Trapped in a violent and controlling marriage for 20 years, our guest found sanctuary at Shelter from the Storm

I was married for 20 years – it was quite a violent relationship and for the last 7 years my partner suffered from mental health issues. It wasn’t till I ended up in hospital with a broken jaw and fractured ribs that I realised it didn’t have to be like this. The hospital put me up in a hotel, but when that closed down, I was placed near to where my ex-partner lived. Wherever I managed to find a bed, it didn’t take long for him to find me.

People wonder why someone in my position doesn’t just leave, but they don’t understand how strong the emotional control is. He told me I couldn’t exist without him and I believed him – it seems extraordinary now! I’ve been away for a year now and it still feels unreal.

I had been sofa surfing all over the place till I got a referral to the Shelter and they offered me a bed.

Now I’m safe, I feel I can breathe again. I’m getting a lot of support from the staff and the other guests. The team are helping me to get permanent housing somewhere away from my ex.

I feel like I’ve been living under a rock for so many years and I’ve finally come up for air. I’m looking at going back to my studies in Health and Social Care Management. My dream is to be a Social Worker – I think I have a better understanding of the issues people suffer and I believe I can really make a difference.