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Domestic abuse victim ‘feels free’ after ex husband jailed

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A nurse who suffered more than 30 years of horrific domestic abuse has told how she finally “feels free” after her ex-husband was jailed.

“To be able to feel safe so I can close my eyes and sleep at night is amazing. I cannot tell you how good that feels,” she told Cambridgeshire police officers.

Julie, not her real name, was just 18 years old and a student nurse when she met the man who later, would go on to threaten her with a knife.

“I thought he was the one, he was my first love.

“But after eight weeks of dating, he broke my heart – he was already cheating with someone else,” she said.

The relationship ended but five years later their paths crossed, and they ended up living together. But it quickly became apparent her boyfriend was back to his old ways and was dating other women, often disappearing for a week at a time.

But to the outside world he doted on Julie – he never got jealous, he did not stop her from seeing her friends, he had a “big personality”.

“He was the life and soul”, said Julie, who added people would enjoy listening to his stories at the pub, even strangers.

“He would refer to me as his wonderful wife when we were in company – he had the gift of the gab. I fell for that. I felt quite protected,” Julie recalled.

However, behind closed doors, she was walking on eggshells trying not to annoy him. He often would not speak to her and when he did, he would regularly frighten her with his aggressive tone.

“Especially after he had been drinking. His eyes would just change,” she said. “We would be chatting then all of the sudden he would turn nasty, and I would become tongue-tied.”

Julie was distraught when her mum, in her 50s, was diagnosed with breast cancer, yet her partner was still seeing other women and got one pregnant.

“I knew I could not put up with this anymore. He was getting rough with me, and I ended up in a refuge when I was around 26.”

But sadly, her mother died of cancer which led to Julie feeling very lonely as she waded through her grief.

She explained: “After my mum died, I felt so vulnerable. I was trying to keep the family unit together. All I ever wanted was to marry and have children.

“I came home. And stupidly, I married him that year.”

Over the years her husband’s abuse escalated, especially as his drinking increased.

His behaviour would often involve him physically drag Julie from one place to another and threaten to take his own life every day.

On one occasion, he held a knife to her throat demanding she sign over custody of their child to him, but she managed to flee that time.

Julie said she had “become numb” to his behaviour and although she longed to be away from him, she felt trapped because she was frightened of him. It was the fear that kept her with him.

But last year, he attacked their daughter, and Julie told him the marriage was over. “I said I would never forgive him; we slept in separate rooms, and I distanced myself.”

Julie told her then husband the marriage was over and asked him to move out, he did, but only to sleep in his car and threaten to break in as he declared the home as still being his.

He also continued to emotionally blackmail Julie by threatening to take his own life daily.

In the weeks that followed, he continued with a campaign of harassment, and then one night, as Julie slept, he smashed his way into the house carrying a weapon.

However, Julie managed to escape and sought refuge with a neighbour, who had called the police.

He was arrested at the scene and earlier this year was sentenced to six years in prison.

“I felt massively relieved after he was sentenced,” said Julie. “My whole life is so different now. I feel calm and free.”

Julie, now 56, is urging anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse to seek help.

“I never would have believed this would happen to me. We women are not stupid, we are strong. It is our mind that can trap us – the fear of what might happen.

“Once you have made that decision to leave it is terribly hard. It can feel torturous. But I would do it all again to be where I am now.

“But I could not fault the police, the PCs that came around and talked to me and the domestic abuse advisor was so understanding and said if I ever wanted to talk, I could ring anytime.

“I did not know about I could get the support I had. There is so much support on offer. Even things like getting a Ring doorbell.

“I felt so safe, protected – I felt important – my life was worth saving.”

Julie’s story comes after the force launched a new domestic abuse campaign in which Peterborough United and Cambridge United clubs join together to tackle male violence against women and girls.

In the past ten months the force has recorded almost 10,000 domestic abuse incidents, 72% of which had female victims, with most being committed by ex-partners.

For more information and advice, visit the force’s dedicated domestic abuse web page.

 

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