After experiencing 17 years of anguish in an abusive relationship, mother-of-four finally finds safety at a Yorkshire-based Refuge run by domestic abuse charity
- Every third woman will face domestic abuse or sexual violence in their lifetime
- Carol first met her husband aged 14, and their abusive relationship lasted an anguishing 17 years
- She eventually found the strength to escape late one night after an incident
- To get away, she drove her four children to a Refuge in Yorkshire ran by IDAS
How It All Began
IDAS dealt with over 4,000 referrals and supported 3,000 families during 2016 alone
Carol, aged 36, was just 14 when she first met her future husband. Two years her elder at the time, he at first appeared charming and loving. The relationship seemed like any other teen romance.
‘I started to spend all of my time with him,’ says Carol. ‘I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 16 and got a house with my boyfriend. This is when I noticed that he started to call me names and put me down.
Just a year later – at the age of 17 – Carol fell pregnant with the couple’s first child. It was when Carol was 8 months pregnant and on the way home from a family gathering that her abuser first punched her in the face.
‘I blamed myself and felt sorry for him so I stayed in the relationship. Soon, our daughter was born and when she was 3 months old my boyfriend came in one night in a mood and because she was crying he started to punch and kick me. I ended up in hospital.'
Over 10,000 reports of domestic abuse were made to North Yorkshire Police during the year 2016.
IDAS | 2015/16
Years of Anguish
During this time, Carol continued to face personal tragedy as she soon lost her dad to suicide. This was another reason she contributes to not being able to leave her abuser: he persuaded her no individual should be left to grow up fatherless – as she now would – and that she shouldn’t ever leave.
‘As the years went on the abuse increased,' shares Carol. 'It was physical, financial, and sexual. If he did not get sex when he wanted it he would accuse me of sleeping around and say that the children are not his, or hit me to get it.’
Her abusive and manipulative relationship went on to last 17 years, resulting in marriage and the birth of a further three children. Carol reports losing all her confidence and self-worth during this period. But one night, after her drunken husband returned home and proceeded to hit her, she decided enough was enough – and found the strength to get out of the household.
‘I got my 4 children out of bed and put them in the car and drove to some cliffs,’ recalls Carol of that life-changing night.
‘This is where I thought about killing myself – but lots of things went through my head and I didn’t. We slept on the top of the cliffs and when the children woke up, I drove to a Refuge.’
"I thought about killing myself - but lots of things went through my head and I didn’t. "
A Safe Place at Last
The Refuge was one located in Yorkshire, ran by the IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Service) charity. IDAS deal with over 4,000 referrals every year - equalling almost half of the total 10,000 reports of domestic abuse made to the North Yorkshire Police annually.
For Carol, the refuge was utterly transitional to her and her kid’s lives.
Carol and her four children found a safe haven at the refuge
'The Refuge staff were great. They made us feel safe and comfortable whilst we were there. This helped me to get my self-esteem and confidence back and realise that it was not my fault.'
IDAS and the Refuge also provided Carol with all the advice she needed, legally and financially. ‘The Refuge staff helped me sort out all of the benefits that I was entitled to, as the Child Benefit and Tax Credits were in my husband's name.
‘We lived in the Refuge for 11 months and in that time my children changed so much. They played with toys, made a noise (mostly laughing) and I got to play and know my children.’
Thankfully, Carol and her children are now safely living alone, and in her own words have managed to ‘rebuild their lives without Domestic Abuse.’ However, she believes this truly wouldn’t have been a possibility without the belief and support of the Refuge staff along the way.