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Dereham woman to help abuse sufferers

PUBLISHED: 15:09 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 July 2010

A Dereham woman who suffered repeated abusive relationships is helping to highlight a review into how police deal with offenders of domestic violence.

Joanne Robinson, right, grew up watching her own mother being attacked by her father and went on to be in abusive relationships herself.

A Dereham woman who suffered repeated abusive relationships is helping to highlight a review into how police deal with offenders of domestic violence.

Joanne Robinson, right, grew up watching her own mother being attacked by her father and went on to be in abusive relationships herself.

Now she is telling her story to raise awareness of a nationwide government consultation on tackling violence against women and girls.

The We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls initiative, launched by home secretary Jacqui Smith, is intended to generate debate on what more could be done to end violence against women and girls.

It also includes a review into police powers for dealing with serial perpetrators of domestic violence and a review of the sexualisation of teenage girls.

Ms Robinson, 40, now lives in Dereham where she runs a training consultancy and workshops for women who have suffered abusive relationships.

She said her earliest memories are of her father attacking her mother - a pattern of behaviour repeated throughout her childhood, which she was powerless to prevent.

“Living in that environment was like constantly living in fear of doing anything wrong that would upset my dad that might make him take it out on my mum.”

The experience led to low self esteem, a series of abusive relationships.

She had two children before she reached 20.

“Every time my husband hit me or criticised me I felt it was my fault, that I had done something to deserve his threats, taunts and constant cheating with other women,” she said.

Mrs Robinson managed to leave her husband after he was jailed for five years.

But having won custody of her children, retrained and moved she fell back into the cycle.

“Because I was desperate to believe a man could love me, I was very naive,” she said.

“I fell for insincere promises and put up lying and cheating behaviour. I had no sense of my own self worth.”

She eventually reached breaking point when her latest partner said he would leave her unless she became pregnant with his child.

“At last I realised that my unhappy relationships were all about choices I was making. I kept hoping these men would change - but it was me that had to change.”

Today she works as a relationships counsellor and life skills coach from her business Donna Intera in Norwich Street in Dereham.

The government consultation on domestic violence ends on May 29.

For more information go to www.homeoffice.gov.uk/keepwomen safe

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