A brave East Yorkshire mum has shared her harrowing experience of domestic abuse in the hope of helping others.
The mum-of-three, who cannot be named for safety reasons, faced more than 10 years of verbal, mental and physical abuse at the hands of her now ex-husband and only discovered, after she permanently left him, that he had also abused a previous partner. Under “Clare’s Law”, which was introduced in 2014, victims or potential victims have the right to be informed if their partner has a history of domestic violence or harassment.
The East Yorkshire parent says she was manipulated over a long period of time to believe that her ex-husband was only violent towards her as a result of her own actions and not because he was abusing her. Several years later, she has now opened up about her story and is thriving with her three children.
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The domestic abuse survivor first entered the relationship with her abuser while she was still a university student. He would make her feel special by buying her a laptop to help her with her studies, and let her use his car whenever she needed.
Straight away, he became someone that the victim could rely on and provide her with support. He would then start by occasionally having a go at her and would lower her self-esteem.
The victim said: “It started quite early on and he would shout at me and tell me that if I wasn’t with him, nobody else would want me. I was single for a couple of years before I got in a relationship with him and he would use this against me to make me feel like I would be all alone and wouldn’t cope.
“When it began to get physical, it wouldn’t be a punch or anything but he would give me a shove or smash something and hold it in his hand while he shouted at me. He used to always tell me that he had never done anything like that before and it was my actions that drove him to react like that.”
The victim’s “actions” that set off the abuser’s uncontrollable rages were as simple as forgetting something from the food shopping list or making meaningless small talk on a night out with a male member of their shared friend group. She continued: “I was constantly walking on eggshells and felt stuck in the relationship.
“I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone what was going on because I knew what the response would be. I started to believe the things he would say about me and I had no self esteem left.
“I would be terrified to go food shopping because I was convinced I was rubbish at it. Even after I left and moved back in with my parents, if they asked me to pick up a few bits on my way home from work, I would go into panic mode.”
The victim has three children with her ex husband, who were all young when their mum finally escaped the torment. The turning point came when the children were being put to bed and their father returned home from the pub in a rage.
She said: “When he returned home, he entered the bedroom and was ready to attack me. I was the other side of the bed, trying to stay as far away from him as possible, when he started to throw objects at me.
“He was grabbing perfume bottles and throwing them at the ceiling so that the smashed glass would fall on me to cut me. I sent my friends a code word that wasn’t obvious to my husband what I was telling them.
“They immediately came over and called the police and he was arrested for the first time. He was let go by police because it was his first offense but moved out of the property for six weeks.
“In that time, he was bombarding me with suicide threats and telling me I couldn’t raise three kids on my own. It was when I eventually let the children visit him, my eldest daughter text me from his phone saying ‘I miss you mummy’.
“I replied that I missed her too but I bet she was having a lovely time. With that, I got texts from my ex-husband telling me to look on my doorstep, where I found his wedding ring. He had also taken the other car from our drive and left the car he was driving, with the children inside.”
Unfortunately, the abuse did not end there and the victim and her family were in constant fear of what he would do next. The mum continued: “The next time, he demanded to come over and put the kids to bed.
“I told him I didn’t trust him to be in the house and the kids were already getting ready to go to sleep. He then text me saying that he hopes I’ve locked all the doors because he’s coming in whether I like it or not.
“He managed to break into our garage and use a hammer and chisel to break into our house and make his way upstairs. I remember we were all so scared and I held my two youngest in my arms while my eldest hid under the bed.
“His actions were just to prove the point that if he wanted to get to me, he could. He left after that and I called the police again.”
Since the last incident, the abuser was charged with battery and harassment without violence and was ordered to complete community service. A restraining order was also issued.
She said: “It has taken a lot of growth to get to where I am today. I needed time to heal and prove to myself I am capable of creating a life for me and my children where we are safe.
“Maybe one day I will be able to have another relationship again but this is why Clare’s Law is so important. After what I went through, I would always use Clare’s Law to make sure I wasn’t entering a relationship with another abuser and to give me that sense of security.
“I think if women knew more about the law and that they could warn other women about these dangerous men, it would push them to come forward. If I knew what he had done before, even if I still gave him a chance, I would have been so much more switched on to those early red flags.
“I don’t think I would have doubted myself so much or thought it was all my fault. In the end, I left for my children because I no longer had the self worth wanting to leave for my own safety.”
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse, even if the abuse is not physical, it is always best to contact the police and a domestic abuse helpline. Any complaints of this nature, even if they do not lead to direct convictions, can be used to build a case against someone.
If you are concerned that a new, former or existing partner has an abusive past you can ask the police to check under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as ‘Clare’s Law’).