'I thought he was going to kill me' - Survivor speaks out about domestic abuse

Video report by Sarah Rogers

A domestic abuse survivor has spoken of the injuries she suffered at the hands of her former partner.

Leanne Playfair thought she was going to die on multiple occasions during her two year relationship with Paul Cave, who subjected her to both physical and mental abuse

The 37 year old has bravely spoken to ITV Granada Reports about her horrific ordeal to raise awareness of domestic abuse and to help others.

Leanne Playfair after stitches to her face Credit: Liverpool Echo

Leanne had to ring 999 herself after her ex-boyfriend slashed her face with a mug.

Cave turned up at the hospital to say how "sorry" he was, before threatening to "have her shot" if she cooperated with police.

The violence first started around a month into the relationship, when Leanne recalls Cave slapping her during an argument.

Leanne said Cave, who would regularly confiscate her phone and social media accounts so she couldn't reach out to people, would regularly slap, punch and choke her.

She added that on one occasion was repeatedly kicked in the spine by Cave, who wouldn't let her go to hospital.

It was three days before she got her phone and called an ambulance.

Some of the injuries sustained by Leanne Playfair Credit: Liverpool Echo

The violence escalated even further on October 25 last year, when Cave head-butted and punched a wall in a drunken rage at Leanne's home.

When she tried to calm him down, he broke a mug across her face, inflicting a 5cm long, 2.5cm deep wound, which has left a permanent scar.

Lisa King from Refuge, a charity which provides specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence, tells Lucy Meacock how difficult it can be to get help.

Things finally came to a head a few days later, when Leanne told Cave she didn't want to be in a relationship with him anymore.

She said: "When I came out of hospital with my stitching, I went back to him and we went to stay with his friends in Melling - and that was the worst attack I've ever ever had.

"I said 'I don't want to be with you anymore', and I'd sort of told him that we were splitting up anyway and then that's why he battered me.

"I'd only just had my stitches done and he ripped all my stitches out. I genuinely thought he was going to kill me."

A friend dialled 999 and Cave was arrested for a second time, before Leanne found the courage to give a statement to police.

Leanne added: "People say 'why didn't you just leave' and it sounds so simple because why would somebody rationally put up with somebody treating them like that? But it's just so hard.

Paul Cave was jailed for four years Credit: Merseyside Police

Cave, from Liverpool but of no fixed address, has 22 previous convictions for 50 offences dating back to 1989 including violence and dishonesty.

He was jailed for four years in July after admitting wounding, with an extended two years on licence.

Leanne is keen to "get her life back together" after what's happened, and is getting support from her local crisis and mental health services.

She says her scars are a reminder that you can get help, get better and that there is hope.

Domestic Abuse helplines


Refuge supports more than 6,000 clients on any one day, helping them rebuild their lives and overcome many different forms of violence and abuse - including domestic violence, sexual violence, so-called ‘honour’-based violence, human trafficking and modern slavery, and female genital mutilation

  • If you, or someone you care about, is experiencing domestic abuse, you can phone The National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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Women's Aid

Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. They have been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic violence and abuse through practice for over 45 years.

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Men's Advice Line

Men’s Advice Line is a team of friendly Advisors who will listen and believe you. Its focus is to increase the safety of men experiencing domestic abuse, and the safety of any children, by providing confidential support.

  • You can call on 0808 8010 327 for non-judgemental information and support.

  • Lines are open Monday and Wednesday, 9am to 8pm, and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9am to 5pm

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The Mankind Initiative is the principal, expert and specialist charity in the UK focussing on male victims of domestic abuse. The charity collaborates and works in close partnership with other organisations and practitioners to support these victims too. It was the first in Great Britain to support male victims.

  • You can call ManKind on 01823 334 244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)

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Merseyside Domestic Violence Service

Merseyside Domestic Violence Services (MDVS) formally known as Chrysalis is a registered charity working with women, men, children, young people and families whose lives have been affected in some way by the issues related to domestic violence and cultural/honour based crime.

For assistance call or text 07802 722703, or email info@mdvs.org

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