Paula’s story

Paula’s story

 

Paula’s story

I met Jason when I was in my early 30s.  What attracted me to him was how charming he was.  He was really nice to me.  But now, looking back, I can see that all of the signs were there.

He became very controlling. He would call me all the time and if I wanted to see my friends he would start an argument so I wouldn’t go.  When my friends came over he was rude to them – he even threw one of them out of the house. 

He started to put me down all the time.  He would criticise everything – my clothes, my friends, my weight.  I become so timid and lost all my confidence.  It started to affect my work and I lost so many of my friends.  

After we got married we moved to a new town and I thought it would be a new start, but things just got worse.  A month after the wedding he hit me for the first time.  He had just got home from work and he flew into a rage because dinner wasn’t ready.  He punched me in the face so many times that I needed 23 stitches.  I had to beg him to let me to go to hospital and when we got there he didn’t leave me alone for a second.  He told me that if I told anyone what happened he would kill me.  So I had to say I hit my face on a cupboard door.

After that the beatings just got worse.  He used to lock the doors and take my keys and phone, so I couldn’t get away.  People at work saw he had beaten me up, but no-one ever asked me what was going on.  Gradually I started to believe him when he said the abuse was my fault.

We decided to go away for a weekend and on the first night he started an argument over nothing and went wild.  I ran downstairs and got the hotel staff to call the police.  I was a total mess – he had broken three ribs and my face was completely swollen with bruises.  He was arrested and sent to prison for 13 weeks.  When he was released he tracked me down and attacked me in the street.  He was sent back to prison for another 13 weeks and the police suggested that I get in touch with Refuge and move away from the area.

Refuge found me a find a place in a safe house before he was released again.  When I arrived I was in shock.  It was difficult adapting to a new place, but I can’t describe how it felt to be safe and free.  The Refuge staff gave me lots of emotional support, and it was really helpful to be able to meet the other women in the refuge who had been through the same things as me.

The staff helped me access the benefits I needed to stay in the refuge and, when I was ready, helped me to find a new, safe place to live.  They even helped me get on to training courses in the area so I could rebuild my career.

Things are really good now.  I have my own flat,  I’m back at work, I go out with my friends – I feel so much more confident.  Contacting Refuge was the best thing I’ve ever done.  They helped me with so much.  If it wasn’t for them I’d still be in that house.

 

All names and identifying details have been changed to protect individuals involved.