Jonathon's story. 'I kept going back to the council to fight my case, and eventually they believed me.'

Content warning: This story contains references to domestic violence 

My wife and I were together for ten years, but every time we had a fight she would either throw cups at me, or I would get punched, kicked, or head-butted. Then about four years ago she stabbed me. She threw the hammer first, and I managed to dodge that, but then she came charging at my face with the knife, and the next thing I remember was waking up in hospital. I didn’t see her until she was released [from prison], but when I saw her again I wanted to give her another chance, so I took her back. Everything was alright for a while, but it soon went straight back to how it was before. I told her that I was going to move away if she carried on, but she didn’t believe me. Then one day she went to work, and when she came back I was gone. I stayed with my parents for a while, but then I decided I would have to move away from the city myself. I knew it was my only opportunity to get away and start a new life.

When I first moved here, I stayed in a tent for two weeks while I tried to get support from the council because I’m not from the local area. I had to get my housing officer to send all my documents about the extent of the domestic abuse I’d suffered before they would agree to register me as homeless. I was told I would be in temporary accommodation for between twelve to eighteen months, but now they’ve said it could be for more than two years. I never thought it would take that long, but I’ve just got to endure it until I’m eligible for permanent housing, and it’s getting harder and harder. I got kicked out of the first B&B they put me in after six months, because my friend had an epileptic fit when we were out playing snooker one night, and I couldn’t make it back from the hospital before the 11pm curfew. Luckily, I had just enough for a backpacker’s hostel for three nights, but I kept going back to the council to fight my case, and eventually they believed me and found me a space somewhere else.

There was about forty men living there, and you’ve got everybody mixed up together; druggies, alcoholics, the lot. I saw one person brought out in a body bag from an overdose, and apparently, there were four deaths in total last year. There’s rat traps in all the rooms, and the breakfast was literally inedible. Luckily the new place I’m in seems a bit better, but the whole experience has affected me enough to be signed off with depression and anxiety recently. I’ve done charity fundraising, worked as a mechanic, warehouse night-shifts, even some stand-up comedy to keep me going since coming here, but now I just volunteer at the church to help the other homeless people, and at least that keeps me busy. 

A part of me still loves my ex, and it wasn’t always bad. I spoke with my lawyers the other day, and they reminded me that by stabbing me in the face, she really meant to hurt me. She could have killed me. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. However hard it gets here, I can’t take that risk anymore.”

Jonathon. (Name changed)

No one fleeing domestic abuse should become homeless. But right now, too many people fleeing domestic abuse are facing the unbearable choice between staying in an abusive relationship or homelessness, because they aren’t considered vulnerable enough to get help from their council. This can’t carry on. The Domestic Abuse Bill is our chance to ensure that everyone fleeing domestic abuse has access to a safe home. Follow this link to find out how you can get involved: https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/a-safe-home-for-every-survivor/

By sharing stories we can change attitudes and build a movement for permanent, positive change. Stand against homelessness and help us end it for good.