My name is Shani and myself and my daughter asked our Housing Officer if we could be rehoused who then referred me onto Next Link. My ex-partner, who no longer lived with me, continually came to the house harassing me and had attacked me the weekend previously. The police had been called but my ex had run away and so had not yet been arrested. The Housing Oficer rang Next Link and we were able to accommodate both myself and my daughter into one of our safehouses.
The emotional, verbal and mental abuse started not long after I had moved into my partners’ house. A few times, I invited my family and friends over, but my partner did everything he could think of to humiliate me in front of them. This included refusing to speak to them, watching films of a sexual nature in front of them, and always starting a huge family row.
At first, I made excuses for his behaviour, such as saying he was shy or stressed with work, but eventually when they stopped coming to visit he said it was because my family did not like me. I felt isolated, and had no one to support me to understand why he behaved in the way he did. Eventually, I became convinced my family and friends no longer cared. It was at this point that he started to threaten violence if I did not behave or dress the way he wanted her to. Myself and my daughter were very frightened; our lives became about trying not to upset him. We tried to do everything he asked of us, and tried to guess how he might be feeling to avoid confrontation, but he would always find something to complain about and the violence would be repeated. Afterwards, he would say he was sorry, convince me it would not happen again. Each time he would be more convincing than the last time. Sometimes after weeks of the violence not happening, I thought he was telling the truth and had changed.
Anyway, now we have been re-housed. My daughter received help from the Resettlement Children’s Worker who helped to get her settled into a new school, and I am hoping to start college in the New Year. Because of the help and support I received from Next Link and the Housing Office, I can now think and be positive about my future.
Who are Next Link?
Next Link are a local charity who work closely with a variety of partners to provide support to victims of domestic abuse. They help victims who wish to stay at home where it is safe enough to do so by arranging for information markers to be placed on properties by the Police and by applying for a range of civil remedies including non-molestation and occupancy orders.
Where it is not safe for a victim and their family to remain in their home, they help find alternative safe temporary accommodation and work closely with Bristol City Council’s Housing Department to secure permanent accommodation. They work closely with the Police, Criminal and Civil Justice systems and a range of health workers including GPs, health visitors, and Community Psychiatric Nurses.
Their services include a crisis response service working with victims same day in response to incidents to make them safe, a safe-house service with 7 safehouses across the city and a resettlement and tenancy support service offering support to victims living in the community. They also have our Northern ARC service supporting victims in Lawrence Weston, Southmead, Henbury, and their Southern ARC service supporting victims in Knowle West, Withywood, Hartcliffe and Bishopsworth.
They have dedicated BME support workers offering bilingual support for South Asian, Somalia and Polish victims of domestic abuse and Forced Marriage. They have dedicated Children’s safehouse and resettlement services supporting children and young people who have been living in families experiencing domestic abuse.
In 2013-14 they supported over 2393 families who were victims of domestic abuse and rape and sexual assault.
To find out more check out the Bristol Against Violence and Abuse website http://www.bava.org.uk/
Photo: Sophie Merlo
Models: Michelle Lee and Horace Silver