The following stories are the real experiences of some of our helpline callers.

“How do you tell someone that the person you love wants to hurt you in that way?”

In this audio clip, a woman talks about getting help after years of domestic and sexual abuse by her husband. If you are being abused it is never your fault. Recognising what is happening to you, or has happened in the past, is the first step in escaping the pain and misery of domestic and sexual violence.

“You always think if it happened to you – you would scream and fight, but I froze.”

In this audio clip, a young student gets help when she is raped after a night out. If a person is unconscious or their judgement is impaired by alcohol or drugs, legally they are unable to give consent. Having non-consensual sex with a person who is drunk is rape.

“I decided I wasn’t going to let my abuser ruin the rest of my life.”

In this audio clip, an older man gets help after years of suffering in silence the effects of childhood abuse. It is never too late to get help. Recognising what is happening to you, or has happened in the past, is the first step in escaping the pain and misery of domestic and sexual violence.

I could not leave the house. I was imprisoned for several days at a time, was unable to cook without the food being thrown at me, or to wash without my head being held under water until I lost consciousness.

I was unable to go to the bathroom during the night; he would kick in the toilet door because I had taken too long. When I fought back he would rape me and sometimes over and over again…

Female, 48 (by telephone)

I’m nineteen and a student, was at a party and stayed on for a few drinks with a guy I knew to be heterosexual as I knew his girlfriend… he raped me.

Ever since that I feel dirty, don’t want to go out, have stopped going to lectures and haven’t told anyone as I’m so ashamed.

Male, 19 (by telephone)

I have split up with my girlfriend (lesbian relationship). I am 24 years old. We were together for 2 years and I feel so isolated and alone. It is really hard to speak to anyone since we split up. She was controlling and I was frightened at times but I still love her and am really confused about my feelings.

She has taken all my friends, well our friends and I really feel I have no one to talk to. I don’t even know if this is the right place to contact, but if you could help in anyway I would really appreciate some help.

Female, 24 (by email)

I rang the helpline for support. Initially I wasn’t sure if I was calling the right number. I had been married for 10 years with 2 young children and life had become very difficult.

My husband was controlling and emotionally abusive. He had pushed me a couple of times and I found that Ihad become increasingly frightened of him. He controlled the family finances and restricted my time with her friends and family. I felt that I had nowhere to turn. This was the first time I had ever spoken to anyone about the situation.

Female, 36 (by telephone*)

* The helpline worker gave the woman space talk about how she was feeling. They assured her that she had phoned the right number and gave her the opportunity to talk over the issues that were concerning her about her husband’s behaviour and her and the children’s wellbeing and safety.

The helpline worker also discussed the helpline service and assured her of the 24/7 support available via the phone. Other options were looked at including face to face support and refuge if necessary. This was the start of introducing the support of Women’s Aid to the caller. The helpline worker was moving at the woman’s pace and gave the caller the opportunity to reflect and take time and call back. This was the beginning of her journey.

You might also be interested in women’s experiences in using other Women’s Aid services and 16 year old Niamh’s story Hear me speak.