Lived Experience: Ellie’s Story

Wanting a perfect life with the man of her dreams, Ellie* silently endured abuse from her husband. But when she fell pregnant, it changed her outlook on everything. 

Ellie devised a plan to safely escape her husband with her boys, but her efforts were hindered by his supporters. 

Ellie reached out to the Church of Christ and The Lady Musgrave Trust for secure, affordable housing so that she could heal and build a happy life with her boys.

We are truly privileged to play a part in making stories like Ellie’s happen. 

This is Ellie’s, 30, story in her own words.

I never imagined in all my life that I would find myself running out of home without time to even put my shoes on my feet, holding my two babies and their portable oxygen tanks, and jumping into my friend’s car to drive straight to the police station. This was the only way that I was able to safely leave my husband.

I’d spent over eight years of my life with the man of my dreams. We travelled the world together, bought our dream home and after an emotional fertility journey, fell pregnant with twin boys. But behind the Instagram-perfect photos, our relationship was far from healthy.

My husband was an elite special forces soldier, a commando. When I first met this man, I felt so safe and secure in his presence. Over the years, that safe and secure bubble turned into isolation, physical and emotional violence, control, rules I needed to follow, and complete financial dependency. 

I would be left with black eyes, cuts, bruises, no friends or support and no self-worth. I was completely degraded with no means to leave, yet desperately wanted to be free from the dangerous cycle of what was happening in my relationship and in my life. 

When I became pregnant with my twins, I began to see and feel things so very differently. It was no longer about me anymore. The decisions which I would previously make for myself would now affect another vulnerable little person who I knew I needed to protect with every part of my being. 

My beautiful boys were born via emergency caesarean at 26 weeks. They were both incredibly small and fragile, requiring intense and urgent care in the NICU.

Not long after I was discharged from hospital, staying close by so I could bring them breast milk everyday, my husband and I had an argument. It happened so quickly. I was held down, I could not breathe. I could not move, I was in so much pain. Then he let me go. He left.

I always knew that it was never going to be simple or easy to leave my husband. I felt as though he had an army around him – he had all of the power, the resources, the connections, the finances. 

As soon as I indicated to his family that things were not good and that I did not feel safe, things changed quickly. I was made to feel as though I was the cause of all our issues, that I was a danger to our children. 

I thought that I would have the opportunity to be incredibly organised when the time came to leave. But when the day came that I fled with my babies, I had nothing but the clothes we were wearing and their oxygen tanks. But I had my support services. I had a safety plan. This was it.

Once I left, my husband removed my access to our joint accounts. He also disconnected my phone. My husband and his family initiated court proceedings in order to try and recover the children from my care, using the narrative that I was the perpetrator and I was mentally unstable. 

When my supporters in the Queensland Police were able to obtain a protection order for the children and I, it was shortly after this that my husband was arrested on criminal charges. 

Where I was staying was not a practical space to support the children and I while we safely navigated this chapter of our life. We needed to find housing that would be close to their medical teams, somewhere that was secure and had surveillance. 

I felt such defeat. I had next to no financial resources. 

I scrolled the internet yet again, looking at all the housing that I knew I just could not possibly afford, or that would not be at all suitable. 

Then I came across a listing that almost seemed as though it was too good to be true – a secure apartment, close to hospitals and everything we could possibly need. A space with plenty of room for the three of us and the boys’ oxygen tanks and equipment. 

I was completely overwhelmed with support when I received a phone call from Churches of Christ regarding my enquiry. They genuinely seemed as though they wanted to help me and my boys. 

To my complete shock and surprise, I was told that the owners of the property, The Lady Musgrave Trust, were happy to reduce my initial rent price, while I sorted out my financials. 

This was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to have stability, safety, and to be able to provide a loving space to look after my babies and I while we find our feet. 

I will forever be so grateful for Lady Musgrave.

*Name changed for privacy. 

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