Share this page:

Sara had known her future husband for a few years before they got married.

He was charming and wealthy and Sara did not realise then that he was controlling her. Not long into their marriage Sara had a daughter and separately, she also became ill and had to go to hospital. Things changed. Her husband became more controlling and would lose his temper, even at the hospital when she was alone. Still Sara believed this was normal behaviour and his right.

Their relationship deteriorated and Sara continued to face not just anger and control directed towards her, but violence, including being hit whilst holding her daughter. Despite poor health she was made to sleep on the sofa on and off, for two years. This became so normal it was not questioned even by their daughter who was now growing. Nearly 10 years into marriage Sara contemplated separation, but her husband threatened to destroy her, take their daughter, and cut off all financial support if she did. Sara was able to turn to her parents and with their support behind her she filed for divorce.

 

Despite what she was going through Sara did not recognise her experiences as domestic abuse.

Sara’s husband moved out of their home, but continued to be abusive through texts and calls and threats to take their daughter away. Their daughter, still young, was becoming frightened by her father’s behaviour. Although Sara pleaded with him to be sensitive towards her, his attitude was that he could behave as he wished: it was his right as her father. At one point he came to the house and was so abusive and threatening in his behaviour that, frightened, Sara called the police. Her husband was arrested, but not charged. He stated that that she had called the police to benefit her case against him.

Sara’s husband demanded the right to take her daughter away when he wished, taking Sara to court to secure the right to take her away for a two week holiday. This became a pattern: taking Sara to court to get his way. This was something he could afford to do because of his wealth, but it was draining Sara financially.

His temper continued to escalate and he hurt their daughter on more than one occasion when she was in his care. As a result their daughter became more frightened of him, again causing Sara to call the police. Once he locked their daughter in his flat and scared her so much that Sara had to call the police after she had spoken to her daughter. When the police arrived they arrested Sara’s husband. He manipulated events to portray Sara as an unfit mother and the cause of the fear and anxiety they saw in the daughter.

 

Sara sought help from social services. Her husband convinced them that she was making up the domestic abuse and that she was suffering depression and fabricating lies.

The same happened with a mediation organisation who Sara initially approached. They told her that whilst her husband might have a bad temper, he was essentially a good man. Even the judges seemed biased against her. Sara’s experience throughout was that she was portrayed as a liar and discouraged from saying that her experiences were in any way related to domestic violence or abuse. The topic seemed one that no one was comfortable to handle.

Court proceeding followed as Sara’s now ex-husband tried to take custody of their daughter. Sara was not able to keep paying for lawyers so she was in a weaker position. The hearing to take custody of her daughter was sprung on Sara. She was unable to find representation or get an adjournment. Her daughter was taken away from her the same day without her being able to say good bye properly. This was an incredibly difficult time for Sara.

 

Sara was referred, by chance, to Woman’s Trust nine months later.

She had been fighting to get her daughter back, and receiving therapeutic support to try and help her. Some of the support had, instead, judged Sara and made her feel, in her own words, ‘broken’.

Sara received support from Woman’s Trust for a year. In that time she received counselling and attended support groups. Through this she was able to begin to understand what was happening to her and meet others who shared some of her experiences. With this support Sara has been able to draw on her own inner resources and move her life forward. She has gone from struggling with day to day functioning to being able to make positive decisions about where she lives and what she does, and continues the fight to once again be with her daughter. Now however, Sara is able to understand her ex-husband’s moves and is less drawn into them, emotionally.

Sara feels that she has been given a second chance at life and plans to use that to benefit other women with similar experiences.