Claire’s* escape

Shelley is one of our amazing specialist practitioners in our Ruby@Turnaround service. She has worked in domestic abuse for eight years and described this story as ‘the most complex safety planning I have personally ever done’ and when you read this, you’ll understand why. 

Claire, who Shelley has been supporting, had been in an abusive relationship with her partner, Dave*, who is a convicted double murderer, for 17 years. Dave was controlling Claire’s life (keeping control of her finances, for example) and abusing her emotionally. In the past, he’d physically abused her, too.  

Claire knew she wanted to flee Dave and escape his abuse, but she also needed to have surgery before she was able to do that. She went ahead with the surgery to make it possible. But during the operation, which was on her legs, she developed a blood clot. It travelled to her bowel. Doctors didn’t pick up on it right away, so it made her seriously ill. Claire fell into a coma, and when she woke up, she found she’d had her intestines, bowel and stomach removed in life-saving surgery, leaving her unable to eat or drink. Claire only had the first surgery to be able to flee from Dave, so now finding herself in this position was incredibly traumatic for her. Claire’s now tube-fed through her heart, and needs to take a trolley containing her nutrition with her wherever she goes.  

Support from Ruby

Claire came to Ruby@Turnaround for help, wanting to flee to her hometown of Halifax, where her adult children still live. But as Shelley knew right away, it was going to be risky: ‘Because of her health conditions, the likelihood of fatal injury to Claire as she tried to flee was extreme. If he grabbed her tube, it could have proven fatal,’ Shelley explained. ‘Claire’s care needs are so complex that we couldn’t just get her to a refuge. We needed a detailed, planned approach. We had to get emergency medical equipment to her daughter’s for when she arrived, and we had to plan the care she needed (she has daily nurses who put her on her feed at home). There’s only one nurse in Halifax trained to work with the machine Claire uses, and it’s taken us months to get the property suitable for her care needs.’ 

But thanks to Shelley’s support and problem-solving ability, Claire’s now safe. This week, Claire’s family drove up to meet her in the middle of the night, without Dave knowing. When Claire attempted to leave, Dave refused to let her take her belongings with her, so Claire left without them. ‘She came running through Eleanor Rathbone House at 10.30am yesterday morning shouting “Shelley I’m free! I can finally go home to my family!”’, Shelley says. ‘She was shaking like a leaf, but she got out safe. We were both emotional to say the least.’ 

Shelley, you’re amazing. Claire thinks so, too: ‘I can’t thank Shelley enough for what she has done to support me. She has spent time with me, she has got to know about how my health needs and every time we meet, there’s a new problem that gets quickly resolved but even though this has taken a long time to get me a property, I feel that we have needed this time to overcome the barriers we would have faced if I just left. I feel she has given me my life back.’ 

Support in Merseyside

Our Ruby@Turnaround team support women who have been through the criminal justice system, women with mental health needs, substance issues, homelessness or are involved with Children’s Services. 

Ruby@Turnaround is a domestic abuse service that supports women in Liverpool, St Helens, Knowsley and Sefton to make positive choices that are right for them. 

We provide specialist planned and crisis support to women who are experiencing domestic abuse. Our team can support women of all levels of risk in a safe and women-only space. 

If this sounds like you and you’re in Liverpool, get in touch with our Ruby team for support.  

Tel: 0151 702 5500 


National support

You can also get in touch with the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for Women and Children.  

24-hour national free helpline 

Tel: 0808 2000 247