Sarah’s story

“I probably wouldn’t be here, not through abuse but… I couldn’t have coped. I would have probably taken my own life.”

Sarah was in an abusive marriage for eight years of her life. Because her ex-partner never hit her, she never realised what she was experiencing was abuse. But, instead of psychical violence, he subjected her to a life under his control.

“It was all mental and controlling. Eventually it became financial as well… because he would take my wages and leave me with nothing. He had to have control over everything… If I went out, if I wasn’t back on time, he’d be phoning. So, I found myself clockwatching… it’s something I still do now.”

Under her ex-partner’s control, Sarah became a shell of her former self. Her friends watched as she became reserved and quiet. “I used to be the life and soul of a party,” she said. Despite her friend’s warnings, her ex-partner had her gripped so tightly that she was unable to escape his control. “I lost my shine, Sarah added. “I stopped looking after myself, I let myself go. I didn’t see the point.”


Eventually in March this year, right before lockdown, the control got too much, and Sarah, with her children, managed to leave. She was referred into our services, and two weeks before the national lockdown hit, we found her and her family a safe place to stay in our refuge. Life in refuge is hard at the best of times, but in a pandemic and in a lockdown, everything is that much more challenging. But for Sarah, this was a life saver. “[The abuse] was getting horrific, if I was stuck in lockdown with him, that would have been [it]… I probably wouldn’t be here, not through abuse but … I couldn’t have coped. I would have probably taken my own life.”

During lockdown, our case workers managed to support and care for Sarah. This included many phone calls, at a time when face to face meetings had to be kept at a minimum.

“The support I received was fantastic, Julian House gave me a room, with a roof over our heads, helped me with getting benefits back in my name so I had money, supported with food, anything I needed for the kids and all the help needed through the stages, like housing applications… They go through everything.”

10 months on and the future is looking much more positive for Sarah and her family. ” The future feels really good. I can be myself and … have my fresh start, get my home with my children, and build a life with just them…and not have the worry and not have … the chains… the feeling of being ground down … I feel free.”