The women below have generously agreed to share things that they have written about their experiences. (Names have been changed).
"I knew what happened wasn't right. But I was made to feel like it wasn't wrong. Was it my fault for being there in the first place? I didn't want to have sex with him. I didn't know what else to do. I didn't want it (him) to turn nasty so I tried to say no, but he said I wanted it.
I just needed someone to talk to. Once I got the courage to speak to someone to talk to about my problems, it was a real help. It was great to find someone who got me, someone to talk to and an action plan of what I could do next. Without their help, I just don't know how I would be feeling now. I'm not quite there yet, but I know I'm on the right track."
"Me and Aleesha were proper tight. That's why when she said she knew this guy and that we would go there and have some jokes- a laugh- at his yard (house)- it sounded alright. Just a few people would be there- have a little party atmosphere, be cool. So the first time I went there she introduced me to him- his name was P. It was alright he let us drink, which I thought was alright and said that we could spoke some weed, but I didn't want to.
The next time we went, Aleesha kept on going into locked rooms with P. I guessed that P was her man now. But then I noticed she was with his friend as well. She had said that P's friend had said he liked her too, but that P knew all about it and I was kinda confused 'cos I thought P was her man? But I just acted cool about it. Then one time I was in the room with P and all the others got out of the room. He was trying things with me, but I didn't want things to happen. Wasn't he Leesha's (Aleesha's) man? I didn't get it. Why did all his friends get out?
P told me I wanted it (sex) and I said no, I didn't. He didn't get what I was saying. I kept on trying to run over to the other end of the room where the door was. But it was locked. P kept pulling me back, just before I could get to the lock.
P thought it was a game. I wasn't finding it funny. I don't know why I didn't scream. I wanted to shout more, but I was worried what everyone would think and worried what P would do.
It was a horrible time and I can still see the smile on his face. But I wasn't laughing then and I'm not laughing now. I was scared what people would think. This didn't feel like a party. It was only through accessing the service that I could realise that other people's behaviour wasn't alright- that made me feel a little bit stronger." I was 15 when this happened.
Believing that i was in love was the biggest mistake i have ever made. I was in love and nothing and nobody could stop it, not even me. After the love and affection he gave me in the mistake i have ever made. I was in love and nothing and nobody could stop it, not even me. After the love and affection he gave me in the first year i believed this was the man for me, then suddenly without noticing things changed for the worst. Things would go missing in the house and i blamed the kids, things would get broken and i blamed the kids, he would be go missing when this was happening and i would call him and he'd come running and everything would be ok for the entire time he was there so i began to feel that if he was around all the time things would be better, not realizing that he had cut my keys and was coming
in when i was out, not realizing that he was stalking me and following me everywhere i went.
When i made the decision that he could live with me, i could have been sentencing myself to death. Within a short time i realized that he was over obsessed with me, i couldn't speak to any family or friends when he was in and i couldn't have anyone in my house if he was in or out, i began to convince myself that this was normal and started going to visit family and friends myself, eventually this became a problem, he'd argue saying that my friends and family are trying to put doubt into my head so that we would split up, this was not true but i still stuck by him.
When i cut everyone off because i couldn't run from the fights and arguments anymore things got worse, he started drinking more and more and got more and more abusive, depriving me of sleep and forcing me to have sex as and when he wanted to, i eventually started drinking as much as him to knock myself out so i didn't have to deal with what he was doing to me. After seven years he got so drunk that he confessed to me that he had been putting crack cocaine in my roll-ups and that he used to get up to leave the house in the morning and hide in the cupboard and listen to what i got up to, and because i hated him by then i really was getting up to things, (i often wondered how he always knew who i was seeing behind his back) and when i asked him he used to have me believe that he had people watching me.
10 years on I'd called the police around 30 times, ranging from threats to kill, harassment, common assault etc. I been in a few refuges and always went back but all i really did was waste my time, precious time. 15 years on when my 14 year old wanted to live with her sister , i agreed to her going as what was happening at home was no life for a child, he used to come in around 7pm and tell me that i've had all day with my child and when he comes in its his turn for my attention.
My daughter leaving made me realize that i only stayed at home for them to avoid moving them around and to give them some stability in their lives, but being alone i decided that i didn't have nothing keeping in the house anymore, so i left and went into a refuge. This was the best thing i have done in the last 16 years.
I have had help with my drug addiction by telling the truth to my key worker at the refuge, she helped me to go to the right people and get the help and guidance I've longed for. I feel much better about life and my future now that I'm not lying to anyone or myself and most of all my children, although our relationship is strained they're willing me to stay positive and keep going.
I have found a new partner who respects me and treats me how a women is supposed to be treated, it is not just a physical relationship, he takes me out every weekend to his high street, he offers to take me to clubs but i haven't been as yet, so he wines and dines me and makes me feel safe and comfortable in his home which i am welcome by him and his children anytime. Things couldn't be better right now that i am on the mend, there's no going back, just a good future to look forward to.
"I felt so dirty, like no-one would want me. I had the names and the horrible comments. Talking to someone made me realise it wasn't my fault; that I wasn't to blame. Now I don't need to use things to numb the pain: I can talk to someone instead and choose a better path for myself."
I am Samina; I came from Azerbaijan in 2006 because of my marriage but I had violence in my marriage and I was very unhappy. That's why I left my husband in 2009.