A WOMAN who suffered horrific sexual abuse has teamed up with her niece who almost lost her life to form a survivors' group for domestic abuse victims.

Lynne Mackenzie, 47, and Amy Macdonald, 23, have set up a new organisation in Inverclyde aimed at offering support and advice to ladies trying to free themselves from abusive partners.

They say their Rise Against Abuse organisation, a community interest company, will be a 'one-stop shop' to help women tormented by physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Amy, 23, a law graduate and trainee solicitor, told the Tele how she grew up watching her mother suffer - and she didn't realise how she herself had been affected until years later.

She said: "My mum did try to leave the perpetrator on a few occasions.

"This man tried to kill us, using a car as a weapon, driving it off the road.

"It happened a few times.

"When mum was able to leave, she then got into another abusive relationship and the cycle continued.

"Once you have been in an abusive relationship, many women feel like they are almost conditioned to accept abuse as a way of life.

"We want to change that."

Lynne, 47, said: "People don't always need to lift a hand to be coercive and control your life, and we want to educate women about that and help them move towards a better life."

Lynne, Amy's mum's sister, was sexually abused at a young age and then went on to have various abusive relationships.

She said: "We understand because we have been through this ordeal ourselves.

"We are a survivor-led organisation, all staff have been through abuse."

The women say discovering The Freedom Programme, a self-help method created by acclaimed author Pat Craven, helped them has unlocked the key to moving on.

The course examines the roles played by attitudes and actions of abusive men, as well as the responses of victims and survivors to help people understand what is happening to them.

The two women have applied for funding and are looking at a few venues in Inverclyde to host face-to-face support groups in the new year.

They say they have the advantage of being able to provide legal help as well.

Amy said: "I helped 60 women through the court process last year and we also have other paralegals and legal advisors on our staff.

"We want to give women caught in this cycle a way out and access to the justice system.

"Some women have been told they don't qualify for legal aid because some solicitors don't accept it.

"They have been told to sell their homes to pay legal costs and we want to relieve that burden."

Mum-of-two Lynne said one former partner used her children as a form of control and told how she feared he would kill her if she tried to leave.

When they did split up, she suffered post-separation abuse.

She says the Freedom course they use gives people the know-how to see there is life after they leave and it allowed Lynne to see how she and her children were being controlled by her partner.

She said: "I always knew when a row was coming and I would get the kids into their bedroom.

"I'm sure they wondered why mum was crying all the time."

The company will work with different partner agencies to offer counselling, legal advice, practical help, such as with budgeting, as well as offering access to the Freedom Programme that helped both founders.

For more information visit www.riseagainstabuse.com call 07780377420 or email info@riseagainstabuse.com