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Julie's Story

I was with my husband for 17 years and 16 of those years I feared for my life. I believe Francine is responsible for saving my life and I truthfully don’t have the slightest clue what I would have done without her for the past fortnight.

It was only eleven months after dating my husband, until we got married and i married him because I loved the way he protected me and how he wanted to know everything about me, my dreams, my wishes, my ambitions, my favourite film, he wanted to know my happiest moments, my worst moments and he wanted to know my biggest fears. He made me feel protected because he would always ask me where I was going and who with, then he would explain the dangers of places. He called me almost every hour when we was apart just to see what I was up to and to check I was ok. I felt lucky to have met someone that would care about me so much and love me as much, so of course I said yes when he proposed.

I was wrong, all what I thought was love and him caring for me and my safety, was far from love. He was studying me to mould me in to what he wanted, he knew what I loved and little by little he took it away from me. Not long after we married we had a silly argument about a miss placed key, this was the first time he hit me.

He hit me across my face and left a huge bruise, i couldn’t believe what he had done. He sobbed and apologised and I believed him. The man I loved and thought I would spend the rest of my life with, turned into a diseased monster very quickly after we said our vows. About a week or so after he slapped me across my face, he came home from work and I was over the the stove preparing dinner. He looked at me and it was a stare I’d never seen. He walked over to me with a tea towel, grabbing my hair and using the tea towel to rub the lipstick and makeup from my face. I was stunned and in tears begging him to stop but the more I cried it was like the more he was getting a kick from it, foaming and frothing at the mouth and muttering “none of my colleagues can meet you, “a wife? You look like a f•••ing hooker”.

I sat in our kitchen and caught a glimpse of my reflection through the toaster. My makeup was smeared all over my face, lipstick was smeared across my cheeks. I sat and sobbed. He walked out of the kitchen and after about 30 seconds I reached for the phone, he returned to the kitchen and caught me. He ripped the wire from the phone and used it to strangle me to a point where I really believed that I was going to die. I laid on the floor fighting for air. He left me laying on the floor and I couldn’t move. I could hear him talking to himself and the heavy foot prints banging from upstairs. He returned with my pride of joy which was my makeup bag and of course he knew I loved. My appearance was my confidence, I liked to make a little effort to look nice and It would make me feel nice. He frantically emptied the contents from my makeup bag, snapping pencils, breaking brushes before putting them in the bin. The last item to go in the bin was a lipstick after he wrote something on my head with it, while I was still laid on the floor.

​He looked at me smiling and said “look at the state of you, you’re nothing but a cheap slag”.

I still to this day can’t remember how long I laid on the floor before going upstairs, it’s just a huge blur. When I made it upstairs to the bathroom, I didn’t recognise the person in the mirror, red marks around my neck, my face multiple colours and slag wrote in lipstick across my forehead.

I stared at myself through the bathroom mirror and he shouted ”make sure you scrub that shit off your face and then you get into bed”. I felt nothing walking into our bedroom except numbness and a fear that I can’t explain. That same night he raped me. After he had finished raping me he held my face and told me, if I was to ever reach for the telephone again he would kill me, I believed him.

​I have spent 16 years not knowing if each day would be my last. I have had all my friends and family taken away from me. I have been beaten even when I was pregnant. He beat me and kicked me causing me to loose the baby, I have been burnt, strangled and raped several times a week. He broken my soul, he robbed me from my pride, my dignity and he stole my life.

One morning before he went to work he told me that he had a special surprise for me after he finished work, that was the day I found the courage to run. I know that if I didn’t go he would have killed me. I have spent months in different shelters, and support from great staff. My mental health has suffered so I’m now taking regular medication. Some days are better than others, but I’m still here.

I moved into my property last week with nothing other than my clothes. I was able to buy a cooker, washing machine, fridge and carpet but that was it. I was put in contact with Francine from Rehouse to Rehome. The day I spoke with Francine she told me she would do everything she could to make sure I got what I needed, she said she would get to work on it straight away and she would call me to arrange the items to be delivered to me. After the phone call It was like a sad wave swept over me. Nothing to do with Francine, she was none judgmental and very thoughtful and kind. It was disbelief that I was alone and with no one, a feeling of peace came over me, it hit me and that was the point I just wanted to let go and be off this planet and I just wanted to die. I made a decision to end my life, and I decided I would take my own life by taking a overdose that night. It’s a strange feeling but it was a peaceful feeling. It was my way out of escaping the pain, erasing the memories and this was the first time I had felt peace in years.​

At 6:15 the same night my phone rang, and I wondered who could be calling me, as no one really ever rang me. I answered and it was Francine “Hiya love it’s only me, what’s your address I’m going to get everything to you now?”. Surely she’s not serious I thought to myself I couldn’t believe it, this fast? I replied.

​That phone call, something happened. Francine asked if I was ok and said I sounded different from earlier. She asked again “Are you ok? talk to me, what’s wrong” I cried and told her I was ok. “You know what I’m going to come over”, she said. I don’t know how but I believe she knew. Francine had never met me but when this woman walked into my house that was the real peace, nothing like “the peace” I felt when I was thinking about taking my life. She walked in and the only way to explain it is I felt drunk with the peace she brought with her.

The men delivered my furniture and she stayed with me, listening to everything I had been through until 5:30am in the morning, and when she was leaving she said “make sure you call me after you’ve had a a sleep, don’t let me down”. I had never met anyone like her, how could I let her down? I had a couple of hours sleep and i called her, she said what you doing tonight? Shall I get us a takeaway? I jumped at the chance and just as she promised she was at my house after work with an Indian takeaway and Jamaican pineapple soda. We had a great night, the best night I’ve had for many many years.

​Not a day has gone by she hasn’t rang or popped in to see me. Yesterday afternoon she said she was coming to see me for a flying visit. She came to my house with a gift bag. I opened it and I cried. The prettiest make up bag filled with new eyeshadows, lipsticks, mascaras, bronzing powder, I gave her the biggest hug and she said “it’s time to start again, and I’ll be here whenever you need me.” Today I’m wearing makeup and I feel great. I hope Francine is a friend and she’ll be in my life forever. It’s like we was friends in a past life and I really do love this woman to bits.

I really do believe she’s a soul from heaven.

​Julie (Survivor)

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