Domestic Violence: The Victim: Jail failed to deter attacks

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ANNE VICKERS does not doubt that had her new husband not come to her rescue, her previous partner would have killed her.

He had called round unexpectedly claiming he wanted to discuss access arrangements for their child. Instead, he pinned her to the stairs and rained blow after blow on her prone body. 'I saw something flash and I thought it was a knife,' she said. It turned out to be a screwdriver.

Her screams alerted her husband, Tony, who was able to free her. She suffered broken ribs, a cracked spine and a stab wound. It was the latest and most serious attack by her former partner - and it occurred four years after she had parted from him and despite court injunctions preventing him molesting her.

The couple were childhood sweethearts, meeting when Anne (not her real name) was 13. As with most male abusers, there was nothing about him to suggest his tendency towards violence.

The attacks, verbal and physical, started shortly after the couple moved in together when Anne was 18. At first they were relatively minor - a poke in the face, a slap around the head. He was always contrite, often tearful and said he would change.

With the birth of their child a year later, the frequency and intensity of his violent outbursts increased - he had twice tried to strangle Anne, once causing her to black out. Anne left.

But he pursued her, once battering her about the head and body, smashing her nose and cutting her wrist so badly that she needed hospital treatment. He was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison.

What most angers Anne was the 'pathetic' six-month jail sentence he later received for the attack at her new home.

Nevertheless, Anne, who has joined Edinburgh's Zero Tolerence campaign, says women should not be deterred from leaving violent men and pursuing them through the courts. 'You have to do it not only for your own safety but for the safety of other women.'