'He would punch me, pull my hair and drag me along the floor' - Irish mother describes horrific domestic abuse
Warning: Readers may find elements of this story distressing
An Irish mother-of-three has opened up about her experience with domestic abuse after she was left "traumatised".
Vicki Mooney (39) who set up a plus-size model agency in 2014, said she wanted to speak out in an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence and shared pictures of her with a broken nose, black eye and bruised body.
She said being reminded of those images “shocks me to the core” as she has since moved on from the relationship. The relationship has since ended, but Ms Mooney said seeing the images still has a huge impact.
"He would punch me, pull my hair and drag me along the floor. It was traumatising," she told Independent.ie.
Ms Mooney described the relationship, which lasted for several months in 2016, as a "toxic relationship" and said she has been contacted by a number of women in similar situations since she first shared her story on TV3's Elaine.
Since appearing on the show, Ms Mooney said several woman have reached out to her who are in similar situations.
"They said they were all too afraid to press charges as well because they were terrified of the man.
"Thinking about it opens up so many wounds and it's very frightening to be in that situation," she said.
She said she never got a barring order against her former partner as she had "no trust in the justice system".
"When I weighed up what I would gain and what I would have to go through, I decided to drop the charges. I have three children and they would have to give witness statements and I didn't want to put them through that again. It was traumatic for them.
"I also had no trust in the justice system that anything would be done."
When Ms Mooney first appeared on the TV3 chat show, she said seeing those pictures "shocks me to the core".
"It breaks my heart to think I ended up like that – that somebody thought it was okay to hit me that hard and that much, that my nose burst and I couldn’t see my face,” she explained.
“When that happened to me, I had a complete mind fog – it was a very toxic situation.
“I didn’t feel as if I could talk to anybody about it. When people asked why I had bruises, I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was ashamed to speak.
“When that happened, I remember someone said to me, ‘You look like you have no soul in your eyes’ and I hadn’t. I’d lost myself through that.”
Ms Mooney said her children gave her the courage to leave her ex-boyfriend, who is not the father to any of her children.
“Coming out the other side of it, my children – my three beautiful children - because when there is a fist coming to your face and you quite literally can’t see with blood, you don’t know if it’s going to end. Only for my children being there, I don’t know how I would have come out,” she said.
Ms Mooney, said she “tried her best to fight back” when she was attacked.
She emphasised the importance of reaching out for help, either with a friend or a domestic violence service like Women's Aid and hopes sharing her story will give other people in similar situations the strength to leave an abusive environment.
“Walking away from it was so easy. For me, it was black and white,” she said.
“When I say that now, there are thousands of women and men at home seeing these images and think, ‘How do I do that? Where do I get the strength from to do that?’
“It is your choice. You decide, ‘I’m going to call Woman’s Aid. I’m going to talk to my friend’. When someone asks how you are and how you got the bruise, you decide and that’s what I did.”
“I think it’s a very long process, but when you end up in a situation with somebody and it’s… when there’s that toxic energy and somebody can actually physically do that, that’s when you go, ‘I need to make a change’.”
If you find the above content distressing or you need help, please contact Women's Aid on 1800 341 900 or by logging onto their website which can be found here.