BEATEN, battered and bruised by the person you should trust the most.

What do you do when your prince charming turns off the charm and taunts you, asks you to perform heinous sexual acts, or strangles you and knocks you unconscious?

For many, the last resort of suffering domestic abuse isn't being black and blue on the surface or broken inside.

It is when your own child is placed in danger. An instinct kicks in to tell someone the truth and expose your secret, reaching out to call for help.

For two women from Weymouth and Portland, they dialled Domestic Abuse Intervention Training where Jo Keane and Pauline Collier, facilitators for DAIT picked up.

Sarah* and Vicky*, both mothers and victims of domestic abuse, have agreed to talk about their experience to help raise awareness of the signs of physical and mental abuse.

Sarah said: "I came to DAIT after the police referred me after my ex-partner beat me so badly I called 999.

"When I first stepped through the door here I still had bruises and bumps all over me. I didn't know what to expect, but by the end of the first session it was such an eye opener and helped me understand the abuse I had been feeling.

"I blamed myself for the physical and emotional abuse, I thought it was me who made him angry.

"Our relationship had started fantastically, he was a loving prince charming and made me feel like the best person in the world.

"But he slowly turned verbally aggressive and started blaming me, saying I had turned him into a horrible monster. That then turned into physical abuse and violence.

"I would lie until I was blue in the face to my friends and family and say the bruises were from being drunk or falling down stairs. You do it for so long they just take your word for it."

Sarah was beaten so badly by her partner, a call to 999 changed her life forever.

"I thought he was going to kill me. He knocked me unconscious and strangled me while my son was there. That was the moment a feeling kicked in, seeing my son. I rang 999 and he was arrested that night."

Vicky, sitting beside Sarah, also suffered from domestic abuse and left her husband and father of her children when she began to worry about the safety of her daughters.

Vicky said: "I had no life, he had changed me. He shaved my head and changed my children's image too.

"We went to a festival and he was taking drugs next to my children and turned to my daughter and suggested to her she would like it. That's when I knew things had to change.

"He never punched me but he would threaten to strangle and shoot me, it was more mental and sexual abuse. He made me do things I am so ashamed of.

"He told me to get a job and wanted me to work night shifts, I found out later while I was out at work he had started doing to our daughter what he had been doing to me."

Sarah was referred to DAIT by the police after calling 999, while an independent domestic abuse advisor was sent to Vicky to assess her situation when the council became concerned for her safety.

Both Vicky and Sarah left their abusive partners and attended the courses run by Jo and Pauline at DAIT.

Sarah said: "I did the Freedom programme and Recovery Toolkit course and it gave me self belief and a brighter outlook on life.

"I left my old job and now I am confident, outgoing, assertive and positive about my future. I stand up for myself and I am now the person I used to portray myself as."

With over 20 years experience in domestic abuse services, Jo and Pauline received funding in 2014 to run free 10 week domestic abuse courses.

DAIT runs a Freedom programme which can be attended while still in an abusive relationship, unlike Recovery Toolkit where you must have left an abusive partner.

Jo said: "In the Freedom programme you learn the signs of abuse and the pattern of an abuser's behaviour.

"But in recovery toolkit we teach assertive techniques which is why a victim cannot still be in an abusive relationship because it can put them in danger.

"Both courses look at confidence building, self esteem and dealing with grief and complicated emotions. The recovery part is about looking forward and respecting yourself."

The courses are run three times a year for women and men in Weymouth, Dorchester and Bridport.

Jo said: "Freedom is like your suit of armour and recovery is your shield going forward, and is about life and going out and getting what you want."


If you are in immediate danger please contact the police: 999

National Domestic Violence helpline, 24 hour freephone and national refuge space: 0808 2000 247

You First Dorset (except Poole and Bournemouth): 0800 032 5204

DAIT Freedom courses are currently running in Weymouth and Dorchester.

For DAIT Recovery Toolkit courses are running in Weymouth and Bridport. For more information on DAIT courses contact


t: 01305 830987

e: jessica.rees

twitter: @DorsetEchoJessR