Jemma, 34, was left with a punctured lung, a broken rib and a battered face after being attacked by her ex-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. As well as the painful physical aftermath of the assault, the mother-of-two was left with the daunting task of giving evidence against her attacker in court.
“I was fast asleep when I woke up to loud banging. I went downstairs and he was hammering on the door. I ran back upstairs but when I turned around he head-butted me. I was on the bed before I realised what had happened. I was in that room for two-and-a-half hours.”
Jemma was supported throughout the process by Jacky, an independent domestic abuse advisor from a project called Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse. After a difficult four-day trial, Jemma’s attacker was found guilty of grievous bodily harm and jailed for seven years.
“Jacky supported me, reassured me and, out of everyone who helped me through the process, I knew that she was the person I could call if I had a problem. When I had to go to court I started to get anxious, but Jacky was right behind me when I was giving evidence. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have gone through with it.”
Life is slowly getting back to normal for Jemma and her children. She’s returned to her job as a hairdresser, is the final year of her degree in sociology and criminology and is writing her dissertation on the topic of domestic abuse. She’s looking towards the future and describes Jacky as the “guardian” that helped her get through her experience.
“Being able to understand abuse has made me so much stronger; understanding that it wasn’t me, it was him. It’s empowered me to take back my confidence. Jacky was always on the end of the phone, she’s been kind of my guardian through it all.”
There were 2,581 incidents of domestic violence reported to the police in Oxford last year, with many more incidents unreported. Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse works intensively with people who are at risk of harm in their own homes – keeping them safe and helping them to rebuild their lives.
Comic Relief cash helps to provide immediate safety planning, ongoing advice and flexible support for those experiencing domestic abuse, along with specialised services for people at high risk, to keep them safe both in the short and long term.