Choosing the right time to flee - S's story

Here’s the story of S and her two children who needed to flee, but needed help planning how/when/where


We received a telephone call to the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline from S. She sounded very low on the phone and said she needed to flee her relationship. Her husband was away but would be returning to the family home the next evening.  S was frightened of her husband; she wanted to leave him and had attempted to do so six months earlier but he’d found the number of a refuge that she’d been keeping, they’d argued and she was too scared of leaving. Here’s the story in her own words:

“I’d been to see my GP and he’d signed me off work with depression and anxiety. The GP gave me the number of the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline as I’d confided in him a little bit about my situation. I called and explained all about the abuse that I was suffering and hiding. I couldn’t trust friends or family – if my husband found out, there’s no telling what he’d do. He’d start arguments and call me all kinds of names; occasionally he’d also be violent towards me – I was always scared that the kids would see but, he was very careful that they didn’t – it’s almost as if he planned when he picked on me. As it was, I wasn’t in touch with most of my friends anymore; no one really understood just what my life was like. It wasn’t worth having them round as I spent my life walking on eggshells.

At the time I made the call my husband was away working but was due home the next evening – I knew there wasn’t time to get everything ready for me and the children to go, but I wanted to at least have a plan.

ACT came back to me really quickly. They’d contacted the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on my behalf and they’d done a refuge search. Unfortunately, the two places that they found in nearby counties did not give me enough time to gather everything I needed. However, ACT gave me the refuge search reference number and explained that my contact details were now on the database and I could call anytime and wouldn’t have to repeat my story or give my details again. 

I bought a cheap mobile phone so that ACT could keep in regular contact.  My domestic abuse support officer was amazing; she called regularly to make sure I was safe and helped me make a plan to flee safely with my children.

Just six days after my original phone call to the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline, I was able to text ACT to let them know we’d been offered a space at a refuge in the same county as a trusted family member.  You have no idea how relieved I was; at last, I could picture a life without domestic abuse.

ACT kept in touch and went over and over the exit plan with me and we’d worked out the best and safest date. Although I was incredibly nervous, I managed to leave my home and move into the refuge with my children just 12 days after the original phone call. Although I left with nothing, ACT has helped me take action and I know that eventually, with their support, I’ll be able to find a place of my own, get work, and take back my independence after so many years. It’s such a massive relief. Me and the children can breathe without fear.

My advice to anyone living with an abuser, call the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline – they probably saved my life.”

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