For seven months, Bethany Marchant was subjected to domestic abuse from her partner, Stefan Carr, culminating in a three-hour ordeal at his Castleford home in which he tried to murder her by hanging her with a noose from a door.
Carr was jailed for 11 years and three months at Leeds Crown Court in September of that year, after the court was shown harrowing footage of the attack captured on CCTV cameras installed across his house.
But the dance instructor from Sherburn-in-Elmet did not realise the true extent of what she had suffered until after the physical attack.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, she described how Carr would mentally torture and emotionally blackmail her – preventing her from seeing friends and secretly recording her on his phone in the months preceding the attack.
"I think for a long time I didn't really realise what abuse was," said Ms Marchant, 25.
"I always just thought of domestic violence as being physical and didn't realise all the mental side to it as well."
Ms Marchant was with Carr for seven months before he tried to kill her in the three-hour ordeal in May 2019, in which he also held a pillow case over her face, forced his fist down her throat, bit her face and threatened her with a knife.
The violence, she said, was so horrific that when she watched back the CCTV footage, she thought it "didn't look that bad in comparison to how it felt".
She said before the assault, he had never been physically violent but had displayed signs of being controlling and manipulative, and has now spoken out on the documentary Survivors with Denise Welch to raise awareness of the early signs of abuse.
It comes amidst rising reports of domestic abuse over the past year as many women, men and children have been trapped at home with their abusers during the lockdown.
Ms Marchant said: "Looking back now, there were signs from the beginning – even though he wasn't physically abusive. He would blame me for things without actually saying he was blaming me. So for example, he would say, 'you can go out with your friends but then he would text me later and guilt trip me. In the end you just think it's not worth going out for the arguments."
ONS crime survey data showed there was a seven per cent increase in police recorded offences flagged as domestic abuse-related between March and June 2020, compared with the same period in the previous year, while figures from the National Domestic Abuse Helpline showed a 65 per cent rise in calls and contacts between April and June, compared with the first three months of 2020.
Ms Marchant decided to tell her story publicly only recently after she was contacted by producers for Survivors with Denise Welch, which airs tonight (Monday) at 9pm on the channel Crime + Investigation.
"I think my main reason for speaking out was recognising what abuse is. Because even if your friends are talking about it, I don't think they really realise what it's like.
"I always used to think I was attacked once, but when I think about it now I realise I had been abused for seven months in a way that was so sly I didn't even realise it. For me, it's important that other people recognise abuse and if this program even helps one person then, for me, it will have been worth it."
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