*Clients name has been changed*

For the first time in a long time, Anne’s Christmas is filled with an environment packed full of love, respect and kindness. Due to Anne’s hard work and dedication to her recovery and her children, even on the days where she didn’t feel like getting out of bed- it will be laughter and magic sitting under their tree this Christmas.

One of the very first phone conversations I had with Anne, she described she felt weighed down and was living in auto-pilot; her voice was very quiet and we had to schedule a call for when her then husband wasn’t home. It was only when Anne started counselling she started to realise that she was experiencing domestic abuse which led her to get in contact with Next Chapter.

Her preparator had a porn addiction, this was progressively getting worse and he would want to act this out in the bedroom- Anne was scared of losing him or that he wouldn’t be happy so would agree to these things even though the things he would want to act out were getting more and more rough. Anne was also experiencing emotional abuse, he had manipulated the household to comply with his need to feel in power, Anne was convinced she was unable to cook a fried egg or porridge as it was simply too hard for her to do, only he had the skills to make this.  Anne would feel intimidated, he would throw things close to her face and she felt at times that he would hit her.

The day that it all changed was when her preparator was arrested for coercive control and bailed to a different address, this was fantastic for Anne as suddenly she had her freedom.

Anne and myself have been working together through her trauma, in this time I have seen her go from strength to strength. On the tough days we have spoken things through, re-assuring her that she did deserve a life without abuse, she wasn’t overthinking things and she was believed. On the good days we have celebrated her milestones together, cheering and clapping reflecting back on her progress. I remember her telling me once that she made her and her children an egg sandwich, and it was better that her perpetrators ever were, this was a massive step and it was one of the first bits of solid evidence that he’d created a world of lies.

 We have had lots of really positive outcomes some being Anne’s housing application is in progress so her and her children can be re-homed somewhere her perpetrator doesn’t know the address. This will allow them as a family unit to feel more secure. Anne is now financially independent, this allows her to be in control and more stable. She is feeling able to go through the court process, she has access to a solicitor and feels confident to answer truthfully.

In terms of her personal milestones: Anne speaks louder and with more confidence, she explained even the way she walks is with her head held high, she has recently completed a qualification and is going onto start her own business. She has worked incredibly hard with her children to ensure their recovery, advocating for their trauma alongside hers. Anne is proud of herself, what she has achieved and is ready for her future, starting with this Christmas, abuse free.