Northamptonshire domestic abuse survivor urges others to seek help as boyfriend is jailed

Domestic abuse survivor Hannah Martin says she's no longer afraid of her former partner Hayden Wykes after finding the courage to call police.
Domestic abuse survivor Hannah Martin says she's no longer afraid of her former partner Hayden Wykes after finding the courage to call police. Credit: Press Association

A mother-of-three and domestic abuser survivor said her partner's final attack left her "wanting to die" - before she found the courage to call the police.

Hannah Martin was repeatedly beaten up, told she was an unfit mum, and had her financial and social life controlled during an 18-month relationship with Hayden Wykes, 27.

As he begins a nearly four-year jail sentence, Mrs Martin has urged other women to seek help if they are in destructive relationships.

The 32-year-old secretly contacted Northamptonshire Police to beg for help back in November 2020, after a three-hour attack during which Wykes broke her ribs.

"I thought this is a huge risk for me to take, but I've got to take the chance," she said.

"I feel really empowered now ... and I'm not scared of him any more.

"It just proves it can be done. Because, trust me, in that final moment, I wanted to die. And for the first time in a long time now, I don't want to die, and I'm excited for the rest of my life."

Hayden Wykes was jailed for three years and nine months after admitting a string of violent assaults on his former girlfriend. Credit: Northamptonshire Police

Wykes pleaded guilty to five offences - including actual bodily harm, assault by beating, and engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour.

A hearing at Northampton Crown Court heard how he had told Mrs Martin she should kill herself, stopped her seeing friends, controlled what she could spend her money on, and checked her phone, as well as insulting her appearance.

His physical assaults included slapping her so hard he burst an ear drum, pushing her down the stairs, and grabbing her round the throat.

Mrs Martin, who runs her own cleaning business in Northampton, said the relationship with Wykes started well and that she quickly fell in love.

But he soon became abusive, prompting her to stop meeting up with friends because she feared she was "too ugly or too fat". She also lied to family members in a bid to explain away her injuries.

Wykes was initially arrested after neighbours became concerned about a domestic incident several months into the relationship.

But the pair rekindled their romance when he was released on bail and the violence started again.

Mrs Martin said she had a "trauma bond" with Wykes, meaning she sought out his company again despite knowing how his behaviour affected her.

"I was so lonely and I genuinely missed him," she said. "All I remembered was all the good times because when an abuser is lovely, they're lovely.

"And then slowly, day by day, they'll start nit-picking little bits after a little bit, and then there'll be a big scenario, and then the cycle starts again."

Mrs Martin said Wykes made her believe she was responsible for his violent episodes, and each time promised it would not happen again. But she knows she would not be alive had she stayed with him.

In a message to people in abusive relationships across the country, she said: "Put your trust in the police because they are phenomenal, and I can't thank them enough.

"My life's completely turned around."

PC Gina Anderson was assigned to Mrs Martin as her dedicated domestic violence officer when Wykes was first arrested.

She praised Mrs Martin for her bravery, and said she hoped her story would inspire others to contact the police.

She said: "I know it's a scary process. And I know it's a really big step, to come forward to the police or to any agency and report domestic violence, especially in instances of controlling and coercive behaviour.

"But you will be believed, we will do everything we can to gain your trust and show you that we're here to help."

She urged people to be on the lookout and act if they had concerns that a family member, friend or colleague might be trapped in an abusive relationship.

If you need support or advice, contact the free National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.