June had a lovely home, her ‘dream home’ and was a successful florist. She had worked hard to build up her business so that she could run her own shop, June’s Pretty Posies, which is still open for business but now owned by her daughter. Recently June was diagnosed with bi-polar, so had been unknowingly living with this for 30 years. ‘I’ve always had to work hard at keeping my emotions under control”, June told us. June is also a functioning alcoholic. Something June has managed whilst building up her career and her family and maintaining her caring and positive outlook.
However, things weren’t quite right with her husband. He took control of all the finances including those from June’s business, not letting June ever see how he managed them, working in his office behind a locked door. He was concerned about the mortgage even though June gave him the money to pay it. He was also very controlling and
this affected the children. He had extreme rules around the house and made a point of causing disputes during
June loved David and at first she thought it was lovely having someone doing things for her. ‘All I ever wanted was to be loved.’ But over the years, David’s behaviour became intolerable for the children who gradually moved away, with June’s encouragement, so that they were protected from the upset David would cause.
June and David began to sleep in separate bedrooms and David started restricting June’s access to things within the home. June was left with very little to use in the kitchen and often was restricted from watching TV and using the toilet. June was beginning to experience that her home was slowly being taken away.
David’s abusive behaviour began to turn violent and June experienced repeated episodes where her safety was compromised and times when David caused actual bodily harm. June had managed to hide the abuse from her children who would spot a bruise every now and then, but soon June’s children heard of her fears. June’s daughter even called the police.
In March 2014, the police were called out again due to a violent episode during which June had discovered David was growing cannabis in the house. June began to see that she shouldn’t be in a relationship with David anymore. She told her husband that he was making her ill and told him she wanted a divorce. ‘I’ve always been bubbly, but I got buried and lost my identity.’ David was arrested and released on bail for growing cannabis. June and David both continued to live independently in the house.
In September 2014 an argument began over David wanting to move the TV into the garage. David choked June, pulled her hair out and punched her in the face. June escaped outside and called the police. David was released from prison the next day to attend court where he was released on bail on the condition he reside over the water and did not approach June or the house, however he was given back the keys to their home.
That same night June woke up to find her husband standing in her room with an axe and cable ties and fell victim to almost unspeakable violence by her husband that has shocked the nation in a number of newspaper articles about the fateful night.
As June was driven away from her house she looked back to see that her dream home was building into an inferno. He had doused it with thinners and was burning down everything she had left. June begged for David to turn back and stop the fire. She feared for the family with children next door, but David stated that he had done June a favour; no one would have the house now.
June spent the next 10 days in hospital with doctors shocked by what they saw. ‘I had nothing, but I was happy to be alive’. June was stripped of everything.
June was moved into a house as part of council bond scheme, meanwhile, handing her business over to her daughter because she wasn’t coping. June was unable to gain any financial support from the insurance because of the circumstances – her husband committing arson on their own property. Six weeks after the attack, June was referred to The Whitechapel Centre. ‘That’s when my heroes came. They are the nicest people I could ever meet.’
On our first visit, June told us that she had been without any benefits, for weeks; and had no gas supply, because she had lost the pre-payment card. A telephone call was made to the benefit agency; who, it was found, had suspended June’s payments, because they hadn’t been informed of her change of address. Arrangements were made for monies owed, to be paid to her, that day. The energy company were contacted, who gave June a code, to take to her nearest Paypoint, who would provide her with a new card, to enable her to buy gas. It was noted that June had greatly overloaded all of the electric sockets, ironically, posing a fire risk. Merseyside Fire Service was contacted, as a matter of urgency; and they carried out a fire safety check, the following day. Several weeks later, after contacting the mental health crisis team in Sefton Borough, who had initially seen June, it was confirmed to us, that it would be beneficial to June, to have specialist counselling. A referral was then made by us, to such an agency. June attends these counselling sessions weekly, with The Whitechapel Centre, ensuring that she has the means to keep these appointments.
The Whitechapel Centre has helped June when she has struggled emotionally, which has impacted on her ability to maintain her home; also helping June to create systems to keep on top of the clutter of hoarding, that builds up, when June is feeling low, and helps June to keep on top of the bills during a very difficult time of healing and recovery. “I was allowed to be me, allowed space to deal with everything at my own pace. Now I’ve found me, I want to give back to the people who have helped me. I don’t forget anything. I want to tell my story.
If I can just get through to one person and make a difference. I’m proud of myself. Proud that I survived.’ June also wants to work with police to recognise that they need more knowledge and training in how to deal with domestic violence.
Her husband was sentenced to 17 years and June is thankful that the judge recognised that her husband had taken the last from her when he could’ve walked away. June didn’t have everything, but she was happy with what she had; her dream home, her business and her family together under one roof.
The neighbours next door were also made homeless for 9 months due to the damage to their house, which has strained relationships between them and June. It has also affected June’s children who all have fears of it happening again.
June still has some way to go, but telling her story she sits proudly, wiping tears from eyes with her scars visible – not hiding from what has happened to her. The house she is currently in doesn’t feel like home. It feels like a dungeon. June just wants to be back in her home to redecorate and build her life back up to prove that her husband didn’t win. He didn’t take everything away.
‘People need to open their minds more and put themselves in the position of a homeless person. There needs to be more awareness and funding for more publication of the causes of homelessness, not just the statistics.’
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