Have you ever felt like there’s nowhere safe to go? Like you can’t even breathe for fear of what’s going to happen?
That’s how it felt all the time with my ex. My kids and me weren’t safe in that house. I had to get us out. But what nobody tells you is that these stories don’t just end when you leave. There I was – two small children, no job, and nowhere to go.
Even now, I can’t really dwell on what it was like. I was jumping at shadows. I felt like there was nobody I could trust – all I knew was I had to keep my children safe.
I went to the council and got us on the list for a house, but they said it was going to be a long wait.
We were nearly a year in B&Bs and hotels, I think. I don’t really know – it's all a blur.
It was hardest on the kids – as if it wasn’t bad enough what they’d already been through. Jess, my oldest, went through three different schools that year. Every time she started to get settled and make friends, we got moved again. And every time it got harder for her to start all over again.
We just kept waiting, but things kept getting worse.
I was trying to get back into work, but my head was a mess – I couldn’t think straight or talk right. It was like I’d forgotten how to be a person, with all these months of just barely keeping our heads above water.
I went to the doctor, and they suggested I talk to Hannah, the Community Link Worker from Cyrenians.
I was honestly so embarrassed to even be talking to her at first. I thought I was just being stupid – I’d always been able to keep going before, even through the worst of my ex’s abuse. I didn’t know why I couldn’t cope now, or do anything to help my kids.
But Hannah was just amazing, she really was. She helped me to apply for support, and she found free things me and the girls could do together, places to go and have fun and take our minds off the stress for a little while. And she listened to me. I mean really listened.
I finally had space to just breathe.
I wouldn’t have dared to ask for half the support Hannah gave. She’s really fought for us. And because of her, for the first time in years, I have somewhere actually, really safe to turn.
She helped us get a house of our own. We’re actually safe here. When I close that door, it’s just me and my girls. I don’t need to worry about anyone shouting at us. I don’t stress about strangers barging in or banging on the door. I’m not scared of what will happen if I get home too late, or if the kids make too much noise. They finally have a quiet place to study and somewhere comfortable they can bring their friends over for the first time in their lives. It’s ours for as long as we need it, even if it takes me a while to get back on my feet. And I know if I fall apart, it’ll be ok. Someone is there to catch me.
For so long, I’d been spending all my energy just trying to keep our heads above water – there's been no time to think about what happened, and no chance to dream of things getting better. But for the first time, I’ve got this safe place to start figuring out what I want out of life, and help my kids do the same.
Thanks to Cyrenians, we don't just have somewhere to stay – we have room to heal.
[Names and details have been changed to protect those we work with.]