Maria, 23 from Greater London

Maria* says…

“I first came to Eaves’ Scarlet Centre just before Christmas after my boyfriend’s friend sexually assaulted me. I was scared it would happen again so I left my hometown and came to stay with friends in London.

“I left my whole life behind; friends, family, university, everything I had ever known. I was really depressed and angry about what had happened; I went into a mental health hospital for while because I wasn’t able to come to terms with it.

“I heard about Eaves after I came out of hospital and went to the police station to report the attack. I telephoned the Scarlet Centre and spoke to the person on duty. She was so nice and made me feel very comfortable. She assigned me to a support worker who helped me find somewhere safe to live and also got me onto Eaves’ counselling scheme.

“My support worker also encouraged me to go to some of the different workshops at the centre; my favourites were Building Self Esteem and CV writing. The centre has really helped me to get my confidence back; I recently set up a dance group to help other women feel more confident too. Coming to the centre has helped me to meet women who know what I am going through and now I’ve got some great friends. It’s like a second home for us.

“Eaves also helped me with my university applications and I’ve just started a drama course at a university in London. Every day I feel stronger and know that eventually I won’t need Eaves’ support. I am just really happy they were there for me when I needed it.”

*Not her real name.