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    Lorraine’s Story

    Reading Time: 4 minutes

    Lorraine’s Story

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    In our latest case story, we meet Lorraine (not her real name). Lorraine came to NCDV via a police referral.

    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. Even after the relationship ended, she was still exposed to his abuse which is the point we stepped in to help. Lorraine tells us her story in her own words here.

    Lorraine's Story 1

    “We were in a relationship for approaching 3 years. Things were fine for just over a year. We started living together however my former partner had an alcohol problem and that began to get worse. He began to drink even more excessive amounts which made him very aggressive.

    He was verbally abusive, constantly calling me horrible names and belittling me, criticising everything about me. I felt worthless.

    He would damage items at home, once he completely smashed everything in the house.

    I made it clear that I could no longer continue living in that way.

    He then made an effort to stop drinking and on the surface things seemed to improve.

    We decided to try for a baby.  I became pregnant but things deteriorated soon after. He began to threaten our baby, he threatened to make me have a miscarriage.

    The tactics of his abuse changed with his sobriety. His behaviour became less chaotic but more manipulative and calculated. He became very controlling; he would not allow me to do normal everyday things. If I did something that I was not allowed to do, he became distressed.

    I moved out but after a period apart during in which he was not abusive, I thought he had changed so moved back in. But in reality, nothing had changed once I was back.

    His threats started again, and he tried to make me believe that I was mentally ill.

    I felt trapped but I knew I was stuck with him for the rest of my life because we were having a baby. I thought that he wouldn’t be so abusive if I pretended to co-operate with him. I was afraid that if I left him, the abuse would worsen and I would have no control over it. I feared for our child around him without me there to protect it.

    Within weeks after our baby was born, he physically assaulted me. I was unable to move as a result of the damage he caused to me.

    His behaviour then worsened, in addition to the continued verbal and psychological abuse, he began to sexually abuse me along with intimidating me.

    I could no longer endure being treated in that way and I left.

    But the abuse did not stop. He used our child as an opportunity to control me and cause confrontation. This was so bad I even considered going back to him to calm him down.

    I called the police on one occasion after he tried to break down the door of where I was living. We were terrified.

    I moved again to somewhere he could not find me and the police advised me to apply for a non molestation order.”

    Lorraine's Story 2

    In Lorraine’s case, due to her vulnerability and distress, it took several telephone calls for our caseworker to take all the information needed to prepare her witness statement.

    Once her statement was ready, we prepared the court application form and provided her with information about the process of making her application along with details about what to expect from the Court process.

    “I was broken when I spoke to the caseworker who took my statement. He was calm and patient with me.  He made sense of everything I told him and translated this into my witness statement. The strength of this statement helped me so much because as a result my former partner did not contest the order. I was saved the stress, time and expense of having to have a contested hearing.”

    A 6 month non molestation order was granted to protect Lorraine from her abuser. This also contained a clause which prohibited her abuser from going within 100 yards of where she was living.

    “The assistance I received from NCDV and others who supported me through this time was immense and truly life changing. I will never forget their voices.”

    We are pleased to be able to tell you that Lorraine is now safe and happy.

    Lorraine's Story 3

    Share Your Story

    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.”