My childhood sweetheart turned into a monster who throttled me til I feared I’d die

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webnexttech | My childhood sweetheart turned into a monster who throttled me til I feared I'd die
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A mum has urged abuse victims to speak out as she revealed her own ordeal when her childhood sweetheart throttled her until she feared he would kill her. Lee Ellison and Sarah Etchells had a 20-year relationship, and two children together. But behind closed doors, Ellison became increasingly abusive and controlling, demeaning Sarah with vile sexual insults. Ellison, 43, was jailed in August for coercive and controlling behaviour and intentional strangulation. Speaking in depth for the first time, Sarah, 42, from Manchester, says: “I built my whole world around Lee, and he’d always tell people how much he loved me, and he couldn’t live without me. “But in reality, he was vile to me. He tipped me out of bed, poured cold tea and coffee on me, and called me horrible names. He was only ever nice to me when he wanted sex, yet he’d then say I was a ‘sl*g’ with a ‘baggy *****.’ “I wasn’t allowed to go out, to have friends, to straighten my hair or to get my nails done. He totally smashed my confidence to bits. I want other women to learn from this. Please don’t put up with this sort of abuse. You are worth so much more.” Lee and Sarah first dated aged 16, but their relationship ended six months later. Aged 23, they met up again and began dating. Sarah said: “Because of our shared history, our relationship moved very quickly. We moved in together and we were happy. I fancied Lee, but looking back, I was looking after him too.” The following year they had a son, who has additional needs and epilepsy, followed by a daughter, now aged 10. But though they had periods of happiness, Lee was increasingly controlling and abusive. Sarah said: “Lee had a difficult childhood, and I used to make allowances for that. I thought he was just insecure, and I found myself mothering him more and more. I did everything for him. I had a cleaning job, but Lee left me to look after the children and do all the housework too, even though he didn’t work.” By 2018, Lee was becoming more aggressive. Sarah said: “I got up every morning with the children and I wasn’t allowed a single lie-in – he would tip the mattress upside down or pour cold coffee or tea on me to get me out of bed. “I used to try to make a joke and say: ‘Did you buy me from my parents?’ because I really felt as though he owned me. I had to walk with my head down. I knew everyone on our estate, I’d grown up there, but he didn’t let me speak to anyone. I couldn’t do my hair or make-up because Lee would accuse me of having affairs. “When he wanted sex, he was nice to me but afterwards he’d demean me. The insults were horrible, and I really lost my confidence. I reported it to the police but couldn’t go through with the complaint. I had lost all my strength.” In April 2022, the couple split but Ellison returned just before Christmas 2022. Sarah said: “Because it was Christmas, we had lots of spirits in, and he got really drunk and started on me. He worked himself up into a rage, calling me a rat and a slag and a ‘p*** stain on society.’ “He shoved me onto the bed, with his hands round my neck and began throttling me. He told me: ‘I will strangle the life out of you.’ I really thought he was going to kill me. My neck clicked and it frightened him. He stopped and came to his senses. I was terrified, and I knew I’d have to report it. I didn’t want my children to lose their dad, but I also wanted to show my children that this behaviour is not acceptable.” Lee Ellison appeared at Manchester Crown Court in August last year and the court heard his behaviour ‘descended into criminal behaviour in a number of ways’.‌ Ellison pleaded guilty to coercive and controlling behaviour and intentional strangulation and was jailed for a year and 11 months. Judge Sarah Johnston jailed Ellison for a year and 11 months, telling him: “You engaged in behaviour which was designed to criticise, designed to intimidate, designed to threaten and designed to her undermine her in many different ways. “This was in the context of being parents to two children. I accept entirely there’s another side to you. I accept entirely that those close to you, who are here in court, know another side to you and that they love and support you. But the behaviour I have just described manifested itself in a number of forms of behaviour. It is serious and must be treated as such.” She said much of the ‘significant verbal abuse’ was ‘plainly misogynistic’. Over a ‘prolonged period’, it had a ‘serious impact’ on Ms Etchells, the judge added. The 2019 court case should have been a warning, she told the defendant, but his behaviour ‘escalated’, ending in an ‘episode of specific and serious violence.’ The judge said the act of strangulation is ‘even if not intended to cause maximum injury, is intended to cause ‘maximum fear’. “Who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t come to your senses when you heard that noise,” she said. A five-year restraining order was imposed. *For confidential support, call the 24-hourNational Domestic Abuse Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or visit womensaid.co.ukIf you or your family have lost a friend or family member through fatal domestic abuse, AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse)can offer specialist and expert support and advocacy. For more info visit www.aafda.org.uk

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