Sophie’s story

I’m NOT staying.

“Not staying, I am only here because they will take my daughter away if I don’t”

said Sophie, as she came through the front door dragging her belongings with her.

After a lot of hard work, with ups and downs along the way, Sophie has turned her life around with the help of the dedicated staff and volunteers at Colchester & Tendring Women’s Refuge. This is her journey.

Sophie’s journey

Sophie took out an order against her partner after he had threatened her with a knife. Sophie felt a lot of peer pressure to take him back and give him yet another chance.

The abuse increased and Social Care became involved, resulting in her daughter having a Child Protection Plan. Sophie, the perpetrator and their families had colluded so that agencies were unaware the relationship was back on. But when she asked him to leave her property, he smashed in the back door. She was terrified and called the police.

Sophie was urged to work with professionals and eventually, under pressure, she referred herself for Refuge accommodation with her daughter Lilly. Initially both Sophie and Lilly found it difficult to adjust to life in the Refuge and Lilly lashed out at almost everyone. Sophie’s and Lilly’s support workers joined up to help Sophie address the issues with Lilly and help them become more settled.

Sophie found it difficult to trust people and put up a number of barriers to protect herself, but gradually she started to build positive relationships with Refuge staff. Work began to overcome the problems Sophie was experiencing and it started to emerge that she had been experiencing domestic abuse for a number of years. She revealed how she had been emotionally drained and physically threatened. Her partner had become controlling and unpredictable; he would disappear for a while then suddenly appear again. Her days were spent ‘treading on eggshells’ wondering when he would be back or what he would do next.

Sophie’s confidence and self esteem grew whilst in the Refuge and she was supported to become more discerning about relationships.

Sophie was able to benefit from a safe place to explore her feelings, take stock of what had happened in her life and consider the impact on Lilly. Tears were shed when she realised how bad things had become for her but how easy it had been to bury her head in the sand and ignore everything.

Sophie completed a support plan and Outcome Star with staff which enabled her to see the changes along her journey and she became more interactive with staff as she took hold of her life and cherished her new found independence.

Having started to address her underlying trauma, Sophie was able to start looking at other areas of her life, so work began on financial concerns and housing, whilst continuing to build her resilience with counselling and participation in the Roads to Recovery Programme. Meanwhile, life was improving for Lilly.

Refuge staff attended Social Care core groups and conferences and reported on the progress Sophie was making. With their continued support, Sophie was able to move to her new home, a more confident person and with many of her financial problems under control. Within weeks, Lilly was transferred from a Child Protection to a Child in Need Plan and is a much happier child. Undoubtedly, Sophie’s success is due to finding her own inner strength and a testament to how, given the chance, traumatised lives can be turned around.

“I could not have done it without you… I am so thankful that I have been given the chance to start again…The penny dropped, I no longer have any feelings for him and I am so angry at what he has done to me and Lilly”.

86 client hours, 3 hours travel time with client, 27 Welfare admin hours and 7 months and 6 days later, Sophie has turned her life around. Since Sophie’s departure from Refuge she has continued to blossom.

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