The Shit No Tells You About Fleeing Domestic Abuse With A Toddler

Jan 6, 2020 | The Shit No One Tells You

A brilliant and beautiful honest Mum gives her account of fleeing domestic abuse and finding solace and safety in refuge with her daughter. This is tough reading, but important, and there’s get-out links available in every section should you need a quick exit.

This is a guest post, written by an author who has chosen to feature on EatWeepMumRepeat, and not Lex (the usual blogger). 

‘The Shit No One Tells You About…’ series will follow a whole host of parents sharing their unique parenting experiences and stories. If you’d like to take part and write, get in touch at eatweepmumrepeatAToutlookDOTCOM or slide into my DMs on Instagram.

In this case, for safety reasons, the author will remain anonymous. 

TRIGGER WARNING: Please note that the following blog contains sensitive topics that some may find upsetting, including themes of domestic violence, sexual assault and mental abuse. Wanna get out of here? Click here.

If you need help with a domestic situation that you think could be coercive, manipulative, violent or abusive, there’s lots of safe ways to deal with it:

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be called on 0808 2000 247, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, or visit their website by clicking here (they have a big ‘leave this website quickly’ banner you can click if you need it.) The Women’s Aid Domestic Abuse Directory holds details of lots of localised help resources to find safety in your area. 

If you are a man suffering abuse, you can call Mankind on 01823 334244, or visit their websiteRefuge also offer specialised help for men suffering abuse.

If you’re in the US, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1-800799-7233 or visit their website. They too have an easy leave function for their website and if you think your internet usage is being monitored, they can help you navigate around it.

In an emergency, call 999.

“I am a Mum to a very bright and very funny 4-year old girl. Just after Christmas 2018, I fled from her Dad to move into a women’s refuge due to suffering domestic abuse. This is what I’ve learnt and some of my reflections on my journey, and if I had known this two years ago some of the trauma my perpetrator put me though wouldn’t have happened. I will be speaking in a ‘he abusing she’ scenario only because it’s what I experienced, but it’s worth noting that abusers don’t have a specific gender nor one sexuality, so if you’re in a relationship and feeling on edge all the time, grab a cuppa and read this. I promise you it will all work out.

Psychological abuse is just as serious as other abuse: and you and your child still deserve better.

This may seem obvious to some, but it’s difficult to understand when you’re living it. I knew that I was in a controlling relationship but I didn’t realise was how much my perpetrator was distorting my reality. He told me that I was suffering from mental illness and going insane, and I believe him. I also believed him when he said because of this, I would lose my child. People in this position believe the constant belittling and often end up believing they deserve to live this life. Know you don’t! Everyone deserves to be happy and to be in a healthy relationship (if you choose to be in one at all). 

My first cry for help was telephoning the National Domestic Abuse Helpline. I had a job interview (it was for a supermarket and I really wanted it as it was great hours… and every parent knows that’s not always easy to find!). It would have been a positive move for our family, but my partner sulked that I was even contemplating work! I knew this wasn’t right, so I phoned them and told them everything I felt. It was more than just a falling out over an interview, and in actual fact he was controlling the food I ate, the opinions I was allowed to hold and how and when I was able to see my family and friends. I was constantly being gas-lighted so there was still an element of ‘what if it is all me?’, but the National Domestic Abuse Helpline helped me identify this.

Need to leave this website quickly and get to safety? Click here.

If you need to get away, there’s no ‘right’ level of abuse to flee from.

I cried telling them how trapped I felt and no idea what to do, and when they advised me then to go into a refuge, I felt really shocked. I didn’t feel like my life was at risk so would feel guilty taking a room. I told the team I’d think about it, but I hadn’t realised then the seriousness of the situation.

Later, I spoke to my Dad just for a casual catch up and broke down because I was stuck. He told me that he could see my partner belittling me all the time and that he was worried how my life was revolving only around him and all about his friends and family, without including anyone else.

This quickly snow balled into family and friends admitting they had noticed things that had worried them but were too scared to say anything just in case I pushed them away. In truth, I had never felt so relieved. It was a huge weight off my shoulders knowing it wasn’t me. If I had believed my own feelings and admitted to myself how much my living environment was affecting my daughter, I would have left a long time before. 

Need to leave this website quickly and get to safety? Click here.

Abuse escalates. Don’t let it.

One of the main reasons I wanted to write this was to highlight the seriousness of psychological abuse so someone can escape before it escalates like it did for me. Did you know that the majority of domestic-abuse related homicides stem from just psychological abuse? It’s because the anger inside the abusers builds up so much they can lash out at breaking point. 

Not long after I rang the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, my partner sexually assaulted me. It was Christmas Eve. I wanted to go to bed but he was annoyed because the day hadn’t gone the way he wanted it to. It was something I never thought in a million years he would do and took me really by surprise. Get out as soon as you can. You and your child deserve safety.

Need to leave this website quickly and get to safety? Click here.

Refuge will expose you to a whole new level of kindness you didn’t existed – and you deserve it!

I cried happy tears over a bottle of shampoo. I’m not ashamed to admit it because it was really expensive shampoo and some kind soul donated it! If you’ve ever donated to a refuge, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you! It honestly means so much: the fact that people are kind and want good things for you is such a huge boost, and reinforcement that you’d made the right choice. 

When my daughter and I walked into our room for the first time, it had a huge box of toys for her and loads of shampoo and beauty products for me. I was lucky enough to pack some clothes and toys but it had made our travel to the refuge difficult. I wish I’d just taken the important bedtime toys, as it would have been quicker and safer – and she loved her new bits!

Need to leave this website quickly and get to safety? Click here.

Refuges help nurture children through this journey, too.

There was childcare at the refuge I lived in, and even as I first filled in all the paperwork, my daughter was off having a great time playing. This was great for her but also meant that I had a bit of time to just process everything that had happened. I had a really honest and blunt conversation about everything my ex had put me through, and I was really shaken that I had left him, so having some time with her being well looked after was really appreciated.

I, the insane person who was weak and stupid (his words, not mine) had found the strength to leave, and it looked like it was going to be OK. I remember imagining that we were going to end up in some sort of crack-filled halfway house, but it was lovely. Everyone living in refuge was so nice and there was a real sense of community. All the children played nicely together (unheard of, hey?!). On my first night someone made my daughter dinner and once the children were in bed we just sat outside chatting. I remember laughing with my new friends and thinking “thank fuck I left”! 

Need to leave this website quickly and get to safety? Click here.

If you have children, take it to court for child arrangements. If your partner was abusive, make sure ‘no physical chastisement’ is put on your court ruling.

This sounds pretty dark but is extremely important. The real final straw for me was when my ex pushed our child over with his foot when I was trying to tell her off for hitting. I saw the anger in his eyes, and he had a vicious temper so I wanted to protect my daughter at all costs once we left. I didn’t know including a “no physical chastisement” clause was even an option but because smacking is legal it gives parents leeway. As this is now on our full court order, I can get him arrested if he’s ever stupid enough to lay a finger on our child again! 

When I fled to go to refuge my abuser had in fact reported me as missing so when they found me I told them everything. I decided to press charges and in speaking with legal teams, the pushing incident was ruled just as ‘bad parenting’. Now at least I can legally rule out it ever happening again.

It will be difficult because when a controlling person can no longer control you, they only have control over what information people have about you. I am fully aware that I am constantly made out as the ‘psycho ex’ who wouldn’t allow my child’s father to see his daughter, but I have chosen to support a healthy relationship between him and our child irregardless. Parents are important! It’s not uncommon for abusers to use child arrangements to try and control their victims, so take a stand where you can.

I have a thick skin to what someone may think of me but be aware this may happen. You don’t need to broadcast your truth to justify protecting your child. It’s difficult, but you can hold your integrity and do what’s right for you. 

Need to leave this website quickly and get to safety? Click here.

Children deserve happy parents.

In refuge, I was told “*insert child’s name here* deserves a happy Mum as well as a happy Dad” and that really resonated with me. I made so many sacrifices to make my ex happy; including giving up a degree that I had worked hard to get onto, him taking all of my savings and losing a lot of friends and family. 

I was in refuge for 6 months and gained my personality back. I was just an empty terrified shell when I entered that building but left happy and confident, excited to start my life over again. 

It’s now a year since I left and I have a lovely house (rented by a housing association but it’s just in my name and I can decorate it as I want!), I’m starting to volunteer again and I’ve even started dating again! I’m being completely savage when it comes to who I want to date: one red flag and they’re out! I’m not thinking “I need a boyfriend” and I am happy being single so if anyone does change that they will have to be very special. It’s more an excuse to get out for adult conversation and 9 times out of 10… there’s free food, haha! 

I have learnt to love myself and my daughter first. I fully admit I am still terrified of my ex, and the fact anyone was able to have that much power over me is scary; but with time I will get over the trauma. I will forever be proud of the strength and bravery I found to leave, and I’m excited for the future and hoping to go back to university. If any of what I’ve written resonates with you I send you lots of love and strength. Know you deserve to be happy and it isn’t you – it’s 100% them!”

Need to leave this website quickly and get to safety? Click here.