A COURAGEOUS survivor of domestic violence has spoken out to mark the end of an international campaign.
Claire shared her story following the White Ribbon’s 16 Days of Action, which runs each year and aims to highlight and stamp out domestic abuse and sexual violence.
She had a two-year-old daughter at the time she met her abuser and fell pregnant after five months of dating what she thought was a ‘nice, caring although shy man’.
Soon after her partner began drinking and would become moody when challenged about it, calling Claire ‘stupid’ or ‘fat’ and restricting where she went and who she saw.
He isolated her from family and friends and began physically as well as verbally abusing her.
She said: “He always found ways to humiliate me and he didn’t care who knew. When my son was born I kept telling myself things would get better, they didn’t. He wrenched my arm back and damaged muscles in my arm, I tried to leave him but he had control of the finances.
“He kept threatening to get the kids taken off me, my confidence was so low I started to believe him. He was constantly humiliating me, I felt like I was worth nothing as a person, he convinced me I was fat (I was a size eight), he convinced me nobody liked me, I wasn’t allowed to be happy about anything.”
Whenever Claire tried to leave, he would send malicious reports to social services, break her windows and tell her he had paid people to attack her in the street.
“I started feeling too scared to be at home yet I had nowhere to go. I got so upset and scared I tried to disappear, at this point I had stopped eating and I had started pulling my hair out.
“I loved my children so much and knew they deserved a better life than that. I was a six and a half stone nervous wreck and I decided to fight back. I wanted my life back, I wanted to be here for my children.”
Claire pressed charges after he broke into her house and subjected her to a three-hour ordeal and he was given a suspended sentence and community service, a ‘small punishment’ for the years of torment and beatings.
She has now turned her life around in a ‘long and slow process’ of getting her identity back, qualifying as an electrician, meeting members of the Royal Family and taking up new hobbies as well as looking after her children.
“I’m proud to be a survivor and want to help others. It’s never too late to build a new life.”
For help and advice, call 0800 980 3331 (domestic abuse) or 01905 724514 (sexual abuse).