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Women’s experiences of Domestic Violence and Abuse

Physical violence and impacts on women’s health

The majority of women we interviewed experienced physical violence and abuse during their relationship, usually along with other forms of abuse, such as emotional – psychological abuse, controlling behaviour, sexual or financial abuse. Physical violence may include hitting, slapping, kicking, pinching, pushing, burning, strangling, punching or being ‘beaten up’. At its extreme end, this violence can lead to serious, even fatal, injuries. Injuries may be inflicted many times, causing increasing damage such as multiple black eyes or broken bones. Physical violence can also be directed at children. Violence and damage towards the home and property is also common.

It is not just being injured by a partner which can cause physical harm to women. Research shows that domestic abuse can be associated with a range of poor health issues including gynaecological problems, irritable bowel syndrome and gastro-intestinal issues. Some of the women we spoke to described the effects of domestic violence and abuse on their body, such as being unable to eat properly or experiencing long-term health problems.

 

Jane described how her fibromyalgia was made worse because of the stress of being in an abusive relationship and consequent over-reliance on painkillers.

Jane described how her fibromyalgia was made worse because of the stress of being in an abusive relationship and consequent over-reliance on painkillers.

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I suffered from, well I still suffer from fibromyalgia.

Yes.

Which is caused by stress, and can be made worse by stress. And the amount of pain when I was in the relationship was absolutely horrendous, and I was on painkillers all the time just to try and get through the day. And I found, every time I had an argument, every time that he wasn’t very nice to me, I would reach for the pill pot. And now, as a consequence of that, I’ve got a bad stomach because I was taking all these pills. It’s only yourself and your health further along the line that actually suffers. You don’t realise it at the time but, you know, the things that you’re doing, like I used to quite often just have a few drinks just to blot it out, I would use excuses, “Oh I’ll just have a couple of pills, it’ll make me feel better,” and all it was doing was just pacifying the fact that I knew that this wasn’t working. But I just didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know where to turn and it was just a really awkward situation. But…

And in terms of the long-term impact on your health, and so you said you’ve got some damage to your stomach…

Yeah.

…due to the pill use for pain relief, was that over the counter or was that prescribed medication?

Prescribed.

Prescribed medication.

Prescribed, because they wasn’t really sure what was the matter with me, whether I had arthritis or whether I had the fibromyalgia. But it takes time for that diagnosis, because it’s quite difficult to diagnose.

So it’s when they’ve usually exhausted every other possible cause and all the blood tests keep coming back that there’s nothing wrong with you that they’ll then decide to, that that is fibromyalgia. And then I had, of course I could just have the pills on repeat prescription. I didn’t have to go to the doctor’s I could just phone up and get more pills. It was easy, yeah, and it was just pills, pills, pills, pills, pills. Nobody ever bothered checking [laughs] as to how many I was eating, how many I was having. But later down the line, now it’s had a real serious impact on my, my health.
Julia explained that for her:

‘It had been 20 years of just constant battles. So I had chronic fatigue syndrome’. Things got so bad that they ‘got to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed’. 

Physical violence was generally carried out with anger or extreme rage, frequently accompanied by verbal abuse. A common feature was that men generally justified their actions, showed little remorse and blamed it on the woman’s behaviour.

Physical violence increased over time

Physical violence often began with a small act, such as a slap or being grabbed by the hair, and escalated during the relationship, sometimes leading to a full assault that required hospital treatment. Philippa’s partner of thirteen years began by being controlling. Philippa used to feel guilty going out with friends, as he did not like it, and she felt sorry for him. It escalated to serious physical abuse over time, involving ‘constant beatings’ after which her partner would look at her and say ‘Did I do that?’
 

Over thirteen years, controlling behaviour led to verbal abuse and then physical abuse. Philippa’s partner tried to strangle her and suffocate her under her duvet.

Over thirteen years, controlling behaviour led to verbal abuse and then physical abuse. Philippa’s partner tried to strangle her and suffocate her under her duvet.

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So first of all then if you're able to begin, by describing to me, telling me a little bit about your kind of abusive relationship. 

Okay it started off controlling. So my partner wasn’t happy about me going out with friends and made me feel guilty about that and I didn't realise it was controlling behaviour, I just felt sorry for him, I thought I won't go out I'll stay in. And then within a couple of years it became verbally abusive and then very soon after physically abusive. So that it would manifest itself in different ways. I had things thrown at me, I was suffocated, strangled, almost thrown downstairs, punched, kicked. Beaten and all sorts of different things like that. 

And how long were you together with this man for?

13 years. 

Okay, and that initial controlling behaviour of him not wanting you to go out and things when did that start into the relationship?

Probably about within a year of meeting. The physical and verbal abuse probably about eight years later. So there was quite a big gap between just controlling behaviour and becoming physically and verbally abusive. 

So just, just reflecting back when did you realise, just thinking about the controlling behaviour, when did you realise that was abusive behaviour?

After I left him. I didn't know that just being controlling was abusive behaviour. And I couldn’t step outside the relationship and see what was happening. I just thought he's the sort of person that needs me around, I’ll stop doing what I want to do and be with him. 
Some women said that violence continued after they had left the relationship. Tasha had years of increasing abuse from her partner. Because of his controlling behaviour she lost friends, lost control of her finances, endured emotional and sexual abuse, but avoided escalation to physical assault by appeasing him and trying not to upset him. After they split up, he violently assaulted her and her new partner.
 

Tasha’s ex ignored his court undertaking and assaulted her near her home. She entered a refuge to keep herself and her children safe.

Tasha’s ex ignored his court undertaking and assaulted her near her home. She entered a refuge to keep herself and her children safe.

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And we did finally split up. I sort of made it feel as though it was his decision that he’d left. And not me telling him to go. But he still kept saying that, you know, he wanted me back and stuff and he, wouldn’t he kept coming back I found it hard just to keep the peace basically, I would sort of, you know, agree to him coming back and stuff. And then he attacked me when I went out one night for his son’s birthday and he didn’t like it obviously because I was with a lot of people having a good time and he attacked me in one pub and then we went to another pub and then he attacked me in that pub. So I went to court and got a non-molestation order against him. And he said he didn’t want that in court so he signed an undertaking. And then he breached that undertaking was when he attacked me and my new partner in the street. 

And were you together in a relationship when he attacked you in the pub? 

No. 

So that was after the end of the relationship?

Yeah.

Was that a physical attack? Or …

Yeah, he tried grabbing me in one pub when I was like, I could see he was angry so I went to the toilet and he tried dragging me out of the, the toilets. And then, when I went to the other one, he he hit me to the floor and luckily some people saw and they came and got me and sorted him out. So. 

After the assault took place, because obviously I didn’t feel safe then because even though he had signed an undertaking to say that he wouldn’t come down my street, that’s where the assault took place…

When you were in the pub, to, or with the …

No, No.

… assault with your husband?

Yeah, the assault with my husband.

Right, OK.

And it was outside my house.

Right.

So, and he wasn’t supposed to be there so, yeah, I didn’t feel safe so that’s when I went to the refuge and then we were there for about three or four months I think.
Physical violence as a form of control

Many women were in controlling relationships in which their partner set the ‘rules’. If the woman did not behave in the ‘right’ way, then their partner would become physically violent. Women frequently said their partners were careful to avoid injuring them in areas that could be seen, such as the face or arms. Chloe said her partner was ‘clever’, never doing anything that left obvious evidence. If injuries were visible, women were not allowed out of the house for a while or were threatened that worse was to come if they told anyone. After being beaten up, Linda received threats to harm her daughter if she went to the police. She managed to slip away to the police station without her husband knowing.
 

Linda went to the police covered in bruises, but she was dismissed until she had a doctor’s assessment, which was impossible for her to get without her husband’s knowledge.

Linda went to the police covered in bruises, but she was dismissed until she had a doctor’s assessment, which was impossible for her to get without her husband’s knowledge.

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No, first of all, well he stopped coming home at night so I questioned him was he having an affair and he just said “Yes”. He said “You’re ugly, you’re old I don’t know why I married you, I’ve got what I want, you’re never here”. Of course, I was never there because I was teaching. He then stopped working so he was in and out of jobs, obviously I was then earning more money and my younger daughter then started staying at friends, my daughter decided she didn’t want to live in the house and got a flat, when she was at university, she didn’t want to be around him and he was throwing me at radiators, throwing me downstairs, and who could I tell? I couldn’t tell my mum, I couldn’t tell my friends; it was never on my face and then one day I remember it was January again it must have been, he just beat me up so badly and I was covered in… 

I mean it was horrific, not on my face, and at 5 o’clock in the morning I thought I’m going to go to the police but then that night he knew he’d gone too far and he said if you go to the police I’m going to burn this house down with you and your and you know the language was foul, with you and your effing daughter in here, he said so it’s up to you. And I thought I’ve got to take the chance and I went to the police station, really early in the morning and I went to the desk and I said, “I need to see somebody but it’s got to be quick, because he’s in the house and this is what he’s threatened.” And I said, “I want to show somebody my body”. And they said you’ve got to go to your doctor’s first and I said, “I can’t because I’ve got to get back and get my daughter to school”. And that was it and they said well we’re going to need the photos first we need your doctor’s report first. 

So nothing happened. 

Didn’t, I couldn’t go, because I had to make sure she wasn’t in the house. 

Because, from what you’re saying, that threat sounded very real. 

It was, he has this look, this is what I’m still scared of.
Khalida had to ‘ask permission’ to go anywhere outside the house, and her in-laws visited all the time to ’keep an eye on [her]’. But if she tried to question her husband about his whereabouts, he became physically violent.
 

Khalida’s husband strangled her into submission when she ‘dared’ to ask him where he was all night (read by a professional).

Khalida’s husband strangled her into submission when she ‘dared’ to ask him where he was all night (read by a professional).

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Anyway, where we got married, just up the road from there he bought a house near his parents’ house. And so I was, so I was all alone. But he, she (mother-in-law) was coming and going, she was coming and going a bit too much. All my in-laws were there in my house all the time just to, just to keep an eye on me. Now he, now he decided that he wants me to be kept an eye on. But this is after, after I questioned him. At four o’clock in the morning I questioned him and he said he suddenly got, became angry and grabbed my neck and started squeezing my neck and said, “If you ever ask me again where I’ve been, where I’m going, where I’m coming, when I coming, where I’m coming from, I will kill you.” I said, “Oh my God, what is going on here?” I quickly made him let go of my neck. And then he said, “If you have no right to ask me where I’m coming, where I’m coming from, but I have every right to ask you where you’re going, where you’re going with our children, whatever. You cannot go anywhere without my permission. That’s, those are the rules. Don’t ever ask me again where I’ve come from or where I’m going.”

And what did you think about that when he?

I was scared to death. I was scared to death that he was going to kill me or something. I was nearly choking when he was trying to strangle me.

Yes, yeah.

Then shortly afterwards I just got, oh slowly he just started looking at me in a stern way all the time. He was being very stern with me all the time and nasty, nasty, nasty, nasty all the time. 
Women described living in fear of their partner’s next violent outburst. This fear was a powerful form of control. Men would get women to comply with their demands by threatening further violence. When Tanya’s husband starting directing his violence towards the children Tanya knew it was time to leave.
 

Tanya’s husband beat up their daughter in front of her brothers, then threatened to slit Tanya’s throat if she told anyone or took her child to hospital.

Tanya’s husband beat up their daughter in front of her brothers, then threatened to slit Tanya’s throat if she told anyone or took her child to hospital.

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What was the biggest, just during those years together, all of those years, all that abuse experience, what was the biggest effect, what was the biggest impact or effect on you and on your life?

Right OK, that’s hard to say, because I think it’s every little bit adds up. It’s like a building block, isn’t it? That, that I know that the main thing that happened was when he absolutely battered our daughter and really, seriously could have killed her. And the boys were there witnessing it, terrified and crying. One was saying, “Daddy, stop it. You’re going to kill her.”

Yeah.

And I was just, I was really trying to stop him. I kept physically trying to stop him from hurting her. He was just hitting her all over and dragging her all around the house. And after that he said just to get me, I’d calmed the kids down, got them all in bed and my daughter went to sleep quite quickly, I think she was exhausted. I know we should have gone to hospital. You can’t just leave, you can’t just leave. He’d have killed us. He’d have killed us. You can’t leave. Anyway after that he said if I ever told anyone about it he would find me and he did this, slit throat, he would slit my throat. And I remember him doing the action [laughs] so that kind of scared me a bit [laughs]. And he told the boys that he was very sorry - to get me, that evening, to get me to come out to leave the boys’ bedroom, he told me that – he told the boys that he was very, very sorry about that and daddy shouldn’t have done that, and daddy won’t do that ever again. Right, he said that just to get me to come away from the boys. So I went in the dining room. And he said he just threatened me in a very calm, calculating way, which is even more scary. When they’re calm and they threaten you, that’s so scary. And he said something like, “I only said that to get you out of there,” and then he threatened me with slitting my throat, he said, if I told anyone about it, about him battering our daughter. Yeah, that is scary when they’re calm, that is terrifying.
How women responded to physical violence

Physical violence was often the trigger for women to leave, since serious damage to themselves or their home often led to the involvement of outside agencies such as the police or health professionals. Jacqui was concerned that her partner had seriously damaged her back after one particular attack. It was this incident which finally prompted her to get help and so she eventually went to A&E (Accident and Emergency). Before this, however, she would make up stories to excuse her injuries and to avoid telling people about what was really happening to her.
 

Jacqui described how she would blame her injuries on over-exuberant grand-children or falling over.

Jacqui described how she would blame her injuries on over-exuberant grand-children or falling over.

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He injured my back as well. That was the, the last time he really hurt me really badly. And I couldn’t, I really just couldn’t, for weeks and weeks and weeks I was having spasms in my back that would just come on and they were crippling. And when I went to see to the A&E department, I really thought he might have broken my back. And the evening he did it I couldn’t have even, if I’d have phoned the police I couldn’t have even crawled to the front door to let them in. I just couldn’t get off the floor. It was that I was just in so much pain.

Yeah, and did you have to endure any other physical injuries because of him?

Bruising round my neck.

When he lifted you?

Yeah, where he used to lift me. Split lips. I used to tell people at work that it would be my grandchildren sitting on my knee being a bit over-exuberant and bumped me. The odd black eye, walked into doors, cupboards, you name it. Oh, I lost teeth as well. I told people that I’d been walking out of the back door holding two cups of coffee and I’d tripped on the back doorstep and fallen holding two cups of coffee, and I lost bottom teeth. It’s just, just [laughs] one thing after another.
Nessa tried to hang on to the belief that her partner loved her, despite his physical abuse. She felt ‘silly’ telling anyone.
 

Nessa used to hide the evidence of her partner’s brutal attacks from her mum and professionals.

Nessa used to hide the evidence of her partner’s brutal attacks from her mum and professionals.

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Was the abuse daily or was it weekly or random or …?

Honestly it was every two weeks. It wasn’t, as far as I know, he didn’t plan to do it every two weeks, but it seemed to be as soon as the bruises from one healed, I’d have a bruise from another. So yeah.

At the time, did you cover those bruises up or did you, how did you cope with those effects?

Well I said to you he head-butted me and cracked my nose, when he done that, he like made me not see my family for two weeks. I had to stay in at home because my mum used to take me food shopping and stuff like that, I used to say to her, “Yeah,” like because my mum didn’t want me involved with [Name] either. Because at this point, social services was involved, but I was hiding him from my mum and social services. When it came to like him doing that to my nose, I couldn’t see my family and anything like that. And then I was always quite open when he used to beat me up, I was quite open about some of the violence. Like if it was just a few pushes and he used to slap me, I used to just let it go over my head. But when he actually pinned me down and hit me with belts and stuff like that, I used to ring my mum any chance I could get, whether it was just quickly running into the kitchen and quickly ringing someone to kind of pick me up, he would then leave the house …

Yeah.

… and then I’d get picked up, but because I wouldn’t like, they knew what had happened so I didn’t really need to hide the marks, but I’d still hide them so they couldn’t see it. But I remember it got to when he hit me with the belt, I got to my mum’s house and it, it was really horrible, if I’m honest, like straightaway one of my mum’s friends, [Name], one of mum’s friends, came up to me, lifted up my back of my t-shirt and goes, “Well is that what he done? I’m going to, like I’m going to go crazy.” And even that, just the way he done that, I flinched and I was like, “What are you doing?” like …
Many women felt so low in confidence that they believed it when their partner blamed them for his violence, feeling they had caused their partner to get angry and that they ‘deserved’ the attack. Jane said that after being slapped she hoped her husband was just having an ‘off day’ and that ‘things would get better’.
 

Jane blamed herself when she did a ‘silly thing’ that annoyed her husband and he slapped her. At the time, she felt she had ‘deserved’ it.

Jane blamed herself when she did a ‘silly thing’ that annoyed her husband and he slapped her. At the time, she felt she had ‘deserved’ it.

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But how did that progress through the 20 years you were together?

Well it started really mainly as sort of like a, a punch, you know, like a punch in the chest or, you know, a smack round the face. I got a really huge smack round the face one day just because I forgot that the milk was in the fridge in the shop and he had to reopen the doors and reopen the shutter just to get the milk out. So, you know, because there was so much to think about, you know, that was just a silly thing and it got a slap round the face. It was totally, totally uncalled for and unwarranted. But even then, I thought I deserved it [laughs]. He made me feel as though everything he was doing I asked for or it was deserved of me, because I’d done something bad or I’d done something that was not acceptable, you know. Or the main phrase would be, “You know I’ve got a temper. You know would you put your head in a lion’s cage, you know, knowing that you’ve got your head, your chance of your head bitten off?” You know, he was then just like that saying, “Well, you know, don’t wind me up and then you won’t get it.”

Yeah.

Not, you know, it was always wasn’t his fault, wasn’t his fault. So that was but it becomes a way of life. You start to think like that and you start to, to think that he’s right in everything he’s saying, and it’s easier to change your habits to change the person that you are, rather than admit that this relationship isn’t what you expected, what you wanted, and how do you even begin to get out? You know, most people probably would have walked away at that point. But because I had a shop and my name was on the lease for nine years, and because I didn’t have a job, I wanted to stay in [Name of city] so, you know, this was where I wanted to stay, so I didn’t want to go home to, to [Name of county in England], so I just put up with it, thinking that, “Well, it’s just an off day. It’ll get better.” By that time, you know, you haven’t got any money. 
If women stood up for themselves, this usually led to increased violence. Alonya was regularly ‘punished’ if she did not perform household tasks to her partner’s satisfaction, but when she challenged him, he became extremely violent. He blamed the attack on Alonya and called his sister for support.
 

Tired after a day at work, Alonya said she did not want to clean the floor yet again. He strangled her and pulled out clumps of her hair.

Tired after a day at work, Alonya said she did not want to clean the floor yet again. He strangled her and pulled out clumps of her hair.

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We lived in the centre of [name of city], [uh] in a nice place, which I had to clean all the time, and if it wasn’t clean the way how he would want to clean, I would be punished. 

Punished in what way?

He would tell me off.

Right.

Like, for example, my duty was to clean the place while he’s at in gym, or going to the gym and I come back from work. After I come back from work I have to clean and cook dinner for him. And he didn’t like the floor being wet when he comes back. And when the floor was wet, he would be extremely angry with me, assuming that I was talking to the phone, over the phone with a friend, or assuming I was lazy and not doing the properly job. One time he came back and I answered him, and I said, “I’m going to clean the floor as the way how I want. You’re not going to talk to me like that anymore.” And we went to extremely violent situation. He strangled me …

[Gasps]

… really badly with his, because we went wrestling [laughs]…

Yes.

….and he strangled me with his arm like that. He was a very huge, strong man, he was going to the gym and exercising, and I thought I was going to die…

Yes.

…because…

Yes.

….he was very strong. I started to faint, and then he let me go, and then I realised my hair were falling down continuously and just kind of getting lost. I couldn’t understand what, what’s wrong with my hair, it’s just fall on the floor, and piling like that and apparently when he was strangling me, he took my hair and he pushed like that and I had almost like a big patch here completely bald. He was all shaking and he saying like, “Look what happened? Look what you did. Look what you did. You made me do this”. And he called his sister and his sister came. She was always supporting him. She would say like, “Oh [name of participant], so sorry”, “I’m so sorry this happened”. She would always say that, “Well you shouldn’t have done to him, like you shouldn’t have spoken to him like that”, or, it was always like she would take his side always.
Sometimes women stood their ground with a positive outcome. When Mandy was violently attacked by her partner she ‘made damn sure it didn’t happen again’.
 

After Mandy asked him to leave, her partner launched a violent attack on her. Afterwards he left and Mandy never took him back.

After Mandy asked him to leave, her partner launched a violent attack on her. Afterwards he left and Mandy never took him back.

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His temper was getting worse, I was asking him to get help and he kept promising he would, never did. And I think towards the end I sort of realised what was going to happen. And I told him, “The first time you lay your fingers on me will be the last”, and it happened and I made damn sure it didn’t happen again. 

Are you able to describe what happened in that situation?

The actual attack?

Yeah, if that’s OK.

Yeah, it was, it was the morning of Halloween. We’d just had breakfast, and we’d had a big fight the day before to the point where I’d asked him to leave and he’d actually packed the car up with all his stuff and I’d actually got the key back from him. He’d wormed his way back in that night and ended up staying over. And I can’t even remember what started it off, but we were fighting about the firefighters’ strike. Of course, I was wrong because I’m always wrong. I’ve actually got three firefighters in my family. And he was just shouting and I asked him to leave and he got up and started washing the dishes, in his pyjamas. And I asked him to leave again and he ignored me. I actually raised my voice for the first time and told him to leave and he came up to me in the kitchen doorway, got right in my face and was screaming. His face just went purple, he was just screaming in my face. And he went back and picked up the bowl of dishes and slammed it in the sink. There’s bits of glass and ceramic everywhere and my first thought was, “Oh my God, the dogs are going to cut their paws”.

I said, “That’s it, I’m calling the police”. I turned around, the minute I put my hand on the phone he came after me. He grabbed my around the throat and had me over the back of the sofa. I don’t remember anything after that other than thinking, “This is how it ends.” I don’t know what he was saying to me, screaming at me. I don’t know whether I got him off me, or whether he’d let go of me, I just remember running upstairs to the bathroom in hindsight, probably a stupid place to go because I’ve literally cornered myself, but it’s the only room in the house with a lock on the door. Until I remembered he could unlock it from the outside. It’s just like a slot…

Yeah.

…if you put a coin or even a nail in. So I sat with my back against the door, waiting for him to start kicking it, and he didn’t. After about twenty minutes I suddenly got it into my head that he was going to hurt the dogs and I opened the door and found him lying on the bedroom floor crying with his arms around [Dog], apologising. Again, I calmly asked him to leave. This time he got dressed and he did. The first thing I did when he left, I made sure all the doors were locked and I phoned my mum. And I told her exactly what had happened because I knew if I did that, that he wouldn’t be welcome by the family anymore. There’s no way I could take him back after that. And I didn’t see him after that.
Violence towards property and belongings

Women gave accounts of their partners regularly punching walls with their fist, breaking windows or doors when angry, usually combined with verbal and physical abuse towards them. Mandy spent a night locked in a hotel bathroom to protect herself from her partner’s anger. He was shouting and screaming at her, punching and head-butting the walls. She realised that this ‘might be me one day’.

Some women, like Ana, talked about their partner smashing up mobile phones or laptops to stop them connecting with the outside world. Violence often erupted when women told their partner that they wanted to end the relationship.
 

Sophie described her partner ‘howling and shouting and screaming... hitting furniture and hitting the walls’ when she asked him to leave.

Sophie described her partner ‘howling and shouting and screaming... hitting furniture and hitting the walls’ when she asked him to leave.

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And told him I didn’t want him in the house any longer.

And how did he react?

He was quite aggressive. He was really angry.

Verbally or physically aggressive?

Both, both and using the children. He came back and he locked himself in this – in a bedroom and he started howling and shouting and screaming. And he was hitting furniture and hitting the walls, shouting at me, frightening the children. I told him that he had to, you know, that he had to leave, I didn’t want him there anymore. And he did a lot of crying all over the children about what I was doing to them and how awful I was and what a bad mother I was and everything. And he went off and basically he kept on, he would sort of turn up. And in the end I called the police.
Women frequently said that it they were the one to leave, of if they were away for any reason, their partners would damage their property in retaliation. Linda went to a work conference for two days, and returned to find all her clothes had been cut up and her University teaching files shredded. Later, when he left her, her partner smashed up the family home and stole all her personal information, her financial details and her computer.
 

Towards the end of their relationship, Linda’s partner responded with increasing acts of violence toward her property and belongings.

Towards the end of their relationship, Linda’s partner responded with increasing acts of violence toward her property and belongings.

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And then work ethics came over me and I thought I’ve got get there, because this university is waiting for me and. 

Were you able to go? 

I did, I went. 

You did? 

Yeah. 

It’s extraordinary how you managed to hold together, this really powerful, you know demanding job, that is an extraordinary accomplishment. 

I went for 2 days and then I phoned one of his friends up and said you need to go and make sure he’s not there because I’m too scared to go in and another friend went and checked my daughter was alright, and he’d cut all my clothes up, all my clothes were cut up all over, all over the room and his friend, a male friend and he just went I can’t’ believe he’s done all this. 

And was that during that time that you were away, or was that, yeah that weekend you were away. 

Yeah and we had a basement in the house and that’s where I did all my lectures and everything, and everything, all my files had been shredded and. 

Really? 

Yeah everything. And I was teaching again, on the Monday. 

So how did you manage? 

I just re-did it. 

Extraordinary resilience that you’ve obviously got.

Oh the days, after a weekend I used to go in at 6 o’clock and I had been crying right until 6 o’clock, go in, put on my brave face. 

That’s amazing to be able to do that. 

Yeah, I don’t know how I did it now. 

So after that event. 

And then didn’t speak to me. 

Had one of those silent periods. 

So after that, so I went to my mum’s 80th birthday, still hadn’t told the police and I came back and the house was empty. 

Of everything? 

Of everything, except things he didn’t want, which he’d, we had two settees, chairs, leather, he’d left the three seater but he’d cut it up, well chopped it up, taken the beds, all the beautiful garden furniture we had, he’d smashed, and we had, one of the bedrooms was for the children so we used to have a rota and one stayed over at night, they used to call it Nanny Night. All their books, their toys he’d smashed up, we had chandeliers, taken them down, I’ve got photos I could show you, he’d stood on them all. In my office, in the basement, I hadn’t been able to get down there for a long time because of the stairs, he’d taken my computer with all my academic work, with the books I’d written, you know they were all on there, the research, he’d taken it all, all my files, my bank details, my savings things, he’d taken everything. And in the toilet, I can’t even tell you what was in there, you can imagine? In the bathroom. In the downstairs toilet, he’d taken the sink away because he was a plumber, he’d taken that away, put it in the, we had a big basement and part of that was his workshop, he’d put the sink, the basin, work benches off, smashed them up the only thing he hadn’t touched was the loft and that’s what I came back to and then I called the police and then I told them everything. 

Last reviewed February 2020.

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