On Saturday the 4th of May 2013, I went to teach my Daisy Birthing classes as usual on a Saturday afternoon. Everything had been the same as normal in the morning. I was 33 weeks pregnant and looking forward to the birth of my sixth baby to complete our family, my children were happy and we had eaten lunch together.
Turning my phone back onto volume on the way home from teaching, I had many missed calls and answering machine messages. Listening to the messages from Kaiya, who was 13 years old, made my heart stop. I heard fear and panic in her voice as she told me that she had called an ambulance because she thought her Dad had had a stroke.
I raced home to find an ambulance waiting and Laurie inside, barely conscious and not speaking. The ambulance crew said his condition was a mystery to them and they were taking him to hospital. I didn’t go with them as also had Hannah (4) and Nathaniel (almost 2) at home. My eldest two, Michael and Natasha, were with friends.
The wait for news was awful. I stayed up late and hoped that everything was ok. Different scenarios were going through my mind and none of them were positive.
Finally, very late, the hospital rang and told me that they knew what was wrong with him. He was drunk. That was it. He was simply so drunk that he had gone unconscious. They were releasing him home. I went from being scared to angry. He had been in charge of two small children and had got that drunk.
Different scenarios played out in my head, but this time, they were of my children coming to harm while he was paralytic. Thank goodness that Kaiya had been home to keep an eye on Hannah and Nathaniel. I dread to think what would have happened if she hadn’t been.
He had always been a drinker and would drink 2-4 cans of lager or beer a night. But I didn’t realise that he had been hiding a bigger drinking problem or that he was drinking in the day. (Months later, I found where he was hiding the empty bottles that showed it had been a long term problem.)
When he returned home that night, he went straight to the spare room. I knew that there was still too much alcohol in his system to be able to discuss it, so I left him to sleep it off.
The next morning, I was already downstairs with the children when I heard movement from the spare room followed by footsteps heading to the front door. I went to the door and asked what he was doing to be told that he was going out to buy some cigarettes. I didn’t question it any further as the local shop was only down the road and I expected him back in a few minutes. We could discuss the previous day when he returned.
Half an hour later, he still hadn’t returned and my anger that had been there from the previous night was growing. Instead of staying in waiting, I decided to take Hannah and Nathaniel to the park – I think I needed to get out of the house as much as them. But within 45 minutes of being at the park, my phone started going off. Friends started texted me to see if I had read Laurie’s facebook status and to check that everything was ok. Taking a look at his status, it read something like (and I can’t remember the exact words), nobody cares about me so I’m saying goodbye.
It may seem odd to say that I wasn’t overly concerned. After a row, Laurie would often leave the house and text me things like this so that I would forgive him. A few years earlier, I would have worried but I knew that he wasn’t serious and it was just one of his manipulative games. He knew that I was going to go mad at him for getting drunk so was playing his favourite card.
When the police rang me to say that they were concerned for his welfare and wanted me to go home immediately, I actually told them that I knew Laurie wasn’t serious and I was going to stay at the park as my children were having fun. My response didn’t go down well and I was basically ordered home.
Over the next few hours, different police officers came to the house to give me updates, tell me that they knew the rough area that he was in before he turned his phone off and to ask if I knew where he would be. They even searched the house for clues or a sign of him, which was probably the worst part as my privacy was being invaded as well as the children’s. I’ll admit that as time went on, I did start to wonder if he had actually seen his threat out this time as he had never been gone this long before.
Finally, after nine hours, I heard footsteps on the stairs going into our bedroom. I went up and found him on the bed. I could see immediately that he was drunk and knew that it was not the moment for a confrontation, so I simply said that I had better tell the police that he was home. This was a mistake. He got very cross, started shouted and hitting the furniture. I left him to it and rang 999 explaining what was happening.
Waiting for the police seemed to take forever. Laurie had gone outside to have a cigarette but was smashing up some garden ornaments and punching the walls and doors. I stood in the doorway to make sure that he couldn’t get back into the house and told Kaiya to take the little ones upstairs so they couldn’t see what was happening from the lounge.
As Kaiya went upstairs, Laurie called her names and swore at her. Tasha came to stand in the doorway with me and he did the same to her. Why he did it, I will never know but they haven’t forgotten those poisonous words or the anger with which he said it.
When the police came, he calmed down and became passive. I was worried that they wouldn’t believe that he was a different person minutes earlier. However, they breathalised him and found him nearly four times over the drink drive limit. I remember the policeman telling me that he wouldn’t have believed that Laurie was even drunk had he not seen the result. A sure sign of an alcoholic.
As Laurie had driven home, he was arrested for drink driving and breach of the peace. (The charge of drink driving was later dropped as he had given a ‘No Comment’ interview and there were no witnesses who saw him drive the car home, even though everybody knew that he did it.)
Two policemen came in to take a statement from me and find out the events of the previous day as well. While they were doing this, Kaiya said that Laurie had lashed out at her when she tried to move him back into the chair after falling off it the day before. His hand had hit her across the face. I was totally shocked and wished that Kaiya had told me this the day before.
The policeman spoke to Kaiya about it but as she wasn’t sure whether it had been intentional or not, they didn’t charge him with this. However, it did result in them needing to contact the MASH team and social services, leading to a MARAC meeting and assessments by social services over the following few weeks and months. I had never thought that I would have been on that side of social services or would need meetings about how they were going to keep my children safe.
I was so upset by the events over the last 48 hours, that the police offered to call a doctor for me as I was shaking and crying so much and was heavily pregnant. But, I called a friend to come over instead who was amazing, stayed with me and made sure that I was alright.
The following day – the Monday Bank Holiday – the police rang to say that they were releasing him but I told them I didn’t want him to return to the home. I simply didn’t know what our future held but I did know that he wouldn’t be coming back until he had got some help and stopped drinking. So, the police drove him home to collect some belongings and make sure that he left.
The next morning, after the children were at school and nursery, I rang Laurie to see how he was doing and to ask him to make a doctor’s appointment. I could tell that he was drunk as soon as he picked up the phone.
I drove over to my sister-in-law’s (which is where he was staying) to find the front door open, him almost unconscious, and an empty bottle next to him. I rang an ambulance as I was concerned he may have drunk enough to kill himself, but on arrival they said that he hadn’t and there was nothing medically that they could do. They suggested that I got him to our doctors to see if he could give some long-term help.
They helped to get him in the back of my car and I drove him down there with him ranting the whole way. I managed to get him out of the car and into the doctor’s surgery somehow. We must have looked a right couple – a heavily pregnant woman who looked a mess after the weekend of stress and a drunk man. We had no appointment but were seen straight away.
The doctor was great and told Laurie exactly what the situation was. Basically, he told him to grow up, stop feeling sorry for himself and get some help if he wanted to keep his family. He turned to me and signed me off with stress until my maternity leave was due to start. He also suggested a place in town to get Laurie some help, so off I went again with Laurie ranting away and dragging his feet.
The place was for those addicted to alcohol and drugs and they were amazingly supportive to me as well as telling Laurie some hard facts. They agreed that he should not come home until he was sober and was a risk to the children and myself. He was livid when they said this so I was very glad that they said it to him and not me. He explained that he wasn’t a risk even though he admitted hitting Kaiya, stating that it wasn’t his fault because he was drunk. The woman told him that it was totally his fault and that being drunk was not an excuse for assaulting a child. I can’t believe that he thought alcohol was a good excuse.
A further appointment was made for him to attend to get professional help to stop drinking and I took him back to my sister-in-laws. Even at this point, I was unsure of the future.
I know that Laurie says that I kicked him out due to him having a breakdown. This is far from the truth. It was for my safety, my children’s safety and for him to get help. In fact, when he was assessed by doctors and the psychiatric team when he was arrested, they released him as found him mentally well – it was drink that was the problem.
When social services came to do an assessment a couple of weeks later, I was told that had I kept him in the family home, my children would have been placed on the child protection register and could have been removed. I know that I did everything I could to get him help.
I haven’t included in here the phone calls that I made to his friends, counsellors and professionals to try and get him help so that he could get sober and return to the home, but I spent hours trying to help him. I even hoped that the birth of Alex might be the motivation to take responsibility of his actions.
Unfortunately, when Alex was just two days old, I had to ring 999 again as Laurie turned up drunk and aggressive. On this occasion, I had to physically push him out of the door as he was refusing to leave but fortunately, most of our children were at school and nursery this time.
He didn’t keep the appointment that was made with the alcohol team and declined further into drink to the point at which it was no longer safe for the children to see him at all. He was spending more time in custody and hospital (due to his drinking) than he was spending outside. Breaking into the house, stealing my credit card and smashing up Michael’s car demonstrates the extent that things escalated to.
The choice was always his. To get better and have a family, or refuse and lose his family.
His actions on the 4th of May 2013 started a ball rolling that nobody could foresee. It started with him getting drunk one afternoon and ended in a court injunction, our divorce and the children and I moving 200 miles away from him.
Two years ago, my world fell apart. It started a nightmare that continued for months. However, now, I can see that it was the start of a new and happier life thanks to family, friends and God’s presence.
After the storm two years ago, there is now a rainbow.