A mother looking distressed
A mother looking distressed

I’ve escaped an abusive relationship – but I’m still struggling to cope

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a mum coping with the aftermath of domestic abuse.

Fiona Caine
Thursday 08 April 2021 10:00

The problem…

“I’ve spent all this afternoon and evening crying my eyes out, as I just don’t know how I’m going to cope. My washing machine has broken, and it feels like the last straw. I have three children, one with special needs and two with bladder conditions, which means so much washing daily. I can’t even afford to replace it, as I can’t get credit anywhere.

“My abusive ex-partner took out a £10,000 loan in my name, never paid it back, and I didn’t even know about it until the men in black tracked me down and tried to take my car. Now there’s a County Court order against me and I’m not trusted anywhere, despite never having faulted on any loans or debts myself.

“I’ve been searching online for some solution, and even tried calling the refuge I was in when we escaped him, to see if they’ve any ideas, but they’ve not got back to me yet. The thing is, days like this make me realise I’ll never be free, because his actions continue to control me even though I escaped.

“I’m under huge stress to try to find a solution because children need clean clothes! And just to add to the way I feel, I smashed a plate of my only matching set my mum gave me. It’s just too much.”

Fiona says…

“You’ve clearly been through, and are still going through, a very hard time. But you are getting through it – even though it’s difficult – especially at times like this. You have got yourself and your children away from someone who was abusive, and that’s a very big thing indeed.

“You say there is a County Court order against you – but did you get any help and advice when this was taken out?Did you have any opportunity to appeal it? If you haven’t been in touch with them already, do contact the charity StepChange which is there to help you cope with the kind of financial situation you face. Go to their website (stepchange.org) for more advice and information and then make contact.

“I would also encourage you to go contact Citizen’s Advice (citizensadvice.org.uk) as, amongst other things, they can help you make sure you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to. You could also see if there isn’t a way of having this court judgement appealed or suspended – it really isn’t fair that his debts are held against you.

“As for your washing machine, can it possibly be repaired?Getting an engineer out to look at it might cost a bit, but could be considerably less than a new machine and it might just be something simple. I know it’s not an ideal long-term solution, but in the meantime, you could do your washing in the old-fashioned way – throw everything in a bath of soapy water. It might not get things as clean, or be as easy as a washing machine, but it’ll help you feel on top of things until the situation is resolved.

“You’ve been through so much and it can take a long time to recover from an abusive relationships. Have you had any counselling or emotional support? Charities such as Refuge (refuge.org.uk) are a good place to start, and remember you can talk to your GP too, about accessing psychological support.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.