Bury St Edmunds women’s refuge ‘saved my life’

Annie Munson of Bury St Edmunds' Women's Aid refuge centre

Annie Munson of Bury St Edmunds' Women's Aid refuge centre - Credit: Archant

For women suffering the cruelty of domestic abuse, Christmas can be anything but a time of goodwill.

For this reason January and February are frequently the busiest months at the Bury St Edmunds Women’s Aid centre, which provides shelter and support for victims of both physical and psychological abuse.

Chief executive Annie Munson said the Bury refuge was at “full capacity”.

“This tends to be the same mostly after Christmas,” she said. “We did experience a slight difference pre-Christmas this year whereby we had more women with children coming in. Very often in past years just before Christmas they stop coming in with children because they have it in their heads they don’t want to spoil Christmas for the children.”

However, often she said Christmas itself could be the final trigger.

“The best way of people in that situation coping is distance and perhaps over Christmas we don’t get that distance,” she said.

The centre has 23 bed spaces for women and children.

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One woman who was the victim of abuse left the refuge on December 23 after seven months. She said the group had turned her life around.

“I was in quite a bad relationship for quite a long time and my situation was slightly different,” she said. “I went in without any of my children. I had been in such a terrible relationship that this man was telling people I was mad and crazy.

“They’ve been so much more than just being there as a women’s refuge. They’ve helped me clear my name. They have helped me through a whole three-and-a-half years that I couldn’t have done without support.”

As well as providing a refuge, the Bury Women’s Aid also runs an outreach programme helping people in the community before and after they come to the refuge.

“They really are a network of women that are incredible at what they do,” said the former resident, who now has a home in Bury with her children.

“They’ve saved my life. I was on my knees. I had no where to go and these women were the first in my life, I thought, who were like role models. They’re incredible people and it’s a pleasure to tell you what they do.”

For more information about Bury’s refuge call 01284 753085 or visit burystedmundswomensaid.org.uk.

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