News People we've supported Caitlin's Story “The fear I had of him and other people’s opinions kept me stuck in a place I never wanted to be but I couldn’t see a way out.” There was plenty of times I thought about getting out of the relationship with him before I actually did. It’s easy to say that you’d never stay if he hit you but when it’s happening to you, it’s different. I used to say that if a man ever laid his hands on me I’d be straight out the door but I lived with his abuse for two years. No one understands the control they have over you. Even I didn’t until I left. We were like any other couple until I found out I was pregnant. The abuse started with words really. He’d be really cruel to me and say hurtful things. We’d have arguments and he’d throw around accusations, then one day his words ended in a push and then before I knew it he was physically assaulting me two or three times a week. It didn’t matter that I was carrying his baby. He’d hit me anyway. He’d always beg my forgiveness, cry and say he was sorry. He’d tell me he’d never do it again, tell me he loved me. He’d go for the heart strings. I felt frightened to be alone with a baby on the way and already having my oldest child to care for as well. It became so much worse after the baby was born. It didn’t matter if the children were in the room, he’d hit me anyway and for no reason. On one occasion I was sat with my oldest daughter on my lap and rocking the baby. He was sat on the other side of the room but because I couldn’t settle the baby he became so mad. He walked over to me really calmly and just hit me in the head; so hard that I fell and hit my face on a table. My little girl fell with me. When his mum saw my face she made excuses for him, as did his sister – like it was normal. I never told anyone what was happening to me because I thought they wouldn’t believe me and I’d get the blame and told it was my fault for falling pregnant. I thought people might think it was my fault for upsetting him and sometimes he’d make me believe that’s what I was doing. The fear I had of him and other people’s opinions kept me stuck in a place I never wanted to be but I couldn’t see a way out. The last night we were together I had to call the police. He’d become angry at me because I asked him to leave after he’d had a drug-fueled night. He punched a hole in one door and attempted to punch me but I moved and he hit another door. I managed to get outside for a brief time and call the police. When they arrived he tried to convince them everything was fine and the holes were old. I think the police officer may have left but when he looked at me I was able to shake my head to alert him that everything was not fine. He managed to escape that night but was arrested and jailed the following day. When he was in prison I felt so much more relaxed. I knew I could walk out of my door and not worry about seeing him there. My oldest little one felt calmer too. She saw so much of the abuse and I always felt so guilty for that. He’d always tell her off just for being a child. He didn’t do his full sentence so he was back out way too soon. I had a restraining order against him so that helped but the fear of leaving my house to go shopping or take the kids out for some fresh air and seeing him was terrible. He still had contact rights to see the baby, which was through his mum, but that caused me a lot of anxiety because he used the baby as a weapon against me. My Social Worker knew I needed help to come to terms with what had happened and to help me recognise the signs of domestic abuse in a relationship, so she referred me to Llamau. Hilary from Llamau called me and talked me through the programme we’d be running through together. She was lovely and explained everything really well but I admit that initially I couldn’t see a point in going ahead with it. I felt like I wouldn’t learn much but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Due to the Covid restrictions we had to do the programme via video chat. After my first session with Hilary I was completely hooked. I felt like my eyes had opened to things I just hadn’t seen before. I could see for myself where he’d controlled or manipulated me through this actions, which were always made out to be jokes, but this made me realise they were never jokes. Hilary was always so understanding and she didn’t judge me. She made me feel comfortable enough to open up about my experiences, which I’ve never really done. I felt like she really listened to me and her advice and support became like that of a friend. She’s still there in the background now should I need her but right now I’m doing really well. The programme has actually helped me help a friend. I was able to see signs of abuse through the things she was telling me so I’ve advised her to seek help and try to go through the programme as well. I’m also constantly shouting at the TV now whenever I see abusive behaviours in the Soaps. Perhaps most importantly, the programme and my time with Hilary has helped me realise that the abuse was never my fault. That’s been hard to come to terms with because I believed it was for so long. I know now that I’m allowed to speak without being punished for it with abuse of any kind. I’ve blamed myself for what my children have witnessed but I’m also now in the process of forgiving myself because like I said, the abuse was never my fault.