Tomorrow marks the closure of another chapter.
I am meeting with my IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) for the last time to close off my case.
I have mixed emotions thinking about the meeting. On the one hand it closes a chapter that was fraught with constant police involvement, court cases, case conferences, independent reviews, multi-agency meetings etc. etc.
But it also brings an end to someone who has had a major role in our lives over the past 14 months. It feels as if the safety net is finally being withdrawn & I’m to go it alone.
A new chapter is starting, but I don’t know where it leads. Whilst I know I’m ready, my first steps will be taken tentatively.
Since I reported my Domestic Abuse I have had 3 IDVAs (I will refer to them as S, C & J). It is C who I say goodbye to tomorrow. Whilst both S & C have had an extremely vital role in our lives, it is C who has worked with us for the longest period of 14 months .
S was the one who ultimately convinced me to flee my DV relationship & who tried her best to keep us safe, unfortunately to no avail. She was the one who witnessed my physical injuries in the aftermath of violent attacks & who drove me to either the SARC or A&E in order to receive treatment. She was the one who I contacted following a particularly violent assault when I was too afraid to phone the police. She was the one who came & sat with me for hours in A&E following a suicide attempt. She worked with me for 4 short months & did everything within her power to keep us safe, but sadly the system failed & when the time came for us to be relocated out of the area she handed us over to C, more at risk than when we first met. Whilst she was frustrated that our risk had been increasing, she was relieved & hopeful that our new life would provide us with the safety we so desperately needed.
When I first met C I had completely lost all faith in the system & refused to engage with the process. S briefed her on the complexity of the case & all the failings that had occurred & she certainly had her work cut out for her, firstly to gain my trust & then to slowly convince me to re-engage with agencies.
C has been an absolute rock during a tumultuous period. Throughout the past year I have met with her in person on a weekly basis &, at times when needed, spoken to her daily on the phone. When things were going badly, C was always there. She has attended every police meeting I’ve had, always insisting the meetings were held at her office rather than the police station because she knew how triggering they were for me. She has spent hours upon hours sat in the waiting room whilst I gave video interviews for the rape cases, holding me as I sobbed uncontrollably after each & every one. She attended every case conference & multi-agency meeting with me. She stood her ground & fought my corner with Social Services’ inadequacy; she attended the appeal hearing with the education department to insist on the girls being accepted into the same school & stood her ground when they tried to have her thrown out of the legal hearing. And she has sat with me throughout a 7 hour interview with the team conducting an Independent Review.
C has literally been my strength when I had none. She has seen me at my absolute lowest & provided comfort when I didn’t know how to continue. She has held me when I could do nothing more than sob, unable to find the words to speak. She has sat on the floor of my lounge when I had no furniture for her to sit on & she cried when I told her I no longer had to sleep on the floor as I had saved up & bought myself a bed.
She has watched me grow from the person who was too afraid to leave the house, to finding sufficient courage to visit her in her office & finally bold enough to accompany her to a coffee shop.
She has given me my life back …. or perhaps more accurately, she has provided me with my new life.
So tomorrow we meet for the last time to say goodbye & it will be a meeting of mixed emotions. This chapter is closed and a new one awaits.