TDAS Case Study: Claire's story

When Claire* came to Torbay Refuge, managed by Sanctuary Supported Living, it meant severing contact with her family, including her adult children and grandchildren, in order to escape the abuse she was enduring at home.

Woman poses with a child

The tipping point for the 44-year-old, who is currently unable to contact her family without drawing attention to her whereabouts, came after a sustained period of abuse from her ex-partner.

Her partner had begun to misuse a range of legal and illegal drugs, before inflicting physical and mental abuse on Claire.

She said: “The abuse was less of an issue while he was high – it was the comedown that came in the days afterwards when it really picked up.

"I think he turned to substances to make himself forget about what he was doing.”

Her partner’s actions weren’t restricted to the family unit and at one point expanded to third party abuse, when he persuaded a female acquaintance to physically abuse Claire.

It was then she made the decision to leave the situation for good.

The problem was that, while still living with her partner, Claire also underwent a form of financial abuse, in which the partner exploits control of the joint finances to make their significant other reliant on them against their will.

Living with her partner meant enduring the abuse, but moving out into independent accommodation was unaffordable, leaving her trapped in an abusive household.

She said: “If it got heated, at times he’d threaten to throw me out. If that had happened, I would have been homeless.”

Instead, Claire got in touch with the Torbay Refuge, where staff were able to provide safe, secure accommodation while she began the transition to independent living.

After four weeks in the refuge, she has been able to mix with a number of other women with similar tales to tell and has been able to confide in her support worker, Karen.

Claire said: “The entire situation – the abuse, the moving to the refuge, being unable to contact my family – it felt like I was being punished for something I haven’t done. I’d wonder why my life has ended up this way.

“Karen, my support worker, has been really lovely though and is always there if I need her.

“She’s been simply wonderful – whenever I feel a bit low I always speak to her and she’s able to put what I’m feeling and thinking into words and helps me with my experiences.

I’ve learned a lot about myself as a woman since coming here and being around the other girls at the refuge has helped – if it wasn’t for them I’d have gone stir crazy. It can often get too much and having other people with that empathy really helps.

Claire*, Resident

“I feel like I’ve now started the process of getting my life back.”

* All names have been changed

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