I was making a brew in the kitchen while Paul did the ironing. The next thing I knew, I felt a searing pain on my back…
By Kerry Hines, 31, from Birmingham
My hands trembled as I picked up the white stick and watched as the two blue lines appeared… pregnant.
My heart hammered in my chest. I couldn’t be expecting a baby, could I? Paul and I had only hooked up a couple of times, it was only meant to be a bit of fun. Now this.
‘I’m keeping the baby,’ I told him outright. It hadn’t been planned, Paul and I weren’t even in a relationship, but there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted our baby.
‘I’ll support you, whatever you decide,’ Paul told me.
We kept in touch throughout my pregnancy and when our daughter, Shanay, was born in April 2012, I sent him a message.
‘I hope you’re both ok,’ he replied. ‘When can I visit?’
His daughter was four weeks old when Paul met her for the first time. I felt my heart swell with love when I watched him cradle little Shanay.
‘She’s gorgeous,’ he cooed proudly. Despite our rocky start, he was a doting dad and I found myself looking forward to Paul’s visits more and more.
‘We’ve been looking forward to seeing you,’ I smiled, letting him in and passing Shanay to him. ‘I couldn’t wait to see my girls,’ he grinned, planting a kiss on Shanay’s cheek… and then mine.
I felt my cheeks blush crimson, as butterflies fluttered in my stomach. In September, when Shanay was five months old, Paul moved in with us.
‘I know none of this was planned but I want to be with you, both of you,’ he told me.
It felt strange sharing my home with Paul after coping on my own for so long but I had to admit it was handy having an extra pair of hands around the house.
I raised my eyebrows when he came crashing through the door with rolls of wallpaper and pots of paint.
‘I’ve got to put my stamp on the place, haven’t I?’ Paul said. ‘This is our family home now.’
He got to work redecorating the kitchen and living room and he was a brilliant dad to Shanay. Finally, I felt like a proper family.
But it didn’t last long.
‘Where are you, why aren’t you at home?’ Paul rang me, angry. I’d only popped out to the shops to pick up some bits for dinner but Paul accused me of getting up to all sorts.
‘Is everything ok?’ my mum asked, a look of concern on her face.
‘Of course,’ I told her, hiding the call log on my phone. ‘Paul just likes to check me and the baby are ok, that’s all.’
But the truth was, it had got a bit much. At first I’d been flattered by Paul’s attention. I thought he called all the time because he cared.
But after a while I came to realise he was jealous and possessive and after he’d had a drink, Paul became aggressive and began lashing out too.
‘It’s not on,’ I told him. ‘You can’t treat me like this. You ring me a hundred times a day, I haven’t even got five minutes to have a cup of tea! I want you to move out.’
I’d pack Paul’s things in a bag and kick him out… only for him to come crawling back with his tail between his legs.
‘I’m sorry, Kerry. I love you,’ he pleaded. ‘I love you too much. That’s why I act the way I do. I’ll change, please give us another chance.’
Soon, he’d worm his way back in and the cycle of behaviour started again. Paul’s jealous temper would get the better of him, I’d kick him out, only to relent and take him back when he promised things would be different.
Of course, they never were.
Then in August 2015, I was in the kitchen making a cuppa. I’d reminded Paul earlier that day that he owed me some money and now he was behind me, ironing his jumper before he went to the bank.
I was stirring my brew when I said: ‘Don’t forget to get that money out for me when you go to the bank. That washing up needs doing too.’
Paul didn’t say a word, but the next thing I knew, I felt a searing pain on my back. ‘Ouch!’ I yelped, spinning round to find Paul brandishing the iron – and a sheepish expression.
‘You’ve just burned me!’ I cried, clutching at my back.
The red hot iron was still plugged in when Paul tried to protest his innocence. ‘I never touched you,’ he said. ‘I didn’t mean to!’
Panicked, I ran to the living room and peered in the mirror. I could see my raw, burning flesh though a hole in my dressing gown.
It had cut right through it, burning through the fabric of my pyjama top too. My boyfriend had branded me.
I was horrified as I realised Paul had deliberately thrust the iron at me, burning a perfect iron shape on my skin. The pain was immense.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t meant it,’ Paul tried to protest. ‘I just wanted to see what would happen.’ Pathetic.
‘Look, it’s beginning to blister,’ I said, tears forming in my eyes. ‘I need to go to the doctors to get it checked out.’
Paul begged me not to go. ‘Please, just leave it. They’ll ask too many questions.’
For the next two days, Paul didn’t let me out of his sight. But two days after he’d branded me, he went to work – and I seized my chance.
‘It’s my boyfriend,’ I started, calling the police. ‘He burned me with an iron. You have to stop him.’
I was terrified. I just didn’t know what Paul would do next. Thankfully, officers caught up with Paul at his mum’s house and arrested him.
He refused to plead guilty, forcing the case to go to trial. I was gobsmacked when he tried to claim that I’d been upstairs ironing some jeans when I leaned over, knocked the ironing board and sent the ironing crashing down on my back.
Thankfully the judge saw through his pathetic lies and convicted him of assault by beating. Paul was sent to prison for 20 weeks, handed a £250 fine and slapped with a two-year restraining order.
Now, I’m moving on without him. I find it hard to trust men and I’m single now. I’d rather be on my own with someone like Paul though.
I’m trying to put what happened behind me but I’m scarred for life and every time I look in the mirror I’ve got a permanent reminder of Paul, and the day I was branded by my boyfriend.