Ruby is always smiling. A young woman in her early 30s, she has two beautiful daughters, both under the age of four, who attend our Little Stars Daycare Nursery. The children are always immaculately dressed, as is Ruby. She is a highly educated woman who carries an air of confidence about her. And she's always smiling.
So it was all too easy for people to miss the warning signs. But when she asked Sajida for her personal phone number, in case she required 'out of hours' help, it soon became clear something was wrong. Eventually, Ruby confided in our staff about the serious mental and physical abuse she was suffering at the hands of her husband.
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Escaping the torment
Domestic violence may not be something that The Oak Foundation was explicitly set up to handle. But one of our core beliefs is that we should support the people using our services in any way we can. So a few days later, when Ruby dropped her children at nursery with a small suitcase in tow, we knew we had to act.
It was all too easy for people to miss the warning signs
Her face and arms were covered with bruises and she told us she had left her husband. She needed to speak to the police and the local authority as she was left homeless overnight, following her decision to leave her tormenter. The tiny suitcase was all she had managed to pack in such a hurry. She didn't know when she would be able to return and pick up her children, or where they would go.
The small things make a big difference
Our nursery staff made sure that her children felt safe and well looked after until their mother was able to return. We also packed a bag for her with basic items, including food and personal hygiene items we received from In Kind Direct for her and the children; everyday essentials she didn't have time to pack and couldn't easily find at such a late hour.
Ruby is still living in temporary accommodation with her children. We have supported her benefits claim and continue to provide essential items that make the world of difference to her family. When she brings her children to nursery, they look as smart and happy as ever.
Ruby told us that when things were most difficult and she was living in a room in an out-of-borough hostel, our support helped her stay positive. Putting together a bag of toiletries was a simple gesture, but it helped her maintain her hard-won confidence and feel good about herself at a very difficult time.
When Ruby brings her children to nursery, they look as smart and happy as ever
Often, when a person suffers from severe abuse, maintaining their personal appearance is important for self-esteem and can help them cope with the sadness and pain they have suffered. In Ruby's case, looking smart and well groomed was one way she could restore her confidence and help her daughters feel as if everything was going to be ok. We were honoured to be able to support her in this.
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