Sunderland is set to become the first UK city without a single domestic violence refuge, reports Fiona Cowood
Marie* remembers clearly the night she thought she was going to die at the hands of her ex-partner. ‘Nothing in particular had triggered it off, but he came upstairs and pinned me to the bedroom wall,’ Marie, now 46, recalls. ‘I was holding our 11-month-old baby, and he punched holes all the way around my head – right through the wall – and then led me to believe that I was getting the last punch. I remember thinking, “This is it, this is me gone.”‘
Marie didn’t die that night but her ex continued to terrorise her, making it clear that if she told anyone, she would pay the ultimate price. Her lifeline came in the form of Jackie Siggens from Sunderland’s network of women’s refuges, who came to her house while her partner was at work and gave Marie the support she needed to finally – and safely – break free.