My name is Laura* and I’m 43 years old. I have 3 daughters aged 22, 18 and 10. I also have a beautiful granddaughter who is 2 years old.
Naturally, every parent will worry about their children. However, in my case I feel I have even more concerns. I worry about their physical health but more importantly I worry tremendously about their emotional health.
My daughters experienced a lot growing up due to the fact that my husband was extremely violent towards me. Although he almost never assaulted me in front of the children, they undoubtedly heard an awful lot. They heard things that no child should ever be subject to.
During my many years of marriage, I was horrifically and repeatedly abused in every way imaginable. I had my jaw broken, teeth broken, was strangled to the point of unconsciousness on countless occasions. On one hospital visit, where I had obviously lied about what had happened, I was told that I had whiplash and significant injuries similar to that of a car accident victim.
Despite knowing that his behaviour was unacceptable, I desperately wanted my marriage to work. I was scared 24 hours a day, not knowing when I would be beaten, degraded sexually, or financially and emotionally abused.
When my husband beat me up really badly in front of our then three-year-old daughter, I decided that was enough. I decided that although they had witnessed I was not going to allow my children to be witness to such despicable behaviour, despite them already being witness albeit audibly.
My husband left the family home, but he continued to stalk me and terrorise me for a long time after.
During a weekend contact visit he attacked our then five-year-old daughter. She was black and blue. I felt dreadfully responsible, and I still do. I hadn’t told many people due to feelings of embarrassment and fear, but after this attack on our child I finally gathered the courage to go to the police.
He was arrested and charged with one count of battery against me and 2 counts of ABH – one against me and the other against our five-year-old. The case was sent straight to the Crown Court due to its severity. He pleaded not guilty.
My young child had to be cross examined in court by Barristers and despite her young age she was highly consistent with the accounts she had originally given to the police.
Ultimately, even in the face of extreme evidence against him, including text message evidence where he had admitted these offences and that had been recovered from his phone by police forensics, he was found not guilty on all counts.
The detective in our case worked so hard and despite the not guilty verdict, she ensured that, on the basis of the evidence against him, he did not get his job back. The detective told me that this would be the way we’d get justice.
It was a sort of justice; however, I’d have much preferred him to have been held accountable for everything he did. I felt this to be a sure sign that domestic abuse is not treated seriously enough, even in this day and age.
This was an horrific time for myself and my girls and there was social services involvement for a time due to our ‘vulnerability’. I also still have a marker on my home for our protection and still live in some fear.
Although I know ultimately this was not my fault and that I did not deserve this, I found it difficult to internalise my worth as a person. I was so very, very scared so I can only begin to imagine how this was for my girls. I feel continuous guilt for being too weak to change things. Both for me, and for them.
Although this has been greatly difficult to revisit, I am happy that I can tell my story to perhaps go some way in helping others in any way I can.
Thank you for reading my story, my very real story.
*Names have been changed to protect identity.
Guidance Supporting people who may be experiencing domestic violence