Tag Archives: domestic abuse

Help the Homeless

They say that most people are only two pay checks away from being homeless, maybe it would have been good to mentioned that when the Estate Agent looked down her nose at me after I said I was on Housing Benefit!

I did not have a deposit,so therefore my choices were limited to what the housing benefit either had or would pay for and believe me there was nothing around that was habitable. I could only rent a place for one now my son was old enough to leave home, the devastation of this was too much for me. I could not help but wonder what the hell had happened to the young girl, the me who brought her own flat in Fulham and if it had gone the other way would have been mortage free by now! I slowly began to collapse emotionally, not able to pack, unable to function and looking at places that were so disgusting, cold, damp, dark and stark reminders of how far down the social strata I had gone.

This all began  two years ago today when I was given notice to quit a home I had lived in for 9 years.  I was living on welfare, my mental health was at an all time low and I was struggling to pay the bills.  My son and I were selling what we could on e-bay to cover the basic costs of things and I remember one day, he was offered an opportunity in London and we just managed to get him there by me selling a watch and a friend giving us some money.

After two weeks of him being on work experience, sleeping on a friends floor and barely able to afford the train fare to make the most of this internship he was offered, which was unpaid, I had no money to buy milk and sugar for him when he arrived home.  As I sat there counting the coppers I had found around the house to go and buy some milk, a friend rang, saying she felt she needed to ring me, I told her what the problem was and she said get over here and I will help you.  Fortunately I still had enough petrol in my car to get to her house.  She handed me an envelope with £200.00 pounds in it and that helped us through the next few weeks and helped my son get back to London to work for another week to help get him into the career he was desperate to follow.

A few months before this time, a friend had suggested I saw her husband for accupuncture, it was not long before he said my body was so damp and asked if I living in a damp house? I was.  The windows were rotten, the heating was costing me a fortune which I did not have, it was impossible to get warm and it was quite possibly, according to him, a contributing factor to my depression. I had been suffering from mental health issues for a long time and they were getting worse and worse, mainly due to the facts I was now having to face, but the housing environment was not helping, clearly. I had also been signed off sick, long term after a rather ardeous interview at the benefits office to prove I was unfit to work on mental health ground. It never ceases to amaze me that people still think that benefits are handed out on a silver plate!

After the accupuncture assessment my friend and her husband both suggested I got the environmental health people in, which I did. She could not find damp, which is interesting, but she said the landlord would have to fix the windows and the electricity if the council were to continue to pay the rent…………….wow!  So, we were given 2 months notice. Not long before this I had been noticing running noises up in the atic, so we got the pest control man in…………we had rats, and lots of them, it was disgusting.

You sometimes have to crack eggs to make an omlette and that is exactly what was going on in our lives.  For the next two months we had nowhere to live. It was terrifying and it looked pretty bleak. Housing Benefit will only give a deposit up to their amount that they pay, and as there were no properties around for that amount that were habitable, it left me in a very difficult place, until a very dear friend offered to help, two weeks before our deadline.

It was like all my prayers were answered at once, and believe me, I had been praying day and night for God to intervene. She helped with my son’s move to London, she helped me with my deposit and helps with the difference between what housing benefit pay per month as there is always a short fall. It is incredible what the love of a good friend can do to change your life and I am grateful everyday to have her.

When it comes to living on welfare and housing benefit, what people maybe don’t realise is that housing benefit is paid every two weeks and that is it spread over 13 months for some reason, so there is always a deficiet each month.  Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to have it but it is not the walk in the park and the easy option for the majority of people who receive it as people make out. In my humble opinion, there needs to be an easier way to pay it because it leaves people in debt all the time and most landlords do not want to be renting to people on benefits, possibly for this very reason

I had one of those Pretty Woman moments when I walked into the estate, suddenly my life had changed and I had choice, and guess what, a wonderful home appeared, somewhere that I have driven past for years thinking it is the most beautiful house I have ever seen and I would love to live there, I am.  The landlords don’t see people on welfare as less than them, they see me as people who need some help and support, what a total relief.

I really believe that it is the class system, the snobbish attitude that is really causing so many of the problems around homelessness. I was spoken to like a piece of shit by the people at the benefits office, the housing office even forgot to put my claim across,as I switched from boroughs, which almost lost me the house, thank God I checked it and I managed to get a friend to guarantee my rent for a year should I default. All that before I could get somewhere to live.

I do hope that anyone reading this will pass it on to anyone they know who maybe could do with a re-think and if you know an estate agent, let them know!! There was only one that helped me in Guildford, and I will always be grateful to them and to my landlords who are so human and believe that everyone deserves a chance. I feel so blessed to have met them and that I was given a break. I felt so shit about myself because of what our life had become, and it is all now helping me to grow and to feel human again, we all need love and support.

I have made a video about that time, including my struggles with domestic abuse, which you can find at http://www.youtube.com/addicts4addicts

Dennis Waterman and his view on Domestic Violence

I have to say I was horrified by the comments made by Dennis Waterman during a recent interview with Johathan Ross, due to be aired within the next month! Domestic abuse is not only physical, it is also emotional and the scars stay long after the situation has ended.  I lived in a war zone in my head for years afterwards and still I see the effects on some of my behaviour.  It can take years to recover.

Having experienced Domestic Abuse myself, I find it really shocking to hear the other side of it.  At the same time, I have found it so helpful to hear the responses from so many people, the outcry on Loose Women yesterday was fantastic.

I made a series of documentary interviews with my Domestic Abuse Outreach Worker for West Surrey Domestic Abuse outreach worker.  Other support can be found at the Domestic Violence Charity Refuge.

I hope you find these videos helpful, I made them over 2 years ago, and feel it is so important to share them for people who, like me, had absolutely no idea what it was all about.

You can find the rest of this series at youtube/exploring domestic abuse.  Please pass it on if you know anyone who may find it helpful.

Domestic Abuse discussed on Loose Women 27/1/11

Should domestic violence cases just focus on the physical? On the show today the ladies are discussing domestic violence.

“Following a ruling yesterday by the country’s most senior judges, you will now not have to be physically attacked to be recognised as a victim of domestic violence. The Supreme Court has widened the definition of abusive relationships after ruling in favour of a woman who left her husband because he shouted at her and she was too scared to confront him. So her local council now has a duty to provide housing for her. This means there is now a legal precedent that domestic violence can now include psychological or emotional abuse”.

If you have been affected by domestic violence in any way and would like further information, please call one or both of the numbers below:

The Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327

Refuge: 0808 2000 247

This discussion today was brilliant, all the women on the panel were so informative and Sherrie and Colleen were particularly insightful about the long-term effects of emotional/psychological abuse from childhood and the long lasting effects it can have on us as adults.

Coleen Nolan described how when she was growing up there was always shouting and it has taken her a long long time to stop flinching everytime her partner is angry.  Sherrie Hewson describes in great detail the effects that her abusive relationship had on her.  “In the end you do believe it is your fault and because you do you don’t tell people” It erodes the soul, as I have mentioned in previous writings on the subject.

People need help, families need help, these behaviours are passed on from one generation to another and it takes recognising you have a problem to get help. If you think it is normal, it is hard to know it is not, if that makes sense.  I am grateful on a daily basis that I am begining to heal from the effects it has all had on my and my son’s life.

One of the other things that was said on the show was that if women don’t ask for help it is very hard for a friend to interfere, it is, and when friends of mine were telling me it was abuse I had not idea what they were talking about. One thing Iwould say though, I am very glad they told me, it showed me they cared and I look back now and I am very grateful to the ones who did.

If you do have a friend in need, please tell her what you see, she may think it is normal to be treated like this. I know it is hard, but it so helped me, even though I did not like it at the time and I thought that my friends did not know him, how lovely he is really. It sowed a seed and I am beginging to see what they meant.

The other very important thing is that emotional/domestic abuse is also between parents and children, this is called child abuse and the child so often then grows up expecting to be treated like this, we have to stop the cycle.

This is a very timely debate as due to Government cuts my Domestic Abuse outreach worker has had to stop seeing me, and because they can now only see very urgent cases, those who are actually in the relationship and in physical danger here and now. The follow up has to be done by phone.  What is happening out there?  I have been seeing her for 3 years to help with the impact of the emotional abuse I suffered, it is slowly getting better and I am slowly begining to see the light, some days are better than others.  The waiting list at the NHS therapy services is a good 5 months on average and then they are not trained in specific Domestic Abuse psychology. It takes a long long time to un-pick the patterns of a life-time and when you do get to see somone you are very often only offered six sessions!  I hope that awareness is continued to be raised.

If you need help or know someone who does need help call

Women’s Aid Same number as above 0808 2000 247

4 Years Sober – One Day At A Time

It has been a huge milestone for me to reach this goal, the first time I achieved four years sobriety was in 2002, it wasn’t long before it all went horribly wrong and I decided that just one drink would be ok, it took me almost four years to get myself together enough to stop again.

During that time, my life fell into free fall and it was literally a living hell.  I look back on that time as the time when I almost lost my mental health and was on the brink of emotional death. I looked at myself in the mirror and I no longer recognised the person looking back at me, I was almost gone.  We were in a living nightmare with family issues and I just could not cope, my support system had been wiped from under my feet and I fell into the abyss.

One thing I had not really been aware of until this time were the underlying addictions that were waiting to raise their ugly heads, food, love and destructive relationsips, co-dependency and a childhood trauma buried so deep it took this time to really bring it to it’s head, I had not known just how bad it was until now.  I had talked about it and talked about it, but I had not really felt it or seen it in it’s full flow until now.  Having a relationship with someone who was so unavailable, so unwell showed me that there was something very very wrong with me.  Most people would have walked away and not put up with it, I did not know what they were talking about, to me it felt like home.  I also had to face myself and my behaviours from my youth which took me to a place I could not understand.

I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t and and everytime I made an excuse, began to think that all the people in recovery were boring and on the dilusion went, until one day, New Year’s Eve, 5 Years ago, I set myself up, asked some friends to bring champagne over and they only brought one bottle, I was the only one who had 3 glasses and their faces were horrified as I had tried to stop drinking for a good six months before then, it was that moment, when I could not stop, I would have necked a whole crate if there was one, I realised I had a real problem and I had to stop.  Thank God, one day at a time, I have.

The last four years have been full of distress, anguish and realisations that I am not just an Alcohlolic, I am an Addict, I can be addicted to anything to help me escape my feelings.  I am now learning to challenge them, to speak my truth and what is brilliant is that I am now getting people around me who are willing to be available for me, and that has made all the difference.

There are still plenty of things to sort through but instead of stuffing my feelings and building one resentment on top of the other, I speak it out and I am heard and mostly understood, which is very very new for me.

I have to deal with the underlying trauma of my childhood which still rears it’s ugly head, I still think that everyone is going to leave me, no matter what which is a very lonely place to be, but it is getting better.  When I share my pain, with safe people, I can often see the insanity of it, and eventually it becomes healing.  For some people in recovery, they do not have this extra burden, but for those of us that do, there is hope, with the right support and love we have a chance.  It feels to me like I am waking from a dream, and my feelings are coming to life, there is an untold amount of grief to face and with that will come a new life, I have amends to make, and I will.  I am finally able to face my pain because I am not being judged for it, not being shamed for it, not rejected for it.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the last few years.     

Happy New Year, Love Penny

The Freedom Programme – Free from Domestic Abuse

I wanted to talk about my last few weeks, spent learning more and more about Domestic Abuse.  I have had experience of both physical and emotional/psychological abuse from childhood and guess what………I took it into my adult life and chose partners who would replicate my younger experiences.  It has taken me so long to make the connection and finally to get the help from a Domestic Abuse Outreach worker who very lovingly and slowly introduced me to what was normal and what was, infact, abuse, my normal.

It does not have to be physical abuse, it can be slow, emotional torture that can erode the soul, bit by tiny bit until you do not know who you are or what day it is or what is right or what is wrong, leaving you with no self esteem and rocking in the corner, that was almost me…….the scars of emotional abuse cut so deeply and erode the soul, this too is abuse, it is emotional abuse and it needs to stop.   Trouble is long after they have left, you are left with all their shit going round and round in your head, unable to break out of it, it becomes a living hell.

It has felt a bit like, actually a lot like re-programming and sometimes I still don’t get it, I have to have examples shown to me, little mini examples show again and again to really begin to get to grips with what is actually normal behaviour.  I have blamed myself, gone back again and again, believed whoever it was that it was all my fault and almost lost my mind.  It is programming and the earlier it happens, the more normal it feels.

The Freedom Programme is set out to slowly take you through the differences in all  aspects of Living with the Dominator is a book about The Freedom Programme that you can get on the website above, it is really insightful. Pat Craven has taken years of experience working in this field and turned it into a programme to help both men and women to break free from years of a cycle of abuse. Unfortunately I have acquired some of the really unpleasant characteristics and have had to have a good hard look at myself as well as looking at the men I have chosen, my relationship with my father, mother and step-mother to mention but a few.  I have been in therapy on and off for years, have had varying different support and still this stuff is so ingrained in my psyche, however, something is shifting.  In the book they also show you examples of what a good partner would do, a kind loving partner, not an unkind one, to me it has really helped me to see things differently and the patterns I have expected to just carry on.

I hope you will get something from it and if you do, please leave a message or e-mail me privately at penny@pennysnowball.com I look forward to hearing from you.

The rest of this video documentary series can be found at http://www.youtube.com/addicts4addicts

If you need support or advice the following details are very helpful.

South West Surrey Domestic Abuse Outreach Service 01483-577392 Mon-Fri

www.womensaid.org.uk and www.hiddenhurt.co.uk

The following books are apparently very good, I have not read any of them but they are available on Amazon or can be ordered in the local library if they do not have them.

Mothering through Domestic Violence; Talking to mum-ages 5-9yrs

Talking about Domestic Abuse – 9+ and When Dad hurts Mom.

I do hope something will help if you need it, I am so grateful for the day I approached the stand during Domestic Abuse week and said ‘can someone please tell me what normal is’.