‘MY FATHER THREATENED TO BREAK MY BONES IF HE SAW ME’
LISA (not her real name) was 16 when she and her mother fled her abusive father.
“It had gone on throughout my childhood,” she recalls. “My father had tried to break my wrists and would shake my sister and tear up my mum’s clothes. My mum was his servant. It was frightening. I used to always feel I was walking into a black bubble when I walked into the house.”
Things came to a head two years ago when her father lashed out in rage. “He went to hit me and was screaming.” Lisa ran out of the house, at which point her father phoned her sister “and said he was going to break my bones if he saw me again, and he tore my face out of a family photograph”.
Lisa called the police, who took her father away for questioning for a few hours. On his return, Lisa and her mother escaped through the back door. “We knew we had to leave as things had got too bad. We were terrified.”
For the next four months, Lisa slept on friends’ floors until one of her sisters heard about Jewish Women’s Aid. “Within a couple of days we had met up with them and had been given a room in the refuge.”
Despite this sanctuary, Lisa became depressed and found it hard to cope. “I was having panic attacks and wanting to hurt myself. But JWA were amazing. They gave my mum counselling and paid for me to go to a counsellor. They continued paying for me long after I left the refuge. They also helped my mum with finances and gave her money to get her started again. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without JWA. It’s thanks to them that I’m still here.”
Lisa and her mother could also continue celebrating the festivals while in the refuge — “it was so important to us”.
Lisa is now at college studying for her A levels. Her father committed suicide last year.