Lillie*, Founder Member
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the indvidual
The day of our move was suddenly here. Our window if you like. A few weeks of preparation through Women's Aid now meant we were leaving our existing world and arriving into a bright new one. Still, in the back of my mind was the question of whether I was doing the right thing. For me, honestly, no, I still loved the man I had married, but for our children, yes. They had every right to grow and experience life outside the walls of our invisible world of domestic violence.
15 mins or so before the taxi arrived I of course began to rewrite history, convincing myself I was in my usual 'drama queen' mode and that my husband did not deserve to return home to find that I was responsible for the disappearance of his family. A family who wanted for nothing, a father entirely devoted to his children and a wife who if she tried just a little harder, would learn to stop pushing his buttons, therefore putting an end to his emotional and physical lapses in judgement.
Fast forward four hours and here I was in a room with a couple of black bags of belongings and several pairs of eyes staring at me waiting for explanations and reassurances. Already I was wavering, wondering if I could return home before he did. What was I thinking believing I was right to leave? I had two days to wait before my contact, Tracy from Women's Aid, was due to visit. If I could just hold on until then I was certain our new safe life would be ready to live.
Day three and the reality of our safe life became crystal clear. We were in it.
Tracy had given me an emergency payment of £100, pointed me in the direction of the local benefits department, the housing town hall and a list of helpline numbers. Absolutely no criticism of Tracy is meant. I have no doubt she was already on to relocating the next woman but the fear, isolation and desperation I was feeling was overwhelming. My children were manageable. A few days of pizza deliveries, sweets and non stop TV worked wonders at this point. But again, I had failed them. I didn't know that £100 would not last for months. What about schools? I needed a GP, morning sickness was unbearable, my baby was down to his final three nappies. How do I communicate without a phone? How do I find my way around an area so far from home I may as well had been in a different country. The list was endless. I had only ever been a wife and mother. I had been forever spoilt and pampered by my husband. So he had been right in telling me there was no purpose of me operating in the real world. Why? He was there for those responsibilities. I understood why he deemed me stupid as it all was way too difficult for me to grasp. What kind of a mother was I to allow my children to be stuck in a room with no way forward but a very easy way back. I knew he'd be cross, probably for several days, but he was entitled to be. Look at what I had put him and our children through just because I had decided to throw a tantrum and leave.
I guess you can read between the lines and see the lost and traumatised woman I was back then. But this is now and although the last decade has been challenging, difficult and seemingly hopeless at times, I did not go back. I was lucky, very early on, two very special women came into our lives. With their love, help and endless patience, I started on my journey of building a new life for myself and my children. My conclusion is simple. We have already left. Help us to stay 'left'.
Today, you wouldn't recognise me. Just ask Julia! Our TLC ladies truly inspire me to push harder and further to make real changes. For me, it's so much more than 'work' it's a part of who I am.