I first accessed support from IDAS in 2018 after my ex husband was charged with harassment. At this stage I believed he would kill me and my two children. We lived in complete fear. I and my two children had endured physical emotional and psychological abuse for the majority of my 10 year marriage. I decided to go no contact and walk away for good. This decision was terrifying.
There is no doubt that no one understood what I was going through. Friends and family could not understand why I hadn't left before or just how bad things were for me. I often heard "if it was me I would have left years ago!". "I wouldn't have put up with that!". No one understood it was gradual....so gradual I didnt notice it. My ex husband was charming and a family man. If it was raining outside he would convince me the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. I began to doubt my own sanity.
No one could relate to my situation. It was a time of pure isolation and feeling of embarrassment and guilt. Guilt that I was in this position. How could an intelligent woman like me have ended up here? That is a common question I asked myself daily. What kind of a mother am I to have allowed this? I couldn't talk to family. I felt a huge degree of shame. I had support from them but not an understanding. That made it incredibly hard
The feeling of isolation was heart wrenching. It made me often believe I didn't want to be here. It was an extremely painful time.
My support worker was a light to me in a complete tunnel of darkness. She was professional but warm calming and reassuring. She made me immediately feel like I was worth something and that I was capable of achieving anything. There were times when I desperately wanted her to tell me what to do to make the decisions for me. She never did. She simply empowered me to believe in myself and allowed me to come to my own conclusions, always guiding me but always ultimately giving me the power to make a decision . My decision. Whatever decision that was she supported me. My IDAS support worker walked beside me often carrying me on bad days. She was there from start to finish. She was always on the other end of the phone if I needed her. She kept me informed when she wouldn't be available and rang me regularly for updates and to see how I was.
Domestic abuse grinds you down.. makes you forget any positive points about yourself. I felt down trodden and genuinely could not think of any positives about myself. I was at an all time low. My support worker seemed to quickly identify my strengths and reminded me of them each time she spoke to me. She gave me confidence again. She saw things in me that at that stage I simply couldn't see myself.
I remember saying often "I know this will sound stupid but..." My support worker always said 'no' your feelings count it won't sound stupid. My opinion counted. My feelings mattered. I eventually felt able to say how I felt knowing I wouldn't be judged. There was never a right or wrong answer. Just how I felt at that time was always paramount.
I believe whole heartedly that I would not have made the progress I have without my IDAS support worker. Her approach was gentle caring and it was evident throughout she had a genuine passion for her role within the organisation. She ultimately wanted to help me both practically and emotionally and see me succeed and I will be forever grateful for the help that was given to me.
Practically I was provided with window alarms for my house and safety planning was discussed with me. I was fully supported to stay safe which was a reassurance at such a difficult time.
I wasn't alone in this experience and that for me was my biggest fear. I could pick up the phone or email my support worker and I could guarantee that I would always get a response. I never felt like I couldn't or it was arkward. I was always reminded that the door was open for advice. The helpline was always an option for me if my support worker was unavailable.
For women like myself this service is massively essential. You are a life line to woman as you understand the fear, the pain, the trauma bonding, the loss, the grief, the feelings of guilt and embarrassment etc. You help unpick problems and support women in jumping over hurdles that on some days feel like mountains.
After 19 months of my ex husband being on bail it was decided that he wouldn't be charged. This hit me hard and I suddenly felt abandoned by the police who had been such a big part of my life over the last 2 years. They simply didn't contact me again. I was left with questions and a whole mixture of emotions. I was scared again and wondered if he would come and look for us. I was devastated at the result when we had had the courage to make a stand against him.
IDAS helped me emotionally and talked the outcome through with me many times and helped me try to focus on the future. My support worker allowed me to cry get angry and work my way through how I felt. This was a crucial time of support for me.
For me life is changing in a more positive way. I am still on a long road to recovery but I now feel safer. I have a new job. A new home. I'm beginning to laugh more and feel more positive about the future. I am accessing counselling and am awaiting to attend the power to change course all organised by IDAS. I now believe that I'm a strong intelligent woman and I'm capable of achieving anything. I feel stronger mentally and am proud to say I am a survivor of domestic abuse.