A victim of domestic abuse has praised the support she received from a South Tyneside charity she believes “saved her life.”
Tracey* had suffered 24 years of violence at the hands of her husband before she finally managed to escape.
However, the 56-year-old mum’s ordeal didn’t end there as he continued to harass her - even attacking her at her place of work.
It was then she was put in touch with Options - run by Impact Family Services - where she took part in the Freedom Programme which she says saved her life.
She said: “My life was hell. Every time he beat me I used to pray that, this time, it would finish me off. I wanted to die.
“It sounds stupid now but, when it started, I didn’t even recognise it as abuse.
“I’m so glad I was introduced to Julie and to Options, without them I wouldn’t be here.”Tracey
“The beatings were daily. At one point he beat me so badly I was unrecognisable. He hid me in the house for days. When I eventually go out he told everyone a wardrobe fell on me.”
She added: “That was the worst beating. My jaw was over to one side, my nose was broken and my eyes were down into my cheekbones.
“I tried a number of times to leave and, when I finally managed to get enough courage to do so, I got to a refuge but he found me and dragged me back. At that time there was no one to protect you.”
For Tracey, the final straw came when - on a family holiday - her husband spent all their money in the first week, leaving her to rely on friends to provide cash just so she could feed herself and her children.
She was also beaten.
She said: “After the holiday, I just knew I couldn’t take any more. I just left. I didn’t care what happened, I just wanted out.
“It was really difficult but I’m glad I did it. I think more people should be trained in domestic abuse awareness.
“I’m so glad I was introduced to Julie at Options. Without them I really beleive I wouldn’t be here.”
Tracey was guided towards Options where - after two years of help, advice and support - she decided she was ready to take part in the charity’s Freedom Programe.
The 12-week programme aims to help women to identify the traits of a perpetrator and to help them to develop ways of thinking and behaving to protect themselves, their children and others from harm.
Julie Robinson, Options project manager, said: “The Freedom Programme helps women to identify the traits of their abuser and aims to show them that what has happened is not their fault.
“A lot of victims are adamant what has happened is a result of them and their actions, it’s something they did and they deserved it, because that is what they are made to believe by their abuser.
“This programme aims to help them recognise the beliefs held by abusive men to show them that what has happened is no fault of theirs and the recognise the impact of their life experience on their own attitudes and beliefs. It also takes them through what steps they need to take to protect their children - but more importantly how to take control of their own lives - something they never had thanks to their abuser.”
Campaign to keep services
Impact Family Services has launched its Creating a Home campaign - which aims to raise £8,000 to ensure the service keeps going.
The Creating A Home project was launched two years ago.
It costs £8,000 a year to run and relies on donations of cash and good quality second hand furniture.
The scheme helps to give those who escape their abusive partners the chance to start a new life and create a safe home for them and their children.
With funds raised from the 16-day campaign, the charity will be able to buy essential household furniture including white goods, pay for emergency accommodation and provide funds for essential removal costs.
To donate visit www.mydonate.bt.com/charities/impactfamilyservices or visit www.impactfs.co.uk and use the donate button.
Victims can get help
Anyone suffering domestic abuse at the hands of their partners or family members can seek help:
Options (Impact Family Services): For women who are suffering domestic abuse - 0191 456 7577. Out of hours 07921 395508 or 07545 08671.
Mens Advice Line: For men who are suffering domestic abuse - 0808 801 0327.
Northumbria Police Choice Helpline: For those suffering honour based violence - 0800 5999 365
Broken Rainbow - Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are victims of domestic abuse - 0300 999 5428
Young Person Violence Advisor - for those aged 13-17 who are in an abusive relationship - 0191 427 2850.
Apna Ghar - for women from the ethnic minority suffering from domestic abuse - 0191 456 4147.