A domestic abuse survivor who suffered extreme violence at the hands of her partner believes she would be dead but for refuges.
The 32-year-old woman from the Braintree district, who wishes to remain anonymous, told how her partner’s controlling tendencies grew into violence and described times where she would be bound to a chair and gagged, locked in the flat and burnt with cigarettes.
There are aspects of the abuse that she refused to talk about but to this day, ten years later, she suffers lasting effects of the injuries inflicted on her.
The months of violence culminated in her being chased down the street in her nightie before her partner caught her and began beating her head against the floor.
He was arrested and she was then told by the police that he was a heroin user.
That was one of the main catalysts, along with the violence and police intervention, that made her take the step of leaving.
Even during the court case, when she was surrounded by police officers, he spat at her from the dock and received only a short term in prison.
She was then forced to flee her flat in fear after a friend told her ‘he’s out, he has ripped off his tag and he is coming for you.”
She sought sanctuary in a refuge and said: “It is horrible. You have to leave everything and you are pretty much cut off from everything.
“You are cut off from everything and everywhere you know, but I was lucky I was in Essex.
“I was there quite a while and the stuff that I heard in there with other girls and the stuff they teach you – it saved my life.
“They run a programme called the domestic violence integration programme. I did that course in a matter of weeks, it was life-changing.
“It teaches you to recognise signs and that you weren’t in the wrong and that it wasn’t your fault.”
NEW proposals mean there could be a single point of access to domestic abuse services in Essex by 2014.