Beth lived with DVA for 22 years. It was only when she was asked during a routine trip to her GP that her life started to change. In the third of our survivor blogs, and the seventh of our 16 blogs for 16 days, Beth illustrates the importance of the IRIS programme and her Advocate Educators role in changing her life for the better.
In the first instance, I went to see my GP because my anxiety and depression were out of control. At the time that IRIS was mentioned to me, life at home was extreme to say the least.
I can’t really remember much from the appointments as I was in so much distress, but I may have mentioned my situation at home to her, more as a statement rather than pleading for help. This was because my situation had become so normal to me and so I guess I had just accepted it. That was how it was. I think I just highlighted it to explain my husband’s depression, and bizarrely to try and help him. I was fixated with helping him. I thought that if I did, he would be nice to me.
My doctor recommended I use the IRIS service and I rang them as soon as I got home. To be honest the first conversation I had with them wasn’t that helpful. They listened to me, but I really didn’t think that they would be that beneficial.
I think, if I remember clearly, (my life was horrific at this time and so much of it was a blur) that I rang them back after a GP mentioned them to me again. I then spoke to Laura who became my Advocate Educator (AE) and she was amazing. It was her skill in gradually teasing out my situation that set me on the road to recovery. She was my knight in shining armour.
I had explained my situation to so many professionals over the years (I had been with my husband for 22 years at this point) and in that time I had started to hold back information, as I thought people wouldn’t be interested. Laura was amazing because of her natural ability to gauge what was going on despite the limited info that I told her. She gave me options and time to make decisions. She never rushed me and really listened to me. She has given me freedom.
I thought that I was jailed forever but now I am free. I am a new person. He is gone. And I can breathe again. Before I was stressed, anxious and terrified. Now I am happy and more importantly so are my children. My advice to other women in this situation is to use IRIS. They were my only lifeline to escape. IRIS is a vital service that needs to stay.
Beth is a DVA survivor who was helped via the IRIS programme. You can read more about that here.