“Six months ago, I left home to live with my boyfriend. My parents were really angry about it – my father in particular, who said I shouldn’t expect to just come home when it all fell down around my ears.
“At the time, I didn’t care – I thought I was in love – but soon realised I’d moved in with an aggressive, selfish person. He spends most of his time and money online and expects me to do all the cleaning and cooking. On top of that, he’s furloughed and I’m still working. He’s got a reasonable income, but still expects me to pay for all the flat’s housekeeping bills with my own money.
“He expects me to be available for sex on demand and when I refused last week, we had a furious fight and he threatened me. He didn’t actually hit me, but he was so angry that he came close, and it left me frightened of what might happen next.
“I want to move out but looking for a new home during lockdown really isn’t easy – believe me, I’ve tried. Most people who might normally offer house-shares don’t want anyone they don’t know into their homes right now. I don’t blame them – and to be honest, I’m really uncomfortable even looking.
“I feel so hurt and let down by my boyfriend that I just want to get out now, but I have nowhere to go. If only I hadn’t upset my parents so much, I’d love to move back in with them. But I’m sure my father won’t even speak to me, let alone let me come home.”
“You have acknowledged that you need to get away from this situation – and that is a really positive step. I know it’s tricky right now, but you are living with a man you’re frightened of and who has threatened you – please do get out now.
“Once threats like this have been made, as far as I’m concerned, there is no going back. Aggression and violence have no place in a relationship – and it doesn’t sound as if that’s what you have anyway. You’re more of an unloved, unpaid skivvy to this man, so it’s definitely time to leave.
“Where you go next is, of course, more tricky right now – but if there’s nowhere else, put your things in storage and sleep on a friend’s floor if you have to. Temporarily, you could move to a hostel, residential hotel, a holiday rental – anywhere to get you out and give you space to think, and safety. You might have to do some research in order to find a place, but there are some open. You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or if escaping harm (including domestic abuse).
“You say your father won’t speak to you – but you’re his daughter and I’m sure he cares about you. He was probably angry because he saw this man wasn’t right for you, and couldn’t stop you from what he thought was a mistake.
“Have you tried talking to your parents? If you don’t want to see them yet, phone them up and tell them they were right, and that you need support right now. It might be uncomfortable, and you might have to cope with some ‘I told you so’ attitude – but your safety and wellbeing really is the priority right now.
“Remember there are organisations you can always contact for help, support and advice – such as Refuge (refuge.org.uk) and Women’s Aid (womensaid.org.uk). It does not matter if you have experienced threats and verbal aggression and not physical violence – they will still be there for you, so please know you are not alone.
“Finally, could this be your chance to make a completely new start? Your letter indicates that you have a job and a decent income, so what’s stopping you? You could give yourself some time, away from the demands of parents and boyfriend, to find out exactly what you want out of life.”
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