Just hours after saying “I do”, Sharon Livermore stood there in her wedding dress, crying.
“That evening we went to a cottage, and he chucked a bowl of pot pourri over me,” she said.
“He told me he hated my wedding dress; it was disgusting – it showed too much cleavage. “He changed on our wedding day.
“I went to pieces, I wanted to go home.
“I was ashamed and embarrassed – I didn’t want to tell people I had married a monster.”
According to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity which supports victims of stalking, many domestic abusers go on to stalk their ex-partner once the relationship is over.
But Sharon, a recruitment consultant, was stalked by her husband during their 18-month marriage.
And according to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 20.8 per cent of domestic abuse victims experienced stalking.
Sharon said: “He would regularly call me at the office or turn up at my work with cakes and biscuits for everyone – he was the biggest charmer in the world. But he was making sure I was there and would give me ‘a look’ if I were wearing a skirt and he thought it was too short.”
Quite often, when Sharon would take to the stand to deliver a speech at a recruitment event, she would spot her husband among the guests, watching her.
And unbeknown to her, he also had a tracker installed on her phone so he could monitor her every move.
“He would insist on coming with me shopping,” she said. “He would pick out a dress for me to try on. The girls at the changing room would say gosh aren’t you lucky having a man helping you choose a dress’.
“But it would have to be below the knee and high-necked. I can now see I was being groomed. He wanted to control what I wore.”
The abuse within the marriage escalated quickly – Sharon was cut her off from family and friends, instructed not to talk to male clients at work, told which type of music she could listen to and was physically abused.
He would also wake her up several times during the night so she would feel exhausted the next day.
“He used to say, “why can’t I break you?” as I am a strong-willed person,” she said. “But it got to a point where I was not Sharon anymore – I had lost myself.”
Then one day in 2015, Sharon confided in her boss what had been happening and then reported it to the police, who arrested her estranged husband and helped relocate her and her children to a place where they were safe.
“They (the officers) were very good and very reassuring and understanding. I felt protected,” she said.
But a few weeks later, on one dark November evening, Sharon thought it was odd when she returned home, to find her security light only stayed on for 10 seconds when usually, it stays on for a minute. It later transpired the timer had been tampered with.
Then two days later, on 4 November, as Sharon left the office and walked towards her car, she realised the windows were unusually steamed up. And as she got in, she noticed her picnic blanket, which was usually kept in the boot, was in the footwell.
“I smelt aftershave. Something seriously wasn’t right here,” Sharon said, who had then leapt out of her car and flipped the boot open to find her ex-husband, curled up inside, armed with knives and cable ties.
He jumped out and chased Sharon, who was “frightened for her life”, as she ran back towards the office, but he managed to grab her and she cowered down on the floor, trying to protect herself.
Upon hearing her screams, a colleague rushed to her aid and managed to push him off and he ran to Sharon’s car, and as the engine was still running from earlier, he sped off and was later arrested.
In court, Sharon’s former husband denied attempting to kidnap her, claiming all he wanted to do was speak to her and get answers as to why their relationship had ended.
It was heard that on the day of the attempted kidnap, he had bought cable ties, masking tape and tools, which he used to break into Sharon’s home to steal her spare car keys.
A jury found him guilty of attempted kidnap, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Speaking seven years on, and now 41, Sharon, a mum of three, said she feels “so grateful to be alive” and uses her traumatic experience to raise awareness about domestic abuse.
She also founded Domestic Abuse Education to train employers on how to support staff affected by abuse and encourage firms to create a ‘safe space’.
Sharon added: “I would say to victims, make sure you have a safe place to go and reach out to people and seek help. It’s not your fault.”
Any businesses interested in finding out more about Domestic Abuse Education can visit: Sharon Livermore – Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse (domesticabuseeducation.co.uk)
If you think you are being stalked, police can help you. Visit: Stalking and harassment | Cambridgeshire Constabulary (cambs.police.uk)
For help and support for domestic abuse visit: Advice about domestic abuse | Cambridgeshire Constabulary (cambs.police.uk)
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