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"Finding my voice"

In a recent conversation with Hayleigh Ashley, an Own My Life course facilitator in Northamptonshire, we learned about Amanda and her inspirational story. Amanda spoke with Own My Life course Creator, Natalie Collins, about her journey, and was keen for us to share her story far and wide! This is what she told us:

To be honest, I wasn’t interested in the Own My Life course. I’d been on loads of other domestic abuse courses and they hadn’t helped. In fact, they’d left me feeling even more isolated. I can’t tell you how glad I am I decided to try the course anyway.

Back in 2018, I’d been arrested for stuff my abusive partner had coerced me into, but the backlog of COVID meant I was halfway through attending an online Own My Life course when I had to go to court.

I felt really hopeless. I was learning so much on the course, but was now facing a prison sentence. On the morning of court, I packed three sets of clothes for my kids, not knowing whether I would be coming home to them. I hadn’t told them what was going on. It was heart-breaking saying goodbye to my kids with no idea if I would see them later that day or be going to prison.

Prior to attending the Own My Life course, I was constantly being silenced. I thought I had to help my abusive ex-partner. His family kept putting it onto me to help him, but the course showed me that wasn’t helping me or my kids. My kids were on child protection. It was terrifying. Social services treated me as a monster and I questioned myself all the time. It was like we were on two different planets, talking different languages. The Own My Life course gave me the tools to be able to work with the social workers, not against them.

The Own My Life course was the only thing that gave me a voice. I’d felt like I was in a black hole all by myself, but the course changed all that. The course gave me the courage to fight for everything. I knew that he would no longer have control over my life, he would get nothing from me anymore. He couldn’t use me. That it would be over.

The school were putting the kids into counselling during their lessons, which was getting in the way of their friendships. The course gave me the courage to go to the school and challenge how they were working with the kids. I was able to talk the same language as them and I was confident in what I was saying, so they listened to me and things changed for the better. The kids counselling took place outside of school time, which hugely improved their experience of school.

When I went to court, I was able to hold my head up high and stand up straight. You gave me the tools and confidence to face the situation. Prior to that I was cowered and subdued. I’d given up. I didn’t have anyone to fight my corner. You made me a stronger person than I’ve ever been in my life. Even though I’m on my own, through Own My Life, I learned I don’t need someone else to fight my corner, you gave me the tools to do it for myself!

I got a suspended sentence in court, with the judge recognising that I’d turned my life around. I even got an apology from the child protection chair, who acknowledged that she’d “seriously misjudged me”!

The impact has been bigger than just me. Three years ago I had three very scared and clingy children. Now they’ve got so much enjoyment in life! Not only did I go home to them that day after court, seeing mummy stronger has made them stronger.

CLICK HERE for the news report about Amanda, showing how the judge saw she had turned her life around.

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