Finally, a sense of peace came over Beth Godwin, a counsellor form Cherry Burton. She could finally begin to rebuild her life without living in fear that the monster would return.
In 2012, thanks to the power of Facebook I reconnected with my first ‘real’ boyfriend. We broke up over 15 years ago. We were only 19 and I went to University in Hull to become a counsellor, and Mark tried getting into the Marines.
I’d been married for 10 years to a man whose idea of excitement was a night in playing cards. I need to feel alive again, instead of what felt like Groundhog Day. Mark made me feel special, he was interested in what I had to say and what I wanted to do.
We talked all the time, laughing at the same childish things such as my shocking sense of direction.
We soon met up in Hull and within six weeks, I walked out on my husband and we were moving in together. That turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life.
Drinking was normal, a few drinks whilst on Skype or an afternoon in the beer garden. At no point did I ever think there was a problem.
Moving in day arrived and he seems a bit odd, slurring his words, then he fell asleep. I woke him to help bring in my things and was told ‘I’ve got my stuff sorted, it’s not my fault you helped me instead of getting your own things.’
I’d find bottles of vodka and whiskey everywhere and when I asked him about it, he’d push me and swear telling me what he does is none of my business.
One night I was late getting in from a meeting. I walked in to a barrage of abuse, then before I could blink something hit me on the head and I fell to the floor. Putting my hand down to steady myself, the floor was wet, it was my blood. I staggered up and got to the bathroom. I had a gash to the side of my nose.
I remember without saying a word Mark was there pressing a towel against my face. Words were coming out of him mouth but they made no sense.
What the hell had just happened? It was so quick.
What did I say? I think it was something like sorry I’m late what’s in the fridge for dinner. Did I forget something?
The number of apologies and excuses came one after the next. They seemed genuine and I agreed let it go, everyone can make a mistake. It was made clear however the next time the police would be involved.
The weeks went on my face healed. A routine began. Get up early go to work and worry that everything was ready for him to get up. Between meetings with clients, I would call him every chance I got so I could try and gauge what state he was in. The journey home was the worst, my heart would be racing, I’d be breathless and feeling sick.
If he was calm when I walked in it was a bonus, but there was never a sense of peace or calm in my head.
I knew it was a case of when it happened again, not if it happened again.
Friday started like any other. I went to work, but when I tried calling there was no answer all day. Scared wasn’t the word, I was more like terrified of what I’d find.
Walking in, there were empty bottles all over the floor. Vodka and Whiskey. There were packets of the legal high rubbish he smoked all over. He was laid out on the sofa, I leaned over him to check he was alive and from nowhere he grabbed me and started shouting that I’d drunk all his booze and I’d better get him some more.
I can’t explain quite how but the fog lifted, and I stood up and said ‘NO’. In his eyes the red mist descended. He was over six feet tall but blew up like a puffer fish and seemed even bigger. All I could do was brace myself, trying to prepare for what was to come.
A jab in the face with one fist. A second came to the side of my head with the other. As he hit me he slipped, and I staggered to the bedroom. Crouching in a corner, I called the police from my mobile. The front door was unlocked, on some subconscious level I knew what was going to happen.
The rest of that night was a blur. The police were amazing, they told me afterwards that he tried saying that I threw the first punch.
He was arrested and charged. In court he pleaded guilty to ABH. When the sentence was passed the weight that had been on my shoulders lifted. He was gone and couldn’t come back.
Everyday I see the scar on my face, it acts as a reminder that I’m a survivor and free to live without fear.