A former loan shark victim says there’s no looking back since discovering My Home Finance via Riverside

I never imagined I’d be the kind of person held to ransom by a loan shark, cowering in the dark, afraid to leave the house, contemplating taking my own life.

But one day I was desperate for money. I’d just moved into a private rented house with my two kids and we hardly had any furniture. The kids needed beds, I needed pots and pans. My benefits hadn’t been paid in. If you wanted a crisis loan off the dole, you had to wait weeks.

I’d bumped into a guy in the street who told me to call if I ever needed a loan. He seemed friendly and genuine so I rang him – a decision I will always regret.

He lent me £200 and said I could pay back £20 a week. I thought brilliant, finally a bit of help. I ended up paying back £350!

I got my loan off him on the Thursday and by Monday he was at my door asking for the first instalment. With every week that passed, he was round more often, getting increasingly nasty.

Once you’ve got your first loan, it’s easy to get your second. You’ve got no money and they’re waving a big wad of cash in your face. You think I’ll just get one more, it’ll be alright. But it wasn’t alright, it was horrific.

I borrowed another £600 – that’s when the pressure really stepped up. He was at my door all hours of the day and night, threatening, pushing and shoving. I was getting £96 a week in benefits and giving him £70.

I knew I’d paid off the money as I kept an account but he kept saying you haven’t paid this, you’ve only paid that. But if I didn’t pay, I don’t know what he would have done to me or my two girls.

I broke down in tears. I wanted to take my own life. I didn’t know where to go for help. I had no family to turn to and I was embarrassed to tell anyone I’d gone to a loan shark. So I kept turning back to him, even though I knew he was nasty and I was paying back more than I should.

I was scared of him – he was a big man. I’d sit with the lights off thinking please don’t let him come. He’d turn up on my doorstep when I was taking the kids to school, threatening them. I was so scared for my girls that I’d go down to school and check on them.

It made me so depressed. I couldn’t relax in my own house but I daren’t go out. I was cutting back on food to make sure the kids were eating. It was horrible, the worst experience of my life.

Loan sharks wreck your life. You think it’s easy money but it’s not an easy life. They start off being your friend but quickly turn nasty. No matter how desperate you are, there’s always another way out.

Thanks to Riverside, I’ve started a new life. I’ve got my new house away from the clutches of the loan shark and I’m in control of my money.

I still borrow money to pay for life’s unexpected emergencies like the washing machine packing in or the car breaking down. But at least with My Home Finance, I know what I’ve got to pay and when I’ve got to pay it. Best of all, there is an end. I don’t have to look over my shoulder any more.