Burnley victims urged to seek help

MODEL  RELEASED.    Domestic violence.  Silhouette of a woman protecting herself from a blow from her partner by holding her arms in front of her face.
MODEL RELEASED. Domestic violence. Silhouette of a woman protecting herself from a blow from her partner by holding her arms in front of her face.

A Burnley woman has told how she feared she would be killed by her abusive partner who subjected her to a campaign of violence and emotional abuse.

The woman, who we will call Sarah to protect her identity, was finally prompted to seek help after he turned on her children.

And she is calling on other women to get help before it is too late as Lancashire Police launched a campaign Take the Step, Make the Call to raise awareness of domestic violence. Between April 2013 and January this year 3,946 incidents of domestic violence were reported to police in Pennine Division, which includes Burnley Pendle and Rossendale.

“When I met him he was really nice. He was the perfect boyfriend, he took me out, he took me away, he sent me flowers. It was eight months into the relationship that he first hit me but there were signs before then.

“He was always phoning me and kept tabs on me. At first I was flattered, it was nice to have someone who cared but what I realise now is that he was grooming me for months. One night he was really awful. He called me fat and said that I was past it. He said I repulsed him and made him feel sick.”

But the next day Sarah said her partner was full of remorse and begged her to forgive him. “He kept saying sorry, that he was drunk and didn’t mean it. By this point he had made me so insecure that I felt I needed him so I took him back.”

But more was to come when he physically attacked her after accusing her of cheating on him.“He ripped my hair out, punched me so I was covered in bruises and spat in my face.”

The police were called but Sarah refused to make a statement, instead believing his behaviour was out of character. “He promised to get help. He made me all the promises in the world and I started to forgive him.”

After that first physical attack Sarah was subjected to weekly and then daily beatings as well as emotional blackmail if she did not do what he wanted. “It sounds pathetic but it got to the point where I preferred the daily beatings because it was worse if he saved his anger up for weeks and by this stage the violence was escalating.”

When she was attacked in front of witnesses police were called and, although she refused to make a statement, she was contacted by Burnley domestic violence charity SafeNet who provided her a lifeline. “There is no forcing you to leave an abusive partner. You can meet with SafeNet and still be in the relationship. They got a safety plan in place for me and helped keep a log of my injuries. My domestic violence advisor was like my knight in shining armour.”

When the violence worsened and her partner turned on her children, Sarah realised she had to report him. “I finally snapped. I thought he was going to kill me.

Supported by SafeNet and the police Sarah helped to convict her partner and urged women to come forward. “I couldn’t have got through this without SafeNet because my emotions were all over the place. It’s important for women to know they will be believed.”

Louise Howorth, Burnley domestic violence co-ordinator, said: “Domestic abuse takes many forms, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, or financial. It is controlling behaviour and is very rarely a ‘one off’ incident. Everyone has the right to live safely in their own home.”

Anyone wanting help can call SafeNet on 07866510728 between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday or email helpline@safenet.org.uk.