A safe, just and equal world for women

Louise’s Story

Louise experienced years of abuse in her family home. She tried to report it and get help many times, but no-one took her seriously or offered her any support – until she was referred to Advance.

My domestic abuse situation was family – both of my parents, my sister. I lived with them and they were all abusive. There was all kinds of abuse except for sexual abuse. A lot of psychological torture. There was physical abuse, which was quite severe, quite frequent. Eventually that became less after a few years because of reporting it to the police; they were more cautious of being caught.

I started reporting it when I was 14 to social services. They didn’t do anything – closed my case without investigating. Then the police, doctors, school, children’s services. I tried to do a homeless shelter, refuge, things like that. I didn’t get rejected, but basically got longlisted and was never contacted. Nothing came of any of that and then at 18 I got a job in London, moved there and very recently I’ve managed to secure a non-molestation order against both of them [parents]. I didn’t try and pursue that before – I was just trying to keep myself to myself.

I moved out nearly two years ago, since then the incidents have still been ongoing. That hasn’t stopped them from harassing me – they turned up at my last apartment but I wasn’t there, I’d moved out the day before. Then they actually got into my house recently. I went up to my bedroom and I have a lock on my door so that was good. I waited for the police to get there. They haven’t done anything, even though I’ve reported more incidents.

“I have security fitted and everything”

There was someone outside my house – not them, somebody I didn’t know who knew my name, to intimidate me on the day I went to court for the non-molestation order. They shouldn’t have known about the non-molestation order because the judge gave permission to keep it private until they send out the public message, so the police obviously tipped them off or something. It’s quite frustrating that the police aren’t doing anything. I have security fitted and everything.

I actually got an email from a police officer, it was so condescending. Like the actual language, he used pretty much every word other than ‘silly’. He said: “You’ve referred to them as [parent’s name] and [parent’s name], so clearly you have issues with them. It’s not proper to involve the police, please talk these issues out with your family as that is what families should do when they have a falling out.” That was a recent email from them.

“I was immediately believed and listened to”

I started getting resources from Advance through the university – I couldn’t get access to any of these things before. The significance with Advance is that it was the first time I was immediately believed and listened to. People were actually trauma-informed, they weren’t asking inappropriate questions, they weren’t saying “if you’re not going to give us the full level of detail of abuse then I’m not going to see you”. You [Advance] were very educated on these topics, understanding so many different complicated things. It was a completely new experience – a great experience from the start and my first experience like that with an organisation of any kind. If the person you’re speaking to is handling it the wrong way, it can definitely make it worse – it can make your PTSD worse, it can make everything worse.

When I started with her [key worker], we talked about getting a non-molestation order in place. I didn’t know how a non-molestation order worked at all – she might even be the person who told me about it. She just basically made me aware of that process and then immediately when I was ready to, was there to help organise it and get things started. Then she was emotional support through all of that because it was quite stressful for many months. She was just exactly what was needed at each step, because it wasn’t straightforward at all.

“They’ve been really flexible with what I need”

It made me feel a lot safer talking to her. Before the non-molestation order they [parents] were harassing me constantly. I had ongoing support with the newer stuff that was happening, also talking through PTSD symptoms that I was experiencing. On the safety aspect, she reassured me but also gave me options of what I could do. Calling the police isn’t great. In emergency situations that’s what you do anyway, but I’ve called the police before and said “I think he’s [dad] going to kill me”, and they didn’t turn up. So she gave me other options that actually made me feel safer.

There’s a police officer that works with Advance that she passes these details onto, without it being reported. I was trying not to aggravate them before the non-molestation order, so without reporting it I was still able to have the information on record. She also liaised with the university so they had the right information and knew how to respond. They finally know what to do if my parents step into the building. She connected across teams, also getting me support from SASH. I suddenly had all this support available. I’ve just started working with Maia as well through Advance.

They’ve been really flexible with what I need. People have complicated lives and it can be so much effort to get support sometimes but it’s felt effortless with Advance. There’s a lot more pressure with other organisations, you feel a bit stressed about using their resources. Advance couldn’t be doing a better job – they’re just all-rounders and have helped with a lot of different things.

Since securing the non-molestation order against her parents, Louise has continued to receive support from us and says she’s in a good place. She has her own home and a job, and is still studying at university.

Woman sitting on the floor with her back against a sofa. She looks distressed.
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