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Read Melissa’s Story


Domestic abuse had become the norm for Melissa. Having separated from her controlling husband five years previously (in 2010), Melissa realised her son, then aged 13 was treating her in the same way. He was often domineering and would also physically intimidate her.

How we helped

Melissa was recommended Women’s Work by a friend and was enrolled on the Freedom programme. On the programme, she began to recognise that throughout her life she had not been in good relationships. She began studying for a law degree and discovered a passion for the subject. A new relationship also promised a rosier future, but soon turned sour when he went to prison for committing an offence.

Initially, Melissa supported her partner but paid the ultimate price – her ex took her daughter away from her and she had to fight through the courts to regain custody. She’s no longer with her partner, but her experience gave her an insight into the prejudice which affects those who support convicted offenders.

“I could not have gone through the court process without the support of Women’s Work, it would have been overwhelming on my own. The counselling I received also helped me address the trauma from being raped when I was 17 and the bullying I suffered at school.”

Despite her challenges, Melissa graduated with a first-class degree in Law in 2019 and is looking forward to a career in the Probation Service. She now gives two hours of her time each week as a peer mentor on the Freedom programme.


The support and education I received at Women’s Work, helped me regain my self-esteem and empowered me."