16 Days of Action: Dawn’s Story

Dawn is a female in her 40’s when she accessed support, she had been through a difficult time in her life, which she now recognises made her vulnerable. She met her partner through friends and felt like they ‘hit it off’ straight away; he was fun, popular and she felt lucky to be seen out with him. She felt able to disclose the difficulties she had faced in her earlier life. When he wanted them to move in together after a few weeks, although she thought it was quick, she’d never felt as happy and didn’t hesitate.

Soon after moving in, Dawn started to see changes in her partner, he started to be verbally aggressive towards her and stopped taking her out with him. She excused this as him being tired and justified him going out alone as he needed time out with his friends, she loved him and knew what a good person he could be. Dawn questioned the change in him, this resulted in her being severely physically assaulted. She was hurt and frightened, however afterwards her partner said that he didn’t mean it and said it wouldn’t happen again, she forgave him, this was the start of an abusive cycle.

Dawn had a child with her partner and even though he had abused her while pregnant, she hoped a baby would be a new start. The abuse actually got worse and eventually social care became involved and her child was placed on child protection plan. Dawn ended the relationship, this wasn’t easy for her as she had an attachment to her abuser, although a very unhealthy one, but she wasn’t prepared to risk losing her child if the relationship continued.

Dawn left it a while before accessing support, as she thought she could move on and just get on with life, she was struggling with her mental health and it was her GP that suggested she contact BCD as they were aware of the domestic abuse she had previously experienced. She started one to one sessions with a BCD worker, it gave her time to explore and understand what she’d been through.

Dawn had experienced childhood abuse and had always been told it was her fault, she believed this and questioned how she could change her behaviour to prevent her partner from getting angry, her partner had also always blamed her when he was abusive. Dawn now understands she couldn’t have prevented any of the past abusers from being abusive. The work she did with BCD helped her to process and understand the behaviour of abusers, the dynamics of an abusive relationship and why it had the impact it had on her and her child.

Towards the end of support, Dawn was able to say ‘I’m not to blame’ and believe it.

She found the worksheets used particularly helpful, and would refer back to them in between sessions. At the end of support, Dawn felt much more confident and her self-belief had increased. She enrolled onto a college course, which had been a dream she never thought she would be able to fulfil. Dawn stated that her ex took her past, but she won’t allow him to take her future.

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