SPECIAL REPORT ON DOMESTIC ABUSE: You do not have to suffer in silence
While this time of year should be filled with joy and festivities, behind closed doors the situation can be very different.
According to the charity SoLDAS (South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service), one in four women are affected by domestic abuse and one in six men.
Some people endure more than 50 incidents of domestic abuse before they seek help.
The charity, which is also known as Boston Women’s Aid, has outreach and drop-in centres in Holbeach, Sutton Bridge, Boston and Spalding, and a number of programmes to help both the individuals and families affected by domestic abuse.
It also offers a ‘Freedom Programme’, an 11-week course to give further support to those who may have left an abusive relationship.
Sarah Smith, operations manager at SoLDAS, said: “Domestic abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or it can be social isolation.
When you are in the relationship, you keep thinking things will get better. But that is just justification. That is what you have been conditioned to – that mindset. I was in a complete haze.
“It is controlling behaviour. That can include financial control.
“People do not leave after the first physical incident. It may go on and on and on.
“It might be that you cook a meal and they say, ‘that was rubbish’; sometimes the birth of a child will bring it to the boil.
“But people may put up with it, thinking it is just part of the relationship and some will say, ‘I’m waiting until my daughter or son goes to uni, or gets married’, or ‘I’ll wait one more Christmas’.”
Jayne (not her real name) suffered domestic abuse for 20 years.
She said: “The abuse went on and off over that time. It was violent, emotional, controlling and obsessive.
“I went to Women’s Aid about five years ago to their Spalding drop-in centre. I spoke about what was happening; but at that time I was not ready to leave.
“I went back to him but I had a really bad time over a period of a few days and the police were involved and he was arrested.
“I spoke to someone and said ‘I need help’. I have never looked back since.
“I have taken everything given to me. It is not easy. You have all the emotion and it affects your self-worth.
“You feel you are useless. That did not go away. I was very lucky to regain my freedom.
“When you are in the relationship, you keep thinking things will get better. But that is just justification.
“That is what you have been conditioned to – that mindset.
“I was in a complete haze. You think it is the norm. Cooking a meal, for example, always became a massive ordeal.
“Food would end up on the wall or at me. You give yourself a hard time for putting up with it.
“I do believe that if I did not reach out for help I would not be sat here.
“At Women’s Aid there is no judging. It is not judgemental. We are all human beings.”
Sarah said: “There is a fine line between love and hate. You can really love someone but do not like their behaviour or how they are.”
Jayne added: “You cannot let it beat you.
“It is learning what is right and what is wrong. Things can change on a daily basis. It’s an emotional roller coaster.
“You become ‘conditioned’ to the behaviour once you’re in an abusive relationship and you see a lot of people going through that”.
Jayne attended SoLDAS’s Freedom Programme which she says was a massive support in helping her to move on.
SoLDAS also runs the Move On Together Mentoring Scheme which supports both the individuals and families of people affected by domestic abuse.
This includes helping people to explore options to make informed decisions and plans for the future and to provide a non-judgemental listening ear.
Luke Hart (28) and his brother Ryan (26), from Spalding, have publicly spoken out about their experience with domestic abuse. While Luke asked us not to go into detail again about what happened, he said: “At the time you might not consider it abuse. You just learn to live with it and you become blind.
“I think it is part of being resilient. To be resilient you think you have to accept it.
“It is hard to get out of it as the abuser cuts all of your ties and makes you rely on them.
“You feel as if they have stolen your future and that is why people go back.
“Don’t be ashamed to get help.”
DROP-IN SESSIONS FOR PEOPLE SEEKING HELP:
In Lincolnshire, 20,000 females and 7,500 males reported being victims of domestic abuse over 2015-2016.
SoLDAS wants to get the message across that there is help.
○ In Spalding, there are drop-in sessions at the Citizens Advice Bureau at the South Holland District Council offices, Priory Road, on Tuesdays from 10am until 3pm.
○ In Holbeach, the sessions are at the Coubro Chambers, West End, on Thursdays (10am until noon).
○ In Sutton Bridge they are at the Sutton Bridge Medical Centre, Railway Line, on the last Thursday of the month from 1-3pm.
SoLDAS also runs awareness programmes for children who may have witnessed domestic abuse.
The ‘Volcano’ programme is aimed at children aged five to 18 years and allows them to talk about their feelings or concerns.
‘The Volcano in My Tummy’ is for younger children, and ‘The Volcano In My Head’ is for older children at secondary school.
○ To get in touch with SoLDAS, for help and advice, contact Boston Women’s Aid at www.bostonwomensaid.org.uk or call 01205 311272.