‘My name is Lilly and I came to the Refuge at Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid because I had to flee my home with my two lovely daughters. My husband was very controlling and he treated me like I was a dog, he used to make me sleep on the floor next to his bed, he made me feel like a second-class citizen. The tenancy we had was all in his name and he would constantly threaten to throw me out on the streets and make me homeless.
He used to physically push me around and I was so scared of him I just lost all my confidence, my self-esteem was on the floor and I was so depressed I was taking anti-depressants. He controlled all my money and took all my benefit money. I worked part time and he took that money too and I had to access the local food bank. I felt so ashamed and guilty of what was going on in my home. I went to church but no-one knew, I kept it a secret and from the outside it looked like we were very happily married but I was dying inside.
He would emotionally abuse me by telling me that I was ugly and no other man would want me and that I was lucky to have him. Then one day I was in the bathroom and he would not let me clean my teeth so I flicked water at him, he then promptly called the Police and told them I had assaulted him by scalding him with hot water. The police came to our home and in front of my children they took me away, my children were crying and pleading with them not to take me. I was kept in a cell all night I just could not take any more so I told the police everything that was going on. They supported me to leave and I came to refuge.
I arrived at the refuge thinking that I was to blame for everything and thought as a good wife and Catholic I should go home to my husband. It took me a few weeks to settle and I have never looked back since. I have had Counselling once a week and I went on to the Freedom Programme which was amazing, it was life changing for me as I realised that none of this was my fault, it was his fault. I have had great support from the whole team not just my support worker. They helped me find my confidence and self-esteem, they helped me learn to budget my money. With my new-found confidence, I am now employed and work in a local school and I also work at the refuge as I have set up my own cleaning business and am now self-employed. I never thought I could do any of this but I have.
I am so happy and my girls are thriving at school, we are living a life where we do not need to worry about looking over our shoulders. I am self-sufficient and it makes me feels so proud of myself. I found my voice. My life has totally changed thanks to the refuge staff believing me and believing in me.’