I was just a teenager when I met my ex-partner but I was too young to recognise what I now know from Refuge are the warning signs of a controlling, abusive man.

It was just after we got engaged that I began experiencing abuse. We’d been at a friend’s party and had an argument. I was upset so I left but he followed me out and pushed me into a bush. He then began to vent his anger on me at home. He would throw household objects at me – at one point splitting my eyebrow open.

The physical assaults started happening more often, and the verbal abuse and humiliation were constant. He would undermine me at any opportunity. He even forced me to take diet pills to lose weight. I was terrified of him and couldn’t see a way out.

Christmas was always a difficult time. He controlled my money, came with me to the shops and was so jealous and possessive he wouldn’t even let me buy presents for my family. Once he took a necklace my mum had given me for Christmas and smashed it into a million pieces.

I was afraid about what he would do to me if I ever left him. I started to realise that my life was in real danger. And then it happened – the attack that nearly killed me.

During an argument, he pushed a knife into my chest, puncturing my lung. Realising that he wouldn’t be able to cover it up, he called an ambulance and told them I’d fallen over while chopping food.

Even then, I was so scared of him that I went along with his story. He was arrested because this version of events was so unbelievable. But I backed him up. I told everyone he’d done nothing wrong. That’s how deep his control over me had become.

It was another two years until I left him and soon after I began police proceedings. In the three years since then, with help from Refuge, I’ve worked hard to start again. It’s only now he’s in prison I feel I can move on.

Thanks to Refuge, I’ve been able to rebuild my life. When I needed emotional and practical support, Refuge was there.

But without you, Refuge can’t carry on helping people like me.

Any amount you can give will help more women get the support they need to flee a violent partner – and it could save a life this Christmas. Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas.

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