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Life can be hard at the best of times so it’s important that if you’re in a relationship, it’s a healthy, happy and equal one. The news that domestic abuse could be considered to be a crime could help those who suffer controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse from partners or family members.
This will also hopefully help people like Jake* to recognise unhealthy relationships before they cause too much damage.
Jake has always been a worker – when living with his dad he held down a job whilst studying towards four ‘A’ levels at college. Making sure that he paid his share of the rent he thought that he would have a roof over his head and the stability he needed to give himself the best chance of success in his studies.
Unfortunately for him, the money that he was paying to his dad wasn’t being put towards the rent and eventually they were evicted from their home. Jake had no alternative but to move into a homeless hostel – not the best situation but he continued with his studies and managed to hold down his job at Marks & Spencer too.
After a while, his dad took on a new tenancy and Jake reluctantly moved back in with him but almost inevitably the relationship broke down and Jake moved in with his girlfriend and her parents. He was struggling to cope with all the upheaval but he still kept on working and studying. Unfortunately he now he had a different problem to deal with.
Jake had never really noticed it before, but the more time he spent with his girlfriend the more he realised that something wasn’t quite right with their relationship. She had become controlling, not allowing him to go out with his friends – when he did meet friends, she made his life almost unbearable and so he began to avoid social situations. He removed himself from social networking sites to avoid any kind of confrontation. He even gave up on his interests of learning Japanese and playing the guitar. Over the coming months his confidence was badly knocked and his self-esteem hit rock bottom.
This is where Bromford came in. In many cases, the support that we offer focuses on helping people with the very basics, for example to complete forms, budgeting and find work. This wasn’t the case for Jake; he just needed someone to talk to, to open up to and gain a little strength from.
By his own admission, Jake had found a ‘safe place’ – by cutting himself off from his friends he created a ‘quiet life’. His confidence had gone and he was feeling withdrawn and unhappy.
Jake was desperate to do well in his studies but the pressures of paying rent to his girlfriend’s parents and the psychological abuse that he was being subjected to was threatening to undo all of his hard work. As the relationship between Jake and his support worker, Lou Fagence developed he began to feel more at ease and started to open up. Over the coming weeks Jake was helped to apply for funding that allowed him to take a month off work to focus on his studying. He was awarded £285 which paid his rent and allowed him to buy food for the month.
More importantly, the time Jake spent with his support worker had helped to build his confidence, he realised that his relationship wasn’t healthy and he began to get back in touch with his friends. Slowly but surely his self-esteem grew and by the time he received his ‘A’ level results he was in a much better place.
With the grades that he needed, including an A in mathematics, Jake is now planning to study aerospace engineering at university. Whilst waiting for his results he picked up his guitar again and has a renewed interest in learning Japanese – which will come in handy if his plans to work a placement with Rolls Royce in Japan come off.
Jake says that by having the opportunity to have someone to listen to him and to get constructive advice from someone who wasn’t emotionally involved, was key to him being able to achieve his goals.