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 wouldnt 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 wasnt convinced. Gemma tried hard to avoid making him annoyed
but he would find fault with everything she did. He was right; she wasnt
great with cooking or keeping the house clean and tidy. Soon he began to
distrust her and started to check her phone. She wouldnt go out with the
girls from work again; it wasnt 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 wasnt what she would have chosen but its
the thought that counts.
Gemma knew she had to leave when she fell pregnant again. She
couldnt 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
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
Dont 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
Do you think you could have been followed? asked the
woman who identified herself as Judith. Gemma replied that she didnt
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
babys which was at risk. She stayed put. There was no turning back.