The Huffington Post UK recently revealed the true extent of domestic violence cuts by local authorities. Now Ruth*, 40, who left her violent partner after years of physical and emotional abuse. Here she discusses her fears about cuts to services - and how they've already affected her
Ruth isn’t, in her words, "feeling great" today. When she left her violent partner and she left their home, taking her daughter with her, two years ago to live in a refuge, she felt worse.
"I was pretty destroyed. I am pretty destroyed emotionally and psychologically," she tells The Huffington Post UK.
"If I hadn’t been able to go to a refuge I think I would possibly still be there. And I don’t know if I would - this might sound as though I’m exaggerating - but I don’t know if I’d even be able to talk to you.
Ruth left her 'middle class home' to live in a refuge with her young daughter
"So I think it’s absolutely vital for people who find themselves in these domestic violence situations that they’re able to go to these places and get out of these situations.
"If refuges have to be closed we will be reading a lot more in the papers about women who have been physically harmed or even killed by lovers, ex-lovers, partners, husbands."
Ruth's daughter, 7, is also on a waiting list for therapy. "I’ve tried not to let it affect her - obviously it does, and it has,” she says. “She was taken from her middle class life in the countryside to live in a refuge in the city."
She first contacted Woman's Aid after her partner dragged her down the stairs and tried to force himself on her. Before that, Ruth says she never imagined she would claim benefits.
Two years on, she’s struggling after being, in her words, effectively "forced" to go back to work - despite the fact she’s not psychologically ready after leaving her violent relationship.
"When I first went into a refuge it was the first time in my whole life I’d ever claimed benefits,” she says. "I’d worked since I was 15 and paid into the system.
"So, I never expected in my life to claim benefits and I had to claim benefits for the first time, basically to survive.
"I should really be in a position now where I am feeling OK but the way the government is pushing things at the moment it’s quite probable I’ll end up having to go and work part-time just so that somebody in their job centre can say they’ve put me in a position of work.
"I’m going to be forced into any old job just so somebody can tick a box."
*Not her real name.