I want it to stop, I want to disappear’
With these words from Jake I decide to call again. I can’t bear his pain and my own.
‘Hello, can I help you…?’
This time I say ‘Yes, can you help me, me and my children.’
I cry and cry and cry – it takes ages for me to say anything sensible. The woman on the phone is so patient with me – she tells me its ok, it’s fine to cry, she understands, I should take my time – she tells me she is ready to listen, she tells me she believes me. And I cry even more. All the pain, all the silence, all comes out in those tears. And all the time she says – ‘it’s ok’.
I talk like I have never talked to anyone about how I feel. It is the first time that I have felt listened to, because I was just let talk.
There was no trying to fix things, no list of questions. Just encouragement and someone validating that what I was saying was real, that I am worth listening to and that the abuse is not my fault.
Most of all, she asked the most important question – ‘What would you like, what can we do to help?’
I call a few more times over the next few weeks. Talking helps me focus on what exactly is going on and I get a chance to talk about the worries I have about my children.
Each time I call the worker checks with me how safe I am and reassures me that if I ever feel unsafe at home that I could come to the refuge with my children.
With each call, my head feels clearer and I feel stronger.
The worker suggested that if I would like to meet someone in person she could arrange an appointment for me with her or I could drop in anytime to Modh Eile House or she could organise for someone to meet me somewhere else in the city or anywhere in the county.
I could also arrange to meet with a children’s support worker to discuss any concerns I have about my children or if any of my children would like to meet a support worker. The worker explained that just like me getting support from someone, sometimes a young person might like to get support from someone neutral, outside of the family.
I think of Jake and Meg and even little Luke – yes, they deserve so much better than this.
I deserve so much better than this.
During 16 Days of Action on Violence and Abuse against Women (25 Nov – 10 Dec) we are publishing regular updates on Gillian’s story here at copegalway.ie/16days.
Read in the next instalment how Gillian called COPE Galway for help – you can do this too.
We are open 24 hours every day, so there is always someone to take your call.
You don’t need to give your name or tell us anything – we won’t ask too many questions and we will not tell you what to do. We will listen, we will believe, we will answer your questions – we will help you work out what you want to do, what you need to do and what you can do – for you and your children.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or is affected by any of the issues mentioned above phone COPE Galway Domestic Abuse free and confidential service at 091 565 985 (24h).
When you’re ready to talk we’re ready to listen.
#16daysofactivism #16Days #letshelptogether