Leila's story Especially for her daughter's sake, Leila refuses to stand for domestic abuse

baby playing with blocks“When I was 16 I got together with a guy called George* who I’d known for years. He was a couple of years older than me and, to start with, the relationship was fine and he treated me well. But things changed when I found out that I was pregnant when I was 17. He became really possessive and started accusing me of looking at other boys. I’m not sure where the jealousy came from as I’d never cheated on him or given him any reason to worry.

“I was staying in a mother and baby unit after I gave birth to Sofia* and he would often visit me there. I was smoking out of a window one day and because the window overlooked a car park where a local gang hung out he kept accusing me of looking at them. I got sick of his jealousy so I covered up the window to put his mind at rest.

“He also had a go at me after he dreamt that I cheated on him. I hadn’t done anything and I’d been sleeping next to him but he wouldn’t see reason.

"George stormed into my room, grabbed Sofia's cot and smashed it to bits in the car park."

“When Sofia was about a month old we were meant to be visiting George’s family but he was in a bad mood. I told him that he needed to cheer up before we went out and he went mad at me. He grabbed Sofia and some nappies and tried to walk off with her. I was breast feeding at the time so I told him he couldn’t just take her. I was trying to get Sofia off him and he banged her head on the door and punched me in the face. I was shocked. Luckily another mum from the unit saw what had happened and came out. I told her to take Sofia and lock her in her room. George stormed into my room, grabbed Sofia’s cot and smashed it to bits in the car park.

“The police were called and George was arrested. Sofia was taken to hospital but luckily she wasn’t hurt. I took him back because he hadn’t done anything like that before and I didn’t think he was a violent person.

“He also became jealous of the attention that I gave to Sofia. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do as she was a baby and needed me to change and feed her but he didn’t care about that, he just wanted all my attention.

“When he got jealous or aggressive he would often take it out on Sofia. He wouldn’t hit her but he would smash her stuff up or take it away. Another time, he had gone mad at me again and started packing up all of Sofia’s things. It was the middle of the night and he was trying to take away her nappies and other stuff that I needed for her. He said: “I bought it, I can take it.”

“He was still telling me that he loved me, and after he hit me he’d tell me that he’d only done it because I’d made him angry. I started to question myself, thinking: “Did I do something to push him?” I hadn’t but at the time I couldn’t explain why his behaviour had changed so much.

"I couldn't love a man who hit me or who took every argument out on his daughter."

“The arguments about him being possessive continued. During one argument he kneed me so hard in my stomach that my caesarean scar split open and I had to go to hospital. This was the last time he ever put his hand on me. After that I ended the relationship.

“That was the last straw and I left him after that when Sofia was 4 months old. I couldn’t love a man who hit me or who took every argument out on his daughter. I still had my self-respect and I just wouldn’t stand for it anymore.

“I wanted to set a good example for Sofia. When she grows up I will teach her that it’s not right for a man to hit a woman, or the other way round, and I’ll tell her not to accept that behaviour for herself. If anyone is going through what I went through I would tell them to just get up and leave and get help, and that there are options out there. I’d tell anyone that is being hit that it is abuse, and that just because they say they love you doesn’t mean they can hit you. If you are so fearful, go and sleep in a police station with your kids, if you have any, until something is done. Don’t stand for it.”


Names have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.

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