Alice and Ben got together when she was 17 and he was 19. He was her first boyfriend and was completely charming. He bought her presents, made her friends laugh and he noticed her. A few months into the relationship he started getting a bit jealous when she spent time with her family or friends. He said he felt left out and that her family didn’t like him because he was struggling to get a job. He started checking her phone, getting angry when there were messages from other men on there-even if it was a colleague at work texting about a work matter. Once he got so angry he smashed the phone down on the kitchen side. Alice’s social circle quickly got very small, but when Alice said anything about this to Ben, he would get upset, asking why he wasn’t enough for her.
Then Alice got pregnant. At first they were really happy, and decided to move in together as it would be best for the baby Ben said. But then Ben lost his job and he got depressed. He would call her names, make her feel ugly and said it was just as well she got pregnant as she wouldn’t have been clever enough for college anyway.
One night, Alice tried to talk back. She said he couldn’t keep speaking to her like that and taking her phone from her and always coming with her, even when she went to the shops. Ben got angry and pushed heavily pregnant Alice against the wall. Luckily the baby was ok. Alice didn’t talk back again.
Fast forward to two years ago. After years of emotional and physical abuse, Alice split up with Ben. She got a new partner. She did the freedom programme and felt well supported to ignore his constant messages and abuse. However once the freedom programme ended and that support had to come to an end, she stopped feeling strong. Eventually, after death threats to both her and her new partner from Ben, Alice relented. She split up with the new partner and let Ben move back into the flat.
Today, Alice is experiencing the same abuse as before. Two weeks ago he threatened to cut her clothes up in front of the children. That was after he poured crushed crisps onto her wet hair after she had got out of the shower. That night she broke up with him. He left the flat to stay at his mums. Since then he has sent her up to 50 messages a day, starting with apologies and ending in threats to her life or claiming he will commit suicide if she doesn’t get back together with him.
He lets himself into the flat whenever he wants as he still has a key and doesn’t think twice about pushing her around. He has hospitalised her before after trying to suffocate her with a pillow, so what’s a little pushing and shoving to him?
When he last had the children, at 6am he threatened to send them (age 3 and 6) back to her house in a taxi at 6am if she wont come and pick them up herself. They had arranged he would drop them home at 10am.
Alice is afraid. She is afraid of what he might do to her if he doesn’t get his way. She is afraid of how it will affect the children. She is afraid of getting back together with him because she wont feel safe or strong enough to not.
This Valentines Day, Alice will be getting bruises instead of bunches of flowers and abuse instead of love. You can #Spreadthelove and help someone like Alice by donating just £5 today.
*Names have been changed to protect the people involved.