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Domestic violece victim: 'I felt ashamed and believed it was my fault'

PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:34 05 October 2010

AS a perennial campaign against domestic violence in the East End is launched again this year, one victim tells the East London Advertiser how she eventually asked for help after years of abuse. Jennifer, 44, has lived in Tower Hamlets for 13 years and su

AS a perennial campaign against domestic violence in the East End is launched again this year, one victim tells the East London Advertiser how she eventually asked for help after years of abuse.

Jennifer, 44, has lived in Tower Hamlets for 13 years and suffered physical, verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband for seven years.

The violence started with slapping and pushing but soon progressed to doors being slammed in Jennifer's face, money being withheld from her and kicking.

Her husband even locked her in the house and threatened her with a knife.

But now, after she found the courage to ask for help to end the vicious cycle, she is appealing for women like herself to get the help and support they deserve to end their misery.

"I realised it was unacceptable when the violence grew more severe and frequent, and he became more physically aggressive towards me," she explained. "The final straw was when the violence started being directed towards our child.

"I felt ashamed and believed that it was all my fault. That was why I was apprehensive about contacting the authorities; I blamed myself.

"I was also afraid of saying anything to the authorities as I was terrified that they would take my child away."

It took Jennifer six years to build up the courage to get help for herself but she was offered support and counselling by the Women's Trust in Stratford after being given domestic violence helpline numbers to call when she called Tower Hamlets council.

She said: "When you are a victim of domestic violence and living in the situation day in and day out, you feel so low and worthless that you start to believe that you are not worthy of anything and deserve all the abuse you get.

"It becomes very difficult to get out of the abusive relationship so it is crucial to confide in someone you really trust who would be able to look at your situation from the outside and give advice that may help you.

"The most important thing is to not suffer in silence and to not be ashamed. You are not alone and you do not deserve the abuse as you have not done anything wrong - There is help out there. Please tell someone."

Since seeking help Jennifer has taken part in Tower Hamlets council's Warrior Women personal safety and self defence course which is run by female instructors at venues all over the East End.

She said: "It has given me the confidence to be more open about the domestic violence and tell other people about it, as I realise that I am not going to be judged or looked down upon.

"It has helped me to recognise that that domestic violence wasn't my fault and I was not to blame at all. It has helped me to move on with my life.

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