When Becky was beaten up by her partner shortly after coming home with her newborn daughter, she knew things had to change.
The 41-year-old’s partner had abused her throughout their 20-year relationship and would snap “over nothing” she told the Oxford Mail.
She suffered broken ribs in that attack but experienced punches, kicks and even strangling on a regular basis.
Now she has found the strength to join a campaign aimed at helping others avoid the same trauma.
n From Page 1 Thames Valley Police are concerned the summer months can lead to an increase in drink-fuelled domestic violence cases.
Although reported crimes have declined in the past three years, the number of calls the police receive about domestic violence has rocketed.
Becky – not her real name – spoke of her own experiences to show other women there is a way out.
She said: “He flung me on the sofa, punched me in my face, then jumped on my rib cage, cracking my ribs. I think the only reason he stopped was I said ‘we have children’.”
He went to sleep and she said: “I was looking at him and it was like a lightbulb come on in my head. I thought ‘that’s it, that’s the final straw’.”
Becky left and four years later has not looked back. Shockingly “everybody knew” of the abuse, including family, neighbours and friends – but said nothing.
She met her partner when she was 17 but he soon turned violent, winning her back by promising to change.
She added: “It would be over nothing. It would be punching, kicking, strangling, scratching, grabbing my face. It could be something like he came back in a mood or his football team didn’t win. Stupid things.”
She stayed for the sake of their four children but watched with horror as her 17 and 21-year-old daughters also became targets.
Eventually she gave evidence in court. Her partner was convicted four years ago and fined £100 and told to attend a course. She said: “I feel stronger, wiser and would never put up with it now.”
Oxford Crown Court judge Julian Hall – who has spoken out over domestic violence – welcomed the campaign. He said: “People are intrinsically very reluctant to interfere between husband and wife or partners. They think it is a private matter.
“But I think people should speak out because in my experience if they do not it can lead to disaster.”
Oxford City Council’s domestic and sexual abuse co-ordinator Liz Jones said: “We ask victims to come forward and quite often that’s incredibly difficult for them.
“We felt it was very important we do a campaign that says we are all responsible to help protect and safeguard adults and children.”
Recorded domestic abuse crimes fell from 1,054 in 2008-9 to 1,060 and 843 in following years. But incidents where a crime was not recorded, for example where police are called to domestic arguments, rose from 1,291 to 1,949 in 2009-11.
Det Insp Dick Meadows said: “We would like to see more reporting of this so we can take some positive intervention.”
The campaign is supported by the county’s Independent Domestic Violence Advisory Service, set up four years ago to support women like Becky in high-risk situations.
Manager Patricia Walsh, who helps about 160 women a year, said: “The problem is people who witness it won’t come forward and give evidence.”
If you or someone you know is suffering domestic violence, call the Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 731 0055; Thames Valley Police on 101; Crimestoppers on 0800 555111; the national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247 or see speakouttoday.co.uk