I’d just left my home with nothing but a small bag filled with stuff I was able to grab. It wasn’t a very well-thought out plan, but I knew I couldn’t stay there a moment longer. The arguments had gotten worse, I felt like I was constantly waiting for the next ‘wrong’ thing to happen – it wasn’t safe, it felt like I was always holding my breath.
At first, I was able to stay on a friend’s couch in Leith, but she had a young family, and I was worried my ex would turn up at the door and cause trouble. I knew she had an idea of what had been happening, but I didn’t really want to go into detail. She was one of the last people I had in my life, and I didn’t want to risk losing her. When it came time to move on I told her I had somewhere else to go - it wasn’t strictly a lie.
I’d found out about some hostels, and for a while that was okay. The rooms were clean, and the beds were alright, but something they don’t tell you about staying in hostels is that it’s exhausting. You’re constantly worried – worried about your stuff, worried about getting enough money together to eat, worried about who you’re sharing a room with, worried that there won't be a room at all. It’s no way to live.
I met Viki, from Cyrenians, last December. She was so understanding, kind, she really saw me and not just my problems. I felt heard for the first time since I’d left that flat. She made me feel like she had all the time in the world to listen to me, which I know she probably didn’t considering I’m not the only one in the world with problems.
It started off small, cups of tea and chats about potential housing options, then the bigger stuff like whether I wanted support to talk about what I’d been through with the fighting and all that. She always gave me choices and let me tell her what I needed without making any assumptions.
This Christmas I’m miles away from where I was last year. I’m in my own flat and it’s only my name on the bills and the rent. I’m looking after myself, just like Viki told me I could, even when I didn’t really believe her. This space feels like home, somewhere I can escape to and just be me. I feel like I can breathe again.
Viki still checks in – asks how I’m getting on and makes sure I know she’s there if I need her. She’s given me my confidence back (although she’d probably say I got it back on my own, she’s pretty humble like that).
I know there are other people like me out there, that left one bad place and ended up in another. They deserve a Viki in their lives – I'd give everyone a Viki if I could!
*Lauren is not a real person but is representative of the people we support. This is a composite story which has been written to reflect the real experiences we hear whilst protecting the anonymity of those who trust us to support them.