Tina’s Story is a short film launched by the Safer Sandwell Partnership on Monday 25 November to mark White Ribbon Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Tina Billingham was murdered by her partner in 2017. Her partner had subjected her to years of abuse and controlling behaviour. He was jailed for life for a minimum of 24 years for her murder.

Tina’s sister Mandy wants to help other families avoid losing a loved one through domestic abuse. She has worked with the Safer Sandwell Partnership to make the seven-minute film, which you can watch here and on YouTube

The film also launched Sandwell’s support for this year’s 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Abuse.

In her interview, Mandy describes what life was like for Tina in an abusive relationship, including how Tina’s partner made threats, controlled all the finances and how his behaviour led her to give up work.  Mandy said:

“It’s like she had no life behind that front door. It was that constantly walking on egg shells. She had to explain where she’d been shopping and how much she’d spent and where she was going and how long she was going to be.”

Mandy goes on to describe how Tina’s life was “regimented” as she had to “ask him for money for the phone, for utilities, for food”.

“Her life really wasn’t her own, she was just constantly having to meet his needs and demands. She literally did have to live a double life, the one all happy go lucky, smiling – but then the other one where she was just destitute, she was trapped. He controlled everything.”

Mandy hopes the film will help others recognise the signs of domestic abuse and know how and where to seek support. The film will also be used in training sessions for professionals. She said:

 “No family should have to go through the pain of losing a loved one through domestic abuse. The loss has affected everyone who knew and loved Tina deeply and I hope that by raising greater awareness, we can help stop other families receiving that earth-shattering phone call or knock on the door.”

BCWA Chief Executive Sara Ward said it is important victims know there is help available. She said:

“Domestic abuse affects the lives of ordinary people in ordinary places and we know victims are struggling every day to cope living with domestic abuse, and we know it has an effect on children as well. We need to hear that this happens in people’s lives and we need to hear that it is real. I want victims to look at the relationship they have got and question whether they are being controlled or harmed by the person they love and to know that there is help and support out there for them.”

Getting help

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or know someone who is, call Black Country Women’s Aid on 0121 552 6448. In an emergency, always call 999.

You can also visit www.sandwell.gov.uk/domesticabuse or www.sandwell.gov.uk/tinasstory for more information.

Clare’s Law gives anyone a right to ask the police if they believe that they or someone they know is in a relationship with an individual who could be abusive towards them. Use the West Midlands Police Live Chat facility, call 101 or visit West Bromwich Police Station to request information via Clare’s Law.

You can also seek help at the council’s six Sandwell Local centres. Find your nearest Sandwell Local at www.sandwell.gov.uk/sandwelllocals or call 0121 368 1166 (weekdays).