What Freedom means to me
It’s the hey it doesn’t matter if I knock over my tea
It’s the nobody’s scowling or shouting at me
It’s the feeling of peace and and calm in the air
It’s the sun shinning through and the wind in my hair
It’s the putting my feet up It’s my bag on the floor
It’s my muscles relaxing Not tense like before
It’s the smile on my face For no reason at all
It’s the friends and family who can now visit and call
It’s the walking through my home with no sense of dread
It’s the happy to be alive not wishing I was dead
It’s the beautiful colours I have painted my home
It’s the choices I now have, mine and mine alone
It’s the looking at the world with new dreams and goals
It’s the believing in myself and all that life holds
It’s the joy, peace and freedom that live here from now on
As the panic, dread, and fear feelings have now all but gone
I know what freedom is as freedom is me
Freedom Eyes – The Bully
The bully tried to frighten me
through banging, sulks and glares
Wanted me to think he was angry,
I was actually unaware
That’s these we’re the bullies tactics,
He wasn’t angry but in full control
With freedom eyes I now realise that intimidation was his goal
He knew exactly what he was doing,
frightening me into defeat
I’d do everything he wanted…so that there wouldn’t be a repeat…..
Of his moods,
but there was…all the time
I’d walk on eggshells,
not knowing what crime……
I was meant to have done,
to get him so worked up,
like a volcano
about to erupt!
Freedom Eyes – The Jailer
The jailer used isolation,
You can’t leave me on my own
If you go out with your friends tonight
You’ll end up going home
…With a man or two
I know your game
You can’t help yourself
You know your to blame.. for the fact that I have to keep track on you
you know what you’re like when you’ve had a few.
Your mates are all slags and you’ll get a bad name
Women who go out are whores
Your all the bloody same.
And why does your bloody mum always phone when I’m watching top gear
Why do you whisper when your mate comes round,
do you think that I’m stupid and can’t hear….
That you’re talking about me and making your plans to go out
and shag men when I’m not around
With freedom eyes I now see
they were tactics to keep me at home
Away from all the friends that I had ever known
Away from the world, isolated, alone
Freedom Eyes – The Headworker
The headworker used emotional abuse
very subtle at first so that I would excuse
Was it me was it him, as the months went by I was non the wiser
It doesn’t hit you for a while what they’re doing to your mind
Their aim is confusion and its hard to rewind
And think where it started the put downs and name calling
The making us feel worthless, useless, ugly and appalling
It may have started with jokes,
haha where’s your sense of fun
I laughed along at first,
’til it became humiliation
With freedom eyes I saw that this was all planned
To break me down bit by bit without even raising his hand
He can’t be arrested, be imprisoned, be fined
For abusing me by controlling me through my mind
Freedom Eyes – The Badfather
The badfather puts us down in front of our children
He calls us names and makes us cry and thinks this doesn’t hurt them
He uses the children to make us stay with him
Says they’ll miss him if we leave, and perhaps they will
He tells us that it’s shameful to be a single mum
And that we’d never cope on our own when he’s gone
So he uses the children to make us stay put
Through guilt, shame and fear we get stuck in a rut
Our children lose out on the innocence of childhood
They know exactly what’s happening no matter how hard we try to hide it
They suffer the same isolation,
no family or friends come to stay
For visits or sleepovers, his moods drive them all away
With no one else allowed in it gives him free rein
To carry out his abuse again and again
No one will know what our children are going through
We’re too scared to speak out and they won’t tell you
So we all suffer in silence until we get help to get him out
Then through freedom eyes we realise what he’s all about
When we leave we can finally get help for our children
And finally tell agencies the truth and the reason
For our children’s behaviour,
yes no wonder they were depressed But they don’t need a psychologist to be assessed
They need understanding, nurturing, support and love
They need to be listened to, believed and support for me, their mum
With freedom eyes we realise what a good dad is and how he behaves
not an abuser, a bully, an accuser who treats us as his slaves
Looking back now I can recognise his tactics
I remember when we first met he told me that his one regret
Was meeting His ex,
she was a bitch apparently
Stopped him seeing his kids and naturally
I believed him,
he was so convincing
I even helped him get a solicitor so he could send her a summons
To grant him residence of his kids, she’ll get her comeuppance
In court she looked downtrodden and claimed he’d been abusive
Pretty soon I got the same treatment I started to believe her and too felt defeated
If there’s one thing to learn to spot an abuser
He doesn’t see his own kids and his ex he will blame her
So Run for the hills and never look back
Cos he’ll blame you next so give him the sack
Freedom Eyes – The Persuader
The persuader is the Oscar-winning performer
An actor worthy of the highest order
He’ll make you believe that he’s as sorry as hell
He’ll cry you a river in fact he could sell….
Sand in a desert,
sell an Eskimo ice
He’s a con man,
and he’s not very nice
He’ll bring flowers,
chocolates and wine
Maybe write you a poem,
but not as good as mine!
You’ll believe him at first and he knows that you will,
Don’t blame yourself, remember he’s fine tuned he’s acting skills
He’ll have done it before with his ex
and hell do it with his next
If that doesn’t work he’ll persuade us with threats
He’ll threaten to kill us and our family and our pets
Why would we doubt him when we see on the news
Two women a week murdered so either way we lose
Have him back or be killed,
be silent or be silenced
What a choice to have,
And now I’ve got social services on my back
He knew he was meant to stay away
Now he’s got me in trouble and my kids will be taken away
He doesn’t even care To him they’re better out-of-the-way
With freedom eyes
I see the persuader for what he is
It’s all about him,
of course he wants to come back
Free rent, free food, and sex on demand
Of course he’s sad,
cos he’s lost all control
Making us feel guilty and feel sorry for him was his goal
As he may get locked up for a very long time
He persuades us for his own needs not mine
With freedom eyes I see it for the first time
Freedom Eyes – The King Of The Castle
The king of the castle sits on his throne
And calls on his servants to clean up his home
I say ‘his home’ with some apprehension
Cos the words,
are not in his comprehension
Yet he rules his roost with an iron fist
As he checks we’ve done everything on his well prepared lists
He makes the major decisions and we all have to agree
No negotiation or compromise, it’s all ‘me me me’
I still can’t quite remember how it actually came to be
That very quickly I had turned into a housewife from the 1950’s
That old housewives guide that we used to poke fun at
Was a reality in my house
I’d turned into Bloody Mary Poppins!
I’d see to the kids,
shop, dust, clean and cook
but it was never enough
He’d still moan
and complain I’d done it wrong
Maybe he was right,
maybe I was a crap mum,
That’s what they want us to believe
and they tell the agencies too
That We’re unreliable,
unable to see anything through
That we can’t cope on our own
That we need them there
That we drink all day long when they’re not here
With freedom eyes we see them for what they really are
A tyrant, a liar, he truly thinks he’s the king of the house, how bazaar!
They want praise for putting out the bins
They think they deserve a medal for cooking a tin of beans
They ‘help us’ with the housework
They ‘ babysit’ our kids
Where would we be without them…heaven forbid
It’s actually a lot easier without a man like that
These days i prefer my evening cuddled up to my cat
Freedom Eyes – The Liar
The liar denies he’s abusive
or says it was only a slap
Tells us we deserved it for answering back
He’s got lots of excuses for what he does
It’s the drink,
or maybe his drugs
It’s the fault of our mum or our sister or friend
It’s because of the work meeting we had to attend
It’s because we didn’t cook his favourite dinner
It’s because he’s trip to the bookies didn’t produce a winner
It’s because of his childhood can’t we give him a break
It’s because we don’t understand him
it’s because we’re late
It’s everything under the sun
But he’s never to blame,
no genuine ‘I’m sorry’
not even an ounce of shame
That’s his claim to fame
As long as he’s got a reason,
he’s justified it to himself
That’s why he can happily sleep at night
Cos it’s the fault of someone or something else
He’ll justify it to anyone who’ll listen
and he’ll give you all the same excuse
family and psychiatrists,
he’s out to confuse….. …, about his abuse,
His excuses work wonders and some believe him,
He can fool the professionals and anyone else that will listen
He’ll tell them were crazy and that were terrible mums
And guess who gets put on triple p,
just bloody me
They’ve just reinforced his belief that we are to blame
And maybe he’s right if they all think the same
Don’t try to work them out,
they do it because they can
It’s who they are and without consequences they’ll do it again and again
Leaving them is the only way out
Either that or a coffin
And I’m not joking
Two women are murdered every week ,
But it’s not worthy news on Fleet Street
Page 3 gets more coverage
Than our slaughtered sisters
No wonder we’re seen as objects in a world that doesn’t listen
divide and rule
Money for the peasants to share between each other
Fight between yourselves is the message from Westminster
those domestic violence stats,
If word gets out
they’ll all ask for money
And I’m not being funny!
But to be frank
after we’ve helped out the banks
And the corporates tax credits
the Mp’s expenses,
the cost of war
Theres no funding for Domestic violence anymore.
Changes won’t happen overnight,
you can’t offer support then cast us aside
We need groups,
somewhere we can confide
All our hopes and dreams,
and wishes of life anew
Yes you may not realise it but we have dreams too
Those dreams were ripped apart,
and scattered afar
Now I’ve picked them up and am slowly putting them back together
With freedom eyes,
and hope you’ll all agree
“That I now know what freedom is cos freedom is me”
Onward and upward here I go
The road to recovery is very slow.
Onward and upward here I go.
But my self – confidence he took away,
Build it back up day by day.
One step forward, two steps back,
A family court easily does that,
It make you feel lower than low,
But onward and upward here I go.
The children are happier, and me too,
But there is always so much to do,
The children are growing up ever so fast,
And I’m too busy to dwell on the past.
With contact and hassles, progress is still slow,
But onward and upward here I go.
I tell myself I’m doing ok,
And one day I might just believe it’s that way.
The questions often fill my head,
Is there something I could have done instead?
But I did what I did at the time to survive,
And to prove it I am still alive.
So onward and upward still I go,
At times the progress is painfully slow.
But the goal it is worth it, I’m safe and I’m free,
And determined to be a happier ME!
I Can and I Will!
I can be who I want to be, Not told
I can have fun before I get old
I can learn without criticism from them,
I can wear jeans or even raise a hem
I can speak to whoever I want, whenever
I can be myself and trust without tether
I will gain strength and the confidence to cope
I will be a woman and a mother with hope
I will live without the fear of abuse
I will not allow him to be obtuse
I will be a friend to myself and stand, until
I will not live their life, but mine, I will
Have you felt fear?
Have you felt fear
When you hear the key in the lock?
Will he be in a good mood?
Will he not?
Will he smile and say ‘I love you’?
or will it be a day like most others?
Will the meal you’ve cooked be wrong?
Too hot, too cold, too spicy, too bland –
heaven knows what he is going to demand.
Will he be happy and smiley and fun
Or will one look make you want to turn and run?
Will the children be too noisy, too clingy, too messy?
Or will they be his darling angels who can do no wrong?
Will it be okay to laugh and sing?
Or will that look, that sigh, that stare mean it’s a day for silence?
Will the children be sent to bed too early without a story? will you?
Will the phone ring and he’ll disappear and will you wonder in the pit of your stomach where he’s gone, when he’ll come back?
That fear is real.
The fear of being hit, punched, kicked and hurt.
But those scars heal.
The fear of being scared, the fear of not knowing what will happen next,
The fear for your children,
The fear of death.
For me that fear has gone.
I found freedom.
I moved on.
Justice, What Justice!
He slapped me in the face, you slapped him on the wrist
Let back out to torture me, I was just another name on your list
Soon to be filed away, only classed as ”standard risk’
Please see the bigger picture the abuse does not stop here
I wasn’t seen as a priority but I was still living in fear
No evidence? What do you want to see?
Broken bones? What about my sanity?
Broken homes, broken soul, broken minds
That’s what his legacy left behind
Who is this CPS, that decides our fate
How many more times can they make a fatal mistake?
And who decides my risk, standard or high?
And who believes the abusers obvious lies?
I’m lucky I had some back up support
that’s where I finally got my protection
learned what my choices were and that I had another option
empowered, more knowledgeable
I have taken back my power
the project were there for me
in what I feared might be my final hour
To celebrate 2 years of freedom!
Freedom to do what I want.
Freedom to make choices.
Freedom to talk to who I want to.
Freedom to be the Mum I want to be.
Freedom to live life without fear.
Freedom to choose my own bedtime.
Freedom to have my own friends.
Freedom to control my own money.
Freedom to express my thoughts and opinions.
Freedom to decorate.
Freedom to have self-respect.
Freedom to like myself.
Freedom to live without violence.
Freedom to be me!
I AM MY OWN DESTINY
I DON’T HOLD TO ANY FANTASY
I AM STRENGTH TO HOLD MY OWN
I AM BEAUTY LIKE A SEED SOWN
STILL WORKING TO LOSE THE OLD FEARS
THAT STILL HAVE AMBITIONS TO BRING MY
I AM A SOLDIER THAT FIGHTS THE GOOD
WITH THE BATTLES I FOUGHT EACH NIGHT
I AM NEW, MY LIFE, MY SON, WOW
HE GAVE ME EXTRA WHAT I NEEDED, NOW
I AM THE TEACHER, THE PUPIL, THE CHILD
TEACHING MY SON ON HOW TO BE MILD
STILL LEARNING ABOUT MYSELF AND MY SON
LOVING TO PLAY AND TALK SO HARD WON
GAINING CONTROL FROM LOSING CONTROL,
I AM PROOF, I AM WOMAN, I AM
Our freedom poems
My Open Gate
I’m sitting in my garden looking at my open gate
It’s not locked, I just forgot
But hey I’m now safe
I’m able to walk in and out without looking over my shoulder
Now that it’s finally over
Sitting looking at my open gate
May not mean much to anyone else
But to me it’s everything
It symbolises my freedom
Freedom to choose
Freedom to be me
He locked me away
A psychological prisoner
The gate didn’t even need a lock
Brainwashing was the key
The key that kept me from being free
From being me
Then when he was gone
I had to lock myself away to keep safe
Still locked away emotionally
Scared to open my gate
It’s taken a while to be able to leave it open
I thought I was broken
But my zest for life has been awoken
An open gate is beautiful, welcoming
It lets good people in
It opens me up to the world
It lets the wind sweep in
I can close it when I want to
Or I can swing it open if I wish
The choice is mine, every time!
My garden is safe, relaxing, I’ve even planted bulbs
I watch them grow
Watch them bloom
Into beautiful flowers
Colourful because they’ve been given light, sun, rain
We all have basic needs
That help us grow
And be happy and healthy
They’re freedom flowers
Scattered around my freedom gate
And like me and my children they can now come alive and blossom
Then and Now
I wasn’t allowed to leave
I wasn’t allowed to grieve
And if I cried At any point
Then I was held down
And told if one more tear
Just one more single tear
Was to appear
His fist That was held within an inch of my face
Would go straight through it
An inch from death maybe
Or just disfiguration if I’m lucky
They were just threats mainly
But you were never to know
How far he’d go
So just incase,
Instead of cry
I’d Hold it all in
I wasn’t ready to die
Not completely anyway
Some days I wasn’t sure if it was worth living
Then Some days I’d be more forgiving
…. To myself and to him.
Words and meanings
Confused, used, abused
But somehow I’d just get by
I’d just bloody try
To survive another day
Without anyone getting hurt
Keeping the family together
occasional good times,
Reminding you that we’re sometimes ok ….Living this way
Just to survive
You tell yourself that… No one gets hurt,
not really hurt
not physically anyway
He’s being nice today,
bought new things for the house
Started painting the walls
Filling in the cracks
Wonder if it will last
holding things together
Looks nice on the outside
For all the world to see
I need to be more grateful
Says he’s doing it all for me… And the kids
I eventually realised that making amends
is for his own sorry ass
He’s Sorry incase he gets found out
Sorry incase I throw him out
Sorry incase he gets locked up
Sorry incase The judge throws the book …..At his sorry ass
That was then
and this is now
No more will I ever have to hear the word ‘Allow’
I recognise all his tricks so they don’t work anymore
I know it’s an act when he cries at my door
I’ve done Freedom Programme
I’ve taken back my power
Now I’m now my own boss,
my own person
and I can look forward to a brighter tomorrow.
He Fooled You Too
He signed up for a weekend Anger Management course
It was to show the courts he’d changed his ways
Wow, that tutor deserves a medal
If he believes he can change a lifetime of beliefs in just 3 days!
They all praised him to the highest heavens for doing oh so well,
He’d conned them all as usual, but I was still going through hell.
But they ticked their boxes and gave him a smile
when he told them how it had been all worthwhile.
That charming, manipulative man of mine
will pull the wool over you every time.
They’re clever like that, in complete control you see
He’s tricked you the same way he tricked me.
At least now I know that I’m not so stupid and it’s not all my fault
As he also managed to fool you, the Judge in the Family Court
He’s never really hit me
He’s never really hit me you know, OK so he puts me down
but then he picks me up again
He doesn’t like my friends, but that’s OK cos yeah, I suppose he’s right cos there all slags any way,
He control all the money, but then he buys me something nice
He tells me what to wear, cos he know what looks good on me
He picks the furniture, the colour, the design, He’s got a real flair for that
While I’m bloody hopeless
He says “ I’m a crap cook”
Well I do mess up sometimes, I mean I burn the occasional dinner, but that’s usually when were arguing
He says “I’m a CRAP mum”, Oh but you wanna see the lovely flowers he brought me yesterday
We’d probably had a row the night before, that’s when I normally get flowers
I actually can’t remember if we rowed or not maybe we did, may be we didn’t
cos he says I imagine things, maybe I do
Says I should be grateful that he puts up with me, that no one else would
especially now I’ve let myself go
He doesn’t like me in make-up you see
says I shouldn’t waste my money at the hairdressers, tells me he loves me just the way I am
He even made a doctor’s appointment for me, he’s caring like that
Told me not to tell the doctor private stuff, thou’
He’s right, they’re all bloody nosey in that surgery
“Just say you can’t sleep and your sad and crying all the time for no reason”
He’ll hand out some pills, that’ll cure your depression.
I couldn’t believe it at the surgery when the doctor asked me if I was suffering from Domestic Violence
I said “he’s never really hit me you know”
I am like a butterfly.
Colourful and free.
I belong to no one
I will be set free
My colours are my personality
they only belong to me
I want to breath and enjoy my life.
If Freedom Were….
If freedom were a colour
It would be purple, white and green
sashes, flags and banners
those colours could be seen
worn with pride
The Suffragette movement campaigned so that women could vote
women were imprisoned
so that others would listen
With these colours we remember Those who showed no fear
Those who stood their ground
For a cause held so dear
If freedom was a person…
She would be a woman
Holding her banner high
In solidarity with her sisters around the world
Demanding an end to violence against women and girls
She would not be afraid to speak out
To Challenge society
To Challenge the powers that be
who reinforce the abusers beliefs
She would challenge those agencies, Who blame the victim
Whilst abusers get off scot-free, With no further action
She will not be silenced By those in power
Dressed in expensive suits
Sitting In their ivory tower
If freedom were a superhero…
She wouldn’t be a Disney Princess
She wouldn’t need to be saved
by a Prince
who was a frog
who had a spell put on him
by a witch
She wouldn’t let down her long hair Like Rapunzel
She wouldn’t get pricked by a spindle
She’d be every woman in our group
Every woman who’s survived abuse.
Every woman who stands up and shouts.
‘Domestic abuse stamp it out’
If freedom were a song…
it would be lyrics
from Joan Armatrading
All rolled into one
It would be sung with a passion From deep down inside
Each word would give a feeling Of hunger and pride
We’d sing it out loud,
in our houses,
on the streets
And hope that our collective voices would reach
All of you out there
so you’d all hear the message
We are women
we are strong
and don’t ever forget it.
If freedom was a last text….
It would say
“you have the right to be happy
You have the right to be free
I know how you’re feeling
Because that once was me
None of this is your fault
You are not to blame
He was abusive before you met him
Controlling women is his game
Get help before he kills you
Before he grinds you down
Reach out and talk to someone
When you’re ready I’ll be around
I know what freedom looks like Cos freedom is me
A SURVIVORS JOURNEY
Meet my new boyfriend he’s really kind
He takes my everywhere, never leaves me behind
He’s always with me wherever I am
He loves me you see, my new man
Cosy nights in just me and him
He says we don’t need no-one else to come within
Before I knew it we were living together
He told me I was his, forever & ever
The signs were there early but I didn’t know
That abusive behaviour was already starting to show
‘Why do your friends visit and spoil our fun?’
‘Why are you spending OUR money on YOUR son?’
‘Who’s that your talking to on the phone?’
‘What do you do all day, when I’m not at home?’
‘Why were you at the shops for an hour?’
He was already showing his total power
Then one night when out, I was my normal self
Chatting & dancing, enjoying myself
I hadn’t seen my friends in oh so long
So I tried to catch up with everyone
Then we said our goodbyes and left for the car
Suddenly he swung me around & threw me to the floor
For the first time ever I was hit by a man
Not once or twice but again and again
You slag, you tart, behave when you’re out
Get into that car, I heard him shout
Shock, disbelief, didn’t know what to do
It’s hard to take in when it first happens to you
At home he cried and sobbed and told me his tale
Of his dreadful childhood, oh how he did wail
Battered and abused, this poor man of mine
So I gave him a chance, well, just this one time!
Next thing I was pregnant, he said we’d start anew
This child would never suffer the abuse he went through
But how they forget the promises they make
Having him back was a big mistake
You’ll never leave and take my son
I’ll tell Social Services you’re an unfit mum
I’ll say you’re a prostitute on drugs and booze
Maybe they’ll believe him & my sons I would lose
Nothing could please him I could do no right
I’d leave but go back after a few nights
What other choice did I have
apart from being offered a hostel or a hard to let flat
Then there was solicitors, courts, police and housing
Too many appointments I felt like I was drowning
I needed someone to help me I couldn’t do it on my own
I didn’t just want to talk to a helpline on the phone
‘Change you locks the housing say’, easier said than done but how do I pay
Months waiting for courts to set a date, often by then it just too late
See they’ve got to us by then, either threatening or begging
So we retract our statements and again forgive them
If you read the data then you will see
That a woman’s more likely to be killed after she flees
With this in mind and the fear set in stone
We give up, give in and go back home
So another son later and things still looked bleak
Apart from the days I got the odd treat
These days would bring hope he’d shower me with gifts
But the hope would be broken by more raging fists
When police knocked my door, I’d want them to stay
But I’d pretend nothings wrong and send them away
It’s the fear of the comebacks I’ll get when they’ve gone
You see he threatens to kill me if I tell anyone
‘Watch your back I’ll hunt you down
I’ll kill you one day when there’s no-one around
I’ll be watching you night and day
Get rid of me ‘No Way’
No-one saw the bruises they were hidden way
If I told the world I’d have hell to pay
I felt such a fool, embarrassed, ashamed
I allowed it to happen so accepted the blame
I’ll leave next time he goes off his head
If I don’t do something I’ll end up dead.
Next time comes again and again, for many years I stood this pain
Too scared to leave too scared to stay how am I going to get away.
Then the violence slowed down, no need to do it so much
Emotional abuse had taken over his punch
‘You’re stupid, ugly, cheap and scum
When I come in the door I expect my dinner to be done’
‘When I say jump, you’ll ask how high?
And wo betide if I see you cry
Don’t you know how lucky you are to have me?
You’ll do no better just you see’
‘You’re late from the shops, you’re lazy & fat
Who else would look at you dressed like that?’
My spirit he tried so hard to break
It was all I had left & wasn’t his to take
When he started on his son with eyes full of rage
I knew I was ready for the flight stage
We could take no more of his put downs and threats
Myself and my children I had to protect
When he went out, with one bag we all fled
Walking the backstreets, if he caught me I’d be dead
Late that night I knocked a friend’s door
I broke down and cried and said ‘No More’
Many years have now passed it feels great to be free
Its been a long journey to recovery
I’ve never looked back, our house is happy once more
I no longer dread the sound of his key in the door
The problem is his, I’ve heard he’s in therapy
At last he realises it was him that was crazy not me
An abusive man will never change
So get out, get help it’s never too late
with the right support you’ll get help all the way
& you can look forward to a bright brand new day
To the services out there I say cut some slack
I know it’s frustrating when you see us go back
Put more funding in place there’s not enough here
We need support in each area the need is there
Train the women who have been through the system
They can reach those victims when services have missed them
The University of Life is where we got our degree
We’ve got more than enough for a PhD!
You may see yourself in these poems and recognise the experiences as we have all gone through similar things. Most abusers use similar tactics as each other. We think we are alone and that no one else has gone through the same. By coming together in a group we realise how widespread domestic violence is and then realise that it if it has happened to others too, then it is not our fault.
For more of our poems – Free Speech Anthology