Kirsty* - Aged 20


You always think it won't happen to you, but it did. At the time I didn't see it, but looking back it all starts to add up. He started to control me after 3 weeks.

At the start he gave me lots of attention, which I liked. But even then he would have an attitude with the way he said things. Then he started taking my money and he didn't want me to spend time with anyone but him. People might say it's because he cared, but it wasn't.

There was lots of emotional abuse that I didn't recognise at the time. He would tell me that I couldn't go to college and had to stay in the house, I had to swear on my son's life. Once I was out with my friend in town and he found me. I had to go with him because I was scared of what would happen if I didn't. My friend thought I had chosen him over her, I hadn't.  I couldn't tell her the real reason, so she didn't want to be friends anymore.

We would argue a lot and once halfway through he strangled me in front of my son. Then every time we argued I would be scared that he would be violent.

He would always say sorry and that he had made a mistake, then it would be good for a few days and I would think it would get better.

But the threats became more regular and he got me into a lot of debt through taking out contracts in my name.  Because of the nasty things he would say to me I didn't have much confidence and made me feel like it was all I was worth.

I had never told anyone what was happening, I didn't know how, but then he slapped me and held a knife to my throat, in front of my son. I called the police and they fitted an alarm for me to contact them if I was in danger.

After the police the first person I told was a youth support worker, Beth*, who helped me to contact Women's Aid. They found me a space in a refuge but I didn't want to leave where the area I live so I moved in with my mum.

My ex-partner hassled me with texts and phone calls when I moved out, so I switched my phone off. When I lost my phone he didn't have my new number so the contact stopped.

Women's Aid have continued supporting me and have offered to help make my property safer so that I don't have to move out. I've also been told about the Freedom Programme that helps women understand their experience of abuse.

It is important for young people to recognise the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Young people need to know that there is help and support out there, you don't have to put up with it. Having had support I'm now feeling less scared and more confident and want to make sure other young women feel the same.

For help and support click here

* Names have been changed to protect the individuals involved

16-19 year olds are most vulnerable to experiencing domestic violence.