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When you talk to people who have been divorced or who have begun to face the problems in their marriage directly, they often focus on a particular period or incident. This may be described years later with exceptional, painful vividness, demonstrating their anger, resentment or sense of failure. It is seen afterwards as some sort of turning point. For example, Mrs Worthing described how her first husband had been violent even before they were married: even when I were courting, he’d lashed out at me … but it got worse as he got married ‘cos he hit me when I were first carrying Sarah, that’s the first one, and I knew then … I mean, a few months pregnant and he was hitting me … I sort of had it in the back of my mind all the time that one day I would have to leave him.

During a period in hospital following a miscarriage, Mrs Smithson began to reassess her life:

I were in hospital a few weeks and just laid there and I just thought there must be something better … I just did nothing in that ten years as I lived with them but sit in t’house. I just brought three children up, which I don’t regret. I wouldn’t be without them.

So you made your decision quite quickly then to leave your husband?

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