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Wednesday 26 June 2019

'He physically and mentally destroyed me' - Mum shares harrowing story of domestic abuse and how she turned her life around

Priscilla Grainger with daughter Ainie
Priscilla Grainger with daughter Ainie
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Priscilla Grainger remembers a time she thought she was going to die. After she was thrown against a radiator and left in agony with a broken jaw and injured ribs, Priscilla thought that her time had come.

The Dublin mother-of-one's message to other women in this situation today is simple she says: "Get a plan and get out now."

Priscilla recalls how she was married for just two days when her new husband began abusing her.

"I met the man of my dreams and he was an absolute gentleman up until we decided to get married. On the second night of our honeymoon in Florida he beat me senseless because I didn't do what I was told.

"We were having a few drinks and I was tired so I decided to go up to the room but he wanted to stay down and have a few drinks. I went up to the room and read my book and the next thing he came up and said 'you left me on my own down there... you'll do as you're told'.

"He had never done anything like that before so I laughed and he got very angry. He said 'you're married to me now, you shouldn't have left me' and I told him not to speak to me like that. He just pushed me and hit me at the side of the neck. Then he kicked me in my side. I was absolutely shocked."

Priscilla said the next morning her new husband said she was "blowing it out of proportion" and that he had had too many drinks.

"I put it down to be a one-off. I noticed quickly after that he started to take control of our finances. I realised there was a problem, but love is blind."

She added that the abuse continued when she returned home after their honeymoon.

"After a year, I had enough and walked out. He pleaded that he would get help for his gambling so I came back. He got help, but it didn't last. Soon I was pregnant with my daughter Ainie."

Priscilla said she was abused by her husband twice during this pregnancy.

"He threw a vase at me and hurt me quite badly. It brought me into early labour and they had to give me injections to develop her organs.

"After Ainie was born, things got worse. It got so bad because he was jealous of the baby. He said his needs weren't being taken care of. He wanted a mother, not a wife. I had to work in the family business and I would come home and he would be sitting on the couch with Ainie, and she wouldn't have been changed since I left that morning at 7am. When I asked why Ainie wasn't looked after he would become very abusive."

When Ainie was nine-months-old, Priscilla made her escape.

"I left on New Year's Eve in the middle of the night. I knew he was out drinking so I took Ainie and we drove around the city. I had hot water bottles in the car to keep her warm. I had nowhere to go. My parents were in Leitrim but it was too late in the night to go down to them.

"I got out for a week and he pleaded with me. He threatened suicide, he threatened everything. I went back to my death. I reckon he would have killed me. He beat me senseless. I didn't want to go to the pub one night so he flung me against a radiator and I fell and broke my jaw. My ribs were injured. I never realised. I thought it was normal in a marriage."

Priscilla said she didn't go to the hospital because she felt that nobody would believe her.

"The next morning I couldn't move. I went to a chiropractor and he pleaded with me to go to the guards and I did. A fantastic woman guard helped me and said if I didn't do something, she would talk to social services about Ainie so I said I would take action. The next morning, my father died and I wasn't strong enough to take any action."

The mother-of-one said that all of a sudden, the physical abuse stopped, but her husband began mentally abusing her.

"He mentally destroyed me. I'd turn on the cooker and he'd turn it off."

The final straw came for Priscilla when she heard her husband was having affairs.

"I put a safety order in place and I threw him out. I had to get a security company to help me throw him out. I got the strength and I said enough is enough."

Today more than a decade later, Priscilla and her daughter Ainie have set up an organisation called 'Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland' to help other women escape domestic violence.

"We help women plan their escapes as well as offering counselling, legal advice and emergency supplies. We always tell women that you need to plan a month in advance your escape from your abuser."

The organisation also campaigns to get domestic violence recognised as a crime in Ireland.

"If you're at home and your partner hits you, that's not a crime. We're fighting to get it legalised and to get gardai trained in dealing with domestic violence. A lot of our victims feel blame for their abuse and they're not taking seriously by gardai.

"If domestic abuse isn't recognised as a crime, it tells victims that their crimes aren't important. When I went to the guards in 2010 I was told to go home and that my husband just probably had a couple of pints in him. The Government doesn't realise how serious of an issue this is."

In 2017, Women's Aid responded to 18,197 calls to their helpline and recorded 19,385 disclosures of domestic violence against women and children.

On October 13, 'Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland' is holding an event on North Circular Road in aid of Dress for Success.

"We have a number of music stars and beauty experts coming to the event and we're hoping to raise €3,000 to donate to Dress for Success who work with victims of domestic violence."

To find out more about this event, or to get in contact with Priscilla, you can visit their Facebook page here

If you have been affected by any of these issues you can contact Safe Ireland on 1800 341 900, Women's Aid on 1800 341 900 or see a list of local help centres here

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