“I walked out of my marriage after 21 years. My husband had an accident in the Navy and had to retire early. He was happy go lucky before that but I just don’t think he could accept his injury. He was only in his forties and his personality changed completely. He couldn’t cope with being home all the time and dealing with family life after spending months away at sea. If I didn’t do what he wanted he was physically abusive and tried to control everything I did.

I used to hide what was going from the kids. My mum was the only one who knew all about it. I’ve only got one cousin who I speak with occasionally, but apart from that I’ve got no one else. I reported him to the police a few times but they always believed him. I stayed until the children were older but then one day last year I’d just had enough and I walked out. It wasn’t planned. I didn’t know where to go. All my clothes are still there.

My stepfather used to abuse me when I was younger, and I just don’t think I could accept being treated like that anymore. I never went to the police about that because I didn’t think anyone would believe me. He was abusive to my mother as well but she couldn’t bring herself to leave him. I never told her about what he did to me until he died because I didn’t want to break up their marriage. He died of cancer in the end and I confronted him on his deathbed but he refused to say sorry or even admit it then.

My husband and I still have contact for the children’s sake. They’re grown up now and they understand as best they can. My husband knows where I am but he says it’s my choice to be here so I just don’t talk about it with him anymore. We actually get on better now since I’ve left. Everything is out in the open. Just being able to talk about it really helps.

I’m so glad I’m not in that marriage anymore. I didn’t think so when I first walked out but I feel a lot better in myself now. I was in a horrible hostel for about 2 months when I first left, but the place I’m in now is much nicer and I’m starting to feel a lot more positive about the future. I’ve got a friend here and if you need to talk to the staff you can. There are people on drugs, and sometimes my food goes missing from the kitchen. Just small things, but they can wear you down when you’ve lived in a beautiful four-bedroom home for years. I’m doing ok though. When I’ve sorted myself out I’m hoping to get back to work. I know things are going to be alright.”

Lorna, Plymouth. 

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