For Christmas, this year we have decided to focus on the positives that we have achieved as a team and the successes that our clients have achieved with our support. 2020 has been a strange year for everyone – to say the least! But instead of focusing on the bad, let me tell you about a recent client I worked alongside to leave her abusive relationship.

Lisa (name changed for safety reasons) was referred into our service by her community nurse at the specialist mental health team. Lisa had been admitted to the mental health unit with intent to end her life, spending two weeks in hospital before returning home to her perpetrator. The first obstacle to support was being able to get into contact with Lisa. Her life was wholly consumed by her perpetrator and he controlled every aspect of her life – they lived together and worked together. The only time Lisa got alone was during her one-hour weekly appointments with her mental health nurse, so I was able to liaise with her nurse to arrange a time to talk to Lisa openly. When we were safely able to talk, Lisa disclosed extensive sexual, financial, emotional abuse and coercive control over many years. After speaking with Lisa, it was clear that I needed to gain her trust and reassure her that despite all the hurdles to overcome, there was a way out.

After a few phone calls where I was able to help to build Lisa’s self-confidence, she decided that it was time for her to leave this abusive relationship. The mental health nurse and I were able to liaise with each other and create a plan for Lisa to leave and I was able to secure her a space at a women’s refuge in a lovely place in the countryside. Ensuring Lisa was safe was our top priority throughout the support so we completed a thorough safety plan are were able to get the police onboard, notifying them of Lisa’s plan to flee and for them to respond to any calls from her address or number as a priority.

After lots of planning, stressing, and worrying Lisa was able to put the plan into action and flee to refuge. As a result of her inner strength and courage Lisa is now living a life which is free from domestic abuse and she can now begin to work on her recovery in a safe environment. Lisa has taught me that there is no hurdle too big to overcome.

Covid-19 has isolated victims more than ever before, but Lisa’s story shows you that no matter what is happening in the world, there is always a way out.

From myself and everyone at Next Chapter, I hope you have a (safe) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!