"THEY reminded me that I am not that lost person. I lost myself in that marriage. I wasn't just physically beaten, my personality was beaten. I have got my personality back and I have got who I am back."

Those are the words of a survivor - a woman who after suffering with domestic abuse for 23 years - finally sought help through a charity based in her home city of Bradford.

Staying Put is a unique service supporting women and their children fleeing domestic abuse, yet allowing them to stay in the family home, a place which provides them with a safe environment, if they wish.

In the 15 years since it was established, the charity has helped to change more than 50,000 lives - yet, while the statistics are testimony to their success, demand is increasing.

Many women are living with domestic abuse all year round but for some, including the survivor I spoke to, Christmas can exacerbate the devastating circumstances dominating their lives.

"The aggression from my husband was from alcohol. I dreaded the Christmas season because alcohol is acceptable," she says.

Christmas parties are commonplace at this time of year. "And I never knew what state he would come back in. The alcohol fed his aggression," she says.

Yasmin Khan, director of Staying Put, says: "The festive period it is a wonderful time of peace, love and time with our loved ones. We also recognise that during this period it can be a stressful time for some victim/survivors living in abusive relationships.

"We support all people experiencing domestic abuse including men, however, we work predominantly to support women survivors.

"An abused woman is often overwhelmed by fear, do not underestimate the effects of fear, she often believes that she is at fault and that by changing her behaviour the abuse will stop. She may experience a conflict of emotions. She may love her partner, but hate the violence. She may be dependent upon her partner, emotionally and financially, she may experience feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment. She may feel vulnerable and hopeless and find it hard to make decisions about her future."

Yasmin explains an essential part of the charity's work is safety planning to keep the woman and her family safe when preparing to stay put, leave and after leaving an abuser.

Reflecting over the charity's work in the past year, she says: "We have seen people, especially women and girls driven from their homes and afraid for their lives, they have nowhere to turn.

"This is supported by a staggering 12,319 reported incidents of domestic abuse for the Bradford District to West Yorkshire Police, again an increase on the previous year."

Yasmin says it is easy for women to feel helpless in such circumstances but emphasizes help is at hand. "We have saved over 1,500 lives this year."

Staying Put has also supported Jill Boyd, a domestic abuse survivor and artist, to form the Creative Butterfly Project.

Yasmin explains the project enables survivors of domestic abuse to rebuild and recover using a specific creative programme of sessions within a group setting that is client-centred and using creative processes to help clients build their confidence and self-esteem.

The survivor I spoke to explained the benefits the project has brought. "It was created by Jill Boyd to get people to transition in a way. We have had that time when we were caterpillars, protecting ourselves, and we had to go through the healing time."

Now she hopes her story will inspire other women who are suffering domestic abuse to seek help.

"The first thing is to reach out for help," she says.

She appreciates it isn't easy. "I don't know whether it is embarrassment or a mixture of loyalty and love towards your husband or partner - it is like betrayal," she says, referring to the struggles many women have when it comes to seeking the help they so desperately need.

Yet, even though she knew the abuse was wrong, she struggled to ask for help. Once she made that initial move she was able to escape to a safer environment.

Her recovery has been a lengthy process but she wants women to know that they can get their lives back on track. "What I would say is it is a difficult journey, and when you are first out of it in a way you are so used to the constant survival, fight or flight adrenaline, when you suddenly escape and after that sense of safety it feels alien and it is hard," she explains.

"That took about three years to calm down. It is a long recovery, not a quick fix recovery."

For more information and support call the helpline on 01274 66677104 or visit stayingput.uk.net or visit facebook.com/StayingPut