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Date published: 29 August 2018

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 was afraid Paul would be given full custody of Leah if she left him – as this is what he threatened. 

Once Alexis fled, 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 the weekends. However, he used this time to continue to control and abuse Alexis by breaching the court ordered times for changeovers and continued to threaten not to return Leah.

This behaviour continued, and Paul escalated the situation by reporting Alexis to the police and children’s services- claiming their daughter had been physically assaulted. Alexis was also pregnant at the time. Two days before Alexis’s 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 after this incident, 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 attended the court hearing along with her solicitor. During the hearing, Paul made it clear that he wanted to visit the hospital. He was instructed by the judge he was not to visit the hospital and the application was dismissed.  

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.