“I was embarrassed and scared to admit I was a victim of abuse and stayed in the relationship because I didn’t know where to go to for help. 

“I left my abusive marriage eight years ago. It has been a long hard struggle, as I had to leave everything behind.  However, I have survived and moved on a great deal. My experience is proof that it is possible to break free and I hope people will gain strength, hope and inspiration from reading my poem.”


Last night would be

the last time.

Many years had passed

since the first time.

At five a.m., the front door

was shut with a force,

deliberately designed

to wake her, of course,

but she wasn’t asleep.

She was rigid with fear.

Just like so many other nights,

when the situation turned so severe.

When she’d had to get up

and pretend to society,

in her naive, misguided way,

she was not riddled with anxiety,

that behind closed doors

everything was okay.

Acting in every possible way,

that it was just a normal day.

But today would be different,

because she’d had enough.

She was broken and dying,

sick of crying, it was time to be tough.

She ran through each room,

gathering only her most personal things.

Nothing else mattered,

now she’d found her wings.

She passed the recycle bin,

which was full to the brim,

of empty beer cans

and whisky bottles, discarded by him.

So many years of abuse,

so much control,

the trust and the innocence,

that he stole.

She packed her things in the car,

drove off, not looking behind.

Too many unhappy times,

the loss of her peace of mind.

A different, damaged woman,

determined to make a fresh start.

Her head was so much wiser.

Barbed wire protected her heart.

She’d lost count of the times

since the first time,

but she knew,

this would be the last time.

© Nicki Tilston, June, 2018.


I’m 56 and retired early from my job as Careers Adviser due to a few health problems. I managed to break away from an abusive marriage in 2010, with support from a local domestic abuse charity, which is now sadly closed due to a withdrawal of funding. I’ve always enjoyed poetry, but only started writing seriously about eight years ago. I found writing very therapeutic when going through a very difficult time in my life, and have continued to enjoy writing now that things are more settled. I live on The Wirral, which is a peninsula between Liverpool, Cheshire and North Wales. I always write from the heart and sometimes enjoy using humour in my poetry.  I also enjoy taking photographs to go with my poetry. I’ve published three books of poetry I’m and currently working on a fourth.  My poetry is inspired by nature, beautiful places, the ageing process, friendship, love and bereavement. Often deeply emotional and sometimes completely bonkers!  Take a look at one of my other poems focusing on domestic abuse here.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can download the Bright Sky app for free on Android or iPhone devices to search for the nearest specialist domestic abuse support services. You can also find links to helplines and further resources on our Get Help page.

The Last Time: escaping domestic abuse
Tagged on: