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Virtual Sunflower domestic abuse centre to open in Borehamwood next week
Domestic abuse victims will not have to suffer in silence when a new drop-in centre opens next week.
The Virtual Sunflower, at the Big Local Shop, Leeming Road, Borehamwood, will offer advice for victims and survivors of all kinds of abuse.
It will be run by survivors of domestic abuse, who will be giving up their time to offer emotional support to others in the same situation.
Mum-of-four Maggie Lewis managed to escape her abusive relationship two years ago, and will now be volunteering at the centre in the hope she can help others.
The now 31-year-old was raped when she was 21 – and when she met Adam at a party a month later she thought he was a “dream come true”.
But as the months went on, he started punching her and stealing cash from her bank account.
She said: “He was always sulking and got really obsessive. I had to sleep with my debit card under my pillow because he was always wiping it out.
“He would kick me and shove me for no reason – one day he broke my collar bone but I was too scared to say anything to anyone.
“I acted like everything was normal, but it wasn’t.”
It was when Maggie was ten weeks pregnant with the couple’s third child she managed to garner the courage to kick him out of their flat for good.
But he returned a week later one evening, when the children were in bed and Maggie was watching TV.
She said: “He turned up and told me to come up to bed with him – I was feeling very scared and told him to go away.
“But then he grabbed me from behind and dragged me from my neck, took me upstairs and pushed me on the bed. He tried to strangle me with a belt.
“My children woke up and I told the oldest, who was seven at the time, to take her five-year-old brother to the neighbour’s house for help.
“I managed to grab my phone and dial 999 but he threw my phone on the floor and told me he was going to get a gun from the attic. I thought I was going to die.”
Luckily, the police came in and arrested him and Maggie hasn’t heard from him since.
She added: “I am looking forward to helping people who are in the same situation as I was and show them there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“You can get out.”
The centre is also available for people who are worried a friend or family member is a victim of domestic abuse.
All volunteers have received training to help victims take the first-step towards a life free from violence and abuse.
The centre will open on Friday, March 8 and weekly-drop in sessions will be held every Friday. For more information, click here.
Maggie's name has been changed to protect her identity.