Domestic abuse survivor whose partner left her needing reconstructive surgery warns of 'love bombing' warning signs

A woman subjected to horrific violence from her ex-partner has issued a warning over 'love bombing', as this weekend marks Valentine's Day.

Vocal campaigner against domestic abuse, Rebecca Beattie

Domestic abuse survivor Rebecca Beattie, from York, suffered five years of manipulation, control and violence by a man who was jailed for his crimes in 2012. He was also served a five-year restraining order and seven-year non-molestation order against her.

His campaign of abuse culminated in a physical attack which was so brutal that she was left needing reconstructive surgery on her face.

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Now aged 33 and a vocal campaigner for more awareness of the impact of domestic abuse, Ms Beattie has spoken out about 'love bombing' – one of the earliest signs a partner may become abusive.

Ms Beattie required reconstructive surgery after her ex-partner attacked her. He was jailed in 2012 over the crimes. Picture: SWNS/Ross Parry

The term 'love bombing' refers to the buying of gifts and showering of affection on a partner which is used to manipulate or guilt-trip victims.

It can occur at the start of a relationship when a perpetrator is trying to win someone's affection, as well as later on as a way of apologising for becoming violent or abusive.

Ms Beattie, who is an ambassador for The Prince's Trust and more recently won a Pride of Britain Award for her campaigning, says that love bombing may seem like a mark of affection for you, but is really about a partner's need for control.

"No abuser will walk up to you in a bar and say ‘I’m going to hit you for the next five years’," she said.

Ms Beattie has warned of danger signs of abuse such as 'love bombing' ahead of Valentine's Day. Picture: Getty

"Love bombing is a way perpetrator lay the foundations for their abuse. It’s done to manipulate you and make you feel in love with that person."

With this weekend marking Valentine's Day, couples across Yorkshire will be spoiling their partners with presents and cards, but Ms Beattie said it was important to recognise the difference between genuine tokens of affection and gifts used as a manipulation tactic.

A survey carried out by Yves Saint Laurent Beauty - which is working with Women's Aid to raise awareness as domestic abuse figures rise during lockdown - revealed this week that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of female respondents had experienced love bombing.

Approximately 1 in 3 women will experience Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in their lifetime, according to Women's Aid, and only a small proportion of survivors will obtain justice.

Vocal campaigner against domestic abuse, Rebecca Beattie, who is also an ambassador for The Prince's Trust, pictured with Charles, Prince of Wales

"Love bombing doesn’t come without a secondary tactic," Ms Beattie said.

"A partner will buy you a gift, which in any normal and healthy relationship is a mark of affection where nothing is expected in return. But for perpetrators of abuse this is used against you in some way. When things go wrong, my ex-partner would bring up these gestures as a way to guilt-trip me.

"Sometimes it can feel very overwhelming if it’s gift after gift - it’s like marking territory."

IDAS, a North Yorkshire-based charity supporting victims and survivors of abuse and harassment, said many traditional marks of affection can sometimes be insidious tactics by abusive partners, and warned that pressure to rush into a relationship should also be a cause for concern.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "Healthy relationships should be considerate, equal, trusting and kind. We would urge anyone who is worried about their relationship to get in touch with us."

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