A WOMAN who suffered a terrifying ordeal at the hands of her partner has shared her story on the anniversary of the assault.

The mum from South Swindon hopes by speaking out she will help others who find themselves in a similar position during lockdown.

She believed the father of her 18-month old toddler was going to kill her during the night-time attack 17 years ago.

It was only when neighbours heard the screaming that the police were called. She says that saved her life.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “We’d been out with one of his friends and he’d been drinking and he was really confrontational.

“I was trying to avoid him so I’d put the baby to bed, and then I’d gone out into the garden with the excuse of putting the rabbit away to try and give him time to calm down, but he was still yelling at me.

“When I went back into the house he attacked me. He was trying to throttle me, and stopped every few minutes, screaming in my face, and then would do did it again.

“Luckily the window was open. It was a really hot day, so when I could, I screamed, and my neighbour heard and called the police.

“My partner kept saying ‘You’re going to die, this is it. I’m ending it now, there’s no going back from this.’ I really, really thought I was going to die.

“And I still believe today that if my neighbour hadn’t heard me struggling, I don’t think I’d be here.”

The Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service said in April the demand on its service had increased by 80 per cent since the start of lockdown.

“It’s really tough for anyone who is in an abusive relationship. I can’t imagine how hard it is for people during lockdown,” she said.

“If you are that person, and you think things aren’t right, talk to someone," the woman added.

"If you’ve got one thought that something isn’t ok, trust that thought. Listen to your instincts and talk to someone."

“ It doesn’t mean you’re making a massive commitment, you’re just exploring what’s going on,” she said.

The mum met her abuser 19 years ago and said at first things were great.

She said: “He just seemed really, really nice. But very enthusiastic and very full-on, and at first I guess I was just flattered by the attention – that I’d met somebody who wanted to be with me all the time and wanted to go out and do things with me.

“But then I noticed that I seemed to say things or do things that would annoy him. He’d get into these really black moods and no matter what I did or said it would end up with confrontation.

"As time went on it became physical confrontation - it would be a push or a shove. But then afterwards he’d just be really, really nice and it would go back to normal.”

The woman, who already had children, said things really deteriorated once she became pregnant with his child.

“It just got worse and worse throughout the pregnancy,” she said. “I did confront him and say things have got to change or I was leaving, and it was at this point that he threatened my unborn child.

“He went to shove me in the stomach and said ‘if you leave me I’ll kill the baby’. It was horrible. So I stayed.”

The new mum was also routinely manipulated by her partner.

“After the baby was born, only a few days later, we were staying with his parents and I remember waking up and he actually had his hand over my mouth sort of suffocating me,” she said.

When she protested, her partner told her she was having a bad dream, suffering from postnatal depression and was mentally ill.

She said: “I did question myself, like was I making this up? He was very persuasive.

“He’d convinced me that I was mentally ill, and also that physically I wasn’t a strong person. He would tell me I was ill when I wasn’t and that I looked exhausted all the time.”

She added: “I don’t think anyone really knew how bad it was. Because I didn’t admit it to myself either. It was hard, I didn’t want to.”

The woman said the first night after the police arrested her partner was really hard.

“I was terrified. He had convinced me I couldn’t cope on my own. And it was only as the days went on that I realised actually I was doing it, I was taking care of my children and I was ok,” she said.

Her partner was charged for the assault but didn’t go to prison.

The mum found herself in an abusive relationship for the second time a few years later, though she was more alert to the warning signs.

“He wasn’t physically abusive, but he was quite controlling and basically emotionally abusive,” she said.

“I recognised more what was going this time, but it still took a while for me to leave.

“Once you’ve been in that abusive cycle it’s what you’re used to, it becomes normal. It took me a while to realise that it wasn’t right, and that I didn’t want my children to see me being humiliated or belittled and I eventually walked away. It took me nine years but I did it.”

The woman, who is now happily married, said she’s still jumps when she hears people shouting in the street.

“It’s kind of like you’re on mega alert all the time," she said.

“It does change you, there’s no getting away from that. But just because it changes you doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it and have a better life.”

She issued a warning to anyone who has concerns about someone to take action now.

“Just call the police. If you’ve got alarm bells they’re there for a reason, and the worst thing that can happen is the police can come out and everything is ok.

She said: “If you don’t ring the police, the worst thing that can happen is somebody could end up dead.”