A survivor's story: abused, homeless and pregnant at 15
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***trigger warning – contains reference to rape, domestic violence and abuse***
Louise* was 15 when she met a seemingly charming 21-year-old man.
When he told her he was moving away for work she agreed to go with him. He promised he would look after her and she was desperate to escape the hostel for girls that had become her home after growing up in the care system.
Louise was raped on her first night. This was his way of telling her he was the boss and that she was to do as he said.
She discovered she was pregnant at 15, by a 21-year-old man who controlled her, kept all their money and only sometimes fed her.
He would leave her for days at a time so, desperate for food, she would go walking looking for fruit trees; apples, pears, plums.
After Louise became so ill from eating underripe pears that she believed she was losing her baby, a GP put her in touch with a social worker, Julie*. As Louise had no money, Julie gave her a bag of shopping for Christmas and an emergency phone number. Sadly, Julie knew that pregnancy can be a trigger for domestic abuse and the Christmas period sees an increase in reports.
That evening he came home, intoxicated, asking about the shopping:
“Who gave it to you?”
“Where did you go?”
“What did you tell them?”
…before she could answer he punched her in the face, flung her on the bed, pulled chunks of her hair out and raped her. She held her baby bump to protect it.
The next day, Christmas Day, her face swollen, bleeding and terrified she was losing her baby, she made her way out to the local shop to ask if she could use their phone to call the number Julie had given her.
Louise was taken to hospital where she found that her baby was ok. After a week in hospital she returned to her hometown with suitable safe accommodation arranged.
Louise finds herself standing in a queue at the post office 25 years later, in a trance, waiting in line to send some money to her daughter for Christmas. The cashier asks, “Are you ok?” and offers her a tissue, she wipes away the tears.
Returning home she sees the apple tree in her front garden, a symbolic and constant reminder each day of how she can survive and how far she has come. A reminder of how grateful she is for her family and all her children and grandchildren.
Now, it’s the cost of living crisis she worries about, but when she looks out her window and sees her apple tree, she feels at peace because she knows she has survived worse, she can survive anything. Her children may not have all they want but they will have all they need; love, food, a roof over their heads.
Louise is not just a survivor, she is a warrior.
*names have been changed
Our deepfelt gratitude goes to Louise who told us her experience in the hope it may help others who are enduring domestic abuse.
We are committed to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG). You can find out more about our work towards building trust and confidence; relentlessly pursuing perpetrators; and ensuring safer spaces for women in public places. Follow the link to our dedicated VAWG section.
We would like to give survivors like Louise a platform to speak out and to have their voices heard, in a bid to raise awareness and encourage others to come forward. If you would like to share your experience with us, please email [email protected]
If you need help
If you or your children are in immediate danger you should always call 999. If it is not safe to speak use the ‘silent solution.’ Press 55 when prompted and this will tell us that you need us.
You can also access help from specialist domestic abuse services: