Finding Freedom: Domestic violence

This blog post has been written by a guest contributor who has elected to remain anonymous.

Trigger Warning: Alcoholism and domestic abuse

To all the men, woman and children in domestic abuse settings during lockdown searching for hope.

Dad* was drinking again.

As per normal, he went to my sister’s room to verbally berate her. The speech contained threats, ‘advice,’ and warnings. Normally she would put up with it. But this time she snapped back at him. Told him to leave her alone.

Dad walked away downstairs for some more wine. Then we heard the roar.


The fear for her life was a legitimate one. I helped her to run to another part of the house for a hiding place. We heard a crack on the landing. Suddenly everything went dark.

He’d punched the light switch so hard the plastic casing snapped.

He ran to my sisters’ room and began tearing things apart trying to find her.

He moved systematically around the house and looking in every possible hiding place. Lifted the lid of a wooden laundry basket in the spare room. He brought it down so hard it shattered.

He eventually found her. She was on the way to the garage.

I could hear the screaming.

Looking for freedom

I thought I already had hope.

My sister and I hoped that 18 was this magical age where freedom would come to us. We could earn our own money and walk away.

We were going to rescue ourselves.

We had good reasons to believe nothing was going to change the situation.

It was unlikely our wider family would believe us.

Dad didn’t fit the stereotype of an abuser. In films abusive men wore white tank tops. They lived in a caravan and wiped their nose with the backs of their hands.

But dad worked in an office. He wore clean pressed blue shirts. We were financially secure. Dad was well liked. He went to dinner parties and told funny stories.

Besides – unbeknown to us we didn’t have the language to describe what was happening as abuse. I only had the words dad used. Like ‘playfighting.’ Or ‘playing a game.’

No child should have to make their own rescue plan. Yet here we were.

Road to freedom

Surprisingly, a friend and I had been allowed to go on a church retreat. The big draw was having a whole week away from home. I couldn’t be more excited.

I knew some things about Christianity but not much. God seemed as distant and unavailable as any other adult. I intended to show Him some respect, give Him space and I hoped He would leave me alone.

What I learnt turned my tiny insular world upside down. Not only did the adults at the retreat have more love and compassion than anyone I had ever met. But God was nothing like I’d expected.

The great rescue

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world … In love, he predestined (meaning pre-determined) us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ… in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1)

Father. I learnt that was one of the many names God gives himself.

I heard about a God who, before the beginning of time, set in motion a rescue plan for humanity. To save us from a messed-up world (and family) and to restore messed-up people.

Part of this plan was to build me into a wider family. A new family.

There not a single part of my life which has been left unchanged by this truth.

If you were here right now, face-to-face outside of lockdown world, I would tell you story after story. Of security outside of physical constraints. Of a hope which was beyond just turning 18. And church has made up for what I lack in family in extraordinary ways.

We eventually did leave at 18. Of course, we should have been out much earlier. There were many failures at different levels which led to that.

But I cannot deny: the truth about Jesus liberated me long before I left home.

I don’t know where you are at in your story right now. In what ways you are trapped.

If you feel alone and without hope. My prayer is that you will personally know the weight of these words: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

For those effected by the content of this article: Help can be obtained via 24/7 domestic helpline on 0808 2000 247 or via their website 

*some small details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

Published by Nay Dawson

Hello and thank you for reading my blog. I'm married to Jon and live in Southampton with our two girls. I work with IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator, training staff and students across Europe. In 2019 I set up Passion for Evangelism a network of creative, public female speakers. I'm a Trustee for the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation raising essential funds for disadvantaged Black British Students. I'm also a Trustee for Friends International helping welcome International students to the UK. In response to the war in Ukraine I helped set up Ukraine Connect matching refugees and hosts across Europe

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