Julie was mentally and physically abused for much of her young adult life before she discovered Broxtowe Women’s Project (BWP). With BWP’s love, support and kindness we have helped Julie to find a reason for living and to learn how she can try and live with the memories that continue to haunt her.
In this case, time is not a healer, the pain Julie feels today when she thinks back to the abuse feels as raw as the day it happened. Despite that, she wants to tell you what she’s been through in the hope she can help women like herself realise they aren’t alone and help is out there.
Naïve and no-one to turn to
I look back now and realise how naïve I was when the abuse started. I was so young, I didn’t even realise what was happening to me was so serious at the time. I just didn’t get it.
Jason was the first proper boyfriend I’d had; I was only 17 years old when I first met him. I thought he was everything I needed and he made me feel wanted and safe.
My parents lived in Cyprus and I suppose I didn’t really have anyone around me to tell me otherwise. With no-one keeping me back me and Jason moved to Bournemouth overnight – we got on a train and we just went.
We didn’t have anything to go to – no friends, job or home. We were staying in hotels and when we couldn’t pay the bills any more we’d move from one to the next, trying to get out of payments. It wasn’t long after we got there that I fell pregnant with our first child. In the meantime Jason would be xxx and was taking advantage of my benefits, using them to xxx.
The violence began
When I was 18 our firstborn arrived, it was such an overwhelming feeling; I was far away from home with a new baby and no-one around to support me.
I’ll never forget when I took us out for the day and I was horrified that my little baby had gotten sunburnt. I felt awful, I was so upset, but I was so young and I didn’t know what I was doing.
Well I paid for it. When Jason found out he flipped and I got a battering. Little did I know at the time, it would be the first of many.
I was so frightened and shocked; I couldn’t believe what he had done to me. The first chance I got I escaped back to Nottingham. But the escape didn’t last and from that moment on, life for me got worse. More horrendous than I could have ever known.
Moving from pillar to post
Back home I managed to get somewhere to live, but I had all this responsibility and I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know how to pay a bill, I didn’t know how to cook. I knew nothing. So I ended up getting back with Jason, because I was scared. He managed the money and it was easier to get back with him than to struggle on my own.
The abuse carried on though, he knew he had a hold on me and he took advantage of that. I find it really hard to talk about this, it still upsets me now thinking back to it, but he would always pinch me, while I was walking down the road to cash my book in. So he could have the money.
I probably didn’t realise it at the time, but our relationship wasn’t like a proper one. He’d come and go – I’d be moved from pillar to post with no proper support from anyone – and he’d always find me. He always made sure I knew he was there.
He didn’t give me an ounce of respect ever and at one point I came back to my house to find him there with some girl on his knee. He just didn’t care. He made me feel worthless.
Trying to take my own life
Time went on and Jason ended up in prison for five years and I ended up meeting somebody else. I met him in the September, married him in March and ended up divorced the following May, but it wasn’t the whirlwind romance it sounds like.
He would always push me and hit me and at one point he broke my arm and I ended up in hospital. No-one there offered to help me. Even when I said something like “you know what husbands are like”. Nothing.
Although I’d thought I’d got rid of him, once Jason was out of prison he soon wormed his way back into my life. He didn’t hit me so much this time, it was more mental abuse. He mentally abused me to the point where I was nothing. He would call me a tramp and say things like “look at the state of you.” I couldn’t take the abuse anymore and I took an overdose. The next thing I remember is waking up on the kitchen floor and I knew things had got bad. That’s when I decided to text someone for help and it was this friend who led me to seeing a psychiatrist.
I guess it’s at that point my life started to take this turnaround. I was referred to the doctors where I found out about Broxtowe Women’s Project (BWP), but at the time I couldn’t have imagined the difference they were about to make to my life.
My guardian angels
I made the call and all of a sudden I had these guardian angels. They made me feel like I was worth something. One of the outreach workers was coming to my house for a long time before I could even talk to her without crying, but nothing was ever too much for her, nothing is ever too much for anyone at BWP.
They told me about the Freedom Project, a course BWP run to help people like me make sense of what happened to them. And there were women on that course with me who had been through what I’d been through. It was like I had been trapped in this little world for so long, I hadn’t looked around me anymore, but it made me realise I wasn’t alone and it didn’t have to be that way.
I can barely walk places on my own because of what I’ve been through, but BWP were there to pick me up in the car and take me to these sessions. I was listened to, I was never judged.
Guardian angels are real people down on earth who support you, picking you up when you’re down. BWP have put their wings around me and they haven’t let go since. They are so important to women who have been abused.
What I’ve been through, it’s hard to come back from, but do you know what? I’m still here now and that is thanks to Broxtowe Women’s Project and I just wish people realised if they just picked up that phone, they could get the help and support they need.