Hidden faces

woman sitting by the sea with back turned
When a victim escapes they often live in fear, but they still have a voice. Six brave women share their experiences of life after abuse

When someone who has experienced domestic abuse escapes their situation, they often live in fear – too scared to even show their face in public. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice. Six brave women share their experiences of what life after abuse looks like

‘Life after abuse is like a huge game of hide and seek – only it’s not a game.’ Julie*

‘If I see a man who resembles my ex-partner while I’m out, I freeze at first, feel sick to my stomach and feel all colour drain from my face. I go into a panic attack and try to find somewhere to hide until I can get my breath back. Once I am a little calmer, I get home as quickly as I can and lock all the doors and windows. It can take two or three days before I can leave the house again. I rarely go very far. I’m terrified of him finding us, so I’ve mapped out some different escape routes in the area in my head so if he appears somewhere so I can get away before he can get to me.’ Lauren*

‘I don’t think I will ever be able to feel completely safe or let my guard down.’ Claire*

‘When I heard my ex was looking for me through different agencies, I decided it would be best to change my name to hide the trail. It was a really strange feeling when it was all official – I felt sad, like I was grieving for the old me. On the other hand, it gave me the opportunity to start again and rebuild my life under another name. I felt a sense of relief because I would be invisible for a while at least.’ Elaine*

‘The fear of being found by my abuser is still very real. Even after two years and moving hundreds of miles away, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before he finds us.’ Pamela*

‘When I finally got away he threatened to kill me, got me fired from my job and tried to take my son. He recently found me and I had to flee again. I live in fear.’ Janice*

*Names have been changed

We house women and children escaping violent homes, run courses and provide counselling and therapy to help them move on to a new life after abuse. Read about our refuge here.