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This blog was shared with us by Nicola, a survivor of domestic abuse living in Scotland, as part of our Reach In campaign. Find out more about the campaign and what to do if you're worried about someone.

When I was with my abuser, the abuse was a kind of a hidden secret. I kept up work and had the kids immaculate, always on time for nursery – to an outsider looking in it looked like I had the perfect life. Except to one woman I worked with, Yvonne, she noticed some bruising on me completely by accident when I reached up to a top shelf for something. She became an anchor for me. She let me know that I wasn’t alone and listened and tried to help me find the courage to leave. I couldn’t have got through some days without her; a work colleague that became a forever friend.

My neighbour also turned out to be a great help to me. He was a quiet man; kept himself to himself, said hello in passing. I remember one time after a fairly ferocious beating I waited until my husband fell asleep in a drunken stupor, then passed the kids out of the bathroom window then climbed out myself. We ran to the top of the path and my neighbour had witnessed it all. He never asked any questions, he never judged me, he simply told us to get in his car and drove us to my dad’s house. He ended up a key witness in the court case, his help was invaluable.

I think what would have helped me when I was with my abuser is if my GP had asked me about the abuse. I displayed all the classic symptoms: stress, weight loss, reliant on anti-depressants, constant pregnancies and losses. I think the warning signs were there but my GP was an elderly gentleman and it possibly never occurred to him to look for these warning signs. I think if he had confirmed to me that he knew I was being abused I would have been able to confide in him. Sometimes someone just recognising what’s going on can make all the difference. 

After losing my second child – I was 20 weeks pregnant and had to have an operation, the baby had died at 15 weeks – I was hysterical and had to be sedated. After I came round there was one particular nurse that was assigned to care for me. This nurse cared for me and spoke to me but my husband was in the room. We shared a knowing look. I’m convinced she knew what I was going through due to the bruises on my body, I think if I had had some time alone with her she could have assisted me in confessing  to someone and reaching out for help.