In a bid to save other women from abusive partners, Abi bravely shares her story with Fabulous Digital.
I’d been a lonely, vulnerable single mum after my previous relationship broke down when a mutual friend passed on my number to Sebastian in early 2014. The chemistry was electric.
I’d forged a successful career as an operations manager at Manchester Airport, while Sebastian was a telecommunications manager living in Ascot, Berkshire
When he was visiting a client a couple of miles from my house, he asked if he could take me to a posh nearby restaurant for our first date.
And, when I introduced him to my son Toby, then seven, a couple of weeks later, his patience and kindness towards my little boy made me fall even harder for him.
From then on, we took it in turns to stay with each other between our hectic schedules. But one day, when I was making dinner at his house, I made a shocking discovery.
As I opened his cutlery drawer, I discovered a stash of paperwork stuffed at the back of the drawer.
My hand flew to my mouth in shock when I read the words “final demand” – it didn’t take long for me to realise Sebastian was in a serious amount of debt. On our early dates, he’d made it seem like money was no object.
I remember thinking that I was going to die right there on the bathroom floor. The agony was indescribable – like he had physically burst my heart
When he got home from work, I confessed I’d read the paperwork and told him I wanted to help.
Looking back, it was probably too soon – but I offered to let him move in with Toby and I rent-free so that he could sell his flat and start chipping away at the crippling debt he’d accumulated.
By the end of the month he had moved in with me, travelling down to Ascot for work.
We married in October 2014, but then Sebastian began to change. He developed a habit of disappearing for hours at a time, staggering home drunk in the early hours of the morning.
He’d hammer drunkenly on the back door, waking me and Toby. Or I’d find him vomiting on the doorstep.
He was clearly an alcoholic. But whenever I begged him to get help, he’d laugh in my face. He was a total mess.
I felt used – I’d let him move in rent-free to give him breathing space to pay off his debts, but instead he was blowing every single penny he had on booze.
One night, after watching Sebastian pass out fully-clothed on our bed after a day of drinking, Toby turned and looked at me and asked: “Why is he behaving like that, mummy?” It broke my heart.
I had mixed feelings when I realised I was pregnant. Although I was happy, I was also devastated.
I was already struggling to juggle work and Toby with no help from Sebastian. I felt a newborn would tip me over the edge and lead to a breakdown.
But suddenly Sebastian became a different person. He was devoted to family life, and cut right back on his drink. Then after Thomas was born, he went back to his old ways.
Sebastian would disappear for hours on end, gambling away our money and switching off his phone so I couldn’t contact him.
I also discovered he’d stopped going to work, calling in ‘sick’ with headaches which were really bad hangovers.
Then one night, when I asked him where he’d been, he turned violent. Gripping my throat, he pushed me against the kitchen door. “It’s none of your business you bitch!” he spat, before disappearing upstairs.
When I came home days later to find him taking drugs off the top of Thomas’s indoor ball pit, I decided enough was enough and chucked him out.
He left the house, but returned moments later brandishing a large shovel from the garage.
His face twisted in a rage as he said: “If you dare make me leave this house, I will bury you 10 feet under in that back garden.
“And whenever me and the boys are playing football over your corpse and they ask where mummy is, I’ll happily tell them you walked out and left us all.”
My blood ran cold. His harrowing words sounded more like a promise than a threat.
I reported Sebastian to the police repeatedly, but without any concrete evidence there was nothing they could do. I felt trapped.
One night, on July 27, 2017, I collected Thomas from nursery after a gruelling 12-hour day in work. Toby was spending the night at his dad’s.
At home, there was no sign of Sebastian. I called him several times but there was no answer. I felt so let down and disgusted in him.
After putting Thomas down for the night, I waited for Sebastian to come home, becoming more and more agitated.
Shortly after 10pm, I heard hammering at the back door and Sebastian staggered into the kitchen in a drunken rage.
“Here she goes, here comes the fun police,” he slurred, grabbing me by the throat and shoving me to one side.
I thought about my beautiful baby in the very next room and how frightened he must be by the sounds of his mummy screaming
It was the final straw and I broke down. I told him how let down I felt, and how disgusted I was that he was never home to spend time with the boys.
I followed him upstairs, ranting about what a terrible partner he had become.
Just then, he grabbed me by the throat and hung me over the banister’s edge. He told me: “If you don’t shut up, I’ll throw you over,” before he disappeared into our bedroom.
I followed him into our en-suite and, as he vomited in the toilet, I told him I was done, I wanted a divorce. I meant every word.
Where can you get help?
But just as I turned to leave the room, I felt two sickening blows to the back of my neck which sent me flying face-first to the floor.
Before I hit the ground, my cheekbone collided with a heavy wooden chest, and a searing pain shot through the side of my face and into my head. I could feel loose pieces of bone as I reached for my shattered cheek.
But suddenly, the pain in my face was dwarfed by the most horrendous agony in my back. I shook with terror when I felt Sebastian’s foot slam down onto my spine, unrelenting as I begged him to stop.
“I’ve had enough of you, you need to shut up once and for all!” he roared.
I’d suffered five broken ribs and a punctured lung. My cheekbone had shattered like glass and I had two shattered vertebrae
Barely able to breathe through the pain, I rolled onto my back to face him. But just as I did, Sebastian’s foot slammed down mercilessly onto my rib cage, and I felt all the breath drain from my body.
I remember thinking that I was going to die right there on the bathroom floor. The agony was indescribable – like he had physically burst my heart.
As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I saw his twisted face glaring down at me. His words of pure hatred were muffled, like I was underwater.
I could hear screams, but I didn’t recognise them as my own. I sounded like a wounded animal.
I thought about my beautiful baby in the very next room and how frightened he must be by the sounds of his mummy screaming.
When Sebastian finally relented, he didn’t call an ambulance. He disappeared with both our phones and locked himself into the third-floor bathroom. We didn’t have a landline.
Sheer panic set in. I was sure I was going to die, right there on the bathroom floor, but at the very least I needed somebody to know Thomas was alone with his deadly dad.
Suddenly a wave of adrenaline took over, the thought of my boys drove me.
Fighting through the pain, I staggered upstairs, hammering on the door and begging Sebastian to call an ambulance. But he remained silent.
In a moment of desperation, I ran for the front door, throwing it open. As I collapsed onto the driveway, I spotted two neighbours. I begged them to call an ambulance and then I blacked out.
The moments that followed were a total blur. I saw Sebastian driving away in my car. I heard muffled sirens, then paramedics saying I wasn’t going to make it.
The next thing I knew, I was being bundled into an ambulance with baby Thomas beside me.
I heard somebody pleading with me to stay with them, but then everything went black.
When I finally came to, I found myself lying in a hospital bed with wires snaking out of my body. My mum was clutching my hand, crying.
I had only vague memories of what had happened. But when doctors reeled off the extent of my injuries, the horrifying attack came flooding back to me like a nightmare.
I was told I’d suffered five broken ribs and a punctured lung as a result of one of the broken ribs perforating it. My cheekbone had shattered like glass, too.
I spent four days in hospital but, the day after I was discharged, I began suffering with the most horrendous pains in my neck, arms and legs.
A CT-scan revealed I had two shattered vertebrae. Sebastian had been wearing heavy boots as he stamped on my spine.
I was fitted with a neck brace and underwent two intense procedures to repair my spine.
My neurosurgeon fitted a metal cage to the two damage vertebrae in the hopes it would hold them together. But as the weeks wore on, the pain only intensified.
Worst of all, I couldn’t even fasten Toby’s school shirts or Thomas’s baby-grows. I felt a total failure as a mother
I was devastated when a further scan revealed the cage had caused a disc bulge further down my spine, meaning another one of my vertebrae had become dislodged.
And when the surgeon explained the prognosis I was devastated. He told me the complex procedure can have horrific side effects, such as quadriplegia and paralysis.
But most devastating of all was that the injuries inflicted by Sebastian meant I could no longer perform basic, everyday tasks.
I began to suffer with Parkinson’s-like tremors and the most unbearable pains in my hands, arms, neck and even in my feet.
I lost all sensation in my fingertips, meaning I could no longer hold a pen or even write my name.
Worst of all, I couldn’t even fasten Toby’s school shirts or Thomas’s baby-grows. I felt a total failure as a mother.
When my injuries meant I could no longer do my job and I was made redundant, I felt a failure as a person too.
I spent three weeks in hospital recovering from my surgery, while police hunted for Sebastian.
He’d abandoned my car, which was found containing a suitcase full of Thomas’s clothes, their passports and a can of petrol. I felt physically sick.
Sebastian was finally arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm. On January 9, 17 months after his arrest, he appeared at Chester Crown Court.
Described by Judge Steven Everett as a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character, he was sentenced three years and four months in prison and handed an indefinite restraining order.
Judge Everett told him: “You were truly, horrendously horrible that night and showed horrendous behaviour towards your partner. You gave no thought to the effect on your two children.
“It was drunk, selfish and violent behaviour. This has had a hugely serious and catastrophic effect on her life. For this woman and her children, life will never be the same again.”
Sebastian was a monster and I am so glad he was caged, but I’ve been left with a life sentence.
I just hope my story will be a warning to other women experiencing the early warning signs of domestic abuse, with or without violence.
If you don’t feel safe, please get out before it’s too late.