“It’s a happier life… You can be strong, you can be happy”

The number of domestic abuse incidents recorded in Merseyside continues to rise with 28,359 cases reported in the year ending March 2017. Despite this, the number of domestic abuse services available in England has decreased by 21% since 2010.

Centre 56 in North Liverpool has been providing childcare and support services to victims of domestic abuse for over 45 years. At any one time it can be supporting 59 children aged between 2 and 14, all of whom have been affected by domestic abuse.

Two of the children belong to Sevilay, a 30-year-old single Mum who moved to England when she was 17 years old.

Sevilay experienced six years of mental and physical abuse from her husband and his family. She wasn’t allowed out of the house, she wasn’t allowed contact with her family, and she wasn’t allowed to learn English.

Two weeks after the birth of her second child, Sevilay realised she couldn’t do it anymore, and she came to a domestic abuse refuge.

“It was really scary when I first came to the refuge. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Everyone spoke a different language and I couldn’t say my own name, and you don’t have your family around. But if you don’t have anyone you have to be strong.

“After one week in the refuge I said I’m not going back”.

Sevilay couldn’t speak any English when she moved in to the refuge. But with the help of her support workers, she soon became more independent.

“When I went to the refuge my son was four years old and my daughter one month. They told me about Centre 56 and I met with the staff. We had nothing, no clothes, no shoes… Centre 56 gave us everything”.

Sevilay’s son started nursery at Centre 56 and Sevilay began attending weekly coffee morning with women who have similar experiences. They welcomed her, giving her someone to talk to and a way to improve her English.

It wasn’t long before Sevilay began attending classes, such as confidence building, photography, beauty and cookery.

Sevilay began volunteering at Centre 56 and eventually went on to become an employee: “I’m really happy, I don’t want to leave here. I didn’t think I’d get a job, but Centre 56 gave me my dream. I’m really happy to come to work because I love everyone.

“It wasn’t easy but it’s a happier life. Now everything is up to me, my money, my house, my rules!

“You can change everything, you can be strong, you can be happy. I’ve never regretted leaving my husband, but I regret not leaving him sooner”.

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