Monday 19 February 2018

'I just wanted to pull this guy off my husband' - mother describes shocking assault outside family home

Stock picture
Stock picture

Meadhbh McGrath

A MOTHER-OF-TWO who suffers chronic pain as a result of a brutal, random assault two years ago has described how she watched her husband being repeatedly hit on the ground outside their home.

Today, Maria (who didn't wish to provide her full name) is celebrating her daughter Aisling’s fourth birthday. But on this day two years ago, she and her husband were victims to a shocking and unprovoked attack by youths loitering outside their home.

As Maria and her family enjoyed their daughter’s birthday party, they sat in the front room with the windows open onto the green outside their house.

“We noticed a few youths outside who looked very unstable, loud and boisterous, with cursing coming out of their mouths. They looked dangerous to be honest, and I got an awful fright,” a tearful Maria told RTE Radio One’s Ryan Tubridy Show.

“My husband went out and asked them to move along, and when he turned around to come back into the house he was struck from behind by one of these men, and continuously hit, repeatedly, to the ground.”

As she remembered the events of that day, Maria broke down in tears and had to take a moment before she continued: “My husband’s brother instantly ran out and proceeded to be attacked by a second youth that was there.

“I saw my husband on the ground, I saw him being repeatedly hit, and I ran out. I don’t know what went through my head, I just wanted to pull this guy off my husband. When I went to try to pull him, he turned with some strength and threw me straight on the ground.”

Maria described falling hard on the curb and landing on her back. Her sister-in-law called the guards, who arrested the youths, and Maria and her husband were taken to the doctor to get checked out.

Her husband luckily suffered only superficial wounds, but Maria learned that she had damaged her coccyx.

“I felt this pain in my back, it wouldn’t go away and it was coming stronger and stronger. It eventually turned out I had a severely herniated disc in my lower back,” she said.

Maria, who was at the time a self-employed hairdresser, told Ryan Tubridy she couldn’t work for six weeks after the assault, and eventually had to close her business.

“I used to love my work so much, I used to go out in the evenings when my husband came home from work and look after my clients in the hair studio. I had loyal clientele who used to come in and we would have fun and escape from the mundane. After this, I just couldn’t work,” she said.

By December, Maria couldn’t walk, and had to have surgery on her back.

“We ended up having to pay privately for that surgery, even though we pay health insurance. It was €6,000, but we needed it there and then. My surgeon told me I needed it immediately or there would be severe nerve damage done.”

Unfortunately, the surgery only made matters worse.

“I’m actually in a lot more pain now than I was before I went in for the surgery. I’m in daily chronic pain.

“I’m into my local hospital every week, I attend a really amazing spine specialist and she’s trying to help me get through this pain so I can function and get through the day and raise my family.”

Maria says her two daughters, now aged four and seven, have become accustomed to their mother’s pain.

“They’ve learnt to realise I can’t do things. If I drop something my girls will go pick it up for me. I couldn’t put my youngest girl’s tights on in the morning, I couldn’t dress myself, my husband had to help me.”

Maria broke down in tears again as she went on: “My whole life was changed. I can’t carry my little girls, I can’t play. I’m not the same wife, I’m not the same mother, and I want to be that person again. I just feel like I’ve been left like this.”

The men who had assaulted Maria’s husband and brother-in-law were ordered to pay a small fine, but the man who had attacked her was set free, despite his reported 14 previous convictions.

“It shouldn’t be this way,” Maria said, adding that the judgement had “left us lost”.

As well as visiting a spinal specialist once a week, Maria said she does physiotherapy exercises every morning, and her goal now is to return to work.

“We’ve just been living on my husband’s income. I had to close my business, because my surgeon told me if I went back to work I’d be back on the surgeon’s table within two years.

“All I know is hairdressing, I don’t know where to go from here. I feel a little bit lost, but I know I’ll get there.”

However, Maria remains optimistic, and says the incident has made both her and her family stronger and brought them closer together.

“I’m getting there, I’m seeing the light and I’m learning to live with the pain. We’re taking it day by day as a family.

“I want to be an amazing mother. I want to work again. I’m on top, I’m a better person than them, and this whole ordeal has made me a stronger, better person.”

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