A woman who suffered domestic abuse at the hands of an ex-partner for years, which resulted in two suicide attempts, wants to tell her story in the hope that it may help others who are suffering in silence.
Adele Fairhurst, 51, who lives in Worksop, first met her partner in 2015 and for the first few months of their relationship Adele said everything seemed ‘perfect’ and she had been happier than she had been in a long time.
But over a period of time she said little things started to change before eventually he was violent towards her.
Adele said: “Domestic abuse is far more than people realise. People are in abusive relationships who don’t realise it’s abusive. It is not always physical.
“It can be controlling, abusive, putting you down. Once abuse takes hold of you it has such a personal impact on the victim.”
Adele’s abuser regularly physically abused her as well as giving her rules she had to live by.
She said: “Over a period of time little things started to change. They are all very subtle. It is so gradual you don’t realise it is happening to you.
“The first time he ever hurt me I couldn’t even tell what the reason was. He threw me on the kitchen floor. I had massive bruises on my arms from where I’d tried to save myself.
“The next day he apologised and sent me flowers. He promised me it would never happen again. I was in a bad way myself and struggling to cope.
“I had given up my home to move in with him and I had put a lot of money into the property. I had nowhere to go.
“A couple of months later there was another incident.
“There were rules he made me live by which were ridiculous.
“I used to do a lot of running and he didn’t want me to do that. Everything had to revolve around him.”
Adele’s abuse became so bad that she was constantly covered in bruises and had to keep them covered up, even having to wear long sleeves in summer.
She said: “The abuse became so bad that if I had one day in a period of two weeks where something hadn’t happened, I was on cloud nine. It was constant, 24/7.”
Adele described a particular episode was sparked after she refused to give him her phone.
She said: “I was locked in. I tried to climb out the kitchen window which was over the sink. I was halfway through and he grabbed me and I bounced off the tap and fell to the floor.
“I ran for the living room window and I ended up pulling the blinds down so he became angry that the blinds had been damaged. He punched me in the face and the force of it knocked me to the floor.
“I was running around frantically and throwing everything out the window trying to make as much noise as possible so maybe the neighbours would hear something.
“I begged him to let me go.
“I went back into the kitchen and I grabbed a meat cleaver to try and smash the kitchen window to get out.
“He wrestled me to the ground and I was lying on the floor and he had the meat cleaver in his hand. I felt it slice my head.
“I thought I was going to die. I will never forget that feeling.
“I could feel the blood and he could see it. He stopped and he let me get up.
“He got out a surgical wipe and cleaned my head up as if to say ‘I’ve made it better now.’
“I was covered in bruises and I eventually said to him that this had to stop.”
Eventually, after years of torture Adele could only see one way out.
She said: “I decided the only option was to take my life and I took an overdose.
“I spent three weeks in a mental health unit.
“I wasn’t strong enough. I was so broken. He was ringing me and begging me to come home.
“It started again as soon as I got home.
“My mental health had deteriorated and there was a further incident and I’d had enough by then and I took another overdose the following month.
“I felt like a little child. Every day felt like a month to get through it. I would go to bed hoping I wouldn’t wake up to another day to have to get through.
“I have nightmares every night and I wake up screaming.
“I have been diagnosed with PTSD.
“Now the only time I leave the flat is to walk my dog and to go running in the morning. I don’t go anywhere else.
“I feel like I am living in prison.
“I am too frightened to go anywhere.”
Adele is now trying to rebuild her life away from her abuser and has restarted studying towards her law degree.
“It is 12 months on and I am still realising the entirety of what I was going through. It was soul destroying.
“I lost my confidence, self-esteem and the ability to make normal, every day decisions. Everything was taken away.
“I have now picked my degree back up.
“If it wasn’t for my studies I would go stir crazy. I have got that to focus on.”
Adele has praised the work Women’s Aid has done in helping her rebuild her life and confidence to move on.
She said: “Women’s Aid play a vital role in supporting women, but their work is mainly reactive, helping women escape domestic abuse, and educating them to spot the early signs of an abusive person in a new relationship.
“I think it is about time somebody started asking the question, why are these men abusing women, and what does the society need to do to address the problem.
“I also want to stress the importance of Claire’s Law, the domestic violence disclosure scheme, which allows a woman to obtain information from the police on whether their partner has a record for violence.
“It is also important to stress someone may have abused previous partners and not have a criminal record, not all abuse is reported to the police.
“Not all violent men have a criminal record, my ex-partner made a point of suggesting I checked with the police to see if he had a record.
“Women should trust their gut instinct, if something doesn’t feel right it usually isn’t, I didn’t trust mine and it nearly cost me my life.”
Faye Connelly, fundraising manager for Women’s Aid, said: “We are incredibly grateful to all of our wonderful supporters, without whom we would not be able to continue providing our life-saving services.
“It’s our supporters who enable incredible changes to happen for women and children living in fear in their own home.”
Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children.
An estimated 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse in the last year.
Women’s Aid has member organisations all over the country running lifesaving services, and it runs the National Domestic Violence Helpline (in partnership with Refuge) on 0808 2000 247.
The charity also runs a Survivors’ Forum where survivors of domestic abuse can share experiences.
If you would like to get involved, you can help support Women’s Aid by donating, fundraising, campaigning and joining events.
Go to www.womensaid.org.uk for information on how to find help and how you can give your support to this important charity.