Woman talks of misery of abuse

PUBLISHED: 18:00 22 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 March 2010

DEPRESSED and alone in an Ipswich flat, Pat is too frightened to leave her home today in case she bumps into the violent husband who beat her for more than five years.

DEPRESSED and alone in an Ipswich flat, Pat is too frightened to leave her home today in case she bumps into the violent husband who beat her for more than five years.

The mum-of-four spoke behind a locked front door, mended since her estranged husband smashed his way in earlier this year.

Though the attacker has been ordered to pay a small sum of compensation to the wife he assaulted and threatened to kill, the woman, who is in her fifties, said the fact her husband was not locked up but was given a conditional discharge has left her terrified to go out.

Pat told how problems started soon after she left a stale first marriage which had lasted for nearly 30 years for a younger man and started living with her new partner before marrying him. "It was a big mistake," she said, telling how she was wooed by the excitement of being taken out by a man who seemed "quiet but very deep".

Trouble started just months after the couple moved in and began to have financial problems. First he lied to his new partner about the cash he owed, then he started spending her money, she claimed. "It was just one lie after another," Pat said.

Then the pair married, but the physical abuse was to start around the time that they wed.

"He threw a pint of milk at me in a glass bottle and dented my leg," she said, claiming the incident left her blackened with bruises. "I told the doctor I'd been hit by a cricket ball because you do – my head was like cotton wool. He (her husband) would trip out and then it was always the hidings and the beatings."

The woman described how she became trapped in a cycle she felt unable to escape from as her confidence was gradually eroded and she was left shattered and depressed.

"It's hard when you marry someone because you love them and when they do that to you (beat you) it's hard to make the break. When the times are good, they're good. My sister would say 'can't you hit him back?' and I said 'You can't realise how violent and how strong he is'."

Pat said she could not explain what triggered her husband's rages but they always involved drink. "He'd just trip out, something would just click there. I'd try and walk away from him, go into the bedroom or something, but it never ever stopped him.

"Whenever he tripped out my clothes would be thrown out of the bedroom window. He'd always put his arm on the back of the neck where it wouldn't bruise but would hurt me."

Her husband moved out of their shared home over a year ago after one assault but the pair continued to see each other until the most recent incident this year. And though she has finally made the break from her violent husband, she does not want to divorce him.

Pat said that victims of domestic violence needed more help from outside but added that she had not felt strong enough to seek out the support which was there.

Director of Ipswich Women's Aid Hilary Cadman, said this experience of feeling too bewildered and confused to get help was "very common" among victims.

"What happens is the process of domestic violence removes self confidence and self esteem. You're very much isolated and it's therefore difficult to measure what you're doing against anyone else," she said. "Violence usually escalates," she added.

And it often gets to the stage where an abusive partner can control his victim in public just with the raising of an eyebrow or a look which "triggers a memory" of what he's capable of if she doesn't watch out, Ms Cadman said.

"It's all about controlling. You just lose everything and it becomes very difficult which is why it takes seven years for a woman to leave or 35 times [of violence on average before a victim leaves an abusive partner].

"What we offer is for women to come and talk to us. They can ring us and chat and don't have to come in. It's about boosting women's confidence and getting them say they are entitled to life without violence."

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