It’s June 2018, and I’m getting ready to host a charity football match on Sunday (10 June). What’s so special, you might ask, but match day marks the one-year anniversary of my escape from a very unusual situation.
At 4.20pm on Saturday, 10 June 2017, following a 999 call from my worried neighbours, police officers came to my home and arrested my girlfriend for grievous bodily harm, putting an end to months of abuse and suffering, and, I do believe, saved my life.
On that day alone, before the police arrived, she’d slapped me, hit me around my face and head and kicked me. During the altercation, I deliberately broke the kettle so she couldn’t burn me with boiling water; something she had done several times before. Take it from me, it’s the worst pain anyone could endure.
The control began early in our relationship. Jealous behaviour, checking up on me, wanting to know my every move and who I spoke to. Even family members were subjected to questioning, but looking back, I didn’t know any different. I thought that was just her way, but it got slowly worse.
And then we moved in together.
The physical abuse began, and was constant. Low level to start with; slaps, punches. Then over time, it escalated and she’d hit me with anything to hand including a hammer, or the plug end of a laptop power cord. She’d cut me with knives too. The boiling water was the worst. One time she woke me by pouring a kettle-full over me. It was an alarm clock of scalding pain, and I will never forget it.
I suffered many injuries, some so bad they should have had medical treatment, but I didn’t see a doctor because that would mean telling someone what had happened. Time and again she convinced others that I’d hurt myself. So much so, I almost ended up believing it.
I did eventually get to hospital, but only after she severed two tendons in my hand with a knife. She wouldn’t let me have treatment, because I would be away from her for a night. Those tendons weren’t treated for four weeks. I’ve been told I’m lucky I can still use my hand.
I slept on the floor for those nine months. My only bedding were the items of clothing she allowed me to keep. I wasn’t allowed to wash, or shower, or even brush my teeth. I wasn’t permitted to eat with the family and lost around four stone in weight during this time. My health and mental wellbeing were failing, and I seriously thought I would die.
The emotional and mental torture were just as destructive. She deliberately and calculatedly separated me from my family and friends. She destroyed my mobile phone, and took my legal documents and identification from me. She created social media pages in a name similar to mine, and controlled the content.
I was shut out from the rest of the world and by the time I got out, I hadn’t spoken to my family for two years. They thought I hated them and I truly believed I would never see them again.
On that Saturday in June 2017, my life changed forever
Bedfordshire Police were fantastic. I believe they saved my life. Sergeant Ed Finn came to my home that day and he managed to get me out of the house. He didn’t believe for one minute that I’d hurt myself, and it was his belief that made me think I could do this.
Detective Constable Lynn Adams and Sergeant Katherine Rivers investigated my case and secured convictions for grievous bodily harm with intent and coercion and control; the UK’s first such conviction of a female offender.
In the week following the conviction, I suddenly became a well-known face on TV, in the papers and on social media, with reporters knocking on my door, and cars arriving to take me to TV studios across London.
I stood up and told the world my story to highlight that domestic abuse does happen to guys as well. I’m not doing it for me. Fame isn’t my goal here. Publicity for the cause is what’s driving me.
So why have I been so open about what happened to me? When I was presented at hospital, doctors told me I was around ten days from death. I believe the reason I survived to tell my story is to help others going through a similar ordeal. I don’t want one more person to suffer what I’ve gone through.
I would implore anyone in a similar situation to ask for help. Help is available, and you will be believed.
Alex Skeel is a domestic abuse survivor and an ambassador for ManKind Initiative – the first charity in Great Britain to support male victims of domestic abuse.
Alex’s charity fundraising match Bedford Park Rangers XI vs Celeb FC is on Sunday 10th June. Tickets and information
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse, and need help, there is a wealth of information available on our website.
In an emergency, always call 999.
Photos: Alex Skeel