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Partner or Perpetrator - Stella's Survivor Story

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In her words: Stella's Story

Does a leopard change its spots?

If I could send myself 10 years back in time and be the outside looking in, I would be wanting to shake that woman and ask her ‘Why?’ - Why would I allow myself to go through such a period of time that I lived on anti-depressants just to function?

I was extremely flattered that He pursued me, it made me feel great, attractive, wanted.

The fuzzy feeling you get in your belly ignores the warning signs – drinking 12 cans of Heineken on a work night didn’t even make me realise He had issues, I made the excuse He was nervous.

6 years I was with this man.

I married this man knowing that his drinking was a problem, that his text messages were inappropriate, that his intimidating and narcissistic sexual abuse was an issue.

But this was all OK, this was normal, right? I loved this man and of course, nothing He would do or say would ever be to hurt me, right?


We had a son. Charlie. I was so excited leaving the hospital but they soon turned to tears when, on our first family holiday, He passed off a comment that ‘he didn’t see the point of him’.

To this day I never understood that comment, but from that day onwards, call it a light bulb moment – I never looked back.

I knew it was over. I knew I would and could not bring a child up in a relationship that was toxic.

What to do next?

I made an appointment to see a solicitor, I had no idea what I was doing.

I spent my first free consultation crying to Nicola**.

I was embarrassed, ashamed, totally overwhelmed and didn’t know what would happen next.

The letter that then came from Nicola had clearly shown that I had been listened to, even when I couldn’t get my words out or through all the snot and tears – Nicola had understood and listened. I couldn’t have asked for any more.

The help I got

Nicola communicated openly and honestly, explaining the steps of each process and how it would work, the time it would take and that the guarantees would not always be there. I was under no false illusion.

Nicola obtained for me a non-molestation order and the continuous drinking, the removal of money out of the joint bank account, the disruption to Charlie’s life, along with the ongoing inappropriate text messages are all classed as Domestic Abuse.

I never realised this.

Domestic abuse & Court

But it WAS and IS Domestic Abuse, and the Judge granted a non-molestation order without hesitation.

This allowed breathing space, allowed Nicola to advise me on what evidence I needed to collate in order to make the divorce easier.

Attending court made me shake with fear but through Nicola’s guidance, emotional support and her expertise, the divorce came to an end.

I was free.

The aftermath

The weight lifting from my shoulders is a relief that I had never felt before.

I literally cried all day knowing that it was over - crying happy tears was something I had never managed to do until that day.

And now... I am in my own house, my own rules, my own money, living my own life knowing that a leopard never changes it spots.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you or someone you care about may be in an abusive relationship, confidential help is always available:

  • The National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline - 0808 2000 247- is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Refuge
  • Women’s Aid
  • Make an appointment with **Nicola Deakin or another member of our Family Team for specialist legal advice on 01606 48777

This article has been written by Stella* herself, who wanted to contribute to our Partner or Perpetrator? Domestic Abuse Awareness Campaign by sharing her story, in her words, to help encourage others who may be going through a similar experience to seek help.

*All names have been changed to protect the survivor’s identity.