I thought he’d kill me if I stayed...or if I Ieft

Abused woman crying holding her face
Abused woman crying holding her face

SHE was threatened with a knife, kicked down the stairs and covered in lighter fuel – but Anna was too frightened to leave her abusive partner.

When he attacked her, she stopped herself crying out for fear of waking her four children.

Afterwards, he would tell Anna he was sorry and he loved her. Then it would happen again and again.

“For every time I called the police, there would have been 20 more times that I hadn’t,” she said.

“I was too scared to leave him. It’s so difficult. I didn’t feel safe in my own home. I felt scared and guilty.

“Eventually it stops hurting and you keep getting up. It got to the point where I thought ‘one day he’s going to kill me’.”

The abuse started only a few months into their relationship.

Sometimes he was drunk, other times he was sober and just looking for someone to take his anger out on.

He used to keep her awake, kicking her so she could not sleep. He would play mind games and even attacked her while she was pregnant.

Anna says she understands why many cases of domestic violence go unreported. She was too embarrassed to tell her family the extent of what she was suffering and that it kept happening.

Finally she plucked up the courage to go to the WomenCentre, in Halifax. At first, she was not ready to leave her partner but was able to get support and advice without being judged.

“No one at the centre ever made me feel bad,” she said. “They understood I had to be ready.

“Other people seem to get fed up of always hearing that you’re getting hit but no one was like that at the centre.”

At WomenCentre, on Silver Street in Halifax, the advice on offer included coping strategies to keep Anna and her children safe from her partner.

They were always on hand to listen, said Anna, and ask how they could help and what she wanted to do.

“I knew I was safe here”, she said. “I knew it was the one place he couldn’t get in.”

She was able to attend the centre’s domestic violence support group where she met other women who knew exactly what she was going through.

“They would say things that their partners had said to them and I’d heard exactly the same thing from my partner,” she said.

When she was ready to leave, she knew the WomenCentre were right behind her.

They have helped her access training, start volunteering and repair her shattered confidence.

Anna says the counselling her children have also been able to have through the centre has also made a massive difference to their lives.

She is hoping to start college next year and this Christmas, she and her children are looking forward to celebrating without the constant fear they have endured during other festive times.

“I didn’t think I would cope without him, I was in bits,” she said.

“But now I’m happy and I’m doing everything he said I couldn’t do.

“I would tell anyone in the same situation that there is help available and no one will judge you.

“People say you’re strong because you’re sticking with it but it takes more strength to walk away and realise that you are worth more.”

The WomenCentre’s support includes a 12-week programme for women who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse

To contact WomenCentre call them, call 01422 386500 or visit the centre between 9am and 5pm on Mondays to Thursdays and between 9am and 4pm on Fridays. Their website is at www.womencentre.org.uk.

To report domestic abuse to the police, call 101. There is also a 24-hour helpline for victims domestic abuse on 0808 2000247. For more information visit www.national domesticviolencehelpline.org.uk.