Alexis* was referred to South Hampshire Women’s Refuge (SHWR) in June 2018 after fleeing an abusive marriage.

One of our residents at the South Hampshire Women’s Refuge (SHWR) has shared her story, below, as part of the NHF’s Starts at Home Day 2018, about seeking help when she needed it most.

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Alexis* was referred to South Hampshire Women’s Refuge (SHWR) in June 2018 after fleeing an abusive marriage. At the time, she was heavily pregnant and had Leah*, her four year old daughter, to look after.

Alexis was referred to SHWR after experiencing significant abuse and a high level of coercive control, from her former partner, Paul*. She believed that Paul would get full custody of Leah if she left him as this is what he had threatened to do.

Once Alexis had left, Paul lodged a child arrangement application which increased Alexis’s anxieties and reinforced her fear that she would lose Leah. Initially, an interim order was arranged so Leah had contact with her father at weekends. However, he used this time to continue to control and abuse Alexis by breaching court order times for changeovers, being abusive and threatening not to return Leah.

This behaviour continued, and Paul escalated the situation by reporting that their daughter was being physically assaulted by Alexis to the police and children’s services. Two days before Alexis’s new baby arrived, he took Leah to hospital claiming that she was being abused. However, the doctors’ report proved that no abuse had taken place.
Alexis’s son was born shortly afterwards and Paul made a court application to visit him however, this meant that Alexis was due in court the day after her son was born.
As she was still in hospital, staff from SHWR went to court with her solicitor, where Paul made it clear that he wanted to visit the hospital following the hearing. Alexis’s solicitor raised this in the hearing and her former partner was told by the judge that attending the hospital was not in the child’s best interest. The application was dismissed, and the judge listed the next hearing in 10 days time.

Although still to be fully resolved, this case study demonstrates the difference specialist support can make.

Below is a copy of the card staff received from the Alexis following her difficult week at the SHWR.

*Names changed to protect privacy. Stock photo of an actress has been used.