A SOUTH Tyneside man has told of how he used to physically and emotionally abuse his partner – and is urging others to seek help this Christmas.
The 28-year-old, who did not want to be named, says he has turned his life around after missing out on sharing the festive period with his daughters and partner last year.
He had been banned from seeing them after appearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, charged with domestic violence.
No further action was taken after his partner dropped the charges, and the man has since changed his ways after completing a programme with children’s charity, Barnardo’s.
Now, as part of Northumbria Police’s campaign to put a stop to domestic violence, he’s telling his story in the hope that it will make others wake up to what they’re doing.
He said: “I used to emotionally and physically abuse my partner.
“I’d grab her by the throat, push her, shout at her, break things. Most of the time I was drunk and when I sobered up I’d regret what I’d done – if I could remember it.”
The couple were together for four years and the man was arrested last October.
He said: “The worst thing was that when I woke up in the cell the next day. I couldn’t remember what I’d done. When the police officer told me what had happened, I didn’t believe him.”
He said he had started drinking when he left the Army and was going through a rough period.
At Barnardo’s he was put through a programme to understand why he was doing what he was doing, and to put a stop to it.
He said: “It was hard to admit I needed help. I thought I was just going to go in and be labelled, but it wasn’t like that.
“I don’t really know why I did it. I could say it was all the alcohol’s fault but I can’t because I know I shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place.
“I made myself a different person, and the alcohol added to that. I haven’t been drunk for a year now.
“I’ll have one or two drinks, but I never get drunk. Hearing other men talking about what they did helped me to realise what I was doing.
“You’d be sitting there listening to the things that these men did and you’d think it was awful and wrong, then suddenly realise, ‘I used to do that’.”
Now that the family is back together, the reformed man says he’s looking forward to Christmas.
He said: “At the time that the abuse was going on, the kids would have just thought it was normal because they were seeing it every day.
“I was told by the courts that I wasn’t allowed any contact with them and I didn’t see them from October, last year, to March. It was horrible.
“I didn’t think of the abuse having anything to do with the kids, but obviously it did affect them.
“Seeing something like that would have a lasting effect.
“I saw it myself when I was young. My dad abused my mam and then she had different partners after him and most of them were the same.
“But that’s no excuse for what I did. I’m ashamed of what I did, but I’m not ashamed to admit it.
“To anyone who is suffering domestic abuse, I’d say report it, and the people who are being abusive should seek help themselves.”
BARNARDO’S runs domestic abuse programmes in Newcastle and South Tyneside.
It had 194 referrals in 2013-14, and 38 men completed the programme.
Forty-eight per cent of the referrals came from children’s services, and of those, 51 per cent were subject to a child protection plan. All of the children showed improvement in their self-esteem and confidence and 66 per cent showed improvement in behaviour.
No violence was reported by the women after their partners took part in the programme and 60 per cent said their partner’s emotionally abusive behaviour had improved. All the women felt safer after the programme.