I think I first contacted BWP in July 2015 (on the advice of a private counsellor I had been seeing) just a week or two after my husband had left me. I had finally found the courage to tell my counsellor about the sexual abuse my husband had subjected me to and she felt that BWP would be able to help me.
I was appointed an outreach worker and they very quickly referred me to Nottingham Rape Crisis for more specialist support. In the meantime, I saw her regularly and she encouraged me to attend the ‘Freedom Programme’. My husband continued to harass and bully me throughout the legal divorce proceedings until eventually we had to seek mediation support which I really couldn’t have faced without the support of my outreach worker and my solicitor. My outreach worker had previously written to my solicitor explaining the situation and this made such a positive difference in how they dealt with me too.
Once the Freedom Programme ended, Rape Crisis encouraged me to attend their ‘Beyond Survival’ course and then eventually in Sept 2016 I began one-to-one counselling sessions with a specialist rape crisis counsellor which are still ongoing. My outreach worker also suggested that I inform my GP of the sexual abuse and, again, this has been so helpful during subsequent appointments with them.
I know the abuse that I suffered was not as severe as some of the other ladies that I have met on the Freedom Programme and Beyond Survival course, but meeting them has made a massive difference to my confidence and ability to face the future knowing that I’m not alone in what I have been through and that I don’t need to carry around the burden of shame and guilt that I have been.
By the time all the divorce arrangements were over (December 2016), I had managed to secure my home and business (I work from home), both of which my husband tried to take away. If I hadn’t received the support that I have from BWP, who were the lynch-pin in giving me the strength and confidence to fight for my survival, then I’m sure he would have succeeded.
I don’t think the psychological damage that he’s done to me will ever completely go away, but again because of BWP’s support and swift referral to Rape Crisis, I am learning to deal with my feelings and fears. The future still looks scary at times, but potentially exciting too and again, I don’t think I would have this outlook if it wasn’t for the amazing support I have received. You cannot imagine what a difference BWP has made during possibly the worst time in my life … thank you ☺
After 16 years of hard work, dedication and achieving success for Broxtowe Women’s Project (BWP), founder member Andrea Lucy-Hirst has decided to step down from the management committee. A conversation with her reveals how recognising the need for a local domestic violence service led to BWP and provides a few of her thoughts on what … Continue reading Domestic abuse – some things old, some things new