Karen’s Story*

How the abuse started

I was in a relationship with my husband for four years, looking back, we married quickly after starting the relationship. Previous to being married I would visit my family nearly every day.  When I married him, he did not appear to like this.  He would say he didn’t mind me going, but when I returned he would sulk and ignore me and question why I had to go and see them when I had him at home.

Early on in to the marriage I fell pregnant and miscarried.  He blamed me for this saying it was my fault and I was useless.

Control and isolation

Soon after I fell pregnant with our first child he became over protective, to the point of control, he had to know where I was at all times.  We moved to a new property, this was OK at first but he soon stopped me from visiting my family.  He felt they interfered in our relationship.

By the time our son was born arguments had started regularly, with him constantly saying I was not a good Mum, saying I was useless and that he should have married someone else.  He would call me fat and say I looked like a tramp and to buy some clothes.  Whenever I bought any clothes, he would say he didn’t like them and throw them in the bin.

My husband had several arguments with my Dad; once throwing him out of the house and getting a Harassment Order out against him so he could no longer come to our house.  He was also nasty to my sister.  Eventually nobody came to see me or made contact with me and I became totally isolated.

Soon after our first child was born, I fell pregnant again with my second child.  He always refused to get a job and stated that I would have to go out to work instead.  I did get a job when my second child was only weeks old.  I would start early in the morning so the children were still asleep and I would not finish sometimes till late.  I hated this because I hardly saw my children I missed them so much.

I eventually had to leave the job as he would call me constantly, demanding I go home and see to the children as he could not stand them making a noise.  He would threaten to hurt the children if I did not sort them out so I would have to constantly make excuses to my manager why I had to leave work early, I think they knew what he was like but they never asked me about it.

The abuse worsened, as well as his verbal and emotional cruelty, He began pushing me around, and he would grab me around the throat, pull my hair, and once split my lip.  The police were called out after that incident but when the Police came I denied it. I was too frightened of what he would do, and was also worried that the Police would leave and I would be left alone with him.   

He would tell me to leave the dirty pots, that he would do them later.  But when I did leave them he would get angry and say I was useless, fat or lazy.   He would say I was a slag, I was boring, no one would want me, he would say he hates me,  then he would go on to say he wished he never had any kids, he would have a quieter life without them.  If I answered him back he would tell me to shut up or he will knock my head off.

He made me feel like a child, I could not speak.  I was too scared too.  I was too scared to move in case it was wrong because everything I did was wrong to him.

His treatment of the children also became worse.  He used to make them stay up till late, they were not allowed to fall asleep even though they would cry because they was tired. 

He would smack them if they were too noisy and make them sit all day and be quiet, they were not allowed to move and if they did move he would smack them.  When I tried to intervene he would blame me because I do not smack them and I mothered them.

I was only ever allowed to take one child out with me at a time.  He said I could not control more than one child at a time. 

Someone to help us

One day when I was going to the shops something just clicked and I decided to get off the bus early and go to the Social Services.  I spoke to someone about how he treats me and the children and some of the things he says to us.  The woman took me to a local Women’s Centre who advised me to speak to Hull Women’s Aid.  I did this and was advised of what my options were and how they could help me, they helped me to plan to leave him safely.

One morning we went to the Hull Women’s Aid Refuge.

I was made to feel welcome and safe and had people to talk too.  I was really overwhelmed at first but we soon settled in.  They gave me and the children clothes to wear and food and I had a support worker who I could talk too about what had happened to us and who came to my Solicitors appointments with me and to court to get an injunction. I struggled at first because I felt I couldn’t do anything without being told, my support worker helped me through this and I suddenly started to believe in myself. The children’s worker also helped my children because they were very affected by the abuse at home.

I was then offered my own property for me and the children.  My support worker said they had a Floating Support Service if I wanted this to help me settle in to my new house and to help me with anything I needed support with, or if I just needed to talk.  I had already met the Floating Support Worker at the refuge and she then became my new support worker when I got my new property.

She has helped me with sorting out our new house, getting grants to help me buy furniture and helped me to decorate my living room and the children’s bedrooms.  I was unsure about money and bills and wanted to make sure I had enough money to buy nice food and clothes for the children as they had never been allowed anything before.  I was given help with this at the refuge and then my floating support worker carried this on with me and also helped me to plan healthy meals that I could cook for the children.

She has supported me when I have had to go to Court about him seeing the children and she came to any other appointments with me.  She has helped me to talk through my past and helped me deal with what has happened. She has helped me to find a local course where I can work on my confidence.  I still feel really guilty about not leaving him sooner but she has helped me to come to terms with everything and I know it’s not my fault.

I still have a long way to go but am feeling so much better and feel so lucky that someone was there to help me and the children to escape.


*Names have been changed to protect the individuals involved