A Petra case study

Susie has lived at Petra for one year and one month. She arrived at the Petra project when she was around 5 weeks pregnant.

Susie came to Bath from another county when she knew she was pregnant and wanted to be near her mum. Susie had been in a long-term relationship with the father of her other two children; this relationship ended due to years of domestic violence. The paternal grandparents have custody of her other two children. When Susie got to Bath she found out she was unable to live with her mum and she was unable to find support. She was pregnant, homeless, and extremely vulnerable. Susie’s mum found her one morning sleeping in a doorway and took her to the council. They offered her a ticket back to the county she had come from, but this was unsafe due to her previous, violent relationship. She was therefore given the number for Petra.

After first making contact with the Petra project, meeting with Laura and looking around the house, Susie moved in 3 days later. Petra was able to offer Susie the place of safety that she needed. Susie was not only in a vulnerable position from the father of her first two children, but she had also discovered the father of her baby was violent too. Susie needed a place to protect her from both previous partners, a place where she could be safe and where she could safely have her baby.

Throughout her pregnancy, Susie needed to get court injunctions against both previous partners, which was an extremely stressful time for her. Being at Petra, she received lots of emotional and practical support from the Petra staff. Susie says, ‘If it wasn’t for the support provided, I wouldn’t have had such an easy pregnancy – they reassured me I was safe, everything would be fine, they reminded me I needed to concentrate on my baby. They helped me to see if I was stressed this would have an effect on my baby.’

Susie did have some difficulties in pregnancy with a bleed and suspected miscarriage in her second trimester. The Petra staff took her to the hospital and then assisted her when she came home to stay calm, in order to not let the stress affect her and the baby.

Laura with Susie’s baby the day after he was born

Susie is currently going through the courts to fight custody and visiting rights to her other children. Understandably this is a very anxious time for her, but she is finding Petra staff are supporting her with this. Although parenting is not new to Susie, parenting on her own is, and parenting without having to worry about a violent partner is very new for her. She has found Petra staff to be reassuring and encouraging, and they’ve helped her to see how she can parent on her own.

The whole experience of fighting for her children, and finding protection for herself and her baby has been extremely stressful. Susie feels she has only been able to manage this knowing that she has the support of the staff at Petra. She knows they are available for her when she needs to talk.

Susie is able to stay at Petra for just under a year, and is currently bidding for a property to live in. Susie now feels she is ready to move on and have her own place. She feels stronger in herself and knows that she can manage. Once she has moved out, she would like to be able to come back to Petra and work as a volunteer, as she feels she can support others who have experienced similar difficulties she has. Already, she is able to help others in the house, by listening to them and supporting them. She is able to share what happened to her and turn it into something good.

Petra has been Susie’s main source of assistance, with both practical issues and emotional support. Petra has also helped her by sharing information on budgeting, cooking, gardening, parenting and life skills.

Susie has found the house environment supportive. At first, she thought living with other pregnant hormonal women might be rather trying(!). But overall she found that they have all been able to empathise and encourage one another. Living with others has helped her to realise she is not the only one in this situation.

Susie’s final comments – “The help you get and the funding Petra gets can help to change lives. I don’t know of anything else like this. Petra is amazing.”

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