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IS THIS JUSTICE?

When my husband was first arrested for domestic abuse, the relief I felt was immense. My children and I had been living in a refuge for a month, and his bail conditions meant we could live in our own home without the constant anxiety of wondering what he was going to do next. Police Scotland were amazing when I reported him, I can’t praise them highly enough. I had spent a lot of time making sure I had good evidence before going to them, as I knew it would be really hard if I had to persuade a court to believe me, but I had no idea what lay ahead, if I had I’m sure now that I would not have reported him, and we would have remained living as we were.

Both myself and my 2 eldest children were cited as witnesses in the trial, I asked the Procurator Fiscal’s office early in the process if we would be cross examined and how hard the defence would go on us. I was assured that a trial is just about finding the truth, there would be no muck-slinging. In reality, the defence agent called my son & I outright liars, said I had entrapped my husband by taping him abusing me, and blamed me for his abuse by trying to make out that I was a drug user & having an affair (I wasn’t). It was one of the most horrendous days of my life and will haunt me for a very long time, as I’m sure it will my son.

My husband was convicted of threatening and abusive behaviour against me, and the charge of assaulting our child to injury was unproven. The verdict has healed the wounds imposed by our justice system to a degree, but it was a difficult and traumatic road to get to it. At times our experience in the justice system felt worse than the abuse from my husband. We have very good domestic abuse laws in Scotland, but the system for getting a conviction is flawed and allows perpetrators to continue their behaviour in a courtroom. This needs to change before we have a justice system that deals with both survivors & perpetrators fairly.

THE DARKEST HOUR BEFORE DAWN

Let the pain instruct you,
Let the grief overwhelm you,
Let the despair shake you to the core,
Let the tears flow like tidal waves,
Let the uncertainty leave you powerless,
Let the fear fill you with dread,
Let the time pass,
But always know…

There is always more hope tomorrow,
The strength to survive will never end,
Hope will always shine upon you,
Keep faith to lean upon when you stumble,
Let the guidance of your heart set you free.

Never doubt your power,
However hard your fall,
You will only strengthen, for every day you die a little,
Equally you begin to live a little too,
Like a child learning how to walk,
You will stand tall,
You will overcome all your demons,
You will live in peace,
No more fear will grip your gut,
No more, never again, never quit.

You will learn to dance again,
You will learn to let your heart sing,
You will laugh from deep within your soul,
You will follow your heart of gold,
You will reach your destiny.

For you alone are a survivor, a real woman,
With a substance,
With a knowing,
With strength, courage and resolve,
With a truth you know within your heart.

Let my voice as the survivor of domestic abuse,
Be the voice that shows you the way forward,
You can do it all, just know it, feel it and always believe in yourself and face it,
No power is greater on this earth than the love of a real woman.
Reward yourself, for you are the one woman that found the strength to walk away,
You will live your dreams and before too long the dark shadows of tomorrow, will no longer darken the sunshine of today.

Be free,
Be happy,
All is well you are safe forever

WELL DONE.

Written by a survivor for a survivor – thank you.
© Alison M Grant – May 2008

HOW TO COOK RICE
Sarah was exhausted, the baby was unsettled, her eldest daughter Sophie wouldn’t leave her side, the pain inside her son David’s head was getting greater each day.  Sarah despaired, she knew the root cause and the drama that followed, his own path of destruction was getting fiercer each passing day.
It was getting too hot in the kitchen, Sarah never left the electric hob in her beautifully finished chrome kitchen that shone like a new penny everyday, ‘cause it had to’.  Sarah was wise and knew the way to placate this demon that she once believed to be her loving husband; the man of her dreams the love of her life.  The answer was never let him get hungry, keep him fed.
Feed him steak pies; feed him chicken in creamy sauces but it must be cut into small bite sized pieces for his delicate gullet; feed him salad for when he wanted to watch his waistline; feed him celery, he loved that added into casserole’s and soups; feed him spaghetti bolognese but ensure the cheese was properly grated and softly melted; feed him roast chicken dinner’s accompanied with all his favourite sauces, especially bread sauce; feed him kebabs lightly marinated in lemon juice, always refer to how his mother made them best and know not ever to compete.
The demand was endless; the pan of power Sarah dished out the fodder from, was no longer emptied than filled again with another meal, made with hope that could buy Sarah and her children time, peaceful time and safety.  But it never lasted and one day Sarah blew it all, the sin of all sins – she overcooked the rice, it was soggy. It was too late now the damage was done, worse than ever Sarah took the bait, she was like a limp rabbit hanging out of a fox’s bright eyed mouth, with excited hungry eyes after hunting for the kill.
Sarah knew better than to react but mentally and physically exhausted from the day’s relentless demands whilst living in fear; fatigued from hardly any sleep for months caring for her fractious new born baby.  Today, Sarah had fluffed the rice and she reacted, how dare he complain about the way she cooked rice; “f*ck you, have you any idea how hard I am working and all you can do is complain about the way I cook rice”.  He’d won, victory and power was now his to reign and he did it beautifully.
The familiar scene now began to play, Sarah struggled for breath, tears rolled down her face, no sounds could be found from within her seemingly lifeless body.  She sat on the leather stool, beside the phone that she could never speak to the outside world on, her shoulders dropped, her arms fell, her legs ached and her heart broke inside; every cell of her body was crushed and empty.  He did it so subtly it had her convinced she was going mad, he chipped away until she collapsed and crumbled, there was no reasoning, there was no point.  So, Sarah fell apart again and gave him his moment of victory.
But she vowed within, no more.  Inside her head hurt, why was this happening?  How was it so?  She could cook rice effortlessly before but now she couldn’t think, like her badly cooked rice her brain was mushed.  Deep within she knew she’d rise again and that each day she endured would be one less to suffer, like contractions in labour, her pain was intermittent crippling waves everyday.  But one day like the caterpillar that turns into a beautiful butterfly or the bulb that grows into a proud daffodil, one day she would spread her wings and fly.
There’s no time to waste only time to live and Sarah dreamed of that inner peace she vowed to find for herself and her children.  Her pan of power now feeds only herself and her children effortlessly.  The recipe is plenty of love, hope, faith and trust mixed gently with courage and you can’t fail to enjoy the ultimate taste of freedom and peace.  Sarah was now beginning to savour her new found freedom together with her tried and tested recipe on how to cook rice which she always could do; as in Sarah’s case never again will you fluff the rice, if you walk away and divorce your abusive husband!
4oz rice
5oz water
Salt for seasoning
Add rice to pan of water, put lid on the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Switch heat off and don’t remove the lid.  After a further 10 minutes the result is perfectly cooked fluffy rice.
Enjoy the taste of freedom it’s always worth the fight to break free.
© Alison M MacLeod May 2008