Domestic violence is still underreported in England despite a rise in offences recorded by police, according to a recent report by Women’s Aid. Author Christine Clayfield has documented the abuse she endured in her first marriage in her debut novel, published this month - No Fourth River. Based on Christine’s true personal story, the novel is a profoundly moving read about one woman's fight for survival. Driven to the limits of despair and heartache, she creates a plan to escape her world of misery. A story that asks: How do you find the strength, when you suffer almost unbearable abuse and are broken beyond repair, to pick up the pieces of a shattered life?

Christine Clayfield

Christine Clayfield

Christine has now launched the #BraveMe hashtag to encourage domestic violence survivors to speak out and report their abuse, to make change happen. Nearly 2 million adults in England and Wales - the majority of them women - live with domestic violence every day. Christine suffered shocking physical and mental abuse for 21 years, which ended with her being beaten into a coma. That was when her life changed. What should have left a woman broken and dead only fueled her resolution to change her life. She now wants to empower and inspire the world and change the lives of others, which is why she has bravely shared her heartbreaking story in her new book.

In No Fourth River, she writes: “I all of a sudden realised that if someone treats you badly, there is something wrong with them, not with you. It is not normal for people to go around destroying other people’s lives. I lived for far too many years in a constant atmosphere of fear, hate, humiliation and worthlessness. I believe that every soul is born with a fighting spirit."

She adds: “After endless torment, I made a promise to myself: No more. My past holds much pain and abuse, but it did not stop me from being the woman I am today by changing my life and building the future I wanted. My novel is my way to let the world know that despite the pain of your past, you have the ability to change your future. It all starts with YOU. I want to help others to discover their strengths. My book is about having the strength to choose, the strength to become who you want to be, against all the odds you may encounter, regardless of your bad past."

Here, Christine shares her top 10 tips for women who suspect that they are in an abusive relationship.

From the first sign of abuse, mental or physical, report it to the police. New laws are very supportive of domestic violence sufferers.

There is a light and it is within reach. Follow that light.

Don’t be ashamed, alone, sad and hopeless, like I was. Reach out. Talk about your abuse with someone you trust.

Don’t accept your partner's apologies. They don’t last! They will most likely abuse you again.

You can make the changes. You just need to take the first step, no matter how scared you are.

There is support out there for domestic violence. Don’t suffer alone.! There are people waiting to help you.

Don’t think you are to blame. It is not normal for a man to hit or verbally abuse a woman. It is never your fault.

You deserve respect from your partner, so accept no less.

Don’t keep thinking “They will change!” They most likely won’t.

Don’t be a victim. Accept no excuses and get out now. Become a survivor, instead of a statistic.

No Fourth River, published by RASC Publishing, is available in Kindle and paperback from all good bookstores. Author Christine Clayfield believes that talking about abuse is a crucial step in eliminating stigma and making change happen. You can share your story online by using the #BraveMe hashtag. To find out more about the book visit: