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Ask the Experts: My abusive husband

Ask the Experts: My abusive husband
'Over the past year his temper has got worse and he is frightening me' - our expert Winnie offers advice about an abusive husband.

Dear Mambo,

My husband has always been a bit difficult and has been verbally abusive to me in the past. When we first met he was very charming and kind, he is a good looking guy and swept me off my feet.

Over the past year or two his temper has got worse and he is frightening me. He flies into a temper for no reason, last week it was because I had forgotten to buy him some beer when I went to the shops – he shoved me backwards and I hit my head on the door frame. Another time he slapped me when I went out with my friend.

I am too embarrassed to tell anyone as I don’t think anyone would believe me, but at the same time I am starting to get really scared of him. The other problem is that I am dependent on him financially, I am a stay-at-home mum (my children are at primary school) and he won’t even discuss the idea of me working part-time.

Annabel

Dear Annabel,

I am very sorry to hear what a difficult time you are having. It was brave of you to take the first step by writing in and I hope you will be able to take some action to protect yourself.

Just to be clear that what you are experiencing is domestic violence. Unfortunately your abusive husband is unlikely to change unless he recognises he has a problem and domestic violence tends to get worse over time.

Although you may not yet be ready to think about leaving the relationship, you can make contact with organisations that can help whatever you decide. They won’t tell you what to do but will listen and talk through your options.

Refuge is an organisation that gets women (and children) into safe accommodation if they do decide to leave. They have specialist refuges for African women – the addresses are always confidential and men are not allowed in. If you are staying in a refuge you can be advised about benefits and housing (and immigration if necessary), so the fact you are currently dependent on your abusive husband need not be an issue.

You can take the first step by talking to your doctor or making contact with the National Domestic Violence helpline on: 0808 2000 247. This is a Freephone helpline, open 24 hours a day, which is operated by Women’s Aid and Refuge.

If you feel you are in danger, please call 999 immediately. The most important thing is that you and your children are safe.

I hope you are able to get some help for yourself and move forward towards a better future.

Winnie

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