A safe, just and equal world for women

Miriam’s Story

Miriam has been married for 8 years and has two young children. During lockdown she and the children were at home with her abusive husband.

I cannot pinpoint a date when the abuse began. It started with him putting me down and then laughing when I would become anxious, calling me ‘worthless’. I could not see what he was doing was not alright, instead I felt there was something wrong with me.

Before I fell pregnant, my husband was charming and open but then everything changed when I was carrying my first child. He would make comments about the way I looked, he would call me ‘fat’ and say that no one could find me attractive. His temper become worse, and even the smallest things would upset him. He would punch walls, smash and throw things. He then became jealous and suspicious when I went back to work, because my manager was a man.

As my anxiety became worse, I went to the doctor who listened to how my husband treated me. My doctor told me that his behaviour was not normal and suggested talking to a professional domestic abuse worker. This was the first time domestic abuse had been mentioned and at first I didn’t want to believe the relationship was abusive, as he is the father of my children. Eventually I agreed to speak to someone at Advance just before the government implemented lockdown.

When we went into lockdown, I was devastated. My husband and I would be home all the time and I would have no freedom. I would have to use my daily hour exercise to talk discreetly to my (Advance) advocate once a week. I would have to pretend my domestic abuse advocate was my doctor. My husband would insist I do all the chores he had listed for me when I was supposed to be working. He would say he was ‘disgusted’ to be around me. When I do not do what my husband says, he becomes enraged.

Although I made the decision during lockdown to leave, my worries have kept me here. I am scared he will take the house; I am scared he will take the children abroad, I am worried I will have to leave my job as he will find me there and hurt me. I worry about the things I need to put in place before I leave such as separating finances and informing my children’s school without him knowing. The idea of defying him and leaving with the children is terrifying.

For many years my husband would blame me for everything including our finances, his career and the children making too much noise when he was around. Advance has given me the confidence to question the way my children and I are treated. My Advance advocate gave me the confidence to reach out to my doctor when my mental health deteriorated as lockdown extended further. With Advance’s help, I am planning to safely leave with my children after lockdown restrictions are eased. I need to leave to feel safe again. But I know I will have to make many changes including within my family and that scares me. It will be a long journey, I must quietly prepare.”

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