A former nurse who was a victim of domestic abuse is fronting a national campaign to highlight the problem.
Retired Susan Hallam, aged 60, of Edgbaston, fled from her husband to a refuge after he head butted her and has since rebuilt her life.
The brave grandmother helped to launch the Redditch-based Cavell Nurses’ Trust Abuse at Home campaign – aimed at highlighting the rise in domestic abuse affecting the nursing profession.
Susan turned to the charity for help after suffering at the hands of her husband.
She discovered he had been leading a double life with another woman. Despite trying to make the relationship work, he later physically abused her.
Susan said of her husband’s affair: “I had not one jot that this was going on. This man actually thought he could have a wife and a mistress and lead two separate lives at the same time.”
Matters finally came to a head in April 2011 when her husband physically assaulted her.
“The tension escalated to the point where he physically attacked me,” she recalled. “He actually head butted me three times in front of the window and people outside saw it and called the police.
“My husband was arrested for grievous bodily harm and I was removed from the property to a refuge in Shrewsbury the following morning.
“That was when I reached rock bottom.”
After a week at the refuge, Susan moved into a crisis centre in Birmingham to be near her daughter.
“I was advised to stay at the crisis centre so I could try to be rehomed, and to prevent my husband, who was given a two year probation order for actual bodily harm, knowing where to look for me. That was as bad as it got, but at least I knew that the only way from there was up.”
Susan was rehomed into her flat in Birmingham in July 2011 after spending three months at the crisis centre, but had lost everything.
The discovered the help that Cavell Nurses’ Trust, named after First World War nursing heroine Edith Cavell, could provide a weekly £30 grant for a year and £400 to buy much-needed items for her flat. You can’t believe the difference that it made to my life,” she said. “I had arrived at my flat with nothing, absolutely nothing, just the clothes I stood up in and a suitcase.
“Because I’ve got a very small NHS pension I wasn’t entitled to benefits apart from help with my rent and council tax. But this grant from Cavell meant I could keep my head above water.”
She added: “I have had a lot of disasters in my life but once I reached rock bottom I realised the only way was up, and I am so grateful to Cavell Nurses’ Trust for helping me get started.”
Research has shown that more than one in 10 of cases which resulted in financial grants being awarded were victims of domestic abuse, but a spokesman for the Trust said the figure was likely to be higher.
The charity’s chief executive, Kate Tompkins, commented: “Cavell Nurses’ Trust is committed to supporting nurses, midwives and HCA’s who find themselves facing abuse at home and raising awareness of these very concerning figures.”
* For more information log onto www.cavellnursestrust.org