“Mammy. Remember when daddy was going to kill you”

A lady sitting at a window in the Woman's Refuge Centre Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID
A lady sitting at a window in the Woman's Refuge Centre Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

IT lasted for months. It was violent, terrifying, and left a sickening mental scar on her children.

Today, a brave mum speaks out about the beatings she took at the hands of a violent partner and how she feld to Hartlepool to escape the abuse.

She spoke out as police and support workers in town issued a pre-Christmas message urging other victims not to suffer in silence.

“HE was violent verbally and emotionally. He used to go out drinking all the time. Every time, he would come back and I’d be the one getting it.”

They are the dark words of a mother who suffered years of abuse at the hands of a violent and drunk partner.

But this is a mother who defiantly stood up and said enough is enough “for the sake of the children.”

From the safety of a refuge, she relived the dark days when her life was in danger.

“He would go out for a full week, drink and then come back. That’s when the attacks would start.

“It was frightening and my kids saw it all. It is heartbreaking because they were just little.”

There were threats to end her life, and the children would be taunted with shouts of “your mother doesn’t love you”.

It was all a harrowing reality, said the mum.

On another occasion, the older child had learned to predict when the beatings would happen and led the younger sibling to another room so they didn’t have to hear it.

By the end, the abuse was so bad and so regular, the mother would do anything to lessen the effect.

“I would turn up the volume on the music so the children didn’t have to hear it.”

But it wasn’t always possible to get the youngsters out the way.

“One day, he got me by the throat and the kids were right next to me. If he’d attacked me, the kids would have got it as well. That was the trigger point, the point when I knew I had to leave.”

It was the spark for mum to get out while she could.

But leaving wasn’t easy. The violent partner was suspicious and the mum knew she would face another battering unless she came up with a convincing excuse to get out the house.

She and the children had to walk out in their pyjamas to make it look like they would be back soon.

They escaped in the early hours with only the clothes on their back.

But it was, at least, the start of a better time ahead. Now, the mum and children are safe in a Hartlepool refuge.

It hasn’t all been smooth running and there’s still a long way to go. The children suffered emotional trauma which affected them in their dreams - weeks after their got them out of the violence-filled scene.

She added: “It is one of the worst positions you can be in. You have to leave your friends and your family behind. You feel like you are on your own, but I had to do it for the children.”

The traumas were so bad, the psychological effects continued for weeks after they left the house.

“The children started having nightmares really badly, especially at first. On the first few days I was in the refuge, I was always being woken up by one or the other of the children having a nightmare every few hours.

“One child kept on having flashbacks and saying things like ‘mammy, do you remember when daddy was going to kill you’.

“I am glad I got out when I did. It really takes its toll on you. It leaves you exhausted mentally and physically.”

One of the children is now receiving one-to-one therapy through play after countless experiences of witnessing abuse from their mother’s partner. “He would tell the children I didn’t love them. The things they have had to experience is heartbreaking.

“He would tell them everything was my fault.”

But she added: “I feel safe now and I am going to concentrate on the kids before I do anything for me. It is going to be just me and the kids this Christmas and we’ll be in a refuge, but we’ll be safe.”

She had a message to other women who insist on staying in violent relationships. “If you are suffering from any kind of violence, get help.”