Linda tells of her escape from a life of abuse
Domestic violence sent Linda Huskisson down the path of drugs, alcohol, and prostitution. A remarkable encounter with God helped her escape her life of enslavement and she now draws on her experience to help others who suffer abuse. Helen Baldry reports.
Married at 17, Linda describes herself and her husband as ‘so in love’. After the birth of their first child, things started to change and Linda’s husband cheated on her and neglected her.
Linda said, ‘he turned out quite brutal’. They were both very shocked the first time he hit her and he said sorry. Linda believed him and forgave him. From then, things got worse and worse. He would take the child allowance and there would be food for the baby but nothing for Linda – she recalls eating scraps and even frying the potato peelings to eat. She wouldn’t leave the children with him.
On one occasion Linda asked him to make her a cup of tea. He became enraged at being asked to be her ‘slave’ and threw the iron at her and knocked her out. He later stood over her with valium tablets and held her nose, forcing her to ingest them.
Linda said, “How many times do you forgive and take back – and then forgive and take back someone?”
Linda didn’t have anyone to turn to. Her own parents, who had rejected her when she had got married so young, were in the army and lived overseas and there were no mobile phones or internet services where you could access help. Linda’s husband threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the violence – and she believed him.
One day, Linda left the children with her mother-in-law, who she trusted and hitch-hiked to London with the intention of sending for them once she had found a job and could support them.
She was homeless for several months and describes the first night as the scariest before she had learnt how to survive on the streets. She learnt how to get drunk on vodka or high in order to numb the pain and the cold. “I would down a whole bottle of vodka and knock myself senseless.”
Linda soon began working as a prostitute and lived in fear of beatings from her pimp. She said, “I felt ashamed of what I’d become. There are always secrets when you’re in that state. There are always things you hide. You’ve been told you’re worthless so many times so you start believing it.”
Two Christians who prayed in the red light district had told Linda ‘Jesus loves you’. They persistently prayed for her and turned up in hospital after Linda had been beaten so severely she had a ruptured spleen. Linda recalls that there was no judgement in their attitude, “They just loved me... I thought either they are crazy or there’s some truth in it”. It was there that Linda gave her life to Jesus.
In the hospital chapel, Linda opened the Bible for the first time and it fell open at Jeremiah 29. Linda said, “God was talking to me that day.” Linda experienced physical healing and broke free from her addictions. Her journey to recovery was not easy, and she spent time in prison for cannabis offences, a time she describes as ‘the best experience because I had time to read the Bible and get to know God properly. He strengthened me.”
Linda’s children had been put into care and adopted – she is thankful that she now has them in her life and has a nurturing role in her grandchildren’s lives in a way that she was unable to with her own children.
Linda describes herself as a ‘survivor’ and ‘overcomer’ of domestic violence and she told her story at an event in Norwich organised by Christian charity Hope Into Action of which she is a trustee. She said “I love the vision of churches coming alongside people like myself.”
Linda runs a group for women who have experienced domestic violence. They build their confidence and can share their stories in a safe place without judgement. Her story is told in her book called Cheating Death, Living Life.
Pictured above is Linda with the book about her story Cheating Death, Living Life.