2nd March 2017
The following story is one of several accounts shared with us by a group of young people; all have experienced domestic abuse and have been supported by the Ypvas working at the Young People Violence Advisor (Ypva) Service in South Tyneside. They have shared their individual stories to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the hope that victims and services will be inspired to make change. For an audio version of this blog, visit our Soundcloud profile or scroll to the bottom of the page.
*Names have been changed to protect identities
Where I am now…
Looking back so much has changed since I worked with Claire, (from aged 17 to now aged 20.) I remember the first day I met Claire, I was reluctant because I had already attended ‘options’. I didn’t think this was helpful to me at all, it was all older women. Most of them had been referred there from social workers and had children so I felt like my problems weren’t as bad as theirs. I also couldn’t speak much and didn’t want everyone knowing in the group. However, when I got offered one to one with Claire it was the best thing I’d done. This was so important for me, everything was confidential and I went from having no help from anyone to being fully supported.
When I look back at when I first met Claire and to where I am at now I am quite proud of the way things have changed and so grateful for all her help. The first memory is mine and Claire’s first visit together, we got a milkshake and talked through things slowly, I didn’t feel pushed and over the next couple of weeks we done a lot of work, not just relationship advice etc but Claire helped me with family situations, housing, work, college, c.v. and more.
When I first met Claire I knew my relationship wasn’t great, but all I could see was in my eyes my boyfriend was perfect for me and I still loved him. I didn’t think anything would change that at the time. Looking back now although I’m still with the same boyfriend 4 years later I’m completely different; I don’t think I ever would’ve been if I’d refused the work with Claire just like I almost done. Back then I had no-one, no interest in anything apart from him, my whole life felt as though it was put on hold for him. Although I didn’t want it to be this way I didn’t know what else I could do until I talked .Talking to Claire and knowing somebody is there for you and who understands makes you feel so much better, but most of all makes you see sense.
I never thought I would be able to be the way I was with my boyfriend the way it had been at the start and that’s one of the many reasons I knew I couldn’t stay with him. The only option I thought I had was to leave. I gained confidence and opened my eyes to what was really going on, as soon as that happened, everything changed for the better. Slowly things he was doing and saying after being with Claire or doing with her, I would go home and notice everything more than I had been. I started to question him and started to change by putting up barriers up.
Before I started meeting with Claire I remember wanting to do this but never could’ve. I grew stronger, felt stronger and eventually after every time I seen Claire and I gained a lot more confidence in myself, because of this I was able to stop a lot of things happening at the time and was standing up for myself, not letting things escalate so far. Over the next couple of month I felt like a much stronger person. There was times it felt so hard doing this and pushing him away (into line) after I had allowed it by a way and not stood up for myself for so long. However it was all worth it. All the work I had done with Claire I couldn’t go back and forget all of that, I knew that knowledge now and that’s what gave me enough strength to believe it and do something about it.
Now, I am a carer; I have just finished my support and teaching learning apprenticeship. I’m doing my driving lessons and have a lovely 2-bedroom flat. When I first met Claire I didn’t work, didn’t go to college/training and I had just left supported accommodation, I had nothing really. I’m a lot happier in myself now and in the relationship, some people would say to me ‘leave him, you can do better, he will never change’ but slowly I can say it has, something I thought never would happen to, and I think that’s why it was always so hard to leave because I knew it would be for good. It was so hard to do it, but worth it and I couldn’t thank Claire enough for the help and support that she has given me.
Just like the age I was 16, young, left home, no money, not many interests, not many friends around and in a violent relationship people don’t know who to turn to I think if everyone was in a position to have a one to one then they should. The difference it made to me is massive, I would still be on rock bottom now, hurt or a lot worse.
I’m happy now and I thank everyone who supported me during the times I went through, I could’ve been seriously hurt and lived a life of the same thing going on, meeting that first time with Claire has changed me forever.
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