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