No Turning Back by Linda Casper


Craig was good fun and seemed genuinely interested in what she had to say. He made her feel secure and Gemma wanted to please him. It was really her fault for making him furious when she told him she was pregnant; she should have been more careful. He was distraught when he saw the bruises he had caused and promised it wouldn’t happen again. She agreed it was probably for the best when they lost the baby; they were too young.

Craig misconstrued her friendliness to his mates in the pub as flirting. He must love her if that made him jealous. As he said, it was the drink that had made him angry otherwise he would never have done what he did. She told them at work that she fell down the stairs, but she could see that Charlotte wasn’t convinced. Gemma tried hard to avoid making him annoyed but he would find fault with everything she did. He was right; she wasn’t great with cooking or keeping the house clean and tidy. Soon he began to distrust her and started to check her phone. She wouldn’t go out with the girls from work again; it wasn’t worth the repercussions.

When Charlotte gave her a leaflet for a helpline, Gemma insisted that she had no need for it. Craig did love her. Only last week he had bought her a new nightdress; it wasn’t what she would have chosen but it’s the thought that counts.

Gemma knew she had to leave when she fell pregnant again. She couldn’t face going back to her parents and anyway, he might find her and he had threatened to kill her if she left him. She phoned the helpline from work and a volunteer arranged to meet her the next day and take her to a safe house.

That night she tried to appear normal although she was terrified he would sense her deception. She left for work at the normal time with nothing extra in her bag, as instructed by the volunteer. She took her usual bus and walked towards the office in case he was following her as he had done in the past.

“Don’t turn back”, Gemma kept telling herself. As she reached the office steps, Gemma took advantage of the busy street to veer to the right and slip into the little cafe where the meeting had been arranged.

“Gemma?” asked a woman, before Gemma had time to look around her. She wondered if it was so obvious that she was in an abusive relationship.

“Do you think you could have been followed?” asked the woman who identified herself as Judith. Gemma replied that she didn’t think so. Judith found a table and told her to think carefully whether Gemma could accept the conditions required before she was taken to the safe house. Judith said she would go and buy them a coffee to give Gemma time to consider. She told Gemma that if she left the cafe and went back to her life, Judith would understand, but warned her that there was no turning back.

Gemma weighed up her options: to hand over her mobile phone, contact no-one, nor divulge the address of the safe house. She still loved Craig but knew in her heart that it was not just her life, but also that of the baby’s which was at risk. She stayed put. There was no turning back.


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