Talk about abuse campaign – Sandra’s story
Every year Citizens Advice helps more than 5,000 victims of domestic abuse. In this blog, Sandra, a survivor of domestic abuse who was helped by Citizens Advice, talks honestly and frankly about her experience, including how she suffered emotional and sexual abuse. As a result, some readers may find some of her story distressing.
“I suffered domestic abuse for 10 years. It started with not being able to go out when I wanted and where I wanted. He checked what I was wearing and I had to report back to him about who I spoke to and what had been said in the conversation.
I couldn’t make a cup of tea when I wanted. I had to sit in a certain chair in the lounge. He made me sit in the dark. That was hour after hour, day after day.
If he wanted to have sex he would make me undress and then make me do things I didn’t want to do and then he would do things to me that I didn’t want him to do. He raped me three times.
He made me feel worthless. All my confidence was gone and I didn’t like myself.
The signs that family and friends should look out for are when someone stops socialising with their friends. They lose interest in doing things they used to do like volunteering, or going to work, or going out. They are not as confident as they once were. They may start to look different because they are wearing makeup to hide bruises.
Another sign is that they are reluctant to go home. Or that they don’t want to see their family and friends when they are with their partner.
My own family couldn’t see the wrong side of my partner because everything happened behind closed doors. They couldn’t see the problems and they couldn’t understand how much it affected me. I would have liked my family to have been there for me. I would have liked a phone call once in a while to check I was OK.
I left my partner a few years ago and for a long time I struggled with things like getting ready for bed. Just having a bath or shower was a traumatic thing for me. I was left with a lot of mental and emotional problems.
My faith has really helped me. Recently, I went to a church and I found support in the love and fellowship of Jesus and the church.
I am starting to socialise and make new friends. I am now able to get ready for bed every night and have a bath. I have found hope and that has turned my life around.
Everybody in the domestic abuse service has been absolutely fantastic. I want to thank them for all they have done for me
I would like to say to anyone suffering domestic violence – there is help out there and you will be believed. I would say get support and make yourself safe.
And, I would say to someone who suspects that their family member or friend is being abused – that person needs all the support you can possibly give them.”
Talk about abuse
If you are affected by domestic abuse there are specialists who can help you. See our online advice on domestic abuse, where you’ll find lots of organisations that can help.
If you think a friend or family member may be experiencing domestic abuse, see our guidance on how you can talk to them about it and direct them to places where they can get further help.
Citizens Advice campaigns to prevent domestic abuse – read more about our Talk about abuse campaign