Domestic Abuse story: Samantha

21 November 2018

A Plymouth woman who was abused by her partner for three years has left the relationship and started working for Sanctuary Supported Living’s (SSL) Plymouth Domestic Abuse Services in the city.

A silhouette of a young woman

Samantha* met her partner in 2009 and was initially swept off her feet by weekends away, family meals together and his constant messages telling her how beautiful she was.

This started to change when Samantha wanted to do things that involved her friends, but not her partner. Instead of compliments, she would be made to feel guilty about leaving him at home, chastised for how she chose to dress or told her friends did not care for her.

Samantha isolated herself from her friends and family and, when she did go out alone, was beaten, precipitating months of vicious abuse, both mental and physical.

On one occasion, Samantha was beaten by her partner on his two-year-old son’s bed, while the child was sleeping in it. That night, when her abuser had fallen asleep, Samantha took the child home to his mother, who saw in her the same abuse she had herself spent six years living with.

In the months that followed, Samantha had no respite from her partner, who would threaten suicide, self-harm in front of her and find ways to harass her through his friends. Samantha also found out during this time that she was pregnant. This too was used as a means of abuse by her partner, who would threaten to harm the child.

Samantha and her partner resumed their relationship when Samantha’s newborn daughter was a few months old, after he convinced her he wanted to be a father. What followed was the worst single instance of abuse in the relationship: grabbing Samantha’s hair as she held their daughter in her arms and throwing her to the floor.

This led to a police callout and Samantha telling officers everything about the nature of the relationship. Her daughter was placed on a child protection plan, Samantha was referred to counselling sessions and various support services before eventually having to leave her hometown, along with her friends and family who lived there.

She arrived in Plymouth in 2012 and was assigned to a project worker from SSL’s Plymouth Domestic Abuse Services (PDAS) as a high risk domestic abuse victim.

Samantha said: “My project worker was amazing – I never felt judged, and I felt like she understood me and why I had gone back so many times.”

Together with her project worker, Samantha discussed her future before going on to enrol in university and take a degree in social work. One of her course’s placements saw Samantha working in PDAS’s women’s refuge and, when she finished her degree, she pursued a job opportunity to work at the service.

Samantha now works alongside the project worker who helped her to come to terms with her experiences and start a new life. Together, they help other new arrivals at the service to do the same.

Samantha added: “I cannot stress enough how invaluable the service I now work for was for me as a client myself. Without their support – and without one particular worker seeing something in me and believing in me – I would not be the person I am today.”

She continued: “Although my perpetrator changed my life in ways I could have never imagined, it also changed for the better.

“I used the abuse I experienced to motivate me into helping others. I now have a happy and content seven-year-old daughter who is kind, funny, clever and loving and I hope that she can look up to me and the example I have set for her.”

“I cannot stress enough how invaluable the service I now work for was for me as a client myself. Without their support – and without one particular worker seeing something in me and believing in me – I would not be the person I am today.

Samantha

* Samantha is a pseudonym

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Sanctuary Supported Living is a trading name of Sanctuary Housing Association and Sanctuary Home Care Limited, both exempt charities. Images used on our website and literature may be representative and are for illustration purposes only.

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