The Freedom programme
This is the short version.
I was in a high risk abusive relationship for four years. I became pregnant and because of the medication I was on , the state of my mental health and the relationship I was in I had an abortion. I regretted the abortion even though I still believe it was the right thing to do and I hit the bottle hard. Me and the ex were always having bust ups – sometimes daily.
We were meant to have split up but I felt I couldn’t live without him. The only way I knew to please him was sexually so less than a month after the abortion I fell pregnant again .
I couldn’t go through another abortion. I was on a different medication that was not as toxic to a growing child in the womb and very quickly social services became involved.
The reason. I ticked all the boxes for high risk harm to myself and to my unborn child.
THE TOXIC THREE
SELF MEDICATING /SUBSTANCE/ALCOHOL/SELF HARM ABUSE
INCREASING CHANCE OF DETERIORATING MENTAL HEALTH
I couldn’t walk away from my ex, as many times as I tried. He couldn’t walk away from me. He was and most likely still is a very damaged individual. We were told that if we wanted to keep our child and be in a relationship together,then my ex would have to engage in another project called MAZE
The Maze Project supports people to make positive change. It works with women who are affected by Domestic Violence, their partners and their children, who are not accessing services that could make a difference to their lives.
The service has a male worker so that the service can work with couples who are choosing to remain together; the male worker works with the male partner alongside a female colleague working with the female partner.
The ex was not happy to accept this new label of his but he agreed to do it. For the following reasons that didn’t transpire.
I will never know why he did what he did and why it seemed like if he couldn’t have me and our daughter then he would make sure I wouldn’t have her at all.
People who know my story will know that I ended up fighting social services and my ex for 16 months to stop my 12 week (and growing) daughter from being put up for adoption.
I am not going into how lacking in resources the local authority is, but many mistakes were made. I acknowledge that people were trying to protect my child but even professionals can make mistakes.
We did not end up doing the Maze project because my daughter was taken from me at 12 weeks old. finally ,that bright light came on –
My daughter became my life .
I had to jump through so many hoops. I know people reading and connecting with this, will get what I am saying about never seeming to be able to do enough for social services.
I was told I needed to sort my shit out.
I was not given any advice on how to do this, soI stumbled about my community grabbing onto everything I could find to help me.
Luckily because my ex and I were already enrolled to start the Maze programme , I explained my new single status and they offered me a 12 week placement on the Freedom programme.
I sat in the room that first Wednesday evening wondering what the hell I was doing here. All I saw around me was shattered fragments of human beings.
What did I know about abuse?
I listened to others’ experiences . It was emotional and painful.
The part of the session that really hit home for me is when we focused on working on each topic/type of abuse identified in the programme and its opposite..
This is when it hit me how numb and manipulated I had become by the situation I found myself in.
This is not a programme about blame.
It is about recognising the different types of abusers and abuse that happens and how they can overlap. It also taught me what a non abusive man is like because there are many men out there who are not abusers.
It is also about empowering women to educate themselves and hopefully get to a point where we question ourselves
WHY DO WE ATTRACT ABUSIVE PEOPLE IN OUR LIVES?
It is hard work but once I began questioning why , things started to make sense and I was reborn.
I began to see how hard wired in my brain that the idea of ‘abuse was almost normal ‘.
because I was a second generation survivor in the cycle of Domestic violence abuse. Family members being abused was something I experienced as a part of life.
The freedom programme helped me to decide I was going to stop the cycle,
Make a clear break for me – for my daughter and for her life. I finally had the understanding and knowledge and I would have been a fool to ignore it.
This helped me access all other kinds of projects and community organisations that could help me with the other parts of my life that had become unmanageable.
Two being: excessive drinking and overdosing.
A lot of the people accessing the Freedom programme around the U.K. have usually had social services involved in some form.
Accessing this programme was my lighthouse. It was showing me I had a chance of making it back to shore. I would have to navigate the logistics but there was hope and that is all I needed.
I don’t want to go on too much about my story.
It is a happy ending as many of you know.
What have I learned and gained
respect of and for others
respect of my health and the health of others
a sense of some kind of belonging
acceptance in the community
a place of safety
the value of privacy
the responsibility that comes with being a parent
I don’t take shit off anyone – not just men .
my mental health has improved
I use healthier coping strategies
For any readers who think they may benefit from ‘the Freedom programme’ but can’t find a free group to go to wherever it is that you live. You can do the programme on-line.
Here are the details
I have done the on-line one too – to refresh my memory. There is a one off fee of £10. I have nothing to do with the money and costs. I am merely here to give you information.
I have done both and I would always recommend doing it the group way but for whatever reasons, I do ‘get it ‘ that it may not always be possible.
It is better to do it than not at all.
This has turned into a longer post than I intended. That is the way it has to go sometimes.
If anyone wants to ask me any questions. I will try and answer as sincerely and in a way that I hope may help you or someone you know.