Refuge

fear-despair-ron1

I put a call out on various Sheffield messages boards asking people who had stories about Kelvin and what it meant to them, to get touch. Apart from the expected tales and the incredulous comments along the lines of ‘Are you on Crack?’ when discovering what this project was about, there are some genuinely unexpected stories.

This one came to me yesterday and the gentleman who sent it too me asked to remain anonymous, which of course, I will respect.  The text is not verbatim. It came to me mostly written in txt spk so I’ve had to translate to ‘real’ English and tidy it up a bit. The end result has been approved by the Gent in question.

“She would hit me and bully me, but being a man, I couldn’t hit back. I suffered years of abuse and never raised a hand to her. I never fought back. Except that one time when I’d had enough and she called the police. They believed her of course. She had a big bruise on her arm. I had scars, bruises and broken bones, but I was the monster.

The kids lived in fear of what would happen next. Seeing that I had been broken, they thought they would be next. I’d always put myself between them and her so they never got hurt but I couldn’t go on. So, I made a plan.

I told the council I was in need, went for an interview and because of the medical evidence, they gave me a flat. It was on Kelvin and even though it had a terrible reputation, it was better than the bullying and the violence. I managed to keep all this from her. If she’d found out, I’d be in hospital. Again. I picked the keys up on Friday and went she went out on Saturday to meet her friends – she’d get drunk and that was never a good sign – I sat the kids down and told them what I’d done at that I was doing. They looked at me and said, ‘can we come with you?’

It was more than I could bear. I broke down in tears. I had hoped they would be understanding. I had even hoped they want to come with me but kids always want to stay with their mother, right? I had to lie a bit to the council.  They weren’t as strict in them days and council flats were pretty easy to get. I told the council I had kids. When they asked about their age and sex, I was given a three bed-roomed place, but I really didn’t really expect them to come so readily. We had about four hours before she came back and managed to pack up our stuff in two. Not everything, but all we needed. Then we left. She called the police straight away when she got back and accused me of being a nonce. It got nasty, I was arrested for kidnapping and suspected child abuse and the kids got taken back to their mum.

When the youngest ended up in hospital having ‘fallen downstairs’, Social Services got involved. The bitch was arrested and the kids were given back to me. Kelvin saved us. Gave us a roof, a home and safety when we needed it.  It’s always been fashionable to hate Kelvin, but I can’t. Not after what it did for us.

The evidence against her stacked up. My hospital records, the testimony of friends – hers and mine – and especially the evidence given by my kids, put her away for two years.

The house was in my name anyway – I’d had it before I met her – so after she got sent down, we moved back, changed the locks and got a new ex-directory phone number. We re-started our lives together, free for fear. We were on the flats for just under two years, all told. Despite its reputation, it gave us a roof, friends, support and stability and freedom from the horrors she inflicted on us. In some ways, I was sad to leave. The kids were, too…”

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