Woman fled to Norfolk after nine years of domestic abuse
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A woman who escaped to Norfolk with her son after nine years of domestic abuse has told how she owes her recovery to "incredible" local charity Leeway.
Megan Campbell, now 24, fled to her mum's house in Norfolk from Milton Keynes in August 2019 with her then five-month-old son, Stanley.
She spent last week painting a mural dedicated to Leeway at Anglia Square's car park in Norwich with the help of her son and a local business her brother co-partners, Foie Gras Garments.
"I left everything behind and came to Norfolk," she said. "Nowhere was safe for me in the town I'd grown up in. I had no choice."
Ms Campbell said when she left Milton Keynes she had hoped she was "finally free" from the emotional, financial and physical abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her ex.
But despite his conviction for assault by beating and criminal damage in August 2019, the sentence for which included a restraining order and compulsory participation in a rehabilitation course, she said the threat to herself and son was by no means over.
"He continued to breach his restraining order even after his conviction, but the police at Thames Valley didn't seem interested in doing anything about him", she explained.
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"I filed report after report but no action was taken. I felt dismissed, isolated and belittled because it seemed nobody was taking the multiple restraining order breaches seriously."
But Leeway changed all that, said Ms Campbell.
Eventually, her abuser was convicted of harassment and breach of a restraining order in April this year. The 24-year-old credits Leeway with the result.
Thames Valley Police has been approached for comment.
Ms Campbell continued: "I was put in touch with the charity by a health visitor who came to my mum's house to check on my son's progress when I arrived in Norfolk."
"They gave me advice, offered me a place on their power to change programme, made phone calls and dealt with the police for me, helped me with my witness statements, helped me with my housing situation, financial situation and put me in touch with other agencies who aided my recovery.
"They also helped my son by referring me on to Action for Children. They really took care of us. It restored my faith in people.
"I cannot thank them enough for doing what the police couldn't. Norwich is lucky to have them, they're incredible."
Moving forward, Ms Campbell says she has her life back together, and that her now 26-mont-old baby son is doing well.
She hopes the mural, which has Leeway's domestic abuse helpline emblazoned directly next to it, will help others seek help rather than stifling in silence.
"I've already had other women message me saying what the mural meant to them", she reflected. "I'm so happy to be able to give them the power to speak out and take action, which is what I wish I'd done a long time ago."
Mandy Proctor, Leeway's chief executive, said everyone at the charity was "touched" by Ms Campbell's words.
"We are so pleased to hear that she has started her journey to a life free from abuse", Ms Proctor said.
“It is excellent that Megan is using her experiences of domestic abuse to raise awareness and money to enable other people to access the support that they need.
“The mural looks excellent and will catch the eye of people when they are in the area, hopefully encouraging important conversations around domestic abuse and empowering others to get support.”
The mural, featuring on a legally designated space, is part of a three-part fundraising effort organised by Ms Campbell.
Aside from the mural, which she hopes will draw attention to Leeway's work and encourage people to donate, there is a limited print run in partnership with Foie Gras Garments in Norwich. £10 of each print sale goes to Leeway.
She is also doing a sponsored bike ride to Sea Palling and back at the end of next month.
You can donate to the cause by visiting gofundme.com/f/megans-fundraiser-for-leeway.
You can reach Leeway's 24-hour domestic abuse helpline on 0300 561 0077.