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Louise’s Story

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Louise’s Story

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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.

Louise came to NCDV after being referred to us by the police.

Louise endured abuse and cruelty throughout her marriage and although she is now divorced, he was still able to abuse and torment her due to them continuing to live under the same roof.

Louise's Story 1

 

Here is Louise’s story in her own words:

We were married for 20 years and are now divorced.

During our marriage, my former husband used to get angry at me for no reason.

Due to a disability I have not always been able to work so I was dependent upon him financially.

He was constantly unfaithful to me, he would leave our home for long periods of time, sometimes leaving me without any money.

I felt I had to put up with his abuse because I was forced to rely on him financially.

Eventually we got divorced but we have continued to live in the same home until it can be sold.

From then on, his abuse worsened. He would be verbally abusive and intimidating. He would follow me around at home, making demands and he would also remove items to make it hard for me to cook for example.

Basically, he has made my life at home as difficult as possible”.

Louise's Story 2

 

The team at NCDV helped Louise with the preparation of her witness statement after taking all the necessary information on the telephone.

Next, they prepared the court application form and talked her through the court process and what to expect along with answering her questions.

Initially, Louise was still too scared to make the application but after a further incident of abuse, the team were able to make Louise feel more comfortable and confident enough to make the application – Louise was extremely nervous so taking this brave step took a lot of courage.

We are please to report that a 6 month non molestation order has been granted to protect Louise from her abuser and whilst they still live in the same home there is a clause in the order which prevents her ex-husband entering her bedroom – “I feel safer now because he knows that he cannot abuse me in the way he was doing before”

We asked Louise what she thought of the NCDV team and service:

“I want to say thank you to you and everyone at NCDV for helping me, I appreciate every step you took for me. Without you and your colleagues, I would not have had the courage to do this”

“you saved my life”

Louise's Story 3

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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.”