As Welsh Women’s Aid marks 40 years of campaigning to end violence against women, Sarah from Monmouth reveals how living with an abusive partner made her question her own sanity.
It sounds such a cliche, but when I first met my ex-partner, he was the perfect gentleman.
We were friends for two years, having met through our young children. Both widowed, both lonely. Everyone, including family, thought it a perfect idea that we get together and, in October 2009, we did.
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By the January we were engaged, and four months later, we went on our first holiday abroad with the children.
But while we were there, he saw me talking to an elderly man, and afterwards, back in the hotel room, he hit me for the first time, accusing me of spending too much time with him.
I was stunned, of course.
I said: “You will never do that again to me”, and the next morning, caught a taxi to the airport with my daughter to catch a plane home.
But there was a cruel twist of fate.
Due to a technical failure at check-in, all flights had been cancelled that day.
So instead of fleeing, I returned to the resort.
When he realised, he wooed me, apologising so profusely that It was impossible not to forgive him.
I truly felt he was sorry, and when we eventually flew home together, we were more of a couple than ever.
By the June, we had bought a house together and moved in with our children.
This is when things started to go badly wrong.
First there was pushing and shoving – always out of sight of the children.
Then the shoves got harder and turned into slaps, followed by punches.
He smashed my head into the bathroom mirror, and my ribs were frequently broken.