Every Story Matters

Survivor stories submitted to our online platform. Warning: this content may be upsetting for individuals who have experienced abuse and trauma.

In April 2018, we undertook a project called Every Story Matters, launching an online platform and inviting survivors to say in their own words what needs to change.

More than 500 hundred survivors shared their experiences and this helped shape our consultation response to the Domestic Abuse Bill.

This platform has now closed. Below are some of the stories submitted.

Warning: This content may be upsetting for individuals who have experienced abuse and trauma. There are descriptions or discussions about physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse. Reader discretion is advised, and self-care is encouraged while engaging with the content. If you are currently experiencing distress or need support, please get help and consider reaching out to a trusted friend or family member. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available.

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My parents severely neglected me, emotionally abused me and physically hurt me from around 18 months old. This included being hit with items like shoes and dragged down the stairs by my hair. My dad broke my arm twice.

My first long term intimate partner was very abusive, he raped me, hit me, tried to kill me. He strangled me with a wire and then threw me against a wall when I was pregnant with his child. After she was born it continued and he started on her too.

Eventually, when she was 10 months old I tried to run but he clocked on to my plan and stopped it. One day when he went out I locked the door from the inside so he couldn't get back in with his keys. He physically kicked the door down, beat me and knocked our baby unconscious. I called the police and they didn't come out until the next day - by which time he had fled. When they came, they sent a single officer who took brief notes and advised me to seek a custody arrangement.

After this we moved 250 miles away to safety although we spent those years homeless (I would have gone into a women's shelter, but I was 18 and did not know they existed then). When we moved back to our old area three years later, under the impression that it would then be safe, he tracked us down and found us within three months.

The last incident we had with him was when he turned up at my daughter’s new school, drunk and with the intention of taking her. The school supported me in taking him to court for a non-molestation order and we have been safe since.

While living together, he claimed benefits in my name without my consent or knowledge (forging my signature etc on the forms). He kept all the money from me and did not share his wages. At the time I was young, 17/18 and unable to work because of a lack of childcare and so I relied solely on him to feed us, keep a roof over our heads etc. This was partly why I stayed for so long, because I had no idea how not to. When he eventually left, he left no money and then a year later I got a letter from HMRC stating I owed over £5,000 in overpayments. When I called to ask why, they told me that I'd been claiming for two years, which was not true. I am currently still repaying that debt.

I don't feel safe because my house is easy to break into and I worry every day that he will find us. I also fear for my child's future, in case he tries to reach out or find her when she is older. I could not ever have another live-in partner because I do not know if it will happen again or not, there's never a guarantee.

This story was shared with us through our Every Story Matters project. Gemma is not her real name.

In the beginning it started with little things like calling me names such as 'slag' when I was going out. He would accuse me constantly of cheating and began checking my phone.

After we split it became worse. He would turn up uninvited at my house saying he was there to see our child. If I refused to have sex with him he would threaten to hurt me. He would constantly send threatening messages if I tried to ignore him. He would tell me where would bury me if I moved on and met someone new, and that if I didn't want to be with him I should leave the area for my own safety.

He raped me on a number of occasions and spiked my drink. He would throw things, punch walls and physically grab me if I tried to tell him to stop.

He would take my money to buy alcohol and drugs. If I said no he would be more abusive until I backed down. This left me struggling to pay bills and buy food for me and my child.

It still feels very raw and his absolute refusal to admit what he did to me has left me very angry. Although I still fear my ex I am so glad I left and went to court to fight for justice. I had so many worries about social services and how he would react if I reported him but none of it happened. [The domestic abuse service], Rape Crisis and my Isva (Independent sexual violence advisor) have been my absolute lifelines. It's a long process but me and my son are moving forward with life and I am able to see a future free from abuse.

This story was shared with us through our Every Story Matters project. Jane is not her real name.

It started with jealousy, checking my phone and emails, disapproving of male friends despite having female friends himself. He told me that his ex had cheated on him, so I mistook the jealousy for insecurity. In reality it was all about control. He also said he had PTSD, to which I then attributed any strange behaviour and felt for him.

He once threw a hot bowl of soup at me, scolding me and smashing the bowl. He then grabbed the smashed crockery and slashed his wrist with it. I also had minor cuts on my wrist which he inflicted. Afterwards he denied what he had done to me that evening and it was all about his suicide attempt. I went back with him.

A few years later I finally ended this abusive relationship after the birth of my second child. He was vile during that most emotional and vulnerable time. Enough was enough. At a point when I asked him to leave he went home and cut himself with a stanley knife and took selfies, and sent them to me saying that he had hurt me and lied to me. I now understand that this kind of behaviour is classic.

This story was shared with us through our Every Story Matters project. Michelle is not her real name.