A primary school teacher knocked unconscious by her controlling ex today urged other victims of toxic relationships “to get out before one of you ends up dead”.
Lucy Fenton, 35, spoke as the Metropolitan Police launched a campaign to raise awareness of coercive behaviour amid a rise in domestic homicides in the capital.
Ms Fenton was 15 when her “charming” boyfriend, then 20, “swept her off her feet” after being introduced by friends in Bethnal Green, east London.
But the plumber soon controlled who Ms Fenton could see and she felt isolated, typical of controlling behaviour.
She remained “defiantly in love” despite her family, including father Gerald Fenton, being opposed to the relationship due to the age gap.
Mother-of-one Ms Fenton told the Standard: “Every decision I made was with the thought, ‘Will he be happy?’
“If I did something he didn’t agree with, he wouldn’t talk to me for a few days.
“He would be extremely mean. I lived in a world where it was work and home – I didn’t have my own life or interests. I was lonely. He had an aggressive side and I was tiptoeing around.
“I just had to be careful I wasn’t the one who annoyed him or had to deal with this explosion of anger afterwards.”
In 2014, the relationship ended when she discovered he had fathered a child with another woman.
He barged into their former home at 3am and punched her in the face, knocking her out, before fleeing. Their five-year-old son witnessed the attack and saw Ms Fenton covered in blood.
She added: “When I opened the door, I thought I could calm him down.
“My son was asleep and I didn’t want the neighbours to hear. He punched me in my face as soon as he stepped inside the door and I fell backwards into the hallway. It was very quick, then it was a blur. He snatched my phone and ran away.
“The next thing I remember is a neighbour telling me to call the police.”
In December of that year, her former partner was convicted of actual bodily harm and jailed for six months at Stratford Magistrates’ Court. An injunction was put in place stopping him from contacting her.
The incident was the most serious of six police had been called to in a year.
Ms Fenton said: “He was saying, ‘If you leave me, where are you going to go with my son? You better watch your back’. But I didn’t want my son growing up in a house of fighting matches and his mum always crying.
“In court, I found it difficult to give evidence against him and felt guilty. I was putting the person I once loved in jail. It took a lot of strength.
“But when he was convicted, I felt relief – there was no going back. I didn’t have to be anxious and feel controlled.”
When they broke up, Ms Fenton, who had stayed at home to bring up her son, went back to college, then university and qualified as a teacher.
She said: “I really managed to turn my life around and I don’t think I would have done that if I was in a toxic relationship.
“Stopping domestic violence is all about talking – whether that’s to the police, family and friends or someone anonymously. It’s not always easy to see the signs but I hope someone reading my story will get help.
“As a victim, you know how to paint a smile on your face so everyone thinks things are okay. I often wonder that if I had stayed in the relationship, I might have ended up miserable, in prison or dead. I didn’t even care anymore when he hit me. You have to get out before one of you ends up dead.”
Last week the head of Scotland Yard’s domestic abuse unit spoke to the Standard of his concerns over a second lockdown after domestic homicides pushed the number of killings in London this year above 100.
Poorna Kaameshwari Sivaraj, 36, and her three-year-old son Kailash Kuha Raj were found dead at their flat in Brentford, west London earlier this month . Her husband reportedly stabbed himself to death as police forced entry into the family home at 1am.
Of 104 homicide investigations opened by the Met and British Transport Police this year, 16 killings have been flagged as domestic, 14 of them since lockdown started in March. This compares with 13 domestic homicides last year.
The Met received an extra 3,474 domestic violence reports between January and September, up 6.1 per cent on the same period last year.
Acting Detective Superintendent William Hodgkinson, the Met’s new lead on domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, said: “Controlling behaviour is a pattern of acts used to harm, punish or frighten a victim.
“They are designed to make a person subordinate by isolating them from sources of support, depriving them of the means needed for resistance and escape.
“It is about someone controlling a person’s entire life, from what clothes they wear to control over their bank accounts. Victims act or behave in a certain way for fear of something worse happening.
“There’s a plethora of reasons as to why victims may not reach out to us. But we will provide the links to key partners who can support and advise through these challenges. If you need help, we are and will always be here.”
For more information visit https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/