DOMESTIC abuse can leave lives destroyed through fear and violence, but services in Bolton are encouraging victims to come to them to start a new life in a safe and stable way. In a series of reports this week by HELENA VESTY, The Bolton News has investigated different types of abuse through the stories of the families torn apart by psychological, physical and financial abuse.

TWO Bolton charities, Endeavour and Fortalice, are leading the fight to lift women, children and, increasingly, men out of domestic violence every day.

Offering safety planning, legal support, home security, counselling and group therapy, the holistic organisations are imploring people to start their journey to a happier future.

One survivor, who worked with Endeavour to break free from the physical and emotional abuse she suffered for 14 years at the hands of her partner, spoke of how her life transformed after she began to work with charity: “It's like I've died and been reborn. I'm strong enough now to do this.

"It's horrendous enough what happens to you, I felt like I never wanted to wake up. But once you experience this service you have hope again. The support network took away everything that would have crushed me if I had to do this on my own, they just wanted me to think about myself and Endeavour did the rest.

"They did all the housing, looked after my dogs, the medical care, it allowed me time to find the answers for me."

She added: "Angels walk in disguise and that's what Endeavour represents. They've given me everything.

"I'm growing again. I've got new friends that I've made through Endeavour and they are helping me celebrate my life — we giggle, we laugh together.

"I learned that I did nothing wrong, all I did was love him. Once I had the time to take that blame away, I started repairing.

"I've got a long way to go, but I'm being me again."

Endeavour, a charity based in Chorley New Road, has been working for decades to connect those suffering abuse to vital sources of help — rescuing 465 people in danger just last year with five projects including a pet fostering service, outreach service, independent domestic violence advice service for those at high risk, young people’s service and a service for people in temporary accommodation.

Fortalice is another renowned service in Bolton providing refuge for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

With 22 apartments with a capacity for up to 70 children, they helped 2,200 people in the last year and have 17 projects running to keep up with demand.

Gill Smallwood, the chief executive of Fortalice, said: “We now have a drugs and alcohol worker, a mental health worker, qualified social workers - all on site. We train every GP surgery in Bolton and we have had more than 800 referrals from GPs since we started doing that.”

The service also works directly with families to teach them about healthy relationships through therapeutic group sessions.

For some, these schemes can be the first step in healing years of damage for children involved in domestic abuse, as well as the adults.

Returning from a group horse riding session, Ms Smallwood said one mother was affected more than others: “When they came back, there was a mum who looked emotionally shot at, she told us it was the first time her son had ever made eye contact with her at seven-years-old.

“That’s not unusual. There isn’t a family bond because mum has just kept them safe, kept them as hidden as possible.

“It can also go the other way - some perpetrators can get the children to monitor mum, asking children to tell them when mum has eaten something or even gone to the toilet. This is the norm for some children.

"Giving children the time to heal, it gives them their life back. Children grow up believing that this is what normal looks like because it's so secret. The isolation is horrific. Doing one to one work and then allowing them to join a group shows them that they're not on their own in their suffering."

To speak to someone about what you have experienced or are currently experiencing, you can call Endeavour on 01204 394 842 or the Fortalice Support Centre on 01204365677.

If you want to seek refuge, call 01204701846 — this is a 24-hour service.

In an emergency, call 999.