Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Adapting to life in a refuge.

When I first arrived at the refuge I was pretty traumatised. I didn't know what to expect. Shabby surroundings, cramped and dirty rooms, deeply traumatised women, deprivation, anger, children running about clearly disturbed, these were some of the things I was dreading.

I arrived at a large Victorian detached house and my first impressions as I opened the front door were, clean, bright, spacious, light and airy and quiet!

The refuge was home for 6 women and their families. Boys over 14 were not allowed. No men must ever enter the premises unless they were workman vetted by the staff. We were to tell no-one the address and if we wanted to meet people it had to be away from the house and there was a specific dropping off place. This was for our own protection and of the others in the house. The idea was to prevent any of the perpetrators from finding out where we were living.

Believe me some of the perpetrators were so determined, they would use any method to find out the whereabouts of their victims. They would use private detectives, tap into bank accounts, ring social services or the job centre, they would contact inland revenue. They would pump and threaten friends and family, following them harassing them. It was vital that no information was leaked to anyone. We were not really supposed to tell anyone at all our whereabouts which was extremely difficult. We had to change our phone numbers and our mail was sent to a PO box address. The whole effect of this was disorientating, it was also one of isolation, loneliness and deceit.Photobucket

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Big Day

Well it happened. ‘The Wedding Of The Year’, in fact of any year!

The Sun shone and shone and shone. The venue was beautiful. The Node at Caldecott. Nestled deep in the heart of Hertfordshire. And heart is probably the best word to describe the core of this amazing day, because people were over-flowing with it.

Purple was the colour of the day. The men’s ruche neckties, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the bride’s mother’s tunic and fascinator and the groom’s mother’s (that's me) frock and shoes. The programmes were edged with purple ribbon and a tiny tube of sweet love hearts in a little purple bag graced every place setting with a tiny picture scanned onto the front of the bride and groom when they were little children. The bouquets and the flowers on each table were purple and mauve and cream.

But the Bride was not in purple. She was an absolute vision in delicate cream chiffon, trimmed with pale blue crystals and (according to her mum) a million laces all the way up the back of the dress. The train and veil were also trimmed with tiny crystals. On her perfect, slim body, the whole effect was stunning.Photobucket

My youngest son, Adam, the best man, who hadn’t slept for three weeks because of having to make a speech, excelled in the role. His speech was funny, satisfyingly disrespectful and heart-warming. As was the speech by the bride’s father. But when my eldest son, the groom, made his speech it was so wonderfully touching there was hardly a dry eye in this beautifully decorated house.

There was so much love and joie de vivre, so many kisses and handshakes, so many optimistic, humorous, clever young people, so many moist eyed, hopeful and totally delighted bosom family that I cannot fault their selection of guests.

This day was perfect in every way and I am so proud of my sons and feel so lucky to have such a lovely new daughter and now, because my prose is also verging on the purple. I think… enough said.

(I will post some more pics when I get hold of them.)

Monday, 21 July 2008

Fame At Last!

I have at last learned how to post a link. I have found the Werchter rock festival link on youtube which I have posted below and right in the foreground in the centre of the row of people is the back of my head - look for the ginger bobbing up and down - hey it's me!!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The re-written final chapters part 2

I have re written the final chapters part 2 and added it onto the end of 'The Final Chapters' further back in my blog. If you want to make sense of my story then go and have a look and all may become clear.

I intend to continue to write how my life has gone on from there in the next few days or weeks.

Thankyou for dropping by.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

A missing chapter...

I seem to have deleted the second part of 'The Final Chapters' hadn't saved it anywhere else so will have to write it again. There is always the danger that it won't say the same, it will lack spontaneity and because it is no longer 'just' as it was when the words filled my head it may not have the same meaning. So bear with me I will do my best ...

Wedding Day Blues...

On Saturday 26th July is my eldest son's wedding day. The thought of this fills me with much fear and trepidation. Why, you might ask, surely this should be an exciting and wonderful occasion?

For one thing I am skint, flat broke, penny-less, financially embarrassed whatever you might like to call it. The bottom line is, I have no dosh.

When I went into the Women's Refuge my flat was under offer. Due to all sorts of reasons that I will write about later it was repossessed by the Mortgage Company. Because of bureaucratic nonsense they lost my buyer but eventually found another in about March. They were first time buyers, no chain, and made a really good offer. All good news so far. Well it is now the middle of July and they have still not exchanged contracts. I have a substantial amount of equity in this property and was hoping to make a really big splash at this wedding. A beautiful outfit, a generous contribution to the wedding costs. A lovely room at the hotel where the wedding is to be held.

If it wasn't for living at the refuge I would be homeless so I have a lot to be grateful for. But it is disgusting that these Mortgage companies can treat people this way.

I am very lucky indeed. My sister is a very lovely, generous person and has come to my rescue. She has whisked me off t0 Belgium and she has bought me a gorgeous outfit for the wedding. She has also booked us rooms at the hotel.

But it is very hard, because I wanted to be able to do this myself. She knows I will repay her but somehow it just doesn't feel right.

I will also be meeting my ex in-laws for the first time in many years. My ex-husband and his new wife, my ex mother-in-law and I will be turning up alone. No job, no man, no money, no home. Well you can just imagine the conversation...

Well I have decided what I am going to say. I am going to say that I am living in bohemian exile by the sea, where I am painting and writing and living my dream before it is too late. Men? Goodness me no, I don't need a man in my life, a man would just complicate things. Job? Writing is my job and I have sold three of my paintings. House? Goodness me no, I am living in temporary accommodation while I learn French and then I intend to rent a farm house in Brittany. Money? Goodness me, how bourgeois.

Do you think they will be convinced ......?

Monday, 14 July 2008

Werchter One Day Rock Festival

I thought, for a change, i'd write about something less 'heavy' man.

Yesterday, I went to a one day Rock Festival in Belgium. I am visiting my sister at the moment and this festival is about half an hour away from her. We only discovered it was on two days ago and on impulse decided to go. Luckily we were able to get tickets. My sister had never been to a Rock Festival (She is 4 years older than me) so this was a really cool thing to do. The Line up included 'Mick Hucknall', 'Crowded House', 'James Blunt' and 'Santana'.

Our decision to go to this event was met with much derision from my 18 year old 'Emo' nephew. Whose musical taste runs to bands like 'Alkoline Trio' and 'Funeral for a Friend'. When asked if he cared to join us such remarks as 'Old' and 'Fogy' were muttered between clenched teeth, so we got the message.

My 22 year old niece, however, was pretty made up about seeing James Blunt and so accompanied myself and my sister to this 'happening'.

The venue was at least a two mile walk from the car park, which was OK at the beginning of the festival but less agreeable at the end when we would be tired from standing all day (hmm maybe the 'Old Fogy' remarks were justified after all). The toilets were very clean ,checked out by me immediately on arrival. You grabbed your couple of sheets of tissue on your way into the port a loo. In fact the whole day was really well organised. Not what I had come to expect in the past from the English Gigs I'd been to. From an old fogy point of view this was a bonus, from an ex hippy's point of view this was definitely 'pseud'.

Anyway, Mick Hucknall was superb, what a great voice, he has changed his 'soul' voice to that of Rhythm and Blues in tribute to a late great American blues artist whose name escapes me at the moment. I might google it and edit this later. The blues was great and the return to his own funky soul sound at the end of the set had the whole house dancing.

He was followed by Crowded House, a favourite band of mine (and many other Old Fogy's I expect) it was so amazing to see them perform live, however I thought the sound lacked the old sparkle, maybe this could only be provided by a second Finn!However 'The Weather With You' brought the crowded house down.

James Blunt, performed an excellent set, his rather peculiar voice was as good as on CD and his japes on the stage, including standing on top of the piano and surfing, were really entertaining. He also jumped into the audience much to the delight of my niece who managed to touch him!

The evening was rounded off for us by the always excellent Santana. The King, The Chief, The God of old fogyish guitar playing and my word he can play! Yep an ageing hippy was much mellow. I was also much entertained by the dancing of a group of black guys in front of us who, well they just had the rhythm and the skill and 'the hips' to do Old Carlos justice.

A great day, we limped home with aching backs and legs, along the two mile of road back to the car and sang all the way home.

These old fogies know how to rock!

It is on youtube under 'Werchter boutique one day festival' sorry don't know how to do a link )-:

How on earth?

How is it that a seemingly mature, intelligent, middle-aged woman, who had been married for 18 years, divorced and then in a relationship for another 12 years, a woman who had brought up two children single-handed from the ages of 12 and 14 subsequently, have got involved with someone like 'him'? A man who had lived a desperate life of deprivation and alienation. An ex-criminal, a sociopath, and now I had discovered, a sexual deviant?

I know I was very lonely, struggling financially, I was unemployed due to depression and anxiety and was desperate to feel valued in some way.

Maybe meeting someone like him allowed me to have some kind of status? I felt wanted again as a woman. I felt desirable and feminine. I was past my physical best and beginning to feel that I would never attract a man again, let alone one who was ten years younger than me. I knew I was better educated than him and I was able to teach him about things he had not experienced. Because of his deprivation I wanted to show him a world that he knew nothing about, I wanted him to know how it felt to be loved and cared about. I wanted him to see how ordinary, balanced, healthy people lived their lives. In this respect he fulfilled my maternal yearnings, he filled my 'empty nest' he boosted my fading self esteem, in fact he validated me as a person in every way. At least in the beginning .......

Was I to blame?

When the police first told me about 'him' my emotions were very mixed. I was shocked, but I also felt very sad. What had happened to this man in his early years to turn him into this twisted, violent person? Why did he 'hate' women so much that he wanted to hurt and abuse them in this way? Was every woman the mother who had rejected him? Were his experiences so bad when he was in care that it had damaged him so badly?

However, I now knew I was not the one who could help him. I couldn't be with someone who had done those things and therefore on top of my horror I felt guilt. I felt that I was yet another woman who was going to let him down. Another woman who was rejecting him and it would always be thus. I realised he would never have an ordinary life. He would always be on the edges of society. His life , if he managed to stay out of prison, would be full of anger and mistrust and hopelessness. There seemed no hope for him at all now. He would never ask for help. The damage was cut too deep. I could only hope that he would never hurt another woman. My fear was that he would feel even more anger towards my sex now and I would be to blame.

When I wrote the letter ending the relationship I felt terrible. I knew how he would react and when the Chaplin rang to tell me he might harm himself I was full of fear and guilt and remorse.

He replied, enclosing a copy of a poem I had written him, underlining the words about helping him to change, about standing by him. I felt dreadful, I had betrayed him like everyone else.

But of course, he knew this would be how I would feel, he knew I was a soft touch, he had always known. That was why he was able to get under my skin. That was why he had got the Chaplin to ring me. He had never had any intention of harming himself. People like him never do. They manipulate, they direct their anger outwards to the weak, the vulnerable, the forgiving. They are bullies of the worse kind. I hated myself for letting him into my life .....

Sunday, 13 July 2008


I am taking a break from my story to ask you about yours. I would very be interested to hear from anyone who has been abused in this way, or who has been stalked and how it has affected their life.

It is an awful feeling of powerlessness. Here I am, I have done nothing wrong, except get involved with this man, and I have had to leave my home, my friends, my life and move into a women's refuge because of this abusive ex partner. It is wrong, all wrong, but there is nothing I can do about it. He is a danger to women and yet he is now free to possibly re-offend and continue to make my life Hell......

But only if I let him, please read on to see how sometimes good can come from bad.....

Saturday, 12 July 2008

The Final Chapters

I wrote to him straight away to end the relationship. The police had asked me not to tell him that I knew about his past because he too had rights and he may never offend again. They told me that they preferred that I told no-one except perhaps one close friend whom I could trust. So once again I began to live a lie. I told him that things were not working betweeen us and that I felt it best for both of us if I ended things. I wished him well and hoped he would, at last, be able to live a good life of freedom now that he was no longer on licence.

He was devastated, he wrote again and again begging me to stay. Then he said there was no point in living anymore. Then I got a phone call from the Prison Chaplin saying he was concerned for his state of mind and would I please talk to him. The police had advised that I cut off all contact. So I told the Chaplin I didn't wish to speak to him and that he had to accept it was over. This, of course, he wouldn't and his pleading turned to threats.

The Final Chapters part 2 - re-written

He had lent me some money, while he was in prison, I was struggling to pay my mortgage and he insisted that I use his money to pay my arrears. I resisted this offer until the Mortgage Company threatened me with repossession and then against my better judgment I accepted.

As soon as I borrowed this money, he began to use it against me. If I did anything wrong (in his eyes) he would say right I want my money back ‘Now’ and then you can ---- off. Of course, he knew I wasn’t in a position to pay him back and so this became yet another hold he had over me.

After I ended the relationship, when his pleas and outpourings of love and promises to change or to do anything that might change my mind, didn’t work. He began to threaten me that if I didn’t pay him back his money immediately he would come after me as soon as he was released. I told him I was in the throws of selling my flat and as soon as it was sold he would get his money. He accused me of stealing his money and that he would get revenge on me one way or another.

His release date was pending and so was Christmas and so I decided to go and stay with my sister for a while. It was suggested to me by the police that I leave before he got out for my own safety. This I duly did. Before I left England I borrowed money from a very kind friend in order to pay him back what I owed him. I wrote to him telling him that I would leave a cheque with the probation office for him to collect when he was released.

Just before Christmas I received a phone call, in Belgium, from the police to say that he had broken into my flat and stolen my mail. He had strewn it all along the streets. He had been arrested, charged and released on bail. He told the police he was looking for money.

He started harassing my friends to try to find out where I was living. He asked them for my phone number claiming that I still owed him money. He told them I owed him 400 pounds for phone calls he had made to me whilst he was in prison and that I also owed him for the Christmas and birthday presents that he had bought me. He went round to the house of a frail friend of mine who had recently been in hospital. I had told this friend what was going on and I said if 'he' turned up he was not to pass on my number. But in his fear and confusion he gave him my new number instead of my old one.

As a result I received a phone call from him. It was such a shock. I hadn’t spoken to him since I last visited him in Highpoint Prison, before the police had told me what he’d done.
I was quite shaken and taken off guard. I asked him how he had found out my number, he said there are ways and means and he would always find me. I guessed he had visited one of my friends and so I took a deep breath and told him if he ever contacted my friends or family again I would tell the police, with that I hung up and removed my sim card.

I informed the police but there was nothing they could do but they hoped that when his case came to court for stealing my mail he would be warned never to come near me again. But in the mean-time he was free to roam the streets and harass my friends. They made it clear that they believed it was no longer safe for me to return to my flat.

I was due back in England shortly; I couldn’t stay at my sisters indefinitely. It was suggested to me by the victim support unit that I go into a women’s refuge.

I just couldn’t understand how any of this could be happening. I was just an ordinary member of society. People like me didn't end up in a women's refuge. I had never been on the wrong side of the law. My only mistake was getting involved with someone like him. I didn’t want to leave my home, my friends, my life. It wasn’t right or fair that I had to and yet when I thought of what he had done to those women I was too scared to risk it. I knew, as I knew the sun would rise in the morning, that if I went back to the flat he would come round and bang on the door, he would shout and curse and threaten me. But worse than this, I was frightened that he might be around any corner in the street or that he would come up behind me one day.

Two weeks later I moved into the refuge.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The tale unfolds

Finally he gets a release date - early December!

One afternoon in late October I receive a visit from the police. They had rung beforehand saying they wanted to discuss a statement I had made about a man I had seen downloading child pornography in an Internet cafe. I waited in for them and when they arrived they said that unfortunately they had not been able to find this man. But they also wished to discuss another matter with me. I went a bit cold because 'He' had been threatening to harm himself and I thought maybe something had happened to him or I had a couple of parking fines outstanding and was worried it was about that.

It was 'him' they wanted to talk to me about. They asked me if I knew the reason he was in prison.

I said I had been told it was because he was intimidating to his probation officer and a member of staff. They said did I realise what he was originally in prison for and I said "well he hadn't really told me but had implied it was for burglary or stealing or something similar."

They then told me that he was a serial, violent, sex offender, particular against prostitutes and he had been offending since he was 17. This meant 25 years of abusing women! They had informed me because they feared for my safety as he was considered to be a very dangerous man. I was absolutely shattered. Of all the things I had thought he had done this had never even entered my head. I was really really shocked, my whole world was turned upside down. All the time I had been with this man and I really didn't know him at all.....

Sunday, 6 July 2008

The horror story now evolves

His appeal finally arrived!

Hoping it might help I wrote a letter to the Prison Governor on his behalf. Telling him that he had turned over a new leaf and that I was a good, decent and honest citizen with a degree and no previous contact with anyone the wrong side of the law. I told him that he now had a job and a steady girl-friend and that I believed he was determined to be a decent member of society from now on.

He was turned down on the grounds that he had been intimidating to his probation officer and a member of staff.

I found out at this time that he had been out on licence and still had nine months of that licence to serve and these would now be served in prison.

He became more angry and despondent. Talking about suicide and accusing me of sleeping around. Then alternating this with claims of eternal love and apologies. He became obsessed with sex and wanted me to write about my fantasies for him to read to keep him going in prison. He wrote and told me his and he liked to talk about what we would do when he came home.

I was getting a little uncomfortable with his erratic behaviour but kept putting it down to his being in prison while I was outside and free to do whatever I liked. In a sense I understood his insecurity.

I kept trudging all the way up to Highpoint Prison, near New market. A horrible place. It would take me most of the day to get there and back and then when I arrived I was subjected to searches and sniffer dogs and the company of people I would cross the road to avoid in normal circumstances.

We would then have just one and a half hours together.

He would want to talk about our future together. Marriage and living together in my flat. I would avoid the subject because as I had told him numerous times. I wasn't ready for that yet. We had only known each other a short time before he went inside and the situation we were in was not 'real' and we needed to have some more time together on the outside to see how it went. He said I should know how I felt by now and so often our visits were fraught and tense. Also he wanted to kiss and hold me all the time and we were only supposed to hold hands. The Prison staff were watching us all the time.

I hated every minute of those visits.

A love story continued

Three months into the relationship I received a phone call late one night. It was him, he was ringing to tell me that there had been a big mistake and he was being taken back into prison. He was in tears and saying he was so sorry over and over again. He said he had no idea why this was happening as he had done nothing wrong, that it was all a mistake and as soon as this was discovered he would be released. He also said that he expected me to end things with him and that he understood. I, like a fool, said I would stand by him, which I duly did.

From then on the life of a prisoners moll was the life I would lead for the next nine months. Having never set foot inside a prison before this was quite a difficult and frightening experience to begin with. Also, he continued to re-assure me that it was all a mistake and he would be appealing and would be home soon. He had told me, in the first instance, that he wanted to never be judged by his past again and he didn't want people to know that he had been in prison and so I didn't tell anyone. I pretended that he was working away and every so often I went to visit him. It was really horrible living a lie but I wanted him to be able to trust me to be loyal to him.

The months went by and still no release. We wrote to each other every day and he rang me almost every night. I only had a mobile and so I had to receive his calls from a local phone box. Occasionally I just couldn't get there at the right time and he would be very angry. His letters started to be more demanding and controlling. I tried to justify this by the fact that he was stuck in prison unfairly and I was outside and free. But the tone of his calls and letters changed and he started to use emotional blackmail and accused me of seeing other people.

These letters would be interspersed with letters telling me how much he loved me and that he wanted to marry me, that no-one else had ever meant so much to him. That no-one else had ever stood by him. He said that an ex-girlfriend had been having an affair all the time he was in prison in the past and yet had continued to visit him and pretend everything was OK. Because of this I forgave him his jealousy and controlling behaviour...