I met Will in the Spring of 2006, I was 29. He was friends with a group of lads that I’d known from school and I’d often see Will if I was out on the town with my friends. One night, I bumped into him in a nightclub, he appeared to be alone, and he asked me if I wanted a drink. I agreed and we got chatting and swapped numbers.
He texted me the next day (which I was surprised at, as guys usually play games) to say he’d enjoyed the drink and wanted to do it again. We arranged a date for the following weekend and went to my local pub, then we moved on to a club.
At the club, Will bumped into a girl that I recognized from school and they got into a heated argument. I later realized that there was ‘history’ between them, but he assured me it was all over and that she was jealous because he was out with me. The evening continued without a hitch and plans were made to meet again.
Approximately six weeks later, I was out with my friends and arranged to meet Will later on that evening. He seemed different this time and started an argument with me. I started to walk off but he grabbed my arm. I managed to get away and ran out of the club, but he soon caught up with me and pinned me up against a wall. All the time he was shouting at me and I was crying and shouting at him to get off me, luckily, a group of young men heard me from across the road and came to my rescue at the same time a police car drove by. The police took him away and advised me to go home and have no further contact with him.
When I woke up the next morning, I had lots of missed calls on my phone and many voicemails saying he was sorry. I continued to ignore him, although he still carried on ringing. Later that week, he sent a dozen red roses to my work address with another ‘I’m sorry’ message. I rang him to say thank you and he convinced me to meet him.
I met him in a park where I knew there would be lots of people and he begged me to take him back, but I refused and after a short time, I went home.
After a couple of weeks, I agreed to resume the relationship on the understanding that he would reduce his alcohol intake around me and try to work on his jealousy issues. Christmastime came and went without any issues, things were good for a while, but the following week, on New Year’s Eve, things took a turn for the worse. We went out with his family and friends and there was a male artist playing. Will accused me of fancying him and caused such a scene that I was embarrassed in front of his friends and family. At midnight, I rang my parents and Will decided to propose! I felt I had no choice but to say yes, but all I could think about was getting home safely and getting some sleep. We went back to my house and he wanted to carry on drinking, by this time it was 3am and I wanted to go to bed. I managed to persuade him to come to bed, but he attacked me by grabbing my hair and putting his arm around my throat. The incident lasted approx 20 mins, he suddenly let me go after I begged and pleaded and fell asleep. I led there for hours looking at him and wondering how someone who claimed to love me could hurt me so much.
The next day, we had agreed to have dinner at his parents house, so I went along with it, but inside I was dying and couldn’t wait to get away. I realised a few days later that he’d booked a weekend away for my 30th birthday, and I felt I had no choice but to go along with it. I confided in my best friend at this point and she implored me not to go, but I said I would end the relationship once and for all when I got back.
In April 2007, it was Will’s 40th birthday. I agreed to go away with him and during the evening he explained that he’d been abused as a child and he’d seen his dad hit his mum and he would do everything he could to get help; he did go to see his GP but that was it. In the May we went to his cousin’s wedding and stayed overnight at a hotel. I also brought my 5 year old son along this time. At the end of the night, Will decided he wanted a cigarette. I told him that he couldn’t smoke in the room as it was banned and suggested he went outside. Once he came back in, he laid into me like nothing I’ve ever known. I begged him to stop because I didn’t want to wake my son. Eventually, someone heard my screams and the police arrested him.
Eventually, I had to go and see a solicitor as the constant harassment was too much. The solicitor wrote to Will and eventually he stopped bothering me. Some months passed and my life was getting back on track again. I eventually started dating again, although I never let anyone get too close. By 2008 I had almost regained my confidence. In the September of that year, I bumped into Will and he explained again how sorry he was and how much he loved and missed me. I told him that we couldn’t get back together, but agreed to be friends.
At the beginning of 2009, my grandmother became terminally ill. She passed away in the May and in the weeks leading up to her death, he started another campaign of harassment. By this time, the police were well aware of his antics and visited me at home to make sure I was safe and told me to call 999 if there were any future incidents. The final straw was one morning when he turned up at my house, shouting in the street. He said he would set fire to my home making sure that both me and my son perished so that no-one else could have me. I called 999 immediately and Will left the scene before the police arrived.
Fast forward to 2014 and I am in a loving, secure relationship and I’ve had another child. If my story can encourage just one woman to seek help, then it’ll be worth it. I realise that I’ve had a lucky escape but I also know that my situation was not one of the really bad ones that have resulted in death.
[Names have been changed to protect identities]