One woman’s story of living with violence
In the second of our articles profiling the work of Nelson Women’s Refuge,
Jane has two children, Annie, 7 and Robbie, 5.
She experienced violence from her husband over 10 years including name calling, put downs, threats, controlling where she went and who she spent time with, constantly calling to check her whereabouts and physical violence.
Jane was felt completely isolated and afraid that no one could help her. She had tried to leave before but always believed her husband’s promises to change his behaviour.
The last time she had begun the process of applying for a protection order, but stopped after her husband begged her not to shame him to his family and workplace and promised if she came back then this this time life really would be different.
However, once the ‘‘honeymoon phase’’ was over, the abuse continued and when her husband hit her one night, Jane called the Refuge 0800 Crisisline number.
It was late and Jane had fled to her sister’s. She was safe for the night. The next day Jane and the children entered the Refuge Safehouse, and their journey to safety began.
Jane said of this time: ‘‘My spirit was broken; I didn’t know how to go on, or whether there was any help for me…all I knew was that this (the violence) had to stop. I knew it wasn’t right and I was beside myself worrying about what it was doing to the kids. I didn’t know what was going to happen to us, where we were going to live, what we would live on, and whether he would come for us.
‘‘I was exhausted. I believed everything my husband told me, that I was a useless mother, that nobody liked me and I would never find anyone again who would put up with me…let alone love me.
‘‘The Refuge provided me with the space to rest and gather my thoughts and then helped me to make the appointments I needed and came with me for support.’’
Jane applied for a protection order and an interim parenting order and both were granted, as well as an occupation and furniture order meaning she and the children could go back to their own home, the children could stay at their school and be near their friends. Her husband had to vacate the family home and abide by the conditions of the orders.
Jane: ‘I felt bad for him, but I also knew that his behaviour wasn’t going to stop unless he chose to stop and that his behaviour was not my fault’.
The Refuge Child Youth Advocate worked with the children to help them to understand that the violence was not their fault and to develop individual safety plans and have their own support and advocacy.
Jane was keen for the children to attend the Refuge Tamariki Programme which they completed together the following school term.
Jane also attended the Refuge Women’s Programme as she wanted to understand the dynamics of domestic violence and loved the supportive group sessions with other women who had experiences similar to her own.
‘‘Being with the other women was great, so supportive and no pressure or expectations, no judgements. A few of us still meet up for a coffee from time to time.
‘‘Refuge helped me to find my strength to keep me and my kids safe, and the programme really brought home that I had done the right thing. I know that I can call them (Refuge) any time I am feeling wobbly and need to chat.’’
If you or anyone you know is in a violent relationship, you can call Nelson Women’s Refuge 24/7 on 0800 16 33 44 for advice and support.