"HE was treating me like a slave, a servant" — domestic violence survivors in Bolton have been breaking their silence on their experiences, sharing how the abuse can extend far beyond physical with the hoping of ending stereotypes of what abuse can look like.

In a series of reports, The Bolton News is exploring different kinds of abuse through the stories of those who have rebuilt their lives with the help of Bolton domestic abuse charity, Endeavour.

One woman spoke of how she felt she was not the stereotypical victim of domestic violence, now age 66 having been married to a well-off man for 26 years — these were all reasons for her not to come forward.

Intimidating into living in silence, she says she watched her former husband took control of her money and every possession, unable to stop him as she became a victim of financial control.

She said: "It's not always necessarily violence, I have had that in the past with my ex-husband, but it was mainly that he started to take over more and more. About four years ago, things started creeping up. He was treating me like a slave, a servant. The person who, in the past, always thought of me first was now using me.

"He started controlling more and more of the finances. I have always had a car, then the car insurance and car ownership mysteriously went over into his name. He just said it would be easier if he did organised it and told me that I didn't understand how to arrange it.

"Until we divorced, I still didn't know about some of the bank accounts he opened.

"I worked in local government for years and was always used to doing things for myself. I was perfectly capable of doing these things but things just suddenly started disappearing from my domain with him telling me I wouldn't understand how to deal with our money.

"I didn't like it but there was nowhere I could go. He was six foot four and 18 stone and very intimidating. He would tell me to leave, but then laugh that I had nowhere to go to. He knew he had me trapped, it was true."

The controlling behaviour continued and the abuse began to escalate into physical threats. The mum-of-one says she was visiting her local doctor seeking antidepressants to help her cope with the pressure when things changed.

She said: "He was as volatile as a nuclear bomb. He lost his temper and at that size and weight, he's not the sort of person that I would go up against. My excuse to get out was to go to the doctors, it was the only place I was allowed to go.

"My doctor asked me if this was a relationship I really wanted to be in. It was difficult after all that time, I did love him. I immediately broke down."

After speaking to her doctor, the 66-year-old was connected by her GP with Bolton's domestic violence centres Fortalice and Endeavour. After a few weeks of preparation, she made a police report.

The woman said that she has struggled with adjusting to her new life and the revelations.

She said: "I don't know anybody who would do what Endeavour and Fortalice have done for me. It was so scary and still is.

"It was all behind closed doors. Everybody keeps telling me how brave I am for coming out with it, but you don't feel brave at the time, you just think "I can't take anymore". You doubt yourself a lot even though you're the one that's been done wrong."

"When my ex-husband started threatening to kill me I couldn't go on, but because of the way he was with me I have no friends. I'm on my own now. I go to bed as late as possible because it's all I can think about, I look up and down the street every time I leave my house, I'm careful where I go."

But she is looking at the future with hope: "It's good days and bad days. I will come out on top, I'm very positive about that one.