Copyright © Scottish Women's Aid. All rights reserved. Registered charity, no SC001099. Registered company number SSC128433. 132 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 3JD. www.womensaid.scot

 Recounting Women is a participatory photovoice project that supports women who have experienced domestic abuse to share information about the issues that affect them and the barriers they face in rebuilding their lives.  The project provides a unique platform for women whose voice is rarely heard in public policy making to anonymously and creatively influence change.  Key issues that women consistently identified are the impact of homelessness, poverty and isolation as well as  barriers in accessing justice, education and work on their ability to recover and begin to rebuild their lives.

My life changed in a minute. I had to leave my family home and my children. I’m locked away from them and from my friends while I’m in the refuge. I feel I have lost everything.
I was not taken seriously, not listened to, not believed and judged by all those who make decisions about my life now and in the future.
Silenced by my ex-husband then silenced by my community, who want you to remain silent - although they knew everything. In some communities you'll always be watched and unable to be free.
Nobody is perfect. We make mistakes. I was unhappy for a long time but I wanted to keep my family together. I’m left with the injuries; the emotional ones are so difficult to heal.
I don’t understand why the Sheriff gave parental rights to my ex-husband. He is the father who asked me to have an abortion, who said my son wasn’t his, who abused me and has a police record for abusing my son when he was an infant. Outside it may be sunny but my house feels dark, cold and lonely when my son isn’t living with me.
Once I was healthy and strong with plans for my future. In no time my life was destroyed. I have no privacy. I’m tired of so many questions, having to repeat my story so many times. I feel I am carrying a mark. Sometimes I feel so lonely.
I never imagined I would be homeless. I have worked all my life. Homelessness is scary. The refuge provides a safe place to stay and survive. But how long will I have to stay here? Where will my next home be?
Looking after myself is something I took for granted. How do you do that when you are a homeless woman? How do you take care when you are moving from friend to friend? Where do you go when you don’t have an address?
The social worker wouldn’t listen to me, said she had enough information from my ex-husband and his family. Her report to the court wasn’t accurate. It didn’t contain anything about what I said. I believed the Scottish justice system would support and protect me but it only made me feel worse, like I’m dead.
I'm just a shadow of myself. I was chatty, cheerful, happy and a real joker; creative, active and healthy. What happened to me? The shadow darkens and covers all these qualities of mine. What remains? Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, hair loss, insomnia and nightmares.
The mask women have to wear after domestic abuse. You're expected to be ok and show a positive face but underneath you feel insecure and vulnerable.
I’m moving up, out of a black hole. After getting into debt, being made homeless, losing all my possessions and separated from my son. I’m slowly making my way one step at a time, a year down the line.
The light is so narrow it doesn't cover everything a woman needs, support only goes so far. There is so much darkness, trauma and depression. How do you get out of the darkness?
I went to court thinking they would help me instead he was given even more power to control me and my sons. My life is hard already, why does it have to feel like the whole justice system blocks my way out of his control. It feels like I am talking to a stone wall of culture – they pay more attention to what he says (he is Scottish) than what I say.
My family are still not together properly. Tears have fallen plenty of times this last year. Loneliness. Scars under the skin, hidden injuries that people can't see from outside.
Domestic abuse gets in the way of new friendships. Can I trust them enough to share things from my past? Can i trust them not to tell others?
My sons and I had a beautiful life before happy, colourful, strong but I’ve been damaged by ex-husband, police, social worker, Sheriff. They took my heart, my soul, my life away from me even though I didn’t do anything wrong. No one would let me see my sons because the social worker said I couldn’t. How did she get so much power to control my life?
All I could manage to take from home, my life and my possessions are in bin bags. But still they mean a lot to me they are not just rubbish to be thrown in the bin.
You said you would love and protect me forever. I still remember the day I was abused, my body still remembers. I have flashbacks when I see something damaged.
Some women use makeup to cover their tears, you don’t know what goes on underneath. I’m a single mum I have to be strong.
It was wonderful and unforgettable to have my daughter with me after such a long time apart. It was very cold and windy, but my heart was so warm. Christmas trees, bright and shiny Christmas lights but behind the scenes is darkness. I don't know what is going to happen, when my life will be on its path again?
Writing is my escape. Where I get away from real life. I wasn’t writing when I was in a relationship. Now I have the strength to start writing again - regaining confidence.
Before I wasn’t allowed to have flowers. Now it’s my space, my rules, I can have what I like. A £2.00 bunch of carnations means so much to me.
I’m putting myself back together again. Learning to love myself after the last two years. The picture isn’t complete until I get my own home. I’m safe in refuge for now, but when’s it going to be my turn?
I used to have very healthy food and the children liked the presentation on their plates. When I was with my ex-husband he deprived us of food. He ate at restaurants but didn’t buy me the food to make for the children. Now it’s like we are now in control of our life, we decide what to do – before he did.
I had to buy these shoes when I was made homeless they were £6 from Tesco. I lost all my belongings – I walked everywhere in them. I can’t throw them away even though they have holes in them. From riches to rags.
A letter comes in the door and your stomach just goes like the waltzers. You have this fear and almost a phobia about opening mail. I stopped opening it – it makes me feel physically sick and it doesn’t stop, I have to deal with this every week.
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You said you would love and protect me forever. I still remember the day I was abused, my body still remembers. I have flashbacks when I see something damaged.