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Anna’s Story

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Anna’s Story

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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.

Anna* (*not her real name) contacted NCDV after a friend from a women’s refuge gave her the number.

Anna experienced physical violence throughout the marriage, along with emotional and verbal abuse. She also endured controlling behaviour and her husband resorted to Involving others to intimidate her after the marriage ended.

Anna's Story 1

Here Anna tells her own story:

“Only married for relatively few years, I was physically abused by my ex husband throughout the majority of our marriage. He would punch, kick, slap, push and grab me.

I was always too afraid of him to report him to the police.

He would also be verbally abusive and call me horrible names such as “bitch”.

He would put me down and says that women should only cook and clean.

He did not want me to have any friends in the local area and when I went out, he would often come with me as he did not want me to go out on my own.

Eventually I told Social Services who told the police and I went into a refuge. I got an injunction against him and divorced him but the abuse did not stop there.

He found out where I was and breached the order by sending me abusive letters.

After that order ended, he then got other people to come to my address to intimidate me.”

Anna's Story 2

We were able to offer Anna help and support, we assisted her by listening to her on the phone, preparing her witness statement for her along with the court application form.

We provided her with a lot of information about what to expect at Court and answered all her queries so that she was reassured.

She was particularly reassured that when she called to speak to the pro bono manager, she would always get a call back quickly to help with her queries.

A positive outcome was achieved for Anna – a 12 month non molestation order was granted to protect her from her abuser. This forbids him from contacting her in anyway and prevents him using a third party to abuse her.

Anna in her own words:

“Without NCDV I would not be here.”

“Any victim of domestic violence should go to NCDV as they are the only ones who understand and the only ones who help and support the victims.”

“I was so vulnerable, nobody listened to me but NCDV gave me a gift for 2020″

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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.
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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.”