‘I was murdered by my ex-husband in 1994’: Domestic violence victim calls for change in law on historic abuse
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Twenty years ago this woman was slapped so violently on the head by her husband that she suffered a brain haemorrhage, causing injuries that will end her life prematurely.
Her sharp mind has been stunted by two strokes, her nose broken and her beautiful face disfigured.
She was thrown against iron gates and strangled during a decade of humiliating domestic abuse.
Now doctors have told her she has permanent neurological damage that will slowly cripple her limbs and cannot be treated.
She says simply: “I was murdered in 1994 but it is taking me a very long time to die.”
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The Ham&High cannot name the woman, who has lived in Hampstead for 28 years, because her ex-husband has not been charged with any crime.
This is despite significant evidence, including photos of the injuries, doctors’ notes referring to the attacks and witness statements from her two children.
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The 58-year-old has spoken out this week to urge the government to scrap rules that stop prosecutors pursing some allegations of historic abuse, in the hope that other women who go to the police years after suffering domestic violence can seek justice.
She said: “I have been robbed of justice and I don’t even have my dignity left.
“The law of historic abuse against victims of domestic violence must be changed because people of my generation were beaten to the point where they are left with life-long damage.
“The limitation for cases to be brought should be never, just like rape.”
Her ex-husband, who she describes as a huge man who was a boxing champion as a teenager, was arrested in October last year but was this month told no further action will be taken.
She accuses him of four violent attacks between 1983 and 1994.
She now lives in assisted accommodation in Hampstead and is registered disabled, with chronic pain on the side of her face, and neurological problems that cause blurred vision, dizziness, slurred speech and difficulty walking.
Prosecutors could not charge her ex-husband with assault by beating because the offence must be put before a court within six months.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says evidence in her case was not strong enough to prove the more serious offences of actual or grievous bodily harm, which have no time limit.
This was partly because of the difficulty in accessing full medical records from two decades ago.
The CPS’s decision was all the more devastating as it took the woman 20 years to find the strength to report her ex-husband to police.
“You report them and then what?” she said. “They walk away feeling even more victorious than when they disabled you and that’s what happened with me. When will justice come?
“To take away my quality of life, to take away my mind, I’m afraid of my own shadow.
“I don’t know why I wanted to speak out but maybe it’s so someone can be saved, because I didn’t get the chance to be saved.”
A CPS spokesman said the case has been reviewed under the Victim’s Right to Review scheme and there remains a potential for an appeal against the decision not to take action against her ex-husband.