Melissa* - Aged 21

I was only 15 when I met my ex-boyfriend; we met through a friend which straight away made the relationship more complicated.

He cheated on me not long into the relationship so we broke up but gradually began seeing each other again but nobody knew that we were.

Early on in the relationship I had an abortion, which my ex was unhappy about so when I got pregnant again I decided to keep the baby as I thought that was what he wanted but it wasn't. He told me to get rid of it and kept saying that the baby wasn't his.

This led to us not having any contact for 3 months and then all of a sudden he got back in touch and really wanted to be involved with the pregnancy and the baby.

The first time he was violent I was about 5 months pregnant, he was jealous of my friendship with a male friend, he dragged me around the bedroom and threatened to harm the baby and even pushed me down the stairs. At this point I walked away from the arguments and the violence, I wanted to fight back but was scared this would endanger the baby more. After he always promised to change and it wouldn't happen again.

At this point I was still living with my mum and no-one knew about the relationship, so the incidents of violence were not that often but when my son was 6 months old my mum kicked me out and I got my own place to live.

The violence then got worse and I began to fight back in retaliation I didn't want to become an easy target for him. He also began taking my money, I didn't have much anyway but he still took it leaving me sometimes with less than £5 to last a week.

One night when I didn't want to have sex with him he became violent, even in front of our son who heard it and began to cry.

The final straw came when one night I had left the bed to go downstairs and sleep on the sofa; I took my son with me so I could tend to him during the night. My ex woke up and came downstairs and punched me in the face whilst I had the baby in my arms. He dragged me to the floor where he continued to hurt me. He accused me of sleeping on the sofa because he thought I was sleeping with someone else.

I decided I didn't want my son growing up like this so I ended the relationship. I didn't realise at the time that I was pregnant again, I miscarried the baby and ended up in hospital.

I didn't know at the time I was experiencing domestic violence, I compared what was happening to me against what other people I knew was experiencing and it didn't seem as bad. I had no support and didn't know where to turn for help; I just knew I didn't want my child being brought up in that environment. My ex tried to get back with me, he promised to change but I had made my decision and stood by it.

I think it is really important for other young people to know what domestic violence is and to know where they can get help if they ever need it. I wish I'd had that information when I was younger.

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* Names have been changed to protect the individuals involved

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