Child protection in domestic abuse, Tiana’s* story, #16Days

Tiana’s* whole understanding of the world has been based on domestic abuse being a normal part of life. As a child she was domestically abused by her own mum and she feels like this set her up to accept this, to be desentisised to it. 

As an adult Tiana seemed to keep meeting the wrong men. She went from one domestically abusive relationship to the next, facing extreme violence and emotional abuse. With all this turbulence Tiana’s children were removed by social services. At this point she lost all hope. She turned to drugs and attempted to take her life more than once. 

Then Tiana found out about Ruby @ Turnaround. It wasn’t what she expected, she could come to groups and meet other people who had faced similar obstacles, she could talk openly about what she was feeling and she could get a sense that she wasn’t alone anymore. 

Parental domestic abuse  

‘My mum never wanted me, my dad wanted a girl and he was violent to her. She hated me because I looked like him’. 

Tiana’s* whole understanding of the world has been based on domestic abuse being a normal part of life. As a child she was domestically abused by her own mum and she feels like this set her up to accept this, to be desentisised to it. Tiana’s mum was physically and mentally abusive. She would do things like pull Tiana’s hair, make her feel insecure and make her dress like a boy because of her resentment towards her. Her mum was also damaged by the physical and emotional abuse she had experienced and this was transferred onto Tiana. 

Tiana developed a close relationship with her nan because of this turbulent relationship with her mum, she was her support network. When Tiana’s nan sadly passed away when she was 14 there was a real void in her life. She felt that she had no strong female role model in her life and she had no-one to turn to. Tiana’s mum even accused her of being responsible for her nan’s death making it so much more difficult to process the pain. 

Drug use and domestic abuse 

At the age of 16, Tiana met a man whilst on a night out with a friend. He was a few years older than her and she felt like she was able to gain more independence with him. She enjoyed the freedom and being able to escape from her family life with him. Neil* offered her some salvation from her life but this was quickly cut short. Their relationship started to strain because of his cannabis use. This would often lead him to become paranoid and ‘lash out’. There were constant arguments in their relationship but this was the life that Tiana was used to with her own family issues.  

Tiana had always wanted to have her own family because of her difficult family life. She wanted to give someone what she never had. After a few years together she got pregnant. But, after the birth of her child, Neil stayed abusive and controlling. Throughout their relationship the police were involved on many occasions but she would always drop the charges. Tiana explains how difficult this decision can be when this is the father of your child and you’re so young. There are so many emotions at play. After seven years Tiana finally left Neil 

‘I kept getting involved with abusive men’ 

Six months after Tiana left Neil she met Josh*. Tiana explains how great he was with her daughter but, once again, she was forced to endure domestic abuse through their relationship. Often people find themselves moving from one domestically abusive relationship to the next. This was Tiana’s experience and the abuse seemed to get worse. She remembers Josh dragging her down the stairs by her neck. She called the police at this point and ended the relationship but Josh then harassed her, attacking her home and threatening her.

Josh wasn’t abusive in front of Tiana’s children but their safety was a concern because of what he had done. All Tiana wanted was the best for her children and she seemed to keep meeting the wrong people. 

Control in domestic abuse 

After this relationship Tiana met Paul*. For the first time Tiana witnessed a man being abusive to her children with him. Tiana felt that a relationship would help her to feel more protected after her past experienced butafter a couple of months, Paul started to make ‘nasty’ comments to her daughter. He would put her down and make her feel depressed. When they first met Tiana explains how Paul basically moved into her house without asking.  ‘He wouldn’t leave’, says Tiana. She felt like she had no way out, feeling so controlled by this man. 

This abuse escalated to an attack with a weapon, putting Tiana’s life at risk. She escaped this relationship but, unfortunately, it had a big impact on her family life.  

Domestic abuse and social services 

Because of Tiana’s experiences her children have been removed by social services in the past and they now live with her mum. She is now building a relationship with them again but explains that this is the reality of what she has experienced. She feels that she had very little way of controlling what was happening. 

Domestic abuse and homelessness 

Four years ago, Tiana found herself homeless after escaping an abusive relationship. She moved into a women’s refuge in a different city to rebuild her life. The father of her daughter had traced where she was and she got in touch with him, still feeling controlled even after moving to another area. At this point, Tiana lot her place in the refuge and moved back to Merseyside. She moved into a homeless shelter here and met another man called John*. 

Tiana relied on John during a difficult chapter in her life but the support he gave her was only shallow. They would drink and take drugs together, a coping mechanism for what Tiana had experienced. 

Then Tiana became pregnant with John’s child. At this point he became nasty. He begged her to, ‘get rid of the baby’ and attacked her while she was pregnant. Once again, Tiana found herself in an abusive relationship, feeling so lost and alone. After John had gone to prison she felt some relief but this was not to be the last she saw of him. When he was released from prison he asked to stay with her for two weeks, saying he had nowhere to go. He didn’t leave after the two weeks and became violent again. Tiana was desperate to escape, not wanting to put her new child in any risk. Tiana ran away with the baby whilst he was asleep and contacted the police. At this point social services got involved again because of Tiana’s injuries and the risk to her child. 

Domestic abuse and suicide 

Experiencing such trauma can have a massive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Tiana admits that after losing so much in her life because of domestic abuse she has made suicide attempts in the past. She is so thankful that she now has the support to talk about this and get specialist advice from our Ruby @ Turnaround team. 

Domestic abuse support 

Tiana first heard about Ruby @ Turnaround from her ex-partner’s probation officer. She was desperate for some support with all her experiences and emotions and didn’t know services like Ruby existed. She called two years ago to make her appointment. 

How did you feel about getting support? 

‘I was scared, I didn’t know what to expect but Ellen was lovely. She explained everything so calmly. She made me feel at ease’. 

Tiana felt daunted at first about going to groups but Ellen said she could bring someone with her if she wanted, to ease her in. Tiana explains how she’d been to other groups in the past but nothing like this one.  

‘Going into groups you think you’re the only person whose been through this stuff. When you hear other stories it just makes you feel you have someone. All the girls are there for each other.’ 

Tiana has been to domestic abuse groups at Ruby @ Turnaround to support her with understanding what she has experienced and why her abusers may have behaved in such a way. This helps her to process things and see how it’s not just physical abuse, there can be lots of emotional manipulation too. Seeing this has helped her to understand what the warning signs might have been and enter healthier relationships in the future.  Seeing the same patterns with other people supports her to feel less alone. 

Tiana also attends a course all about her emotions and managing them. She still feels great anger about losing her children and can talk through these emotions with the group and with others who have faced similar experiences. Today they give each other advice and guidance. 

She has also attended a course about drug and alcohol rehabilitation. She finds that this is a space where she doesn’t feel judged. She can talk openly and honestly about her experiences and other people facing addiction can give their advice about more healthy coping mechanisms. Tiana now finds herself going for long walks a lot more as a way to feel more mindful and mentally well.   

During lockdown, Tiana admits that she has found things more difficult, not going to groups has impacted her but she feels safer knowing she has Ellen to turn to. Ellen has given her lots of practical advice over the phone, support to make where she lives safer and things to consider in her future relationships. ‘Today I’d always have a bag packed ready and waiting by the door just in case. I wouldn’t think to do that in the past but it’s these little ideas you get from the group.’ 

‘I’d tell anyone going through this to give Ruby a call. They will listen and explain where you can go from here. They’re not judgmental, there’s nothing they haven’t heard before. What I felt was complete relief when I spoke out. I’m not hiding anymore’. 

Domestic abuse support in Merseyside

For domestic abuse support you can contact our Ruby @ Turnaround team on 0800 688 9990. Monday to Friday: 9.00am- 10.00pm and Saturday and Sunday 11.00am – 5.00pm.