Sec­ond thoughts

Joanna Har­ri­son, 22, from Dundee, es­caped the vi­o­lent clutches of her boyfriend, but then he came back for more…

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents -

Since we’d been in­tro­duced through mu­tual friends, Reece Smith and I had hardly spent a day apart. He was funny and charm­ing, and to top it all off, Reece, 22, was bril­liant with my one-year-old daughter, Libby.

We were so happy that I had to pinch my­self.

But one night, Reece was go­ing out with his mates.

‘I’ll be back at 9pm,’ he said, giv­ing me a peck on the cheek.

‘Cool, see you later,’ I said. ‘Have fun!’

When Reece didn’t come home, I was wor­ried.

He didn’t have a phone and I had no way of con­tact­ing him or any of his friends to make sure he was okay.

Reece fi­nally walked in at 11:40pm and I was so re­lieved.

‘Where have you been? I’ve been so wor­ried about you,’ I said, giv­ing him a hug. Reece scowled. ‘What do you mean where have I been? I’ve been out with my friends you id­iot,’ he snapped ag­gres­sively. I was stunned. He’d never spo­ken to me like that be­fore. But

then he picked up a pint glass and smashed it against the wall.

It shat­tered a foot away from my head and all over the floor.

‘What are you do­ing?’ I screamed, so afraid.

Next, he grabbed a kitchen knife and started slash­ing the sofa. ‘Stop it Reece!’ I cried. ‘What’s got­ten into you?’ I tried to run away, but he grabbed me, knock­ing me down.

He grabbed my dress­ing gown cord and shoved it into my mouth.

‘No one will hear you scream now,’ he said sadis­ti­cally. I was

so ter­ri­fied.

When he let go for a sec­ond, I man­aged to crawl to the bath­room and lock the door.

I waited un­til ev­ery­thing went silent, then care­fully crept out and called the po­lice.

Reece was charged with ab­duc­tion, as­sault to in­jury, theft and van­dal­ism.

He was sentenced to nine months im­pris­on­ment in HMYOI Pol­mont prison.

While Reece was in prison, he sent me beg­ging let­ters and even called me.

He promised he’d learnt his les­son and that it would never hap­pen again. I ripped up the let­ters. I had Libby to think about. We were free of him. A year on, we were set­tled in a new home and I was start­ing again.

Then one night, there was a knock at the door.

I got the shock of my life when I saw Reece stand­ing there.

‘I’m home­less, I have nowhere to go,’ he sobbed. He looked a sorry

state and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.

‘Come in, we’ll have a cup of tea,’ I said to him.

We stayed up all night and he said sorry so many times.

He said he’d been in a bad place and that he wasn’t like that any­more. ‘Can we try again?’ he pleaded. In that mo­ment, I saw the Reece I’d fallen in love with.

Was I throw­ing away the chance to make it work?

So we got back to­gether.

And at first, things went well.

But a few months on, he picked a fight and ac­cused me of sleeping with some­one else. As I tried to head up to bed, Reece grabbed my hair and pulled me down the stairs.

His fist landed hard in my face, over and over.

‘I know you’ve been cheat­ing on me,’ he screamed.

While I was lay­ing on the ground, gob­s­macked, he picked up a full bot­tle of wine and poured the en­tire con­tents over my head.

‘Get out now!’ I shouted, sob­bing and feel­ing ab­so­lutely hu­mil­i­ated. ‘Fine by me,’ he snarled. He started to walk up the stairs to

my bed­room to get his things.

I quickly grabbed my house phone and di­alled 999.

If I learnt one thing, it was that things usu­ally got worse be­fore they got bet­ter.

Then Reece came storm­ing back down the stairs.

‘He’s com­ing back down, please hurry!’ I begged the op­er­a­tor.

‘You’ve phoned the po­lice!’ Reece raged.

I screamed at the top of my voice for help.

‘If I’m go­ing to get ar­rested, I may as well give them a good enough rea­son!’ he shouted, lean­ing over and punch­ing me in the face again and again. I drifted in and out of con­scious­ness.

The next thing I knew, his foot was on my head and he kicked me so hard in the ribs, I heard a crack. I’m go­ing to die, I thought. Then I thought about my Libby, who thank­fully was with her dad at the time.

My heart broke think­ing she’d be left

with­out a mum. Why had I taken him back and put my­self at this risk? So I dragged my­self into my bed­room. Soon, po­lice started bang­ing on the door. Cow­ardly Reece jumped out of a win­dow, but he was quickly ar­rested. The next day, I was back home. My en­tire body was aching and my blood was all over the walls. When I looked in the mir­ror, I was un­recog­nis­able. Reece hadn’t changed – and he wasn’t go­ing to. He was sentenced to 24 months im­pris­on­ment at Perth Sher­iff Court af­ter he pleaded guilty to a charge of as­sault to in­jury. I had to plead my case in court be­hind a screen so Reece wouldn’t see me. It was ter­ri­fy­ing. I had to lis­ten to the 999 call where the sound of my ter­ri­fied voice bought me to tears. To­day, while my phys­i­cal wounds have healed, the men­tal scars will never re­ally go away. I have night­mares and feel such a fool for tak­ing him back. We all make mis­takes and I want other women to learn from mine.

I truly wanted to give him a sec­ond chance, but I paid the price.

Dy­ing wasn’t an op­tion

We’d been so happy

He stood on my head

Reece used his charm to win me back

Beaten hard with his fists

Mov­ing on with my life

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