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In this series we are using the brave stories of domestic abuse survivors to bring hope to others currently facing abuse. Their stories are sadly not unique, the victims share them willingly to help others get the support they did.

Victim Story

Melanie’s Story

Our latest case story is *Melanie’s (*not her real name). Melanie was in a relationship with her ex-husband for almost 30 years.

Victim Story

Lorraine’s Story

Lorraine, like many of our survivors had been in a relationship where she was subject to verbal, emotional and psychological abuse along with coercive and controlling behaviour, at times there was also physical violence.

Victim Story

Louise’s Story

This is Louise’s story. Louise* (*not her real name) finds herself in a position many find themselves in, having to live with an ex-partner until the shared property can be sold.

Victim Story

Anna’s Story

Anna experienced physical violence throughout the marriage, along with emotional and verbal abuse.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence has a team of dedicated specialist trainers located around the country. Our trainers provide free of charge, bespoke in-house training to the police and support agencies. All our trainers have hands on experience of supporting victims of domestic abuse and violence, in fact some of the trainers are retired police officers, who specialised in this area. As police officers, some of our trainers witnessed some deeply upsetting and heart-breaking cases, we asked them to reflect and share some of the experiences which impacted them most. Understandably some of the trainers have asked to remain anonymous also names have been changed to protect the victims in these cases.

Police car on the street
Team Story

Paul’s Story

Early on in my career I remember a lady reporting that she had been raped by her husband. At that time marital rape was not an offence in the UK, until a landmark case in 1991.

Team Story

Lois’ Story

“Although a very long time ago now, there is one incident that stays with me. I was a young uniformed officer when we were called

Team Story

Sharon’s Story

“One case I will always recall involved a very young woman called Emma (she was a girl at the start of my involvement) who was

Team Story

Grace’s Story

“As a uniform team inspector, one of my sergeants and a young officer (near the end of her probation) went to a report of a

Team Story

Mick’s Story

Mick is one of our trainers, his experience relates directly to his NCDV colleague. Paula is a fellow trainer and in charge of compiling these

Team Story

Nadine’s Story

“For me working for NCDV is a vocation rather than a job. I feel privileged to work for NCDV, an organisation that provides a free

By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

“Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”