Wednesday 16 January 2019

'I couldn't escape' - mother-of-two beaten by ex-partner 'relieved' after jail sentencing

The Criminal Courts of Justice and inset, some of the injuries suffered by the woman
The Criminal Courts of Justice and inset, some of the injuries suffered by the woman

Rachel Farrell

A mother-of-two who was viciously assaulted by a Dublin businessman has spoken about the relief she felt when he was taken into custody.

Joseph Fraser (42) of Mount Eagle Drive, Leopardstown received a four-year sentence for the assault with the final 18 months suspended last week.

The woman had been dating Fraser "on and off" for a few months when he drove to her home drunk, but they were not together at that time.

Fraser, a father-of-five, pleaded guilty to the assault which occurred on September 19, 2017.

Injuries sustained in the attack
Injuries sustained in the attack

Over a year on from the assault, the woman has decided to share her story in the hopes of helping others in abusive relationships.

The Dublin-based mother explained that she had no idea that Fraser would turn out like he did- but she had tried to make a complaint about him once, in the months leading up to the attack. 

"I didn’t know- if only I had known. I didn’t know he was such an alcoholic," the woman told Independent.ie.

"We weren’t even really together when I found out, but I called a rehab centre for him and even tried to pay for him.

Injuries sustained in the attack
Injuries sustained in the attack

"I met him in January last year and by April he started changing, and I started noticing all those changes. He said he’d change, even go to rehab, and you think they will change so you give them a chance."

On the night of September 19 2017, she said she hid Mr Fraser’s car keys when he arrived at her house drunk to prevent him from driving, a decision that enraged Mr Fraser.

"There’s a green near the house where loads of children play, and I knew they’d be out in the afternoon. I didn’t want him to run over someone’s child," she said.

"He drank half a bottle of gin and I even tried calling his mother to try calm him down."

As a result, Mr Fraser began punching her in the ribs, face and head in an attack that carried through the house and into the back garden.

"When I went into the back garden I couldn’t escape. I have railings for the dog-run which he hit my face on multiple times.

"I had a wooden spoon in my hand, and he broke that. I had to crawl through a small hole in the door that he kicked right in, but the door was locked, and I couldn’t find the key."

The court heard that Mr Fraser had kicked the woman’s head in with his "steel-toe shoe" during the attack.

Covered in blood, when she managed to escape she ran to her neighbours house, where an ambulance and the gardai were called.

The immediate effect of the assault was imminent- her son, she explained, stayed with her parents for over two weeks because she didn’t want him to see her bruised face and body.

"I couldn’t see my own face all the time unless I looked in the mirror, but my daughter had tears in her eyes every time she looked at me," she said.

"I could see the shock every time she looked at my face.

"My son was with my parents that day and I didn’t see him for around two and a half weeks. I didn’t want him to see me that way, I wanted to keep him away from it."

She explained how she couldn’t bring herself to enter small spaces in the aftermath of the incident, and had nightmares about the attack for months.

"After the incident, I wasn't able to get into small lifts or small spaces as I felt anxious that I mightn’t be able to get out or felt trapped. I'm still working on that.

"I had the same dream almost every night that I'm in a house, with the front door open and he's coming at me but I'm frozen and I cannot move. I’d wake up sweating as it felt so real."

The woman added that she didn’t have "high hopes" for his sentencing at the time.

"I wasn’t expecting even for him to spend two and a half years in jail. I would’ve hoped for more at the time, but he knows now that he can’t get away with it every time. 

"The judicial system needs to be changed. There should be set punishment for every crime that's committed. I didn't go into court on November 27 with very high hopes."

The sense of "relief" came as soon as Mr Fraser was taken into custody, but the damage he left with the woman and her family can still be felt.

"He won’t be in prison forever. Nobody but me knows the damage he caused me.

"There was a sense of relief when he was taken into custody. Once in a blue moon, I felt like I’d bump into him on the streets. 

"I am generally a confident person, but he’s a narcissist and he tried to break my confidence. When I was there in court towards the end, that was when I broke down."

She decided to speak out after he had been sentenced, to add towards breaking the "stigma" with domestic violence and to set an example for her daughter.

"I wanted to set an example for my daughter that it is not okay for someone to treat you like that and it is not okay to let them get away with it," she said.

"There’s so many people, men and women, that have gone through domestic violence. When it happens the first time, they have to come forward then no matter how hard it is.

"Even when you let it go and they say they love you again and again- if someone really loves you, they won’t raise a hand."

  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can contact Women’s Aid on their national helpline 1800 341 900.

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