Read about the incredible courage of a mother and her children to resist the horrific violence in their lives, and how their tenacious caseworker Liz supported them to safety.
'I didn’t want to tell her anything. That was too dangerous. But I did tell her to believe my kids.'
Women who have never been hurt by their husbands probably wonder about women like me. They probably wonder why I stayed or why I put up with it.
My husband hit me on the first night of our marriage. He has hit me many, many days since. In the beginning I told no one. My family live on the other side of the world. I came here to marry my husband. I didn’t have anyone to tell and I didn’t have anywhere to go. For two years I was silent and ashamed.
Picture of bird flying in the sky.
'I tried to protect them from what their dad did to me.'
Picture of a close up of caseworker Liz.
When I got pregnant with Morgan I knew I needed a plan. I decided to tell my mum. She lives in Europe. I started by taking photos of all the injuries my husband left on me. I would send them in an email to my mum. No words, just the photos. And then I also started recording the sound of it all. Right before I knew he was going to hurt me I would press the record button on my phone. It meant there was a record of his shouting and the sounds of his violence. And more often than not, me crying. I sent those recordings to my mum, as well as the photos. And every time I deleted those emails as soon as I sent them. I had to be careful. I did that for 10 years.
We didn’t talk about it much, mum and me. It was too awful. But I knew she was keeping all those photos and recordings. I knew it must have been hard for her to open them. She was protecting me by looking after them for all those years. When the time was right I would use them. And maybe, deep down, I also sent them in case there was a day when he went too far. I knew if that happened my mum would tell my story.
I didn’t see my mum or my family once during those years. I knew they hated what was happening to me. They couldn’t come to me and I couldn’t go to them. I had three beautiful children and I poured my love into them. The same love my mum gave me. I tried to protect them from what their dad did to me.
'My mum and my kids and me. Together we told a story that needed to be told.'
I did leave him once. I saved every cent I could and found a place for us. I had to do it all in secret and it took time. He found us in that new place. It didn’t take him long at all. I was in more danger then than I ever was and so were the kids. He was back living with us hurting me again while I worked on another plan. But I’ve never put up with it and I’ve never got used to it.
My other plan was to get educated. I studied English first and now I am almost finished a nursing degree. It means independence. My husband didn’t like me studying and he didn’t like me making friends with anyone.
It came to an end the night my husband strangled me and Adam gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation and Morgan fought his dad. My boys saved my life. The next day they went to school and they talked. I got a call from Liz. She introduced herself and told me about her job. I didn’t want to tell her anything. That was too dangerous. But I did tell her to believe my kids. I like that she asked my permission to talk to them. Liz respects me as their mum.
Not only did Liz believe my kids but she got the police to believe them too. They charged my husband and they saw my injuries. And then my mum sent them all the photos and recordings with all the times and dates on them. Ten years of hurt delivered from across the sea. The police changed the charge to attempted murder.
After that I started to tell Liz more. I had some of the photos of the recent injuries my husband left on me. One day I asked Liz if I could show her. Those photos were like the words I would not say aloud. It was the safest way for me. Liz was the only person I showed those photos to; not even the police. I saw in her eyes what she saw when she looked at them. I know that she doesn’t wonder why I stayed.
We’re now safe like we never have been before. I asked Liz to celebrate Morgan’s 11th birthday with us. I wanted her to see the difference in our family and to share cake with my brave boy. I’ll be a nurse soon. I hope I can do as good a job with people who are afraid or alone as Liz did for us. I can’t wait until I am working – it means I can save to take my kids to meet their grandmother. I know she will love them. I wait for that day more than anything in the world.