Close up picture of Libby

After seven years in an abusive relationship with the father of her twins, Libby Mata Harii, owner of The Way Of Tea, made the difficult decision to cut ties with her ex-partner.

“I have been through the most difficult seven years in an on-off relationship with the abusive father of my twins. He emotionally, psychologically, sexually, financially and occasionally physically abused me, while also abandoning and emotionally abusing all five of my children, including and especially his own, my twins. Recently, I had to make the difficult decision to cut contact with him completely and seek help from the police, the local mental health system and children’s services. I also had to increase the support I was already being offered from a domestic abuse charity. I was diagnosed with OCD, depression, anxiety and PTSD, while my twins were diagnosed with PTSD and attachment disorder. My two youngest daughters also have ongoing symptoms of PTSD as well.”

As owner, designer and maker at The Way Of Tea, Libby was under a lot of financial and emotional pressure to make her business work for herself and her family. Sadly due to the effects of the last seven years, Libby found that her mental health was taking too much of a toll and she had to stop working just as she was getting on her feet.

“I had to stop work in August 2020 due to the extreme mental health issues I was experiencing, I had had psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts and eventually I had a breakdown.

“My business had just started to be successful and I had to drop it all while I work hard to make myself and my children better. Which is working. But our finances have been pushed to the edge and we’ve had very little money to live on, with our outgoings every month being much higher than what I have coming in. I went to the child maintenance service and my ex-partner paid money for a while, but he suddenly stopped paying that too.

“This of course makes issues such as anxiety much, much worse. With threats of legal action from various businesses and letters coming through the door every day demanding money while the only thing I could think about was how desperately sad my children were and how pointless my life felt.”

As the situation was beginning to look desperate, Libby searched the internet for financial aid for people escaping a domestic abuse situation. There she came across the Retail Trust and applied online for financial support. 

“It is almost impossible, when suffering from the effects of abuse, to think that you might be deserving of some help. But I was desperate and the staff at the Trust were so easy to communicate with and so kind. It was a simple process which was brilliant as my mind is not able to cope with huge amounts of forms or numbers. But I was so grateful to Sue, who made it all feel so easy, and even more importantly, she made me feel like I deserved it.”

Retail Trust was able to award Libby and her children a non-repayable grant to help them pay their priority bills and keep warm through a difficult winter.

“The Trust helped us pay our heating bill. Our windows are old and broken in our home and it gets very cold in the winter. Heating is so expensive and we’ve all been freezing! It’s honestly lifted such a weight off my mind knowing we can turn the heating on at night. It’s helping the physical side of my recovery too - I have been very tired which is a side effect of trauma and the cold makes it much worse. 

“Not only has it lifted the weight of a big financial burden and meant we can turn our heating on, it has also given me hope. And a feeling of knowing I deserve help, I deserve support and I deserve money. These are all things that years of abuse made me feel I was undeserving of. So, it’s not only helped us practically, it’s helped me heal psychologically as well.”

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