“I wish I’d got out sooner.” These are the words of a victim of domestic abuse who has told her story to police in a bid to encourage further victims to come forward.
Following an attack by her husband in September 2013 the victim, Debbie who is from the Babergh area, was left with part of her ear missing after her attacker bit it off, bruises on her body and on-going hospital treatment.
Her attacker was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on February 4 to four years and 11 months in prison.
Speaking about the abuse she suffered Debbie describes the attack that led to her contacting police, ending her relationship and the support she received.
Recalling the attack, Debbie said: “I can’t remember exactly what happened but he lost his temper and I’d had enough.
“He cut up my SIM card so that I couldn’t contact anybody, went onto destroy precious things to me like the photos of my grandson and threw my mum’s ashes all over the floor before vacuuming them up.
“I ended up being punched in the face, then at one point I was cowering on the floor, but he was hitting my back and even tried to gouge my eyes out.
“Then he actually bit my ear and I just saw part of it lying on the floor.
“At one point he had my neck in such a way that I thought he was going to kill me.
Debbie recalled a previous incident that went unreported: “A couple of years ago he head-butted me and I ended up being taken to hospital by some of my friends, but I didn’t press charges.
“I told them the old story that I fell down the stairs.
She also spoke about how she coped with the situation.
She said: “I’d never want anyone to go through what I went through, it’s only in the last few weeks that I have felt good about myself.
“When I went back to work I put on a brave face but as soon as I’d get in my car I’d just cry.
“From September to Christmas I think I cried every day.
“It was just horrendous.
“It’s hard when people say ‘just leave’, but there are things that hold you there.
“I can’t say that it was a very happy relationship.
“You just hang on but then it gets worse and worse.
“I don’t really know why I stayed, maybe I just didn’t want to be on my own.
Suffolk Police helped Debbie through her prosecution process and she was also offered help by a local Ipswich refuge called Lighthouse Women’s Aid.
Talking of the support she received, Debbie said: “The police were really, really good.
“DC Chapman was in charge of the case and he spoke to me a lot.
“I was kept me up-to-date with everything.
“The domestic abuse team were good and witness care phoned every week.
“I went to a meeting at Lighthouse Women’s Aid and there were so many other women in a similar situation, which is horrible really, but there are lots of phone numbers to call and women’s refuges.
“If you called any of them, they will get you out straight away.
When asked what advice Debbie would give to victims currently living in an abusive relationship she commented: “I would say if it’s possible to get out then get out.
“But if not then try to get as much help as you can.
“I had a good support network with friends and family, I am lucky because I have got an awful lot of friends.
“I know it must be hard if someone hasn’t got that many people but pick up the phone, there are plenty of refuges, there is plenty of help if you want it.
“It’s alright having nice things and a nice comfortable home but is it really worth it if you’re going to get hit and abused, both mentally and physically?
“If you feel like you are going to be hit, or even mentally abused then that person can’t love you.
“If they don’t love you then there is no point in staying with them.
“I know if you’ve got children then people say to stay together for the sake of them, but if those children are seeing what that person is doing to their mother, then it’s not worth it.
“You are worth a lot more than being abused by somebody else.”
Debbie is now looking to the future and to putting everything behind her: “A year ago I wouldn’t have thought that I would be in this situation with him in prison, but I feel like I can move on now and have a better life. In the last few weeks I’ve been out more.
“My children and my friends never used to come here because they never felt welcome, but bow they feel like they can come any time they want.
“I’m happier now, I just wish I’d got out sooner.”
DC Jonathan Chapman from Bury CID, who dealt with the investigation, said: “The abuse and assaults against Debbie were both vindictive and coldly calculated to cause her pain both physically and mentally.
“She has been left with visible reminders of the hurt caused and has a number of further painful medical procedures to still endure.
“For a victim to come forward and say ‘this is what happened to me’ has to be frightening for them; but the police will and do on a daily basis, with the support of numerous agencies, try to gain the trust of victims to help them to find confidence to confront those that caused them harm.
“Officers know that this bond of trust is vital for the victim’s welfare, so they know that they have been taken seriously, in matters of an extremely personal and intimate nature.
“Debbie found that courage and strength of conviction.
“I am pleased that she is able to present this piece, both coming to terms with her demons and being able to support others in doing similar.”
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (March 13) Echo.