A woman has spoken movingly about how her life has been turned around after suffering 10 years of cruel emotional abuse by her control freak husband.
She told North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones how her life began to improve after she sought the help of the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy – IDVA – service run by Welsh Women’s Aid in Wrexham.
The service is provided from its one stop shop in the town which has received more than £74,000 from the commissioner to keep it going.
Set up nine years ago, it aims to keep victims of domestic violence and abuse safe and to put them in touch with other services and agencies, such as the police, solicitors and debt counsellors, who can offer them positive help and advice.
According to Mr Jones, a former police inspector, helping victims of domestic abuse is a major priority for him.
The victim, who must remain anonymous, described to Mr Jones how her husband refused to let her have any money of her own and would not even allow her to go shopping unless he went with her.
The woman who endured a decade of mental torment from him was one of a handful of clients the service has successfully helped who met Mr Jones when he paid a fact finding visit to the busy Wrexham centre.
He was also there to pass on the good news to staff that he was earmarking funds from his budget which will help guarantee the service can continue with what he described as its “excellent” work.
The anonymous middle-aged victim said: “I was very pleased to meet the Commissioner and I think it’s brilliant that he is giving the service money to carry on helping women like myself.
“It’s certainly been a godsend to me because before I came to the one stop shop I had reached a point where I had to get out of the relationship before the violence started.
“Before we were married my husband was a real gentleman but things turned bad soon afterwards and for the whole of our married life I suffered emotional abuse from him.
“He never allow me any money of my own and wouldn’t even let me go out to the supermarket without him.
“He was also very nasty with our children and was jealous of me because of my closeness to them.”
She added: “About two years ago I’d reached the end of my tether and I knew I had to get out of the marriage but had no money and nowhere to go.
“I went to see my solicitor to start divorce proceedings and they told me about the Women’s Aid centre.
“I went to see them and they arranged for me to go into the women’s refuge they run in Wrexham.
“I stayed there for about eight months while they helped me to get on my feet and to sort out my life.
“They did everything, from helping to fix up new accommodation to working out my finances.
“I was eventually divorced and I’m now gradually getting my life back together.
“The people who run the service are absolute angels and I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for them.”
The woman was so grateful for what the service did for her that she now helps to run the centre’s fortnightly Friendship Forum where other abuse victims gather for sessions in first aid, self defence, pampering or just to chat.
The grant aid from the Police and Crime Commissioner will be used to directly support the jobs of three full-time IDVA advisers based at the Wrexham centre.
One of them, Karen Owens, who has been in her vital role for the past six years, said: “Myself and the two other advisers, Nerys Walker and Sian Byrne, deal with the more high risk clients who are mostly domestic violence victims referred to us by the police or through the criminal justice system.
“We assess their individual needs and then work out solutions for them with our partners from agencies such as solicitors, the probation service, age charities and debt counsellors.
“We then keep them up to date with what’s happening with their cases, give them assistance with things like making applications for restraining orders and advise them on their options for the future.
“Although it can sometimes be quite difficult and emotional, it’s very rewarding work and I’m glad to do it.”
Alison Hamlington, who is in charge of the Wrexham centre, said: “We provide an inclusive service for all women. We support them with or without children regardless of race, age, disability, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.
“We offer a free, non-judgmental and confidential service providing information, emotional and practical support to women and their children who have experienced, or are experiencing physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse.
“When needed, safe, temporary accommodation is available at our refuge and our one shop at Temple Row enables women to access other service providers.
“The drop in is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 10am until 2pm, with no appointment necessary.”
She added: “The workload of our three independent domestic violence advisors is increasing all the time.
“Karen Owens currently has 27 cases open when her recommended case load is 25, so we are very grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner for the funding from his budget which will help to sustain the roles of our three advisers.
“Funding the service is generally quite a problem while, at the same time, demand for what we do is higher than ever.
“I hope we were able to show Mr Jones during his visit that what we can change women’s lives for the better.”
PCC Arfon Jones said: “The prevention of domestic violence and abuse is one of my top priorities and Welsh Women’s Aid Wrexham clearly does some excellent work in providing help and protection for victims.
“It also gives these women who have been on the receiving end of some terrible and unacceptable behaviour new confidence for the future.
“It’s obvious that the IDVA service in particular and women’s aid generally changes lives for the better and I am very happy to support its work through the grant I have made.
“It was very interesting to visit the centre and to see how it operates.”