Survivor story: Fiona*
"...Since then I have completely rebuilt my life. I have travelled all over the world with work, have set up my own business and have gone to University in the evenings..."
I met my abusive partner when I was 17 and at college, training to be a nurse. I now feel that he 'chose' me as I was vulnerable, my self esteem was very low. He was very controlling from the beginning of the relationship, but I felt that it was because he loved me so much. He hit me 6 months into the relationship but I believed that he would change, he always apologised and promised that it would stop. I married him when I was 21 years old.
He physically and sexually abused me. He would call me a 'slag' and he actually beat me so badly that I miscarried two children at 3 and 4 months.
I was frightened to go to the police about the violence as my brother-in-law was a policeman. I was afraid that they wouldn't believe me and that it would bring shame on his family. The abuse progressively got worse and the nightmare continued. I didn't have anywhere to go. My parents believed that marriage was for life and that I had "made my bed so I should lie in it". Each time he beat me the injuries got worse. He abused me physically, mentally, sexually and emotionally.
My job became the one thing that kept me going....
All the time I was in this abusive relationship I was working and my job became the one thing in my life that kept me going. It was my chance to get out of the house and go and be with "normal " people. Work became a haven and I hid my injuries from my colleagues and lied about how I had got black eyes and bruises. Eventually, the beatings got so violent that I ended up in the Severe Head Injuries Unit of a hospital and my employers found out about the abuse. I rang the National Domestic Violence Helpline but was too scared to go to a refuge or the police but my personnel department actually helped me to leave, they gave me time off to go to see a solicitor and they gave me a transfer to another part of the country.
After I left I started my life again, I missed my friends and relatives but was too scared to contact them. It took a long time for the nightmares to stop and for me to be able to talk about the abuse.
Onwards and upwards.....
It was twenty years ago that I left Scotland to start a new life in London. Since then I have completely rebuilt my life. I have worked in lots of different jobs, have travelled all over the world with work, have set up my own business and have gone to University in the evenings to qualify as an MBA (Masters in Business Administration ). I've been interviewed by many people in the media about my experiences and have spoken at conferences in the UK and Europe.
Last year I even got to meet Cherie Blair at 10 Downing Street for special reception to honour those in the domestic violence sector who have been campaigning and I've been nominated for a 'Woman of the Year Award'. I am now a Trustee of a local Women's Aid and am writing a book about my experience of domestic violence - when I can find the time!
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual.