Debbie

Debbie

He slammed her against the cupboard. His hands were over her mouth and nose, stopping her breathing. “Are you going to shut up now?” he screamed at her.

Debbie had been trying to stop her husband, Jon, from hitting their 3-year-old son in the head with a slipper.

Debbie and Jon had been married for 7 years. From the start there had been problems, Debbie recalls:

“He was very controlling from the beginning and I thought maybe it’s because he’s older, or there’s a cultural difference, as I'm from Israel. He would also lose his temper very easily, he became more and more disrespectful, he didn't want me to work, he didn't want me to have friends – he became more controlling about everything.”

But this was the first time it had become physical. After Jon stormed out, she locked the door with the deadbolt.

Debbie says, “He came back, and tried to open the door. I was holding my phone in my hands, shaking. My little one threw up afterwards, because of the stress.”

Debbie was petrified. She’d seen an advertisement for Jewish Women’s Aid. She called them, and that night she and the children fled to the JWA refuge.

After two months, Debbie tried to put her life back together. She had to sort out where she and the children were going to live, what benefits they were entitled to, and issues like getting maintenance for the children from Jon.
Meanwhile Jon was attempting to get a court order against her, saying she was going to abduct the children and take them to Israel. She had no idea about how to proceed with any of this, and no money.

A friend told her about Paperweight. She met with the caseworker, Elaine, and together they formed a plan.

Elaine explains: “For anyone, dealing with the paperwork of a divorce can be utterly overwhelming, never mind someone who has just escaped from abuse. It’s not just a matter of filling in the forms – you have to choose the grounds carefully, and present your case to support that. And then you have to deal with all the financial issues, and those related to the children.

As well as guiding Debbie through the forms, Elaine involved Paperweight’s specialist benefits people to help with that element. Paperweight’s legal guidance team then helped steer Debbie through the court system and provided a McKenzie Friend to be with Debbie in court. A McKenzie Friend is not a lawyer, but helps explain what is happening and provides moral support.

Elaine adds: “The important thing is to really listen and understand where the client is coming from. It is wonderful when you can see someone like Debbie come out of an abusive relationship and really start to re-build herself as a person.”

For Debbie Paperweight has been a lifeline: “It has been a very, very difficult time, and I didn’t know where to turn. But thank G-d this lovely organisation, Paperweight, is here to support people in a situation like mine. They have given me amazing support. I couldn’t have managed without Paperweight, I can tell you that…”

He came back, and tried to open the door. I was holding my phone in my hands, shaking. My little one threw up afterwards, because of the stress.

debbie

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