nowhere. Here Vickie writes her story for the very first time.

I have recently started a petition also to hopefully help all future survivors and children by making it mandatory for all Judiciary, Family court and Cafcass to be fully trained in all areas of domestic abuse and its effects on the family. In turn making sure all decisions are informed. 70-90% of their cases are related to domestic abuse! No other profession do I know of that allows untrained people to make life changing decisions.

It is so important to raise awareness and I have been so scared to use my voice but now I want to help other find theirs. If you would like to sign this is the link please do also share it as we need a lot to get this debated in parliament.

Please sign the petition now

My story is one that I haven’t written before and am so touched to have been asked to for this campaign. I didn’t know where to start so I thought I would go right back to the beginning.

I was born in 1979 (so am now fast approaching my 40s eeeek) not where I thought I would be at this age in some ways but in others I am far forward in things I never even had a second thought I would be.

I lived my first couple of years of my life with my birth mother. After on-going domestic violence to her and myself My step Dad was charged with violence towards myself. From what I am told He was imprisoned and served half his sentence.

When he was released sadly my mum took him back and hence I was then removed by social services. I remember the feeling more than the actual events and created a hate of yellow cars… I remember looking out the back of a yellow car as I was driven away.

So I guess my circle of abuse started early on and although I don’t remember each thing happening to me that I now know about and some of the scars I still have even now. I guess it had an impact on my future and the scars you can’t actually see maybe more so. I was fostered briefly and then adopted at the age of 3 and grew up with other adopted siblings. We all knew we were adopted and grew up with a small amount of knowledge as to why. My childhood is a complex one as is all our histories combined (it’s a book in itself) so will jump forward….

In 1993 I saw a local newspaper article and having had some contact with my birth mother through the years via social services (I received pictures and or letters). I knew I had two siblings and was thrilled to have their pictures and hoped one day I would get to meet them both. Sadly that was not to be the case as when I saw this article I immediately recognised the picture to be that of one of my half sisters. I told my mum and she called the social services. I also confided in a couple of friends and faced some calling me sick or delusional and I felt like maybe I was going mad and thought I was imagining it and obviously hurt they could turn on me yet Others were so lovely and supported me the whole way through!

Then a week or two later there was three visitors to the house and it was my first experience (that I can remember) of police officers and another lady who became my grief therapist/worker.

They asked me to sit down and told me that I had been correct and the picture of the local school girl thought to have accidentally killed herself was indeed my sister. They also delivered the news that in fact she was murdered and it was NOT accidental. They kept me up to date of the case and prime suspects. Sadly to this day her murderer remains uncharged as there wasn’t enough evidence for convictions. Having to hear widely that your birth mum has also been arrested and is also national nightly news as is the case throws up so many emotions including guilt that I survived and my little sister hadn’t. I still carry that today and wonder what if? What if she had been saved too! What if I had been able to stay could I have saved her? I guess we will never know. Also being robbed of a future reunion I had so longed for as growing up not knowing where you come from is hard and why had I not been kept like the others?

Fast forward and I  was up and down like most as I reached my teenage adulthood and like most thought I knew most things, I always appeared quite self assured (but that was always a front and still is) underneath I am scared of so much and make jokes about myself even to appear I’m not bothered before someone else can now! I always insisted I would never let a man lay a hand on me nor would I ever be like my mum and chose a man over my children if I had them one day (as rightly or wrongly that’s how I felt) when I was a young adult.

I went on to have relationships that were always positive but as a young girl they ended due to different reasons.

I had a relationship in my teens and was my near adult taste of an abusive relationship. I didn’t know it at the time (as most wouldn’t) I met him in a club and was unsure but he persisted and persued me, not really taking no for an answer and ‘love bombing’ as I now know it by showering me with his time and attention sometimes gifts also. It was so exciting and we went to so many places and did so many cool things. The abuse started very slowly and started with nasty comments, put downs and the odd push or hair pull, or rough sex. But I was head over heals and thought as this was my most grown up relationship this is what real men are like.

There was one occasion where my sibling and I had gone clubbing with him and a friend and as he was chatting up another woman in front of me. I asked for my house keys from his car and continued to dance and chat to the DJ (we were friends) and had a conversation but this was like a red rag to a bull!!

He slapped me and called me all the names under the sun and ended up with him dragging me across the dance floor by my hair. I escaped as security stopped him and we escaped up the stairs. He was not far behind us freeing himself by hurting door staff along the way. This was my first real adult experience of being so embarrassed and fearful yet feeling like it was my fault as I shouldn’t have asked for my keys nor had a conversation with a friend. He had always been possessive and jealous but that was because he loved me so much!! (Or so I thought)

We managed to get home from a friend who also gave me my keys. He then stalked me by sitting in his car outside my house and Revving his car for what felt like hours. (This was another usual occurrence if we had an argument) I had a panic attack in the hallway of our house. I was then bombarded with calls and some apologies as well as promises that he would never do it again. I believed all his promises and we went on to move into our own flat. He was then back to the put downs and hurt me quite badly on one occasion, after he locked me in our flat so I couldn’t get out. It was my lightbulb moment and knew I had to leave. Which I did with some help and I moved back to my parents. I never reported anything as I didn’t even consider it to be honest it all felt like it was part and parcel of an adult relationship and I had probably done something to deserve it.. which I had become accustomed to believe.

I met an amazing man months later after a couple of years we bought a house and had my first son. I went back to work quite quickly and we began to grow apart.

My brother had a friend at the time who I didn’t approve of but this friend went on to say and do things for months and I started to think I was in the wrong relationship. I ended up splitting up my family thinking it was right for us because my eyes and ears had been turned and the good man deserved a better fiancé than me.

The next part of my story starts and lasted for nearly 13 years so I will try and keep it as brief as possible as otherwise again it’s a whole book on its own.

After another couple of months of the person still wooing me and painting a picture of how life could be I agreed to go on a date. It was very romantic but I felt so nervous (like a school girl) and One thing had put me on edge a little, even though I put it down to drink at the time  as it was the World… he had previously followed me around my work and pinned me by my wrists around the pub trying to kiss me (which I resisted) I couldn’t help think of this but also that he must really like me. The promises he made if I were his were mind blowing and literally everything you thought I had ever wanted in life. He appreciate how hard I worked (two jobs) plus the mum I was. I was flattered and also intrigued. We had a chemistry like he kept saying to others and I felt it too.

This man was like a spell on me and I was caught up in all the magic and promises of what could be. It was so heightened in every way and I had never felt anything like it. He literally swept me off my feet. We would go for long drives on our dates for hours and hours talking and having the most deep conversations I had ever experienced about everything in life including our hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations and past. I knew everything about him (so I thought) and vice versa. The physical side was also so passionate and out of this world and he clearly thought of us constantly as I would be surprised with places and exciting things… He would get rather too passionate at times and left bite marks all over my body and sometimes drawin glood. These would really hurt and look unsightly when healing. I put it down to being passionate as he joked he got carried away until someone commented they looked awful and it wasn’t normal… I didn’t really think about it too much and the biting phase seemed to subside anyhow.

I was one for time and connection rather than money or expense..and we were having so much, we would see each other daily as much as possible sometimes bunking work too if he said to.. I was besotted.

So picnics in the park or a drink and a long walk, or an adventure was my favourite thing which we often did a lot in the beginning plus all the long deep convos still happened.

I was aware he had a reputation and I had previously disapproved of him because of this but all that was soon a distant memory and I knew I and others had just misunderstood him previously. He wanted me and all of me and I felt so protected by him Always. He talked about our futures and all the adventures we would have.No one would ever mess with him and it felt so amazing to have his strong protective arms around me and his look that went right into my soul…. like he could penetrate my eyes with his and look right into my heart.

He was supposed to be going traveling but gave up that to be with me as a year away was a long time and I couldn’t promise to wait for him like he wanted me too (it was very early days) and I encouraged him to still go. But he chose ME!

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was it was almost hedonistic and he was so protective of me he didn’t like anyone even looking at me and could be jealous but I thought it was all because he loved me so much and it made me feel so secure knowing that too. I had never had someone love me the way he did.

What should have been a red flag in the early days was him grabbing my boss by the throat as he had apparently touched my hand when giving me my change across the bar (he hadn’t)

Little things then started to creep in slowly like name calling and put downs… he would rather stay in constantly saying he just wanted me rather than going out with our friends and would not approve of somethings I wore. My eye make up also came under fire so I changed little things about myself as I valued his opinion and I didn’t want to give off the wrong impression to any other man as I was well and truly taken (like he said could happen)

After about a year I fell pregnant with our daughter and we were both surprised but over the moon. This is when I noticed a big change in his behaviour.

I was made to me throw out all photos of my past as it was disrespectful to him and our relationship to have reminders of anyone else. Like he said I had my memories.

He never liked me having contact with the father of my son but obviously that was inevitable as we had a child. He would then worry I was going to go back to him and I had to always re assure him this wasn’t the case but wanted things to be civil for all especially for my son.

Then as we were now living together his obsessiveness became much bigger and now I was pregnant he didn’t want me doing the things we had before. My son never really took to him and this became a problem for him but I think the feeling was mutual.

We would argue more and more and the arguments would be verbally abusive with him using things he knew about me and my past like my birth mum. He would call me a hurtful names etc and when I lent him some money to set up his business which he had asked me to do. I asked if he would write down an agreement for that and that he would pay me back…. he didn’t like that as he said that is me assuming we weren’t going to last and he threw a book at my head. A friend of his was there and calmed him down and said that I was being reasonable as it was ten thousand pounds. I took it onboard and agreed to lend him all I had left as he was going to pay me back within six months! But got nothing in writing.

After our daughter being born he became obsessive over her and wouldn’t let me move whilst rocking her chair to go to change my pad. He said he would kill me if I did and so instead I ended up paying for a cleaner to sort out the couch. He couldn’t hear her cry and would get angry with me if she did so I had to constantly breast feed her. Looking back I think she had colic so that would have been no help.

The pattern followed with the obsessive behaviour and the odd push or hair grab or slap. He began going out a lot more with his friends leaving me at home but he worked hard and it was his time so I repacked it even though we didn’t do much together at all.

On one morning when I was feeding our daughter in bed my son climbed in for a cuddle also. He didn’t like that my son put himself between him and our daughter and started shouting before throwing my son across the bed. Needless to say I went to protect him and this developed into an argument, my son was upset but was always called belittling names and told to man up. As always I stuck up for him knowing this was wrong.

He followed me down the stairs with our daughter in my arms I could see how angry he was as he was nearly frothing at the mouth and so stayed calm as knew if I didn’t things could escalate. I sat on the couch and he head butted me twice. I was dazed and when I stood up as he took our daughter from me. He threatened to take her away and as I asked for her back with my hands outstretched pleading for her back he pushed his fingers in my eye sockets forcing me onto my knees with pressure..

I continued to ask for our daughter back. He then went to take her, My son was on the stairs and I turned as I heard him crying he was watching all as I turned back he hit me with the back of his hand so hard I collapsed as he had knocked me out cold.

I came to with my son screaming and sobbing and he was so calm still holding our daughter calling me pathetic. I threatened to ring the police if he didn’t give her back. He pulled the phone off the hook… and proceeded to take our daughter in her pjs out the back door. It was winter and I was so scared when at the door I started screaming for help… he hated that and forced me back inside the house by my throat (which was common place to put his hands)

I told him I wouldn’t call if he just let her go. He did eventually and then said he would be back later to finish me off. I called the police and it was one of the most humiliating times of my life when two police men urned up to see the state of me and I realised I must have wet myself when he knocked me out (the smell became apparent) I hadn’t had time to change in between as they were there so quickly.

My son was obviously still distraught. They arrested him but when they called to tell me that in his state my we had bumped heads (twice) and as one of the first times had not enough evidence to charge him so let him go. Her words on the phone were next time he does anything just give us a call. (But obviouslly I better be more injured)

I ended the relationship but then when we agreed ontact arrangements after a couple of times he started to say it wouldn’t happen again and he had been texting and calling.

The police warned him to stop or would be harassment.

I still had to meet for the contact and then I started to feel he had changed and believed it would be different. He knew my biggest fear was my kids coming from a broken home and would play on that also.

I allowed him back and then was going to go back to work after my maternity leave. I then found out I was pregnant again and he didn’t want me working so I gave up my job to raise our kids.

To cut a long story shorter as I’m aware this would be so long if I went over most years in detail.

We went on to have another two children together and the abuse didn’t stop at being called various offensive names even when in front of the kids in fact it got worse and more frequent but I was invested in us in him and in our family.

I knew he could be the guy that I had met and most things were my fault (as I was told) I actually started to believe it and would apologise more and more for things that had made him annoyed.

I knew I wasn’t in (what I thought was an abusive) relationship as he didn’t hit me every day and the violence was only occasional.

I wish I had known then what I do now. Only now do I know what Gas Lighting, Coercive control, harassment and stalking truly are.

He would always tell me how amazing he was at everything and how girls always wanted him and how lucky I was.I actually believed it and I knew like he said without him I’m nothing and no man would ever look at me… plus if I ever left or was with another man he would kill me. Over the years the details about how he would kill me became more and more descriptive and vivid.

I was always the topic of his jokes and most of the things he would say to me would then be laughed at and I was told I was too sensitive or over reacting if I ever showed any sign of emotion. No one was allowed to cry and if I did I was called Vickie victim.

There were more incidents and when pregnant with our second child he threw me around our kitchen like a rag doll by my hair I was so dazed I couldn’t find my feet and bounced off of most cupboards then with his hands around my throat I knew I had to get out. He left so cool to go out with his friends and saying how pathetic I was. Again though the next morning he turned up with a big food shop and took me and the kids out and was jovial and happy like the man I had first met and I didn’t want to be a single mother… I put it down to a blip after all I was carrying his second child.

Many other things continued and I was banned from seeing some family for months, not allowed social media etc.

He was also volatile with my eldest and more incidents happened with him. I would always try to protect him but on one occasion I wasn’t there I couldn’t and that will now haunt me for all time. The guilt of that would appear for many years as will more problems related to this. He belittled it and said my son was lying. I didn’t want to disbelieve either of them but now I know without doubet that he did.

Again I ended the relationship due to this and police, social workers etc were involved.

He professed his innocence and after a couple of months when him seeing him I believed he wanted to change but he said he needed my help to.. I agreed and then not long after fell pregnant with our third child.

When I was pregnant with our third we had been out in the morning and I went to do the food shop. I received call after call asking where I was and who with (he knew as had agreed for me to go) he accused me of sleeping with someone and I told him as I was at the checkout not to be silly I would be home asap.

At 36 weeks pregnant and only 45 mins door to door doing a whole food shop I was quite pleased how quick I was. He was not and when I walked through the door was shouting and screaming at me. I brought all the bags in and proceeded to put them away.

He was calling me all the names under the sun and I told him to leave.. he spat in my face and of all the things he has done I had never felt so degraded, I don’t know what came over me but I threw a pack of fruit flakes at him….

Omg did I regret that… he went mental throwing me around by my hair and pulling chunks of it out. He hit me a couple of times then pushed me to the floor. He straddled my body with legs either side and held me by my ears banging my head repeatedly into the tiles. I felt sick and dazed and when he finished because our 3 year old was screaming for him to stop and Leave mummy alone. He left briefly as our daughter then put her back against the door saying it’s ok mummy he can’t hurt you again and was screaming because I was bleeding. He then came back in as I got up off the floor and dragged me into the garden by my hair. Our daughter still screaming like I had never heard before and still haunts me to this day. He threw me to the ground and said he would be back later to finish me off…

At that point I don’t know what took over me but I got up and shouted no you won’t… you want to finish me you do it now do it now and I pushed him.

He turned around and hit me again and grabbing my throat he laughed saying he will do what he wants. He then pointed at our daughter as he turned and left who was sobbing through her screams and he said “look what you have done to her”

I comforted our daughter and went in and tried to calm her down holding her and saying sorry and it was going to be ok. I phoned the police and they said they already had a call from a neighbour and someone was already on the way. I put the phone down and there was a knock at the door and the police were there.

I walked around for two weeks with black eyes even my make up wasn’t enough to cover them. I wore shades even though it wasn’t sunny, I was so embarrassed being so pregnant and people staring at me in shops when I took them off to see things.

He continually phoned and texted saying he was sorry he had reacted that way and we could work it out. I agreed to meet him as he wanted me to see his new flat. He cried and I ended up comforting him! I said I couldn’t live with him but that as I was about to give birth we could take things slowly. Things were still very stressed and I hadn’t jumped back to being his supporter this time.

I went into labour and he kicked off because I wouldn’t cuddle him blaming me that it was all my fault we hadn’t bonded for the baby sake. He refused to come to the hospital with me telling me I could do it on my own, he was called twice form the hospital but didn’t come until the next day to meet his son when some of his family visited.

He was convicted when it came to court of assault by beating and sentenced to prison but suspended for two years, he was given a tag for a few months and fined plus community service and had to complete a perpetrator course. He was also given a three year restraining order.

Whilst I was cross examined in the magistrates court I was shouted at and sworn at by him, he was told four times by the judge he would be removed but wasn’t. It was all too much and they took a break when I broke down on the stand.

In the break was told and he had changed his plea to guilty. They said never before had they seen this but He had requested that I go back in to hear what he had to say. I refused and left the court. How could he put me through all that knowing what he had done and his whole defence based around I was a liar as the officer who wrote the statement had put raisins on the statement and not fruit flakes. The officer told me no one would know what they were!! His barrister apologised to me afterward saying he was just doing his job and he was sorry… I remember being actually quite touched at the gesture but couldn’t get out of their quick enough.

I didn’t know how to feel I felt happy and sad at the same time. I loved this man the father of my kids but felt so broken too and more numb not actually knowing what to do… I was so used to the cycle I feared the quiet!

I spent a year then building myself up and was assigned a safety worker due to his conviction of assault by beating. I had alarms fitted to the house and started to feel safer.

We had no contact. It was hard when you have no closure like most when they split up as I felt like I hadn’t got to say how he had made me feel etc. People think when you leave it’s like sunshine and rainbows. The reality is actually very different!!  It takes all your might to get through each day, to be strong for the kids, to do meetings with social workers, police solicitors, court papers, going over and over what has happened like reliving it all again. it’s not a switch we are or were with them because we loved them and are made to believe you can’t survive without them.

Each time taking him back it became quicker with what I now see as abuse but the physical was always few and far between compared to the emotional, mental, and financial and other forms so I always believed it wasn’t.

Then a year later on my birthday I went out with some friends and he came into the same club. He stared and stared at me and followed me around the club shaking his head at me and giving me the eyes that used to make me crumble. He sent a friend over to say happy birthday and that he wanted to talk to me. I declined. He spoke to some of my friends who told me what I had dreaded that he still loved me and the kids etc etc also having a row with one of my friends because he refused to pay for his kids maintenance and although everyone knew he was earning lots he was self employed so couldn’t prove it.

We left shortly after.

The next day I realised I still had feelings and still hadn’t had the closure but was upset that I knew he still felt the same.

A couple of weeks later he contacted a friend of ours and asked to pass a message. After all that had happen it still made me smile and I had lived with the what ifs for a year and felt mischievous stronger. He asked the person if he could ring me. I declined for a while and then after I had a low time with a family issue I agreed.

He called me but was so scared I would report him (as still had another two years on the restraining order) he would call from different number for a while. Well it was like the old person I had first met, charming, attentive, listening and wanting to hear what I had to say but being told to shut up constantly or that my opinion didn’t matter. He had done most of his perpetrators course and said that this time was different and by all that he said he had learnt I started to believe he had.

The calls became more frequent and we could talk for hours and hours (when the kids were in bed) just like we had on our drives and just like old times we talked about everything and what we had been doing that year and how we had grown.

He asked me to meet up for a date and at first I was unsure but he seem like he had grown and really changed this time and the first time ever I got an apology for what he had done and that he had realised and never wanted to hurt me again.

So after a couple of weeks I agreed to meet up. I was nervous but we went for dinner and drinks and it was lovely just like the beginning. He seemed to respect my boundaries which was most certainly a first.

After another couple of dates though it wasn’t quite the same… I picked him up as asked as we were going to join a mutual friend for his birthday and I had agreed so I had dressed for clubbing. On my way to get him he changed his mind and decided his mates were all too pissed and we would go for dinner, as he had been drinking I drove.

We went to a lovely Local place but on the way he was looking at my tights (patterned black ones) and I was wearing a skirt. He told me I looked as though I was dressed to go and dance at string fellows.

I brushed it off although hurt. As we sat down he continued with the insults and called me  names. He was so loud with them all too and I felt so embarrassed.. but then I remembered this is not what I am used to anymore and I’m not going back to this… which I said and thanked him for reminding me what I had left behind…

With that I got up and walked out of the restaurant. I got in my car as he then ran and held the passenger door open and I said I was leaving… the waitress came out as we had ordered the food and wanted paying… he cancelled it as we hadn’t eaten.

He begged for me to drop him home so I agreed but then wanted to stop before so we could talk… so we talked but I was still adamant that It has been a mistake and wanted to take him home. He was upset and crying but I wanted to go home and after a couple of hours he agreed.

I dropped him home. The next day I got calls and texts and it was all the alcohols fault and he promised he would give up drink. I said I still couldn’t take the chance and I wouldn’t put up with that anymore. He sobbed on the phone and begged me for one last chance. I finally agreed as maybe he was right alcohol could be the reason as he had seemed so different.

We continued to meet up in secret and not with the kids as I didn’t want to mess with their heads if it didn’t work out. He paid my friend to babysit so we could meet up. This continued for a while and then I was hooked right back in as I was in the begining it felt new and like what I had been longing for since our beginning days.

Sadly the jealousy that had always been present got worse and over the years I had been accused of affairs with his dad, my sons Dad, my own brother and now it was the landlord or anyone else I came into contact with.

My landlord decided to sell so I had to move and I thought this might be the fresh start we needed, he felt like this would be our new family home away from prying eyes as no one knew us here. The house was mine and I wasn’t ready for that step yet so kept it that way and it suited when he would have his moods he could go.

Things were up and down and when he would get nasty and abusive I would send him home and was thankful I hadn’t allowed him to move in. He would come and go and was doing his own thing with friends etc. I would still get the name calling in front of the kids and the threats of violence, the odd push but he never hit me properly since the day he was convicted and I told him if he ever did I would call the police again.

He started to get so demanding with the work stuff as I was now w string fellows working for him (for free) it was taking up so much of my time and then would get angry if it wasn’t done in the spot when he wanted something.

Things were on and off I would end things when he got too much but then take him back as we would patch it up as I was his and belonged to him and I would never be with anyone else as he said often. I was his wife (although we weren’t married) more like property.

The end came after many more minor incidents and me being told I was useless, other women could do better, he would become fanatical about things in phases And would ban us all eating sugar or doing certain things etc.

He had hated I had started doing charity (volunteer work) helping refugees and actually enjoyed it so much. It began to change my perspective seeing how they treated their wives with such tenderness.

I also started up my own network business company after connecting with some old friends and I started to realise that what relationship I was in wasn’t normal.

It also built up my self work and I even received an award for the voluntary work I was doing. His response spoke volumes as he told me I had got myself on tv, radio and an award so now it was time to give it all up and concentrate on our kids not others. As if that was the reason I did it for notoriety! Obviously, this was not the case but not even anything supportive ever when the other way around it’s all I did.

We stuck to every other weekend for contact as I wanted to keep the continuity for the kids but would be messed around constantly changing dates, not turning up or refusing to have them even on occasions having them at my house.

He turned up on one Friday as he wanted to see the kids, (he would normally have them on the Saturday for his 24 hours) they weren’t that bothered to see him and it angered him. There was an argument then with our youngest that turned physical, I put myself between them and took the brunt hoping he would calm down. He left saying he never wanted them again. Our daughter was kicking him to get off me and told her school the following week.

This led to a call from the social services which they stated if I had a choice to make after 12 years (with much more than I have put here) they said if I didn’t get out of the relationship for good they would look at removing my children. I couldn’t have both.

They told me what I needed to do and I did it.

This was harsh but was the push I needed.

Again I had no closure as it was a case of block everything, ignore everything, threats, pleas and all.

I had to go to court to get orders which I did. He objected but the judge put the non molestation on all the children as well as me for the year and his appeal was rejected.

It was an awful experience and I was sick before going in. But I felt relieved in a way.

Life was hard again as I didn’t know actually what to do I just got on and felt a little numb going through the motions with endless meetings and reports and being strong for the kids.

He didn’t make it easy and took me through the court system for contact with the kids. He dropped this after 6 months and numerous court hearings just before the fact finding hearing. It meant all the kids had been interviewed by Cafcass and we had all been put through the ringer especially as I had to represent myself (my legal aid certificate had to be changed to reflect the new case) this still didn’t come through in time for any of the court appearances. So with my advocate did what was required. He also stopped paying maintenance from the day of the non molestation appeal hearing as he always said he would do if I left.

I have over the years faced most forms of abuse and now am abused the only way he can via constant reports to social services and schools. He has breached the order on numerous occasions and was also convicted of this recently.

Now I am a few months further on I have met some amazing people through doing the choices programme. Which literally opened my eyes for the first proper time and was invaluable… I can’t recommend it highly enough…once you see the truth you can’t unsee it! I have had the amazing support from women’s aid and my worker has helped me through so much from the practical to the emotional and always has the right words or knowledge of what to do, she along with the other support and my rewarding work have saved my life. I would have ended up a statistic.

I have also researched and read so much about abuse as I didn’t know all the terms or things that came with it or that I was experiencing most forms of it as I had excused it for so many years it became normal. It is astounding how much this has helped me get through. I finally knew it wasn’t my fault! I finally knew I couldn’t of helped him change, he wasn’t going to and  I finally knew I wasn’t alone. I finally didn’t feel I wouldn’t be without him. I could be enough on my own!!!

I have now set up a local support group with the help of a friend for other survivors and I am so stunned at just how common abuse is and all it’s forms. How many lives it affects directly and indirectly. How many are feeling the same shame, guilt, and loss or denial.

From my experience through Family court I found out that actually a lot of officials aren’t trained. hearing other people’s stories of their experiences I knew I had to try to change the system. It hasn’t changed much since I was a child in 30 years. The statistics scared me that one of my 4 children could end up with an abuser also. I was inspired and encouraged by all the beautiful people I have met along my journey. We meet now twice a month locally in different locations with another possible one setting up also. A safe space where we can come together and chat, cry, laugh and help and support each other…with people who just get it… no explanation needed.

I continue to do my charity work re settling refugees in our area as well as doing fundraisers for Syria and other areas worldwide for refugees. I am currently working on our 5th house. I encompass the local community and we do up a whole house with their donated items with their time, Love and support bringing the whole community together. It is so truly soul fulfilling.

The work I do with my online business fills me with so much love and happiness through helping others and with my charity work also and seeing people who have been through different hardships of their own and thriving. They show me daily how you can be greater and tackle anything you want as do all the survivors I have met. I am in the process of setting up a charity also and am so so excited and all because of the hardships life has dealt. This is my silver lining.

I have recently started a petition also to hopefully help all future survivors and children by making it mandatory for all Judiciary, Family court and Cafcass to be fully trained in all areas of domestic abuse and its effects on the family. In turn making sure all decisions are informed. 70-90% of their cases are related to domestic abuse! No other profession do I know of that allows untrained people to make life changing decisions.

It is so important to raise awareness and I have been so scared to use my voice but now I want to help other find theirs. If you would like to sign this is the link please do also share it as we need a lot to get this debated in parliament.

Click here to sign petition.

I am not the person I was even a month ago let alone a year ago, I have come so far and I still have a way to go but I couldn’t have done it without all then support have had and it is so so important to talk. I always kept it in as I was ashamed and embarrassed but also mainly was uneducated about it and thought it was normal for the most part. I want to tell you…  it isn’t normal, you aren’t alone, You can do it, you are worth it and you will be happier than you could ever imagine, it will take time but you will get there. We all believe in you! I wanted to explain my cycle so people understand how slowly it happens and how addictive the cycle can be.

If you think you know someone experiencing it please also reach out. Two women a week are still killed and statistics continue to increase. Let’s build an army of survivors whose voices are too loud to ignore.

Love and kindness always Vickie xxx

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