"Without the police and their support I have no doubt I would still be a victim"

Submitted by a domestic violence survivor who wants to give her heartfelt thanks to Greater Manchester Police:

Around three years ago I was in a relationship with a controlling and emotionally abusive partner. I found out that he'd been lying to me for years and so I told him to leave.

As expected he reacted badly and for the next few weeks his behaviour grew steadily more hostile with threats to burn the house down while I was in it, constant screaming tantrums and so on. Yes, I was scared, intimidated and eventually I took the advice of a friend and contacted Greater Manchester Police domestic violence unit for help. They were absolutely fantastic; sympathetic without being patronising and totally professional.

They took a statement from me , gave me contact numbers for women’s groups and sources of advice. But most important of all, they believed me. This might sound odd but my ex was a very, very good manipulator and superb liar, able to seem like the most wonderful partner imaginable to the outside world while gradually isolating me from my friends and family. I didn't even realise what was happening. He'd destroyed my confidence and self-esteem to such an extent that I found myself making excuses for his unreasonable behaviour. And very, very nearly went back on my decision to split up with him. Classic Stockholm Syndrome.

The way the police dealt with me quite literally saved my life by making me realise just how awful things had really got – I will never be able to thank them enough. Only a couple of days after meeting the DV unit people, the situation got worse and he came at me with a screwdriver. So as instructed I rang 999 and made a run for a lockable door to hide behind. The three officers who attended were truly my heroes. They followed the procedure of keeping us separate and the officer who spoke to me, although quite young in age just exemplified professionalism, empathy and again, most important, he believed me. I was terrified that the police would go the way of everyone else, falling for the charm, banter and clever lies just like I had, and just like everyone else seemed to, even my own family.

When we were breaking up, my ex called everyone in the address book to spout his side of the story so that they would then call me, saying how heartless I was and that I should take pity on him and give him a second chance, 'because he really does love you, you know'. I feel sick even now, thinking about it. But the police didn't fall for it – they saw him for what he was and they stuck up for me, took my side. I can't tell you how much of a difference that made. I had been on my own for so long and almost ganged up on, that I really believed I was overreacting and should try to patch things up. Can you imagine?

The upshot is that my ex left the house that night, escorted by the police and within seven days he was gone for good. And I got my life back. I am now in a new relationship with a wonderful man, who has been through the mill too and understands how insidious and damaging this type of abuse can be. Without the police and their support at this awful time, I have no doubt I would still be a victim and the words 'thank you' just seem completely inadequate – but are totally heartfelt. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you are a woman experiencing domestic violence call the 24-hour freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever the caller might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. Translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing are available.