Domestic abuse survivor urges others in violent relationships to contact police

‘My life’s completely turned around,’ she said

Emily Atkinson
Wednesday 09 February 2022 00:31
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<p>The final straw came when Hannah Martin’s abuser broke her ribs during a violent, three-hour attack. </p>

The final straw came when Hannah Martin’s abuser broke her ribs during a violent, three-hour attack.

A mother-of-three who suffered months of abuse at the hand of her former boyfriend who left her “wanting to die” is urging others in similarly violent relationships to contact the police for help.

Hannah Martin was assaulted repeatedly by Hayden Wykes over the course of their 18-month relationship.

Among the catalogue of controlling behaviours inflicted on the 32-year-old were comments made that she was unfit to be a mother, cruel remarks about the way she looked and searches through her phone.

Her breaking point came when Wykes broke her ribs during a violent three-hour attack. Ms Martin then secretly texted Northamptonshire Police’s domestic violence unit pleading for help.

Wykes was later arrested and is serving a four-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to charges of assault and controlling and coercive behaviour.

Ms Martin has said she feels it necessary to speak publicly of the horrifying abuse she suffered in the hope it gives others the strength to reach out to the police.

“I thought this is a huge risk for me to take, but I’ve got to take the chance,” she said, recounting the moment she decided to contact the domestic abuse unit. “I want people to know that, when you do make the call, you are 100% going to be supported.”

She added: “I feel really empowered now ... and I’m not scared of him anymore.

“It just proves that it can be done. Because, trust me, in that moment (the final assault), I wanted to die.

“And for the first time in a long time now, I don’t want to die, and I’m excited for the rest of my life.”

She described how, at the start of their relationship, she fell quickly in love with Wykes. But not long after, he became abusive toward her.

Ms Martin said he would prompt her to stop meeting up with her friends out of fear she was “too ugly or too fat.” She also began lying to family members about the reasons for her injuries.

Over time, the couple’s neighbours became concerned about a domestic incident several months into the relationship and Wykes was arrested.

But the pair got back together when he was released on bail - unbeknown to police - and the violence resumed.

She described her attachment to Wykes as a “trauma bond” within which she would seek out his companionship despite knowing of the devastating impact her violent episodes had on her.

“I was so lonely and I genuinely missed him,” she said. “All I remembered was all the good times because when an abuser is lovely, they’re lovely.

“And then slowly, day by day, they’ll start nit-picking little bits after a little bit, and then there’ll be a big scenario, and then the cycle starts again.”

Wykes made her believe she was responsible for his behaviours, Ms Martin said, and promised with each outburst it would not happen again.

After she was hospitalised with broken ribs following an assault, she decided to text her dedicated domestic violence officer, Pc Gina Anderson, to beg for help. Wykes was arrested at work the following day.

Despite the ordeal and injuries suffered, she still felt “guilty” for turning on her partner.

“This is why it’s so hard to get away because you feel like you’re in love with them, you can’t breathe without them,” Ms Martin said. “But I would have died if I stayed with him.”

In a plea to others in similarly coercive and abusive relationships across the country, she said: “Put your trust in the police because they are phenomenal, and I can’t thank them enough. My life’s completely turned around.”

Pc Anderson, 33, said: “I know it’s a scary process. And I know it’s a really big step, to come forward to the police or to any agency and report domestic violence, especially in instances of controlling and coercive behaviour.

“But what I would say to people is, if you come forward to us, you will be believed, we will do everything we can to gain your trust and show you that we’re here to help.”

She also urged people to be on the lookout and act if they have concerns that a family member, friend or colleague might be trapped in an abusive relationship.

“People say domestic abuse is almost a taboo subject, but it’s not,” she said. “We need to break down those barriers.

“And if you see something and you don’t feel it’s quite right, or you’ve got concerns, just have that conversation with somebody, because that could be the starting point.”

The free National Domestic Abuse Helpline is on 0808 2000 247.

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