Stacey is a 29 year old, White British woman with a two year old daughter.  Stacey worked in a professional role for local government and was completing her final year of a degree. Her ex-partner Mark held a managerial role within the National Health Service.

Stacey and Mark had been together for 11 years. At the start of the relationship he was very caring. He just wanted to be with her all the time – then he didn’t want her to go out with her friends and then he started to “help” her choose her clothes. It was only later that Stacey realised that right from the start he had been possessive and quietly controlling her.

Mark quite quickly became demanding in the relationship and starting pushing Stacey around. At first she didn’t think this was an issue, saying ‘he only pushed me as he was annoyed’, ‘I was winding him up’, and she began taking responsibility for his actions - blaming herself.

Stacey and Mark both progressed well in their careers which caused more stress in the relationship. Stacey was popular at work and began to make friends. She didn’t really socialise outside with them as she had acknowledged to herself, but not really admitted, that this would cause more problems for her.

The first time Stacey realised that things had become a problem was one evening after a friend came over to the house. Mark came home and was very short with them both, so the friend felt very uncomfortable and left. Almost straight away, Mark laid into Stacey- punching, kicking, slapping her, and screaming at her that Stacey and her friend were laughing at him.

Stacey said it seemed like after the first beating it was like a green light came on for him to attack her whenever he wanted. He would fly off the handle and go into a rage at the slightest thing and often did not appear to remember what he had done. Stacey said ’It was like he was possessed’.

The violence went on for many years. Stacey did not confide in anyone as she felt ashamed and to blame. She said that she did think about leaving but didn’t have the self-confidence to think she could manage alone. Mark had spent so long telling her that she was worthless, she felt she would never cope without him. Stacey had wanted a baby for a long time and she continued to hope that if she got pregnant things would improve.

Stacey did get pregnant and Mark was over the moon. Stacey said right from the test being positive she knew that she would protect her pregnancy in whatever way possible. Mark was loving and caring, at first, but wanted Stacey to give up her job. When she refused he got violent again. After one incident, Stacey had to run out of the house, at night, in her nightdress. She walked two miles to her mum’s house and confided in her what had been happening.  Her mum was very supportive and angry. She had realised that something was wrong but had no idea what.

Stacey went home a few days later wanting to try to work things out. Mark was sorry for everything that he had done and promised to change.  He changed for about two weeks, then the violence started again. Stacey confided in her midwife and they talked through options of support for her. Stacey received support from DV services and began to realise the seriousness of her situation.

Stacey chose to stay, wanting to try and make a family unit. They were both overjoyed when their daughter was born.Then Stacey suffered post-natal depression. She confided in her GP what had been happening at home. She was prescribed anti-depressants, but when Mark found out he was extremely angry.  The violence got worse. On one occasion Stacey locked herself in a room and had to jump out of a window with her daughter in her arms to escape.

Stacey decided that she could not stay after one particular incident - when Mark started hitting her whilst she was feeding her daughter. She realised that her baby was in danger, and yet Mark didn’t care about this.

Stacey moved into refuge and was extremely withdrawn initially. Her daughter was also very withdrawn and would not leave her mother’s side for many weeks. Stacey had to sleep with her and her daughter screamed when she left the room.

The abuse didn't stop. Mark started sending very threatening texts and messages when he realised that Stacey was not coming back. He left very detailed messages about what he would do to her if he found her.  He constantly stalked her mother’s house, often sitting outside for 12 hours at a time. The police were informed but he would drive off when they turned up.

Stacey felt unable to leave the refuge as she felt that he would be able to find her. She didn’t even want to register with the local GP; as she felt Mark would try and get access to her medical records.

Then Stacey began to attend educational groups at the Refuge. She worked on The Freedom Programme, and began to open up to her key worker and gained support from other residents. Stacey then began to really understand that none of this was her fault.  With time, and lots of assistance, Stacey realised that she could live independently and that she didn’t need Mark's support. Mark had undermined and criticised her parenting and  made her feel that she was not good enough but Stacey began to realise that she was quite capable.

The threatening text messages continued, as did the voice messages, which were all passed on to a solicitor. Stacey took out a non-molestation order and felt confident enough to go back to work. She felt this was a good start towards getting on with her life.

Stacey began to be happy again and to look forward to her future. She was overjoyed to find that Mark had moved out of the county. Her concerns about him lessened greatly.

Stacey is now living in her own property and is continuing to build on the foundations laid down in the refuge.

 

We support many women like Stacey and here is some of the things they have to say about Women’s Aid Leicestershire Ltd.

“No words can say how grateful I am for all the help, advice and support I have received. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem enough.”

“Had I known about the refuge before I would have never let myself be put through what I went through for all those years.”

 “You have shown me how to be independent and live my life free from fear.”