Sally’s* domestic abuse story

Sally’s* bucket list

Sally* has lived in an abusive relationship for over 30 years, she has faced such devastating abuse in the hands of her husband and abuser and been in and out of hospital so many times. She didn’t know about Ruby @ Turnaround until a doctor noticed some worrying injuries and asked her directly if she was experiencing abuse. It was then arranged for Sally to access support discretely with our Ruby team whilst she was attending hospital appointments.

Sally finds it traumatic looking back and accepting the abuse she has endured in her lifetime; she now understands just how harrowing her experiences have been. This pain may not ever go away but Sally is now acknowledging it with the support of our team and rebuilding her strength to survive.

Sally decided to stay living with her abuser, this is her choice. But what she has got recently is the opportunity for some respite, living with a Shared Lives carer for a few months who has given her a fresh perspective alongside the tools she has gained from our expert Ruby team to reenter her marital home more safely. She knows she has the support of Shelley from the team when she needs it and says she couldn’t imagine her life without her.

With her Shared Lives carer, Sally has created a bucket list – the first time she has considered herself worthy of happiness in any shape or form. On the top of that bucket list was for her to share her experiences and empower other women to recognise their abuse and do what she would liked to have done so many years ago. Last week Sally did this; she bravely discussed her experiences with our communications team to feature her story.

Read Sally’s story here: 

Sally’s experience of coercive and physical abuse 

Sally* is a reserved and gentle person, she calls herself a recluse’ and this is not just because of the way she has been forced to lead her life, but because of the mental trauma this has caused her. She has led a trapped and isolated life, often being restricted to one room of her home and eating only a very basic diet. Sally’s abuser took away some of the most basic rights from her and being locked away from the world only heightened her feelings of anxiety and depression. She was in a desperate place and is still working through this. The damage that domestic abuse has had on her is something that upsets her every day, the flashbacks are often difficult to manage but Sally has been taking gradual steps with the support of  Shelley from our Ruby @ Turnaround team. 

Discrete domestic abuse support in hospital

Sally was first put in touch with Ruby when she was attending a physiotherapy appointment following an injury she got during a particularly violent incident with her husband and abuser two years ago. The physiotherapist has noticed that Sally was self-harming  during an examination and cutting messages into her body to alert them of the abuse. Sally’s husband was waiting for her in the waiting area so the physiotherapist made a decision to ask her about the abuse to arrange a visit from a specialist during her next physio session. When Sally arrived next time Shelley was there to meet her and to talk about what she was going through. At this point Sally was offered emergency accommodation but she declined this, not wanting to leave her husband. So, the team continued to meet her privately during her physio appointments to offer support that was right for her whilst not arousing suspicion with her husband who waited for her during these appointments. 

‘Shelley clicked that something wasn’t right. She asked me one question and I broke down and she didn’t stop reaching out.’  

Coercive abuse and control 

Shelley describes how Sally was so traumatised by her experiences and she could really get a devastating sense of the level of control that her abuser had over by her behaviour and the difficulty she had in speaking up. Over time and meeting with Shelley, a level of trust was built for Sally and she began to find her voice more and more and build a timeline of what she had experienced. Sally had endured such severe physical and mental abuse and felt that she was imprisoned in the relatonship. 

After a particularly traumatic experience of sexual abuse, Sally went to hospital.  She moved into a care home for a period of time because she has support needs and now having this safe space she started to even more openly talk about the extent of the abuse to Shelley and give details about incidents. After time and working with Shelley, she decided to report this to the police. This was such a huge step for Sally to take.

‘When you see that police uniform, you freak’, but Shelley sat with me and made her feel comfortable and able to do this.’ 

She had left her home with just the clothes on her back and the team supported her to get clothes and to start rebuilding her life safely. It’s these basic rights that Sally has been so deprived from in her relationship.  

‘The team at Ruby are amazing. I’m not an open person in the way I am, I am wary, I’d rather hide away. When you meet them you feel comfortable and they never give up on you.’ 

Sally enjoys her sessions with Shelley, she makes her feel like her experiences of domestic abuse are normal and that she is not alone. Most of all she loves the opportunity to have a laugh, something she has missed in her life because of her isolation from the world. 

Staying in an abusive relationship 

Sally decided to return home after this care home stay, back to her husband. The control her husband had over her was too great and she took a step back, knowing that it would be so much more difficult to get the support she needed now but accepting her life. And our Ruby team accepted her decision, assuring her that they would be close by if she ever needed them. 

Mental health support from a PSS Shared Lives carer

Two years later, Sally went into hospital for an operation and used this opportunity to flag the abuse she was still experiencing. At this time she reconnected with Shelley who was so happy to see her and a plan was made for Sally to move in with a PSS Shared Lives carer to get some breathing space and respite from the abuse. Living with a carer has been an absolutely empowering experience for Sally. She lived with her carer over Christmas time, joining in on Zoom parties and finding her laughter again. 

Today Sally’s bad days are getting less and less and her mental health has improved dramatically. She is setting herself goals for the future with Shelley and her carers support and she is seeing positive opportunities for herself for the first time in decades. Writing her bucket list has been part of this and something that has really supported her to take each step at a time and look to ways to become the best version of herself possible. We’re so glad to contribute to Sally’s life aspirations and wish her every happiness for the future. 

Get domestic abuse support in Merseyside from Ruby @ Turnaround

 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.