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Doncaster Domestic Abuse helpline


Joanna’s story

"Having left an abusive relationship in September 2011, I found myself at a loss.  I had no confidence, no friends and very little strength to motivate myself. I can only describe my initial feelings to be like those of “Stockholm’s Disorder”. It didn’t matter what my partner had done to me, I felt lost without him.  I left to protect my son, yet it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do...

The world made no sense without him in it, and I felt confused and lonely. My son did make sense however.  I wanted to be helped – to be stronger for his sake. I was assigned a Domestic Violence Advocate, who was a brilliant lady who genuinely wanted to help me.  She referred me to the Women’s Centre. I met with another lady, who, alongside my Domestic Violence Advocate, explained what courses the Women’s Centre had to offer. I was welcome to call in anytime, should I ever need to talk, or just need somewhere to go (to have somewhere to aim for when you’ve no friends means a lot!). 

The Confidence and Communication classes I attended were run with warmth, humour and understanding.  The Project worker took the time to welcome everybody individually and listened to every question and thought with interest.  The classes helped me a great deal in overcoming my social anxieties. I learned about body language and how not to interpret the behaviour of others on a personal level.  This is something I often used to do.  I learned to integrate again, with other people; something I hadn’t done for a long time.  I learned to socialise again and the world wasn’t such a bad place after all!

Meeting people who are not “obvious victims” opened my eyes up.  It reassured me that vulnerability can happen to anyone and that made me felt less like a victim.When you feel like a victim, you tend to act like one, and people treat you in that way (I found that at least). Rather now, I felt like an individual for the first time in years.  The Confidence Class brought out a side of me I hadn’t seen for a very long time – a very focussed and talkative side of me.

I had never been allowed to have an opinion, with my abuser, and I noticed that I wasn’t alone.  Many women in the class seemed happy that people were listened to. The classes gave me a sense of direction – a mark in my diary – somewhere for me to be.  A hurdle at first, because I suffered with anxiety, and on my way to my first class I suffered with a panic attack. Yet by the last class, I walked through a busy town centre, by myself, with a sense of freedom.  The anxiety wasn’t with me any longer.

Sometimes in order to overcome your fears you do have to face them!"


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