Collette came into refuge after a referral from the local Women’s Centre. She was on her own, had six children who had since grown up and left home. She was 62 and had been married for 42 years. On that particular morning Collette had got up as usual, however she knew she was unable to go on “coping” with her abusive husband.

The worker in the Women’s Centre contacted the Women’s Aid Outreach Worker and she brought the woman to a local refuge where a bedroom was ready for her.

Collette told us she was at the point of ending her life as she could see no way out of her situation. She felt she was too old to start again and that she did not have the strength to do what she needed to do.

Collette was supported through the first few days by simply sitting with her when she needed it and by reassuring her that after a few nights sleeps and a bit of space she would start to think more clearly. She was exhausted trying to cope with the emotional and financial abuse. The actual physical assaults had diminished over the years and were a more prominent feature when her children were smaller.

Collette had no idea of what she was entitled to in terms of financial support. She was frightened of phoning various departments herself as her confidence in dealing with others had been eroded over the years.

Her needs were assessed at an appropriate time and a tailored support plan was drawn up. She was supported practically to make a claim to ESA and to present as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. She was supported emotionally to deal with the issues arising from her abuse over the years through needs led one to one support.

After being with us for about three months Collette agreed to take part in the Journey to Freedom programme we were running in-house. As well as receiving support for herself she offered tremendous support to other younger women in the group. After about seven months living with us in refuge, Collette was allocated a one bedroom bungalow close to her daughters. She was delighted! She was supported by a Women’s Aid aftercare worker to complete a successful community care grant form and accepted emotional and practical support to help her get resettled.

Collette now lives independently and comes back to the refuge on a weekly basis for group support via aftercare. She has regained control of her life and plans to volunteer with us in the future.