Melanie's Story

Melanie's* P3 Link Worker asked if she had got into something she couldn't get out of. She thought so. But with the right support, she did get out - and now she's flourishing.  

Please be aware that this story covers domestic abuse and may be distressing for some people.


You wouldn’t have thought this would happen.
At school, I was head girl, had distinctions and stars and college. I did go to university originally, but I had to quit because I couldn’t do everything.
I became homeless after a falling out with my mum. I was just sofa surfing until I found somewhere with P3 – they knew I had previous issues with drug misuse. I was living in a flat but the person who had lived there before had been in contact with drug users and had money owing. I got in with the wrong crowd and my partner at the time was abusive.
I ended up with his mother, who was addicted to heroin (I never did heroin, I used cocaine) living with me and I couldn’t use my bathroom. She was heavy on the drugs and shoplifting. I ended up shoplifting for my dinner because I had no money. My partner would spend it and say he would pay me back, but he never did.
It all got so out of hand. There was no way I could control it. I didn’t know what to do.
I’d be in pyjamas wanting to chill and someone would bring back six lads with coke and I’d end up joining in. There was a mattress in there and I was just sat on it crying at one point and they were calling me a mardy tw*t. Once I had to ring my mum because they wouldn’t turn the music off.
I had a glass broken over my head once.
My abusive partner poisoned me with bleach, putting it in my toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner; I only found out when friends told me. People also spiked my drinks with bleach in the flat. The day I moved out, I had a mouth full of ulcers and couldn’t swallow.
My drug misuse had started before then, when I was 19 and with another domestic abuser who was 13 years older. He had two kids, but I didn’t know anything about one of them until the day before I moved in. He hadn’t told me because he thought I’d run away. But I ended up being mum to them, and always late for work because of his emotional abuse. I was nine and a half stone but he was abusing me and calling me names whenever I went to the fridge.
I had a counsellor but I didn’t feel I could speak to him. Then I met Jo, my P3 Link Worker. I felt I could talk to her.
She asked me: “Have you got into something you can’t get out of?” and when I said yes, she picked me up and took me on.
With Jo’s help, I got to a P3 women’s refuge, Elizabeth House. She was absolutely brilliant, Jo was. I had to give up the flat because we were going to get an ASBO so I went to clear it. But then I went to the refuge.
I made the most of my time there. I did several courses with Stoke-on-Trent Council and ended up going back to uni. Elizabeth House arranged it and also enrolled me with the Changes Health and Wellbeing Course, where I gained a qualification as a Mental Health Coordinator. The tutor asked me what my plans were.
He told me to aim for the moon, because if I missed, I would still land among the stars.
I volunteered to run peer support meetings. I also completed the Freedom Programme, for survivors of domestic abuse, while I was at Elizabeth House. This has allowed me to be able to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships, not only with regards to any future partner but friends and family also.
I started to feel like me again, the old me, and to crave learning again.
I was experiencing domestic abuse for a long time and I’d come to accept it and normal and deserved, but my ten months at Elizabeth House were the making of me. Fleeing my ex was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the best.
I’ll never forget my past or my time at Elizabeth House, but I’ll always look back and remember that even when it feels like there’s nothing worth fighting for, things can still come good.
Now I’m at university studying psychology, in university accommodation off-campus. I absolutely love it. It’s so fascinating. I’ve put on four stone, which I needed. I’m also working at an Indian restaurant while I study. I honestly think if I hadn’t moved away, I’d be dead now.
My degree will open a lot of opportunities.
I’m looking into things I can do after I graduate, like housing and domestic abuse support services for women, maybe even working at the refuge. There’s also a big demand for educational psychologists.
I’m so glad I went to P3. My advice to people is: don’t be afraid to talk. You’re not going to get any help if you don’t. Jo and P3 were so warm and welcoming and Jo was absolutely brilliant. I still speak to her every now and then. She likes hearing my updates.
I really can’t wait for the future.


*Name has been changed.

Photo by Toa Heftibah on Unsplash. Posed by model.