Security is all young mother, Emily Mason*, really wanted when she arrived at the door of our Women’s Centre with her social worker, Kate. Emily was just nineteen. She had been living with abuse most of her life. In fear of her own front door, she developed mental health problems, including schizophrenia. Her alcoholic and violent partner controlled her life.
'If he was hungover or came home drunk and my son was crying, he would pick him up by his wrist and throw him like he was nothing more than a rag doll. He had turned everyone against me. I stayed with him for so long because I had nowhere else to turn.’
For three years, Emily felt trapped and isolated. She finally reached breaking point when her only child was removed into care and placed on the Child Protection Register. She had lost everything. She had tried to end it all, but her life line came when social services referred her to our Women’s Centre in Gloucester. Here she found a community of women who really cared.
Centre Manager, Niki Gould said, ‘Emily needed a lot of support but I knew she had the potential to be a great mother with the right help.’
Emily explains: ‘I was previously turned down by twelve different places because they didn’t have the facilities I needed, but The Nelson Trust had all those things in one place. I’ve had mental health problems for most of my life because of my difficult childhood, but when my son was taken from me, I had a breakdown and the Women’s Centre helped me turn my life around. They helped me feel confident looking after my son on my own. They also helped me get back on my own feet after an extremely emotionally abusive relationship.’
Working closely with Social Services, Emily's son was put into the temporary care of her mother. Her journey towards recovery started with one-to-one counselling. With the input of a specialist mental health service, Emily soon felt confident enough to attend groups to heal from anxiety and learn essential life skills: Mindfulness; anger-management; cookery classes; and parenting classes all played a major part in building her self-esteem and confidence. A year later, Emily’s mental health had stabilised. She volunteered for a charity and enrolled on an NVQ, Level 3 in ICT.
With our help, Emily has been reunited with her son. She has started afresh in a new town. She’s a devoted mother, with a new career in the NHS as a Performance Administrator.
‘I now have a long standing career and run a non-profit business in my spare time which I would never have even dreamed I could do if it weren’t for the Women Centre. I can’t express in words what they’ve done for me.’
At The Nelson Trust, we don’t think anyone should live in fear. Emily’s story is all too familiar. One thing leads to another: abuse and violence in childhood can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. More than half our clients at our women’s centres have a mental health diagnosis, self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, and can end up vulnerable with an abusive partner, in and out of prison.
We're working 24/7 to lift the shadow of addiction over families and their loved ones - husbands, wives, partners, mothers, fathers, sitsters, brothers and children. We're enabling them to emerge, healing, from the darkest times.
*Name has been changed to protect victim’s identity.