Having witnessed first-hand the severe impact of domestic abuse on women and children, two social workers and a group of local volunteers came together in 1980 to provide somewhere safe for victims in North Powys.
Forty years on, Montgomeryshire Family Crisis Centre (MFCC) is busier than ever, providing refuge and outreach support for women, men and their children.
Demand for the charity’s services, which have saved and transformed lives, is growing every year and has increased during this year’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. Between 2017-’18 and this year, the number of families needing support increased from 205 to 306 and these figures continue to rise.
MFCC is now a well-established charity committed to providing comprehensive services to those experiencing or affected by domestic abuse across North Powys, which covers the old county of Montgomeryshire.
Given the growing demand for its services, MFCC desperately needs more money and the charity is turning to businesses and the community for support in its landmark 40th anniversary year.
With help from Powys County Council, which made a house available, MFCC opened its first refuge for women and children in 1980. In the late 1990s, a local man, who had been badly beaten by his wife, approached the charity for support, raising awareness that it was not just women that needed the specialist services.
MFCC took up the challenge and, in 2006, opened the first UK refuge for men and their children.
The charity now has 19 employees and is governed and supported by an experienced board of trustees who dedicate their time to making a real difference to domestic abuse survivors.
Domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of behaviour which an abuser uses to gain control over a partner or close family member. It can happen at any point during and after a relationship.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity or where they live. It occurs in both urban and rural areas, is not unusual, is never a one-off incident and it usually escalates over time.
The abuser may use a combination of different types of abuse to ultimately gain control. For those, including children, experiencing or affected by abuse it can be a confusing, frightening and isolating time.
MFCC’s message to victims is clear: “Domestic abuse is never acceptable. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you are not to blame and you are not alone.”
Putting domestic abuse into perspective, here are the words of a survivor, identified as ‘The Woman in Black’. “I lay in bed next to the partner I loved and decided the only way I could stop him from hurting me was to kill myself.
“That decision felt like a huge relief. The 11-year nightmare would be over. I slept that night for the first time in months.
“In the morning, I revisited the idea of suicide. It was a good idea, the best I’d had in a long time I thought, but it dawned on me that, if I did kill myself, he would win. He would become the victim and not me.
“I could see him weeping at my funeral, our friends consoling him and them thinking that I was the coward. Yet, as he became more mentally ill and unstable, I knew that one day, and one day very soon, he was likely to take my life or kill both of us.”
MFCC can be contacted on Tel: 01686 629114, email: [email protected], or www.familycrisis.co.uk